Towards a digital-led approach to Customer Success Management?_background

For 88% of customers, the customer experience is as important as the products or services (Salesforce, 2022).

So, to satisfy customers and provide unforgettable experiences, businesses prioritize defining, structuring, and delivering an impeccable Customer Success strategy, particularly in the digital era.

This mission is entrusted to Customer Success Managers. For these increasingly connected CSMs, the stakes are high. According to McKinsey, up to 50% of a company's growth relies on Customer Success. So, how can we combine customer success and a digital-led strategy to support growth? What levers should be used on a daily basis? Antonin Bigot, CSM and founder of Customerz (a collective of Customer Success experts), shares his insights. Let's dive in!

Customer Success Manager: A Thriving Profession?

CSM, a three-letter acronym representing a profession on the rise. Customer Success Management serves as the cornerstone of ensuring an exceptional customer experience, also known as "customer success." The dedicated efforts to provide value to customers are at the core of a Customer Success Manager's role.

"It's a profession that has a company-specific definition. In other words, Customer Success is a relatively new field that does not yet have a universal definition. At Customerz, we believe that the role of a CSM goes beyond delivering customer success. It's about going the extra mile to transform customers into genuine advocates." - Antonin BIGOT, CSM and founder of Customerz.

To fulfil this mission, today's CSMs often take on multiple roles. Customer Success Management covers the entire customer journey, from pre-sales to post-sales, including client onboarding, renewal, product or service education, customer support, upselling, and more. However, with the passage of time, the profession tends to specialize, particularly in the digital era. This has led to the emergence of CSM 2.0, commonly referred to as "Digital Customer Success Managers."

Being a CSM in 2023: Challenges in the Digital Era

As we've witnessed, Customer Success is undergoing a profound transformation. More and more companies are prioritizing this strategy, with 72% of businesses considering it an absolute priority, according to Forrester Research.

However, this priority comes with its fair share of challenges:

"There's a genuine need for innovation, which presents both opportunities and challenges. The pace of digital transformation is relentless, and as a result, CSMs must stay constantly vigilant and adapt to change. Since there are no universally defined training or best practices for Customer Success, it falls upon us to stay attentive to evolving trends and shape the profession accordingly." - Antonin BIGOT, CSM and founder of Customerz.

Shaping the profession in the face of digitalization takes on different forms. Here are a few notable examples:

  • Adopting customer-centric tools: To effectively define, structure, and deploy a Customer Success strategy, CSMs require powerful tools. Ticketing systems, organizational platforms, and community-building tools have become integral to the daily routines of CSM 2.0.
  • Developing new customer success models: Two distinct approaches have emerged - "high touch" and "low touch." In a high-touch CSM strategy, companies prioritize personal relationships, face-to-face interactions, and one-on-one exchanges. However, in the digital age, the low-touch CSM strategy has gained momentum. It emphasizes automation, customer autonomy, and "one-to-many" relationships.
"Be cautious about making generalizations: not all companies are moving towards low touch and automation in the digital age! A good alternative is the mid-touch or dual-touch approach. We continue to maintain personalized human relationships and deliver value while attempting to automate certain aspects of our CSM tasks." - Antonin BIGOT, CSM and founder of Customerz.

Towards the rise of digital-led customer success?

We are facing two flourishing paradigms. On one hand, the omnipresence of digital in the business and consumer landscape, fostering autonomy and self-service. On the other hand, the importance of placing the customer at the heart of strategies to enhance end-to-end satisfaction.

To address these challenges, a new trend emerges a specialization in the field known as "digital-led Customer Success."

The objectives of digital-led Customer Success are:

The objectives of digital-led customer success

Community, a lever for digital-led Customer Success.

Up until now, many companies have limited their digital-led approach to providing a few online tutorials available to customers on a client portal or, at best, a Learning Management System. However, the tides are changing. There is now an opportunity to deliver an enhanced customer experience through a powerful lever: the customer community.

By establishing such a community, companies can scale their Customer Success operations and achieve their goals of educating, activating, and retaining customers. Beyond that, the community brings together users who form genuine connections, share valuable insights and best practices, and uncover synergies among themselves.

"I strongly believe in the potential of customer communities. Gathering members is the easy part; the real challenge lies in sustaining engagement over time! In fact, community management is so crucial that it can become a new facet of the CSM role. Facilitating collective discussions, identifying top ambassadors to co-manage the community, organizing regular in-person events... Customer success is increasingly achieved by becoming community-centric." - Antonin BIGOT, CSM and founder of Customerz.

So, is the customer community one of the keys to digital-led Customer Success Management? At MeltingSpot, we are convinced it is. Antonin Bigot adds three best practices to consider before diving headfirst into implementing this strategy:

  • Place great emphasis on community building: Developing, managing, and engaging a customer community through community building becomes a vital skill within the CSM profession. It is now essential to master the principles of community building by undergoing training in Customer Success Management.
  • Always prioritize the human element: As digital presence continues to expand, the human element must retain its place. To foster lasting and genuine connections, it is crucial to adopt a hybrid approach, combining an online community with in-person interactions (monthly gatherings, quarterly workshops, annual conferences, etc.). Ultimately, the CSM profession revolves around nurturing human connections!

Aim for greater internal alignment: The responsibility for the customer community does not solely rest on CSMs. The entire company must comprehend and closely align with the customer community. Achieving true alignment across all teams (marketing, sales, product, etc.) is vital for nurturing this community over the long term.

Discover the internal benefits of communities in this insightful video clip featuring Bill McGlade from The CLG Summit 2023. Gain valuable insights on how fostering communities within a company can enhance collaboration, knowledge sharing, and cross-functional alignment.

To watch the full replay from the CLG Summit, head over to The Community Lab.

Get ready to create and gather, thanks to the community!

There's no room for doubt: today, especially for B2B startups, Customer Success Management is going digital. Mastering Community Building tools and creating an online customer community are real assets. So, to satisfy your customers, educate them more easily, and foster lasting relationships, you now know what you need to do.

Start building your online customer community today:


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