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Choosing the right tool for Customer Success | Webinar

Updated on April 30, 2024 26 minutes read

Summary points:

In today’s tech-driven ecosystem, the tools you lean on are paramount in defining customer success. What’s the right tool for customer success? Can you use a CRM for your CS activities? How to prove the value of a CSP?

These are just a few of the questions that Irina Cismas and Carmel Granahan discussed in Custify’s latest webinar. An adept specialist in SaaS-oriented Customer Success, Carmel is also the brain behind Unify Success. Having previously championed the role in a CRM company, she brings firsthand insights to the table, making her uniquely positioned to showcase both sides of the coin in this compelling discussion.

Key Webinar Discussion Points:

  • CRM vs. CSP: Unraveling the core distinctions.
  • Bridging nuances: How tool selection shapes Sales & CSM dynamics.
  • Practical moves: Adapting CRM to mirror CSP advantages.
  • Spotting the cues: Determining when it’s time to shift gears.
  • The obscured benefits: Digging deeper into the intangible rewards of embracing CSP.

Click play and discover if and how a customer success platform can help you become more effective.

webinar Carmel Granahan


Irina Cismas 00:02
Hello, everyone. Good morning, afternoon, and evening! I’m Irina Cismas, Head of Marketing at Custify and depending on where you are tuning in from grab your coffee, tea, or maybe even a late night snack and let’s have a chat.

Now, I know the topic we are diving into today has ruffled a few fears. And yes, while I’m from Custify, which is a customer success platform, today isn’t about selling you our tool. In fact, I wanted to discuss this topic, which is choosing the right tools for CS, because I’ve seen many of you rocking CRM tools, and that’s cool. We are all trying to make the best decisions with what we have. So whether you are team CRM, or switching gears or somewhere in between, this conversation is for you.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let me introduce my guest today. Carmel Granahan, the brain behind Unify Success. Carmel a big shout out for you joining us today. I was thrilled when you said YES to my invitation. Because you’ve been in those CRM trenches, tweaking and tailoring things from a CS perspective. So I’m eager to dive into your insights and experiences. Welcome!

Irina 01:29
Before we dive into the topic, I want to address a few housekeeping items. This event is being recorded. So rest assured a copy will be sent to all registrants afterwards. We value your participation. So feel free to ask your questions using the question tab or chat function on your device. No worries, if you post them in chat, I will make sure that I monitor the questions. We will also save them for a q&a session at the very end.

And now speaking about engagement participation, I want to get a feel for who’s with us today. And like always, we’ll start the discussion with a quick poll that I’m going to publish and the question that I have prepared.

What’s the preferred CSM tool?

Irina 02:33
What’s your CSMs primary tool? We’ll give it a few more minutes for everyone to vote.

Irina 02:46
So is it purely CRM? Is it CSP? Is it a combination? Or maybe a different route? If you have one unique setup, both of us are curious to see what’s this. So please post your comments in the in the chat.

Irina 03:29
So up until now we have purely CRM – 60%. We do have also a combination. And we also have a different route. Okay. I’m curious if we have some explanations. So we have Salesforce and Google Sheets. So I assume that the combination of CSP we have in budgets and HubSpot, Google Sheets and Mixpanel no CRM or CSP tool.

Irina 04:17
I know that when you promoted the webinar, Carmel you also created created a similar poll. And if I recall correctly, the distribution lien towards the CRM.

Carmel Granahan 04:39
Well, yeah, that’s correct. I think it was almost 50% was CRM, and then maybe 25% was CSP and then 20%, Google Sheets or Excel and then yeah, just a few others, then I think no CRM or no, no tools.

Carmel 04:53
But yeah, it’s really interesting. Actually, even the CRM that they’re mentioning, there’s one or two there that I’ve never heard of. And that’s something as well that can overwhelm people because CRM, the CRM world is so crowded, there is so many CRM like I used to hearing you on at least every week.

CRMs vs CSPs

Irina 05:12
Okay, so it seems that we are kick starting this conversation for an audience who is mainly using CRM for their CS needs. I’ll start the conversation by asking you what are your thoughts on that. When I made the introduction, I also mentioned the fact that you used to be in their shoes, I would say using a CRM, which was tweaked for CSM for these needs.

Carmel 05:49

Yes, so I used to work for a CRM company for over eight years. And I was in a customer success role. So we, of course, use our CRM as a CSP platform. And one thing I will say is that I guess it was a little bit easier for us in that we had access to a full engineering team, we were in that kind of data-driven environment, we understand the importance of data. So the CRM world, and the CSP world are not that far apart. But we yeah, we had to do a lot of customization to our CRM to get it to work, I guess, like 80%, or 80%, of what we needed, there was always that 20% missing, but maybe it’s only now upon reflection, I think back and think, Oh, if only we had that.

But yeah, we utilized our integrations, which was really important. So integrations with like our support tool, or email marketing to our product usage to, and then we use our API very smartly, to integrate with like our internal systems. So we had a few internal systems as well, that we would have used for cluster monitoring, invoicing, stuff like that. And we’d had that information at our fingertips. And I think that’s what was really important that we were able to access that data very quickly.

Carmel 07:10
But like, there’s lots of similarities in that. And, you know, the task management side perspective, as a customer success manager, you have lots of tasks. As a salesperson, you have lots of tasks. So we were able to easily navigate that having your email account connected, segmentation, being able to segment your customers, all of that type of thing, which was very relevant to both sales and customer success.

Irina 07:36
I have a dedicated and I want to go into details, but I want to start by clearly expressing the differences between a CRM and CSP, from your point of view, how do we differentiate the two even if one can be but even if CRM can also fit the CSP, what would be the key differences between the two?

Carmel 08:05
So I think the key differences are the CRM is very much designed for the salesperson, like more often than not pre sales. So tracking and nurturing leads your pipeline, managing contacts, and then while your customer success platform is very much post sale, so all the activities that happen after the lead becomes a customer, and I guess your focus very much shifts from sales to customer retention, then you want to make sure that your customer’s seeing the value in your product or service.

So that’s probably the key difference in the key functionalities with the two tools.

Carmel 08:48

Customer Success platforms as well, they they are smarter in some respects for the customer success manager in that it will draw their own conclusions based on the data you input, while the CRM, sometimes it can be very much driven by you and what you have put into the CRM, your CS is connected to all these other tools. And that’s why it’s making these very smart decisions, I guess on your behalf, or notifying you of these certain actions that you need to take or at-risk customer health scores, I think the health score is probably for me one of the biggest benefits in your CSV because it automatically creates that for you based on I suppose certain criteria that you have selected, and also the customer 360 view. So while I had that customer 360 view in my CRM, I still had to have other tools open alongside it all of the time, while in a customer success platform, you can see everything together and I’m a big fan of customer 360s Because there’s nothing worse than bringing up a customer and say salesperson has already talked to them earlier that day or two days before is and then you’re bringing them up, maybe inviting them to the same event or, and they’re saying, Oh, I already spoke to John last week or yesterday.

Irina 10:19
Okay, you mentioned the customer 360. app, and you mentioned the health scores. And I know that we are also asking this question. So a lot when people do say, well, we don’t need the CSP, we are using CRM. So how do you build the health scores? And usually, we get the answers. Well, we don’t need them. Well, we don’t use the health scores. What do you think they are missing? Because okay, CRMs usually don’t have a built-in functionality for health scores. What do you see people miss when they don’t have the health scores?

Carmel 10:59
I think they’re lagging behind a little bit. So obviously, your CRM, you can see what status a customer has, whether they’ve canceled or not. But it’s very black and white, are they a customer? Are they not? And I think with the CSP, it’s more of it, the health score is more of a leading factor. So you can see who’s at risk.

So in my previous role, we used to ring up all the customers who canceled and ask them why did they cancel, we had a survey that went out. But we also based on certain criteria, we will call it a good majority of our customers as well and talk through it. And of course, we’d love that information in the CRM as well, so can easily be accessed again and analyzed. But at that point, it’s too late. Like, even in some instances, they would say, Oh, you didn’t have such a feature. But we did have that feature. But at this point, it was too late, they had stopped using the app maybe for two or three weeks before we realized. So it was a little bit of manual.

And I found that a little bit manual in that respect, while a customer success platform is very much about the leading indicators. And you know, if your main point of contact, for example, stops using the CRM, this is a big warning sign for you, rather than you ringing up and saying, oh, okay, they’re not there. Oh, well, and you’re shocked to hear this while it is, if you see they’ve stopped using it for two or three, four weeks, even before, we’d love to see you get in touch before that people can go on vacation, we understand that as well. I think that’s probably the biggest thing is the health score.

Carmel 12:35
Like we used to keep our finger on the pulse goal quite, it was very high touch to our VIPs are very important customers. So it was very high touch. So as somebody did leave, more often than not, I was aware that they were leaving or something like that, but you still got costs.

Carmel 12:53
And then the problem was that if there was no internal champion then to take over. So just getting data like that was a little bit more difficult. You had to kind of go to another system to find that data. But you have to know to go to the other system. I think that was the key thing.

The impact of using a certain tool on departmental communication

Irina 13:11
Speaking of these tools, they often serve as a bridge between the salespeople and the CSM. And we all know how important that communication is between the two. Now, what I want to ask you is how do you see the communication and the relationship between those two departments being influenced by the choice of tool.

Carmel 13:29
Yeah, that’s a really good one. And it’s something actually I posted on my LinkedIn yesterday about because when I first started out in SaaS, maybe it’s over 10 years ago now, and it was very much about sales and product teams being aligned. And now the conversation has really pushed forward to how sales and customer success teams are aligned. So it is important, I suppose for them to have a good relationship. So in for any good relationship, you need communication and collaboration.
And I think transparency and visibility as well, is also key there. So you need to know, like you need your salesperson to be updating the CRM, after every interaction just like you as a customer success manager needs to update that application or that CRM after every application after every interaction.

Carmel 14:19
I think a CSP when you’re choosing the tools that the CRM is very much about the pipeline management is a huge aspect of CRM. And it’s not so much a bigger factor for the customer success manager. Now there is benefits in that you could use it for upselling. So if I’m a customer success manager, and I see, okay, there’s potential for upsell here, I could just create a deal and have special deals created for upsells.

So the tools that you use, can either make or break I guess your relationship and the tool is only as good as the person using it. So you have to be used to overseeing the CRM world junk in junk out. Or like if you update your CRM, like, you know, every couple of days or every few customers, but you’re not updating all the customers, then it’s actually not it doesn’t matter what tool you use it because it’s not going to benefit you.

Irina 15:17
I’m gonna try to play the devil’s advocate, but not in the favor of the CSP? Because we do understand the importance of the relationship between sales and CSP. Do you think that’s the main reason why people prefer to remain only with a CRM? Because they do consider that if they have one tool that is used by both teams, then the communication happens automatically?

Carmel 16:00
No, not necessarily.

I think I think CRM has been around probably a bit longer than Customer Success platforms. So I think that’s probably we used to often hear customers saying: “my boss told me, I need I need a CRM, I don’t even know what it is”. And you will have to educate them on what even a CRM was. So I think, I suppose fast forward a couple of years, and then everyone kind of knew what is your end was, but that sometimes didn’t know the benefit, the extra benefits they could get from a CRM.

So I think that just because a CRM has been around longer, that’s probably that’s probably one aspect. And the second one is, yes, you do need a single source of truth. And I’m very much an advocate for that one source of all the customer interactions should be in one place. And with tools do things very differently, or do things well, very differently. So like your customer support application focuses on customer support, your marketing application, your email marketing. And so it is,I think that’s what it really comes down to is just at the CRM has been around longer and people know it.

The single source of truth

Irina 17:09
You mentioned the single source of truth. And with so many applications, and so many products around how do you pick the single source of truth? Should it be the CRM? Should it be CSP? Should it be
your data warehouse system? How do how do you decide?

Carmel 17:39
I think in this case it should be you need your single source of truth have everything to do with the customer, and it has to fit into one place. So if that’s your CRM, for example, you should ideally have some connection there with your support application, or with your product usage, you still need these, in the ideal, where do you do need them feeding in?

I think in my previous role we used to have at least 12 other applications along with my CRM. And so it depends on your department, what your single source of truth is. So if you’re in like a warehouse, you know, your ERP system might be your single source of truth, because that’s just the order go out did the order not? And but for sales and customer success, and customer relationship management, I definitely think it should be either, if I’m a customer success manager in the ideal world, yes, your customer success platform should be your single source of truth, salesperson, your CRM, so it depends on your role in the organization.

Irina 18:41
Super, I want to go back to the audience, because most of them answered that they’re using a CRM. So I want to address I would say, the elephant in the room, without again, selling anything. And I want to ask you, for the people who are watching us online. Why don’t you use CSP?

And I’m going to publish the poll. And I’m curious to see why don’t you use a CSP so we can tackle this part? Is it because of because of the resources? Or the implementation? Is it because you don’t have the buy in from leadership team? What’s the distribution? Okay, cause no buy in from leadership.

Irina 20:01
Pascual mentioned difficulty to convince the leadership, the valeu. We do have some answers prepared for this challenge we anticipated.

Irina 20:14
Okay, couldn’t find a CSP way like, which is affordable, we’ll integrate with our CRM and in house product. Okay, Ben.

Irina 20:32
So I think it’s a matter of being pricey, which I totally understand in the economic context, we operate in the selling, you’re selling it internally, again, it’s a challenge, don’t have a definite Customer Success process. Yes. And we also notice that we do interact with people who would like to implement the CSP, but they don’t have the processes. So then it’s very hard if you don’t know what you want to implement what you want to track what you want to monitor, what you want to measure. And as you mentioned, Carmel, that will is as good as the information you are feeding in. So the tool doesn’t do the job, if you don’t feed it with the proper information. It doesn’t automatically save the day.

Irina 21:25
Currently, Caitlin mentioned pricing, difficulty to convince, and Brian mentioned currently educating executive team. So it’s analyzing crossover functionality with CRM.

When is it time to use a CSP?

Irina 21:39
Carmel, a lot of startups and usually young companies tend to start with CRM. At what stage do you think they should start considering whether it’s enough? Where they need a dedicated CSP?

Carmel 21:54
I think a CRM is a great place to start out, you should try and move as quickly as you can from your Google Sheets or Excel to a system. So that’s kind of one step. And then once you are using a CRM, when is the right time to move to a CSP?

So there’s three kind of key areas that I would look at. So the first one is, I think somebody actually mentioned that there on the chat is having the right processes in place. And I don’t mean, like, I think the word playbook everyone is talking about playbooks. But even just step by step, what happens in the customer journey, when they become a customer? What emails do we send, whether they’re automated, or whether you send them manually? What training do we offer them?

If they don’t do training, if they don’t take their training? What do we do then? You need to kind of work out the different processes and steps that you need to take. And this needs to be very clear to everyone on the team.

And the second thing I think you need is logging the basic metrics. Don’t get overly complicated. I think there’s probably hundreds of metrics you could measure but focus on what’s important to you. So like, pick five or 10 key ones, which easy ones like, Okay, how many new customers do we get every week? How many customers do we lose every week? What’s the average team size, the average lifetime value? Get to know your customers better and kind of analyze, be able to analyze the data, so then at least you’ll be able to compare. And I spoke to a customer a couple of weeks ago, and their churn rate was 20%. And I was blown away by this. And he wasn’t really concerned, though, but it just sounded like it was the wrong, they’re attracting the wrong customer.

And then the third thing is, you need the right people behind you, because you need an internal driver for CSP. Now, I know, a lot of CSP platforms provide lots of really good support, but you need to be really on board. And you need to be the advocate within your company as well, for the CSP and have it set up so that you are showing the value of the CSP as well to your internal team. And so that you can justify paying for it. And there’s lots of value there, obviously. But yeah, they’re the three things. So I think having your process processes in place, have some basic metrics, start logging them for at least maybe three months, I would say have the right people behind you.

Using a CRM for customer success

Irina 24:28
Now, because most of our audience is using CRM to handle their CS processes, or some of them are also using Google Sheets. I want to ask you if you go on the CRM route, what are the hacks to achieve what you need in terms of a CSP? You mentioned at the beginning that you needed to do a lot of integration, a lot of tweaks, let’s go deeper into this and provide some examples for the audience, at least, give them a checklist. If you go on the CRM route, what do you need to make sure you have?

Carmel 25:16
Yeah, so I think the first thing is you need to have custom fields set up that are tailored for a customer success manager. So for example, you need to be able to see at a glance, maybe their industry, the problem they’re looking to solve with your software.

And you need to be able to filter this information so that you can see at a glance, how many customers are trying to solve the same problem.

You need to be able to identify really easily who has attended training and who hasn’t. And this could be using a tag, for example. So lots of CRMs have tags, and they have custom fields. So use your tags very smartly.

And so we always used to, if somebody attended one of our webinars, we would tag them. So for example, if somebody attended this specialist webinar, we would tag them that they attended this webinar.

Another thing you can really use as well is lots of CRMs have like a field for URL. I used it to connect their profile over in MailChimp, for example. So then at a click of a button, I can see like, while I’m chatting to them, just click that button and I can see oh, yeah, okay, they opened the last three emails, or no, they didn’t open any emails.

So creating those quick links for you within each customer profile to save you having to search and find customers connect up your email. That’s probably quite an obvious one. There are integrations definitely look at what integrations are there. And if you have lots of internal systems yourselves that you use, I would suggest looking at the API and seeing, but keep it very simple say to your engineering team, okay, I want these five things.

Don’t say I want everything because they will not do it for you. So you need to kind of be very clear. So for example, we wanted the lifetime value of the customer in this year, and we wanted their their status. So whether they were on trial, a customer cancelled, whatever it might be. And we wanted, obviously, their timezone was really important. But that was important as well, to the to sales.

What different features were they using or had they connected within our tool. Now we only had I think this. With the CSP platform, if you connect it up correctly with your product usage, you will get a lot more insights. And that’s where you’ll get your health scores. So we had how do you connect to your email account? Yes or No to the CRM. And if you hadn’t, then you know, on a call, I could easily say like, if are you emailing your customers a lot, this is the benefit of the email, and then check and see, but I would have to go back in maybe a day or two later to check, did you connect your email, had that been updated in the CRM. Now it was very real time. So that was always a benefit.

But yeah, they’re kind of a few things. So use your custom fields efficiently. Use integrations where you can use your tags for segmenting your customers, and for identifying who’s been to training sessions, connect your email. And then we think of the fifth, use the API where you can as well. So sorry, the Quick Links, the quick links with the URL. That was a really, really good one.

Top integrations for CRMs

Irina 28:41
You mentioned the integrations. Can you make a recommendation for final top five integrations that you should have with your CRM, that also CSP, so that you can run smooth CS processes? Which are the general top five tools? If we have more than five, the more the merrier, I would say. But that also means consuming engineering resources. So let’s try to balance usually engineering team is not keen on developing and integrating and working for other departments.

Carmel 29:22
For your CRM, you need to be integrated with your support application. So whether it’s just even something like a quick link, then you can see what the support issues are. So that’s the first one support. Next, product usage. So for example, Mixpanel, or something like this. Because your CRM is not designed to display this information that clearly I guess, pick your top five or top 10 Because otherwise, it’ll just turn into jargon. So your product usage metrics are really important and you need to turn them. So whether it’s using certain key features within your app, that’s always kind of an easy one.

I would say your marketing platform as well, so that you can see, you know, are they engaged, are they opening your emails, they could just be invited to events or, it could be something to do with their billing as well. So, we used in my previous role, we use MailChimp and Mandrill, they’re all under the one umbrella. But Mandrill is very transactional. And MailChimp is more email marketing. So integrated with those. So you can see at a glance financial, so you do need your financial information in there. Again, pick two or three, actually, for financial.

Lifetime value, the plan that they’re on is probably two key ones. And then either meeting or calling up. So you know, whether you use different platforms such as these Zoom alternatives for your meetings, or your events or trainins, or who do you use for calling customers if you still you know, pick up the phone. And I’d like to see your CS managers are very much meeting driven more submissions and emails. But if you do use a call in app I would recommend integrating with that.

Moving from a CRM to a CSP

Irina 31:22
Switching gears and talking also about who are advocating also for the CSP, I want to ask you, how do we recognize those red flags indicating that it’s time to move from the CRM to CSP?

Carmel 31:47
So are you ready to expand upselling. So you want to focus more on that. And one of the key statistics, which I’m still always blown away by is that it cost between five and 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. So I think a lot of the time, especially in SaaS, we don’t make enough of the customers that we have. Instead, we keep trying to get new ones instead of you making the most of our great customers that we are have already attracted. So that’s probably one red flag is that. And again, it comes back to the leadership team, though that they that they you need to be able to communicate this up that it’s time for expansion.

Another time is when you have your processes in place, you know, the customer journey. So, as I mentioned, I was using like 12 other apps along with the CRM. And I more often than not, there was a lot of tabs open on my screen, because I wanted to dig a little bit, you know, sometimes integrations give you so much. And you want to dig deeper, you have to kind of go right in there.

What happens when the customer comes on board, you know, the different steps that are there. And I think as well, if you want to actually grow. So something that we did hack our CRM to do this at one, but it was about building customer advocacy. And we would. So we didn’t have an easy way to send surveys or any of that to our CRM, we did them using a different tool.

But basically, even if a CSM is having a conversation with their customer, let’s say John, and he was really positive and engaging about our tool, we would then tag them in the CRM to that maybe they will give us a testimonial in the future or a case study or something like that. So growing customer advocacy, focusing more on the customer satisfaction surveys. So within a customer success platform, the majority have that ability to send those CSAT surveys, those NPSs. And then the important thing is to be able to take action on the back of those so it’s not good enough just to send it. But if you send out your NPS, then you’re getting lots of 10s then you can turn those into case studies, testimonials, and then promote them online and word of mouth is still the most important or the probably biggest way that you attract new customers. So what is product growth by growth stage?

How to prove the value of a CSP to decision-makers?

Irina Cismas 34:44
Let’s say that I’m convinced that my team needs a CSP. Now how do I communicate this to the decision makers in a way that they will see the value and they will approve the cost? Because there is a cost involved when you acquire a new tool.

Carmel 35:00

Oh, of course, I think the biggest thing, the only way to speak to leadership team is through numbers. So that’s where you need to actually, even without your CSP, making that life easier for you, you do need to be able to show them, okay, this is our turn rates, this is our retention rate.

You know, these are the customers that I spoke to that I, you know, you shouldn’t happen, you shouldn’t have to stumble upon a customer with an opportunity before you upsell. And that’s what used to happen to me, used to be basically chance by chance of true customer conversation. I wish they would then say something like, you know, I need to be able to send emails to X number of people. And then I’d say, oh, on our next plan up, we actually you can send bulk emails, and they would be like, Oh, okay, and then that conversation would prevail. While I think the numbers rather than having those chance, opportunities, have a more planned opportunity as was action call. So you need to speak numbers or churn race really hurts management teams, I think leadership teams retention, you need to be able to talk, what are your retention rates, and you have to be able to forecast and say with the CSP tool, I would hope to reduce that by 5%.

So let’s go to my customers that had 20% churn rate reduce that down, even by 5%. Of what does that equate to in revenue? Do you how much more revenue you avoid losing? So I think you need to talk some numbers. And whether it’s a little bit painful in the beginning, because you have to manually try and log this information is definitely worth doing. And that is probably the only way to speak to a leadership team.

Irina 36:57
I am not sure if Pascal or Kaitlan or Brian are still online, I want to ask them: What were their objections handling from their leadership team? Because you mentioned that it was hard to convince.

Okay, can you let us know? Okay, what were their objections? I’m gonna try to tackle them together with Carmen help you prepare better for your next leadership.

Okay, so what I let Pascal wrote and let Brian and Caitlin. I want to come back to their objections and try to help them in convincing their leadership team that they need CSP. So what Pascal wrote is, they think that we have the data in Data Studio, and we can most probably they don’t need another tool if they have it in Data Studio. And we managed to get some but we still do not get alerts or health scores.

Carmel 38:11
So I think even in what Pascal has said there with the health scores, I think it comes back to that leading and lagging indicators. So you know, if you can predict the possibility of a customer churning before they churn, the possibility there, you’ll save them. But once they churn, it’s very hard to get a customer back. Because more often than not, they’ve already made up their mind a couple of weeks before that they might even have implemented another system, or gone to a competitor, or whatever the reason might be. And so I think that’s probably the biggest thing is to try and say it’s already too late. By the time they cancelled, it’s already too late. I can hear Pascal’s frustrated.

Irina 39:01
I think it also comes back to education and to the fact that you mentioned we are always chasing and running for new customers rather than existing customers. And I think it goes back to what you said, Carmel, at the beginning of our webinar, CRMs and other tools are there on the market for a longer time and you need to go so and experience the pain of educating, advocating, internal selling until it actually becomes a priority. That’s the thing because if indeed it is a priority, and the focus is on existing customers, then you should be able to properly equip your team. It doesn’t guarantee you the success, but it’s an important piece.

I started watching Formula One on Netflix, Drive to Survive. And I am comparing series with the CS, it’s like, you can’t actually win or be competitive if you don’t have a proper car. Of course, if you only have the car, but you don’t have the people and you don’t have the strategy, it doesn’t work. But at least I’m a Mercedes fan and in the last, the last season, which is on Netflix, Mercedes has lost the championship because they don’t have a proper car. So again, if you have the strategy, if you have the people, but you don’t equip them with the right tools, you won’t be successful.

Irina 40:47
You mentioned doing the math and proving with numbers, and of course, that’s always the success for that’s always a winning strategy. But there’s also that hidden the value of implementing the proper tools that doesn’t show up immediately in the balance sheet. It’s not always about the numbers, what’s that hidden value that we don’t often managed to nail it or to properly sell it internally?

Carmel 41:32

I think the biggest thing is that you move sometimes from being very reactive customer success manager to a more proactive in control, more focused customer success manager, because sometimes you can get very busy finding data, or if somebody asks you for reporting, you’re busy trying to filter this way and that way and seeing what’s possible in your CRM or what’s not possible.

And that takes a lot of time. So I think that’s what probably the leadership team don’t see, they ask for a report, and it might have taken you a couple of hours to do. And sometimes you don’t say anything or you just say “There you go” after, or staying on late at night, or whatever to do it. So I think that’s the biggest thing. It does switch you from being very reactive CSM to a proactive one. It definitely saves your time efficiencies, the visibility into the customer.

So I guess then you’re switching, I think Pascal mentioned there about switching from being very acquisition-focused, to more you know, you want to keep the customers you have. So I think that is a very much a mindset shift as well, in the company strategy, what you need to kind of probably keep advocating for that internally. But you do this for the efficiencies, the customer 360, the visibility. And also another factor as well is that when you’re doing the surveys for your customers, you’ve probably sometimes find out there are features there or things that your customers want that you never knew about. And they can often help shape your product roadmap as well.

If you take action based on a survey, and I know I spoke with a customer last year, and they wanted to do NPS, but then they actually said they didn’t do it because they had nobody to actually take action on the results, which I thought was very common sense way to look at it. There’s no point doing all these surveys if there’s no action taken on the back of them.

So yeah, it does save the CSM, a lot of time and efficiency, and the customer will benefit the most from all of this.

Receiving support from other teams

Irina 43:43
I want to ask you, you mentioned at the beginning that the collaboration between sales and customer success is important. You mentioned it actually that a few years back it was the sales and product.
I do think that it’s not necessarily more important, but as equally as important as the sales is also the engineering team.

How do you make sure that you convince the engineering team to offer you support into this implementation part? How do you win them? What’s the trick here?

Carmel 44:30

The trick is that you don’t give up because I’ve been there. So whether it’s a customer success platform or a CRM platform, you still need that little bit of engineering resources. And you do need to kind of keep your ground there and don’t give up. And so there was like certain things that you have to pick. Pick your battles, pick the war, not the battle or whatever that thing is. You can’t have everything. If we had all of these things, life would be easier. Because they don’t necessarily care as much about the sales aspect. They’re not as tuned into company revenue as a leadership team, or they’re thinking of how long will this take? How long will this take? I have other projects to do.

Just pick your top five metrics that you really need, that would be really helpful for you. Like, sometimes we would have something and then it would break. And then it was like the push on to try and get this little integration fixed, you know? But yeah, and you have to maybe sweet talk them a little bit, be extra nice.

But yeah, I keep saying like, what we did, actually, as well, in my previous role, we did some work shadowing. So the engineering team would often sit with the customer success team and kind of just to walk in their shoes, and then with some bigger features, they would realize, oh, yeah, okay, this is important. This is why it’s important, for example, for the customer even.

So, yeah, trying to get them to walk in your shoes as well, a little bit. But yeah, don’t give up is probably my biggest one.

Irina 46:07
I think, an important thing that you mentioned is that you need to partner up with the engineering team. Regardless, if you use a CRM or a CSP. It’s not like the CRM without special development. Tweaking it properly, it won’t work. So only because you have a CRM, but you don’t have the proper integrations which fit CSP, it doesn’t work. So development resources you need in both ways. So you would better use them and invest them in a tool that serves your journey. Yes, Pascale. You don’t get, you continue chasing.

Irina 46:58
I have one more question for you, Carmel. For all the CSM out there wrestling with this type of decisions. What’s that one piece of advice you wish someone gave you when you were in their shoes? Besides, don’t give up and engineering resources to get what you need.

Irina 47:29
I think the biggest piece of advice I wish somebody had given me was probably to document my processes a bit better. So like, even though I knew the customer journey, for the most part, I never actually until I was maybe two years in the role took the time to sit down and actually document them out. So what happens? Okay, so what onboarding emails do we send? When should we do a check in call and when do we send an email. So you do need to get your ducks in a row there to know, and that’s actually one step closer to helping you.

Number one, find out who your customers are. But number two, finding out what tools you need. And so then when you go looking for, let’s say you are ready to switch from a CRM to a CSP, you can say, Yeah, I know, I need the CSP to do this, this, this and this, and I’m doing it already, I’m just using 4 other apps to do it.

You know, for example, triggering playbooks like that life becomes so much easier rather than having to set everything up in another application. Here, you can keep it’s in your hands, it’s within your reach. So I think documentation is definitely key. I’m very inquisitive by nature, so I definitely would get to know our customers, but just documenting, and then analyzing that information. And not spending days analyzing information or anything like that. But just yet, getting those processes in place, and being very clear on the customer journey. So if you if your CEO came over and asked to you present him with this, this is how it works. Doesn’t have to be pretty, but you can talk him through, talk them through us.

Irina 49:07
Thank you very much for the insights that you shared. Before we wrap things up. I want to share something with you guys that I genuinely believe can be super helpful for all of you.

It’s my shameless promo part, but it’s not on the Custify tool side. It’s actually on the latest ebook, where you create it on how to improve your customer journey with a customer success platform. And it’s packed with insights on enhancing customer experience and making customer journeys cohesive I think it can also help you in selling internally or advocate for a solution. Whether you are a CS leader in CSM, we’re just curious, I think you will find it quite useful. But again, I’m a bit biased. I’ll drop the link in the chat and you will have a look when you can.

Irina 50:04
I think it’s a it’s a wrap. I want to thank you, Carmel for sharing all the insights. I want to thank you for the ones who were live with us today. I think conversations like the one that we had today, energize our community and keep it vibrant and informed.

Don’t take my word for it. Make sure that you check the ebook I mentioned and until next time, stay curious and keep advocating for your customers.

Have a topic in mind that you want to know more about? Let us know so we can include it in our new webinar.

Nicoleta Niculescu

Written by Nicoleta Niculescu

Nicoleta Niculescu is the Content Marketing Specialist at Custify. With over 6 years of experience, she likes to write about innovative tech products and B2B marketing. Besides writing, Nicoleta enjoys painting and reading thrillers.

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