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No one contacts customer support for fun. It’s something we do when something breaks or when we’re having a problem. To make matters worse, we’ve all had enough negative experiences with customer service teams to dread the whole process. From emails that never get answered to arguing with rude phone reps, most of us would rather do something else with our time.

The term “customer support” itself implies something reactive. Someone has a problem, and then they reach out to a manufacturer, store, or service provider for help.

For SaaS startups like ours, however, that kind of support isn’t enough on its own. What customers need is proactive support that helps them succeed rather than struggle, sometimes before problems even start.

That’s why the CoSchedule team changed the way we approach customer support.

Instead, we have what we call Customer Success; a team of talented folks that make sure customers get the most for their money when they choose to use CoSchedule. We didn’t just give traditional “customer service” a new name and call it good, however. Transitioning from a “support” to a “success” mindset represented a transformative shift in how we interact with our customers.

And in this video, we’ll explain exactly how you can follow our lead.

 

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Transcript

Garrett: Hi everyone, I’m Garrett from CoSchedule and this is Overheard at CoSchedule, the show where we talk about the things that we already talk about at the office except for we turn on the cameras and let you in on the discussion. It’s sort of like shop talk except we’re not in a shop and we’re in the CoSchedule office. Something like that.

Anyway, today we’re going to be talking about how our team turned customer support into something we call customer success.

Today we’re talking about Customer Success, and there’s no better person to talk about Customer Success at CoSchedule than Lance, our Customer Success lead. Lance, I want to go back to some of the conversations that we’ve been having over the last year, talking about how our team transitions into that success role. I think we’ve identified about three key things that we did that helped us make that transition. Cover that for me, where did we start?

Lance: The first thing we did was we started by defining what success looks like, and that is a couple of things. It’s talking about what we call ourselves as a team, Customer Success, or what we call the different positions on the team. It’s language, so what language do we use with customers. Then ultimately it was down to defining core values for our team. One of the things that our roadmap, and define who we are and how we operate and how do we interact with each of our customers.

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Garrett: For sure and I think, thinking about that, some of that language, what is the difference between support and success. I know we incorporated this as we were writing those core values, but what are the difference between those two things?

Lance: If you think about how information is delivered to customers or potential customers, support is waiting for them, reactively, for them to contact us, and then providing an answer.

Garrett: They send us an email, they send us a tweet, we answer it.

Lance: Sure, and that’s fine and good, that support part of it, we do that well. We’re good at that. The success side of it is a little bit more proactive. It’s trying to identify those needs for information and reaching out to them proactively, and giving them that information just as they need it.

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Garrett: Sort of like, we’ve talked about this before, the best support team is the one that eliminates themselves, cause we provide enough for the customers not to have any questions if possible. Okay, so that’s step one, really reframing how we think about it. What would you say is step two?

Lance: That leads into the hiring process too because once we have those core values set up, once we have that process, we communicate that throughout the hiring process. Trying to find out people that believe those things or that will be successful with our core values and what we need them to do.

Garrett: Yeah, and you had that written down thing. You know, we have these core values, this is how we can evaluate, do they help us become more of a success team versus a support team.

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Lance: Right.

Garrett: They take that proactive approach.

Lance: Right and so Jim Collins has a book Good to Great and he talks about getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and then the right people in the right seats. That’s how we think about it as we’re hiring based on those core values and what our team goals are.

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Garrett: Yeah, that makes sense. Talk to me about the third thing that we outlined.

Lance: The third thing is taking some Agile principles from our software development team and applying them to our team. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Agile, it’s a fairly simple process, but the biggest thing is regular communication and regular reflection. Success is this journey and that gives us the freedom then, if we think about it that way, to continually try things, see if they’re going to work, if they don’t, we’ll try something else. It’s that journey that’s the fun part.

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Garrett: I think that’s really well said, and I think that’s a great place to end it. That’s how we approach our Customer Support, that’s what we want, we want successful customers who love the product and who know how to use it to make themselves better. I think Lance has covered it perfectly, that’s Overheard at CoSchedule.

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