10 Ways Customer Success Can Break Through Silos

August 10, 2021

Marley Wagner

Category: Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy

In a dream world, Customer Success, sales, marketing, product, and support organizations all work together to weave the beautiful tapestry this is your customer experience. In the real world, where most of us live, this is, unfortunately, rarely the case. Silos are prevalent and difficult to break through, even when everybody wants to! That’s why Customer Success has to do its part to knock down the barriers holding your teams back and make everyone, including your customer, a winner.

How do we take on such a monumental task?

At ESG, we’re big fans of taking an iterative approach to what always seem like (and often really are) enormous tasks and goals. Breaking through silos might feel too big to tackle on top of everything else you’ve got going on(!), but don’t worry. We’ve got ten easy steps that you can take to get everybody moving in the right direction towards Customer Success as a mindset, not just a department.

We’re not saying that shattering the siloed barriers should fall on Customer Success alone. In the long run, this can mean major overhauls to company culture and processes. But not only is CS in an excellent position to extend an olive branch or two, there are many ways CS can benefit from becoming friends with other teams and working together toward shared goals.

Silos are sucking the life out of your customer experience

As a CS professional, silos aren’t good for you, but they are especially bad for your customers. When teams don’t talk to each other, it’s your customers’ experience that goes down the drain, and nobody realizes it. Except maybe CS. Then, CSMs are left trying to fix what’s broken without the tools to make it stick. Sort of like duct taping a leaky pipe. For the moment, you may patch the customer’s problem, but it won’t take long for the leak to return – bigger and badder than before.

Break through to the other side!

It’s in everyone’s best interest to kick these silos to the curb and collaborate across teams. Deloitte’s study, Transitioning to the Future of Work and the Workplace, found that companies benefit tremendously when they foster a culture of communication, collaboration, and connectivity. The C-suite believes investing in these aspects will result in real advantages to their business. 57% of those surveyed think collaboration will lead to more new business opportunities, 48% cited increasing rates of innovation, and 47.6% affirmed improving attraction and retention of top talent.

Here are some of the ways CS can instill a more collaborative culture:

1. Develop a formalized “sales to Customer Success” handoff process

One way to get CS and sales talking and working together is by acknowledging the transition from sales to Customer Success and making it as streamlined as possible. This is the very beginning of the customer relationship, so don’t drop the ball! Invest in a purposeful customer onboarding process where the CSM is introduced to the customer and helps to set the right expectations early and often.

2. Align Customer Success with revenue by embracing the numbers

Numbers can be scary, but tying your CS goals to your company’s revenue targets is the best way to get a seat at the big kids’ table. This also gives CS and sales more incentive to work together, as long as their revenue roles are clearly defined. For example, CSMs might pass Customer Success Qualified Leads (CSQLs) to the sales team. CS proves their value with strong numbers, sales benefits from better leads, and the customer gets the right solution for their needs. See what I mean when I say everybody wins?

3. Share all that juicy customer data

CSMs gather and track a lot of data about their customers – their happiness, their issues, their usage…I could go on and on. What’s the use of mountains of data if it’s not shared with other teams? Breaking through silos could be as easy as sharing all this awesome data with other departments to build better strategies company-wide.

4. Create a shared calendar for customer communications

No customer wants to be inundated with multiple messages from the same company, with the same topic, on the same day. Customers don’t know (or care) that each one is from a different department (think marketing, product, and CS all saying essentially the same thing). But I promise, they can tell (and do care) that you’re annoying them and that your departments are clearly not talking to one another. Can you say junk mail? The simplest and best solution is to share a communications calendar with other groups who also do customer outreach. This way, no one is bugging the customer, and they still get all the information they need.

5. Get Customer Success involved in the pre-sale journey

Having CS involved in the pre-sale journey helps set up a more collaborative relationship with the customer much earlier on. This assistance can result in a quicker sales process for the sales rep and better forecasting. CSMs get better visibility into a customer’s expectations, have more time to build trust, and, ultimately, hit the ground running towards true partnership with the customer.

6. Collaborate with marketing to generate collateral

CSMs can work with marketing to help keep their messaging accurate and let them know what kind of content their customers are reacting best to. They also play a big role in developing some of the most powerful content out there, customer testimonials and case studies.

7. Build a customer product feedback loop

CSMs collect customer feedback about how they are using your product, what’s working well, and what’s causing issues. Is there a formalized process for collecting, organizing, and sharing this valuable intelligence? If not, you need one! Product and CS can create a system that both teams use for better communication and streamlining the feedback process.

8. Partner with the product team on new releases and updates

Similar to number four on this list, product and CS need to partner up when there are new product releases and updates. Customers don’t want to be surprised by sudden changes to their tools, but they don’t want to be flooded with messages ahead of time either. More collaboration like this between product and CS puts another crack in those silo walls!

9. Give CSMs visibility into open support tickets

Similarly, CS and support can have a system to share information about open support tickets and ticket history so CSMs can use this data to inform their customer engagement strategy. In turn, CS can help support by aggregating this data and tracking history to build a more robust support process. Maybe you need more self-help articles on a particular topic in your knowledge base, or CSMs should be covering a specific product feature in more detail during onboarding. Get the product team involved so they can see trending issues for a silo-crushing trifecta!

10. Establish a formal escalation process

To relieve CSMs and reduce costs to the support team, you should have a formal escalation process in place. Something that streamlines incident reporting will also improve customer satisfaction. When creating this process, keep in mind that feedback can come from different directions, like CSMs and support. You’re also going to want to build in a way to prioritize feedback, so product doesn’t end up with a flood of random requests to sift through.

Any one of these ten approaches will help your entire organization get that much closer to a Customer Success mindset – the ultimate goal! After all, we all want happy customers that keep doing business with us. Silos are preventing us from discovering the best ways to create satisfied customers in the most efficient and productive manner possible. Let’s kick those walls down!