How to Develop Better Customer Success Manager Skills During the Economic Downturn

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Customer Success Manager Skills

According to The Washington Post, “The U.S. economy could be heading for a recession in the next year.” This economic downturn has created an environment where businesses are starting to contract, not expand. You hear more and more about layoffs, hiring freezes, acquisitions, and businesses either walking away from deals or not renewing contracts to minimize their spending and overhead costs. So, ensuring that your team is effectively demonstrating the value of your product and service to ensure your current customer base renews your contract is more critical than ever. You need a Customer Success Manager.

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are more than just a typical sales rep or a project manager; they are a critical role that influences and guides your customers throughout the customer journey experience. These roles are often associated with customer growth, ensuring renewals, and net retention growth.

A CSM will help your business:

  • Increase customer engagement and satisfaction rate
  • Enhance customer adoption and product stickiness
  • Improve renewal and retention rates
  • Provide a better overall customer journey experience

Customer success isn’t just a buzzword or a sales campaign. It’s the glue that holds the customer lifecycle together. The secret to increasing customer growth and brand advocates is a result of mastering three key skill areas. This blog highlights the necessary customer success manager skills every organization needs, and the key areas and methods your team can use to improve the overall performance of your customer success efforts.

1. Product Knowledge Skills

First on the list of customer success manager skills is the most obvious: a CSM must know your products and services inside and out. It’s easy to focus and build product skills because promoting and selling the product is why your customers are purchasing from your business. These customer success skills are also the easiest to train because there are already robust product training programs in place, often straightforward and technically based. Of course, these training modules are essential to learning about the product. Still, successful customer management also needs to understand the real value behind the product and how they solve your customer’s pain points.

Methods for Building Product Knowledge Skills

Formal product training is the first step to understanding the product. But employees need to dig deeper to develop some good best practices. To help them keep clients’ concerns top of mind, encourage your CSMs to:

  • Dive into all available material. In addition to reviewing manuals, FAQ pages, help sections, forums, and articles, have them shadow a customer onboarding experience to learn the product from the customer’s lens.
  • Test the product from the customer’s perspective. Have them try it out, then note any questions or discoveries and add them to the knowledge base.
  • Get curious and proactive. If your CSMs find content gaps in the existing product information, provide incentives for them to take the initiative and create what’s needed, like “how-to” articles.
  • Do industry research. Urge your CSMs to read up on who your competitors are and how their product solves problems, their weak points, and what they do better.
  • Actively listen – always. It’s critical that you hear customers’ pain points directly from them. Teach CSMs the skills to actively listen to concerns, then repeat back what they hear to ensure they’re understanding and providing a consultative experience, value-added customer experience. Help your team train to listen through scenario training, review recorded customer calls, and shadow your sales team on customer calls.

2. Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving is among the top skills that a CSM must have.  Their job is to help customers overcome any challenges associated with your product. That means having the skills to anticipate when potential problems can arise and having a plan to resolve them quickly.

Best Practice: If you want to reduce customer attrition rates, help managers develop the skills needed to analyze the quantitative and qualitative data and be able to tell the story behind the numbers.

Methods for Building Problem-Solving Skills

A good CSM must understand how to find answers but, more importantly, how to ask the right questions. Often this means formal training in things like:

  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical thinking
  • Data analysis
  • Competitive research

CSMs can develop problem solving skills outside of training by researching potential obstacles and proven solutions. Provide your customer success team with the latest customer research (surveys, interviews, and focus groups) and research conducted within your industry (GartnerForresterMcKinsey & Co., or other relative industry publications). Provide them with all available case studies and use cases to help them discover concerns and proven solutions. Additionally, allow them access to recorded quarterly business reviews (QBRs) to see how your reps proactively solve your customer pain points in real-time.

3. People Skills

The CSM role, at its core, is focused on building and maintaining relationships. People skills are often referred to as “soft skills,” but with the rise of virtual selling, they have now become the new “hard skills.” They include communication, active listening, relationship building, and empathy.

Methods for Building People Skills

As always, training is a great place to start. You can teach communication concepts in role-playing exercises. For instance, you might narrow down “communication” to specifically teach objection handling. Many customers experience trust blockades or fear of change at some point that makes them put on the brakes. Teach people what this looks like and how to respond in the moment. You can also help CSMs hone people skills on the job by encouraging them to:

  • Have a plan of engagement in place before customer outreach
  • Have regular engagement with your client base
  • Develop feedback loops that keep the process moving forward

Partner with a Best-in-Class Customer Success Outsourcer

Helping employees develop customer success manager skills in these areas will strengthen your organization’s revenue, retention rates, and customer loyalty. If your business is focusing on customer retention but can’t quantify hiring and training a team of customer success reps, we can help.

Concentrix has the depth of experience and expertise that would take an individual team of CSMs years to accumulate. Reach out now to talk to an expert to learn how Concentrix can help you maximize your value to your client base.

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