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9 Competencies CS teams need to have in 2023
A big mistake I see CS leaders making is hiring people with the same backgrounds.
The same skills, the same knowledge, the same experience.
As a consequence, they build teams where everybody has the same profile.
Leaving huge gaps in the team’s skillset and knowledge base.
CS leaders need to start building diverse teams with people who have different experiences and strengths that complement each other.
This way, the team becomes more than the sum of its parts because people are learning from each other’s perspectives, ideas, and best practices.
And for people to specialize within the CS organization according to their unique abilities.
Here are the 9 competencies every CS team needs to have in 2023:
1. Content Creation
Too many companies seem to believe that Digital Customer Success is their savior. While I disagree with it there’s no doubt that digital motions are an important part of the game. Even in the enterprise segment, it does not make sense to personalize and hand-deliver every single input.
It’s easy to create content like guides, videos, or presentations. But creating great stuff isn’t. Adding someone to the team who understands how to engage an audience is priceless. Look for backgrounds in copywriting or education.
2. Building Relationships
As a CSM, building meaningful relationships with customers is an important goal. But not everybody excels at it. Some people on the other hand seem to have a natural gift. Everywhere they go they easily meet and connect with new people.
Building sympathy and trust within the shortest amount of time. Their positive influence on the team through their attitude is priceless. Because the better your overall relationships, the higher the odds of success become.
3. Problem Solving
It can’t be said often enough. Customers don’t need someone to tell them where to click on the product. What they need are partners with the expertise to help them solve non-trivial problems.
Your product is merely a tool. You need to make sure that your customers create the right “raw material”. As the old saying goes - some people see problems and others see solutions. You often find strong problem-solving skills among consultants and coaches.
4. Data analytics
Too many CS teams are still relying on guessing and assuming. And it’s backfiring every time their bets go south. Customer Success teams need to understand what’s going on with their customers on a granular level.
who they are
why they are here
what they do
the reasons behind their actions and behaviors
This can be part of the CS Ops function if the CS team has 10 members or more.
5. Program management
I have analyzed how dozens of CS teams operate. Most of them have more or less a random mix of services and content they provide to their customers. There’s none in charge of measuring, analyzing, and improving the effectiveness of the inputs.
As the CS program is much like a product hiring a former product manager can be an excellent solution. It takes quite some time to build a high-performing program. And it’s never static as markets are shifting and your customers’ strategies with them.
6. Project management
Working with your customers is essentially a joint project. More precisely, it’s a series of projects because customer goals change when the first desired outcome has been achieved.
As every CSM is handling at least a medium number of customers, strong project management skills make life much easier. Understanding how to plan, organize, or communicate effectively in this setup and avoiding chaos raises the odds of success.
7. Customer Education
Creating content and delivering services do not guarantee results. Because customers need to be enabled to transform their learnings into their expected outcomes. CS teams need to understand how to successfully transfer knowledge.
I’m a big believer that former teachers of all kinds make great CSMs. Because they are specifically trained and experience in helping others to build skills and knowledge. Every CS team should recruit one (or more).
8. Graphic Design
It’s not a secret that humans process images much faster than written or spoken words. Customer success teams need to use it to their advantage. Because they are providing a lot of information that might be highly complex on top.
However, not everybody is skilled (or interested) in designing visual content. Adding these skills to the team gives you a rare advantage. Because you usually find them among creative roles in marketing or design.
CSMs should own renewals, expansions, and upsells. Why? Because they are the driving force behind it as only successful customers buy more/again. It never made sense to me that AM/AEs jump in, complete the last 2 of 100 steps, and get all the commissions.
Therefore, CSMs should learn how to sell. Selling the outcomes customers have achieved to create additional demand. Of course, ideally, customers are aware of the value they get from the product. But what if they are not?
If you build all these skills within your CS team you are well prepared for the challenges in 2023 and beyond.
Prepared to create exceptional results for your customers and your company.