Should Customer Success teams have Veto Power? Use Data to Prove your Case.


Share on LinkedIn

Just like Barbie dolls of late, CS teams come in different shapes and sizes. One might report to Sales, or Marketing, or Support, or some other department.

Unfortunately each department’s metrics set off a conflict of interests:

– Marketing teams are evaluated by the number of qualified leads they bring in
– Sales teams are evaluated by the number of deals they close
– Support teams are evaluated by how quickly they can resolve a problem

What if Marketing’s leads are ready to buy and Sales can close the deal easily, but it’s not a good customer fit?

Support has to put out fires and CS teams then have to manage the amount of churn and renewals – consequences of the previous team’s labor to meet their metrics.

Should the CS team be able to Veto a customer?
We’re hearing that CS teams at least want to have a seat at the table where this becomes part of the discussion. And rightfully so. Because if they can’t stop a bad sale, it’s inevitable they will soon become a casualty of churn and affect the CS team’s perceived performance.

So, if you’re in this boat – you’re tired of fighting fires and trying to please your accounts that at the end of the day maybe aren’t the best fit for your company, why not use customer insights to your advantage?

Let’s say you’re the Customer Success Manager (CSM). You talk to more customers in one day than many people in your company talk to all year, so you know better than most what’s working or not for your customers. And your job – as the ultimate customer advocate – is to ensure that customers are successful with your firm’s offerings. But there’s only so much that the CS team can do on the front line: work-arounds, apologies, escalations, and joint-account planning only go so far before you need the rest of the company to prioritize the right improvements.

So you have 2 options:

1. Try to convince company leadership that you know better than them, OR
2. Provide trustworthy, representative data that pinpoints where the problems are, the expense (or lost opportunity) of those problems, and offer some potential solutions (being careful NOT to overstep your role)

I suspect you’re leaning towards option 2, and you’d love to tell a business story similar to point #3 in our previous post on effective business analytics. So how do you get the data? Effective use of customer feedback.

Customer feedback (not surveys!) can be your most powerful ally. When tied to revenue, it becomes indisputable evidence of where “leakage” (wasteful problems that cost the business money) is occurring. The key is to make sure it represents the business, which means that the key is to make sure you are hearing from enough of the right people, in the right accounts, at the right time.

The good news is that this is all doable, and needn’t be expensive or time-consuming. Here’s how:

1. Engage your customers in the process – make sure they know this isn’t just a survey, but it’s their way of helping steer company priorities, and the feedback matters. Besides, what better way to shift from a reactive “customer support” role to instead be a proactive “customer success manager.” Subscribers of our TopBox solution also gain access to our library of templates and tools to that enable CSM’s to rapidly manage this process.

2. Manage feedback at the account-level. Before approaching an account, the CSM for Acme Corp would surely want to know if they are upset about something, and could then use that information as a starting point in the creation of the account-plans. The CSM can also engage key contacts to identify the right people to provide feedback, while also expanding the firm’s footprint in the account through new relationships. By the way, did you know that silent accounts – accounts that are unwilling to participating in your feedback process – can be as much as 14x more likely to churn than accounts that responded to your feedback request?

3. Demonstrate that customer feedback matters by showing accounts what you intend to do with their feedback, and then be sure to follow-up with them to let them know you did it.

4. Utilize a B2B CX tool like TopBox to effortlessly (and cost efficiently) produce your analysis. B2B companies are different in structure so use metrics that make follow this unique makeup. Focus on the account-level (per item 2 above) to create the building blocks for your aggregate analysis. That is, if you don’t have good feedback at the account level, how can you have good feedback in the aggregate?

At the end of the day, communicating data and presenting it like this to other departments becomes less combative and more educational all around. It also comes straight from the horse’s mouth, removing the CS team from any perceived bias they may have as the ones closest to the account. No longer “your opinion,” you’ll have factual evidence backing your recommendation.

Upload your data into TopBox and see what insights your data is hiding — use them to pull up a seat at the decision making table.

Sabrina Bozek
Sabrina is the Director of Marketing for Waypoint Group, a Bay Area-based B2B customer experience consulting firm. She earned an MBA at University of San Francisco in Marketing and Analytics, and is focused on helping clients better understand their own customers using feedback and account-based reporting with TopBox.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here