It’s never too early to start building your CS tech stack. The earlier you start, the faster you’ll be able to create an effective, scalable, long-term Customer Success strategy. Getting an early start on building your CS tech stack also allows you to experiment with an array of different tools so that you can make better decisions on the ones that will scale best with your business.
Why getting your tech stack right is crucial
You know the saying “a team is only as strong as its weakest link?” Well, this wisdom also applies to your CS tech stack. All of your CS tools must work together and be effective as a unit to achieve the desired results. In other words, the success of your CS strategy and business goals hinge on getting your tech stack right. Look at the stack you have now. Are your various tools working together? Are they blocking each other? Are they indispensable to your business growth? Those are just a few questions that will help you build a “champion team” CS tech stack.
What does a “good” tech stack look like?
A “good” tech stack looks different depending on your growth phase. With your first few customers, a simple stack is often enough to provide a positive customer experience. As you scale, you’re going to be using more tools with your focus broadening to areas like customer retention, CRO, ticketing, etc.
From CRMs and CS tools to community platforms, implementation technology, in-app engagement software, and more, the possibilities of additions to your tech stack can feel endless. But, more tools can often mean more complexity, which can slow down business growth. So, how do you know what a good tech stack is like at each growth phase? Here are two keys to keep in mind:
1. Your tech stack should meet individual, team, and cross-departmental needs. If your stack isn’t meeting needs at every level, that’s a red flag. What tools in your stack are “wants” and what tools are “needs?” You don’t need to be distracted by tools that are “nice-to-haves” early on.
2. There has to be connectivity/integration capability within your stack. Remember, a team is only as strong as its weakest link. The more integrated your tech stack is, the better. This means fewer bottlenecks and more synchronicity to help you create the best possible customer experience.
The inSided Customer Success maturity model can help to assess tooling, helping to give you a good idea of the technology criteria for each stage of your business.
Now that you know what a good tech stack looks like, let’s look at five factors to consider when building your CS tech stack.
5 things to consider when building your CS tech stack
Can the tools in your stack accomplish multiple things? This is useful for several reasons, with the most obvious one being cost. Hosting, technology licensing fees, and maintenance costs quickly add up. Cross-functional tools can save you a lot of money on the tools themselves and the required training to use them effectively. By keeping these costs down, you can allocate your resources to fuel your growth, rather than unnecessary expenses.
Another reason why cross-functionality is important is a reduction in complexity. A robust, effective CS tech stack doesn’t automatically mean more complex. It can just be a handful of tools that can perform all of the CS functions your business needs.
A simple tech stack with just that handful of tools can be a full-fledged CS tech stack, especially if you’re just starting. These tools touch on every aspect of Customer Success from onboarding and product demos to internal team communication and project management. Their cross-functionality and synchronicity via integrations keep your business simple and costs down.
Your tech stack should encourage you to scale. Before you commit to a set of tools, compare your business goals to the limitations of the tools you’re considering. Is your current stack built for the long term? Pro tip: If your tools regularly get updates (especially the kind with helpful feature releases), this is a good sign of a tool built for the long haul. For example, tools like Slack and Trello get constant updates so that they can adapt to the growth of the teams that use them daily.
Scalability usually comes in two forms:
- Vertical scalability: How easy it is to add new features to the tools in your tech stack.
- Horizontal scalability: How easy it is to accommodate user growth. Your tech stack should be able to handle larger volumes of data, support more users, and have increased functionality.
You can make sure that your stack meets the needs of both types of scalability by investing in scalable infrastructure like cloud-native lot servers and through automation. You can automate a lot of onboarding, QA tasks, security scanning, and ticketing so that you can focus on growing your business.
What kind of data does your stack provide? Does it give you actionable steps that drive business growth? Does the data make your life simpler or more difficult? These are all important questions when considering the role of data in a CS tech stack. There’s an abundance of data out there and it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Your tech stack should cut through the noise and give you only the data you need. Good data collection will give you a clear image of who your customers are and what they’re doing. You can then use this data to discover new opportunities.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re managing an online community and you want to increase engagement amongst members. You could use Insided to get actionable data on member behavior and feelings towards a particular topic. This data can then help you put together a plan to increase engagement in the community.
Your tech stack should be secure in all of its functions. With privacy concerns rising and laws like GDPR becoming the status quo, you need to ensure that customer data is safe. Internally, make sure that your tech stack is equipped with the right measures to protect access to the right stakeholders, team members, etc. Vetting the security of your CS tech stack includes staying up to date on industry regulations, licensing information, encryption, and more. In a remote-first world, cybersecurity has become even more important.
Building a customer-first tech stack
A complete tech stack adapts and scales with your entire organization. But that’s easier said than done. There are inevitable growing pains that come with building a CS tech stack that powers a successful CS strategy. Be proactive with building yours and ensure that it’s aligned with your business goals and also meets the needs of your customers.
It’s never too early to start building your stack and experimenting with all of the powerful CS tools out there. Although there’s no “perfect CS tech stack”, getting it right is vital for setting a good foundation for your business. Your priority is making sure that your tools work together to power a well-oiled CS machine. And remember, keep it simple in the beginning and adapt as you scale. A tech stack built on a solid foundation scales much faster and easier than a stack that is overly complex early on.
About the Guest Contributor
|Remco de Vries is the Vice President of Marketing at inSided, the only community platform built specifically for Customer Success. Remco has fallen in love with the ever-developing world of Customer Success|