Customer Success and Product teams are closest to day-to-day customer needs in most B2B SaaS businesses. So how can these teams best align to incorporate Customer Success insights into product roadmaps?
In our first Community Hour of 2022, we spoke with Product and Customer Success leaders from high-growth companies, to uncover their best practices for working together. Our discussion leaders included:
Watch the full session here or read on for our top takeaways from this Community Hour.
In daily interactions, Customer Success teams hear different types of product ideas, unique to each customer segment. Power users tend to give feedback on their everyday user experiences, while executive decision makers and budget holders want more higher-level information, like analytics and revenue impact.
“Product teams are usually accountable for, “What’s next? What’s new?’” says Craig. “Meanwhile, the Customer Success teams are getting beat up on the UX details.”
We asked our attendees how often their Customer Success and Product teams work together to get input for product roadmaps. Over 50% said they collaborate all the time, 25% said they get together monthly, and the remaining 25% said these exchanges happen quarterly or less.
One way to bridge that gap and bring value to both teams? Beta testing.
For Jonathan, when Quala releases new features, the Customer Success team is an integral part of beta testing those features to ensure that they are valuable, before opening them up to all customers. Over at Toast, Craig leverages his regional success managers in a similar way – since they are closest with customers, their validation is key.
When it comes to cross-functional collaboration, all our speakers agree – understanding how the other team works is central to success.
Product and Customer Success teams should think of each other as partners when rolling out new features. Their values should be aligned, and each function needs to understand the other’s work, in order to have a better relationship and a better product.
When Brendon’s Product team at Crayon rolled out a new process, he saw it as an important learning opportunity for the Customer Success team.
“I had them read a book about it,” he said. “Then they understood how the product team wanted to deploy beta features, where they were taking feedback, what types of feedback points were built into the process, and it really helped us align with them.”
Once Customer Success teams have established this core understanding, they should bring Product teams into their customer conversations. As much as Product Managers would like to talk to customers, the reality is that they’re often too busy developing and shipping new features. This is where Customer Success teams can help – by filling in the quantitative data with qualitative human stories and real use cases.
“Talking to customers gives life to the data,” says Brendon. “And customers also love being part of that process. They become even more committed to the product. In the best cases, the Customer Success Manager will do an intro, and be on a couple of the calls. But then the Product Manager will further develop that relationship.”
“Feature requests are a fool’s errand,” says Craig.
Product teams are uniquely equipped to solve problems, he reminds us, not just process feature requests. So instead of submitting a to-do list, Customer Success teams should bring a problem and ask for a solution.
“Too many feature requests in a queue just get drowned out,” agrees Jonathan.
Instead, Customer Success teams should think in terms of themes. Take a look back at the past month and tease out the top 3 things that customers said. What are the common threads, the big problems or opportunities? Then, bring these to the Product team.
“When we discuss trends and themes, those conversations are much more fruitful,” says Brendon. “The Product team often designs and builds something slightly different than we would have suggested, but it solves the problem in a thoughtful way.”
The ideal scenario, Brendon says, is one where the Customer Success team can access all these customer data points in one place, so they can focus on the bigger picture – what it all means and how to take action on those insights.
Wherever your teams are working, communication is key – especially when it comes to rolling out new features.
Our speakers agree, Customer Success teams always want a heads up when something new is about to launch. Most importantly, they want a solid understanding of the value of that feature – to explain to customers how and why they should use it. When this alignment happens internally, customer adoption tends to be stronger, too.
One of the best parts of our Community Hours is answering questions from our attendees. Here, we headed into a live Q&A session, digging into some thought-provoking questions.
Brendon: Yes, but we don’t always get everything we ask for. What works well is that we understand how the product team operates – and when they’re looking for our feedback. Our Product and Engineering teams try to leave some slack in their project queue to incorporate the things we want.
Craig: I created a Customer Pain Board which was a template that asked, “What is the pain they are having? What is the evidence you can share? If you have a feature idea, what might it be?” This helped our Customer Success team get down to the root of the issue, instead of simply requesting a feature from the Product team.
There was so much more to this inspiring discussion; to learn more, watch the whole session on YouTube.