The One-to-Many Team in Customer Success: Why is it needed?
More and more companies are moving from the traditional business model to the Subscription Work Model (SaaS) . In connection with these changes, there is a need to create a special team of customer success managers (CSM).
Your product and sales are growing, and you are recruiting more and more CSMs to your team to keep customers, avoid unsubscribing from the product and find new opportunities for growth. But endlessly hiring them will not work. The number of employees should be sufficient so that each client has the opportunity to ask questions, learn the best practices and feel that the company pays attention to them. That is why you should consider implementing the one-to-many strategy in the existing CSM team.
But first, let's define the levels of interaction of the CSM team with customers. In total there are 3 levels of customer communication for CS managers: high touch, low touch, and tech touch.
High touch implies that the client is allocated a personal CSM, who is constantly in touch and devotes a significant portion of his time to him. Which customers are classified as high-touch? These may be customers with high monthly or annual payments, well-known brands, etc. CSMs working with high-touch clients usually have a very limited list of accounts in their portfolio. If it is expanded, then managers will not be able to pay due attention to each client, which will lead to a decrease in the level of service.
At the low touch level, each client is also assigned a personal CSM, but there is a significant limitation on the number of hours that customers have at their disposal. Of course, in this case, such managers have significantly more clients than CSM, who work at the high-touch level. Since each account has very little time, CSMs working at this level require supporting materials that they could send to customers for self-study.
At the tech-touch level, customers do not have their own CSM. The company provides self-boarding materials and reference resources. Communication with the client is one-way and occurs in the form of mailings and notifications directly in the product (if applicable)
The one-to-many team creates content in various formats, each of which assumes its own level of interaction with customers.
During the webinar, one of the forms of online learning, you can delve into the product (service) of the company, talk about its capabilities, present the latest updates and much more. One of the advantages of the webinar is that it can contain a block of answers to questions - customers can ask questions of interest and present their use cases for the product. Participants get a chance to ask just a few questions; nevertheless, webinars give them the opportunity to receive feedback from the Customer Success manager, regardless of the size of their company, monthly fees and other criteria.
In Wrike, we conduct 2 types of webinars: regular webinars on specific topics, during which the manager leads the narration according to the stated subject, and then proceeds to answer questions from clients, and the “Ask an Expert” webinars. Their format is more interactive than regular webinars. Customers can tell about their particular situation and the problems they would like to solve with the help of the product. At sessions of this format, we set a limit on the number of participants so that each participant has enough time to ask their questions and get answers to them.
- Educational videos
Often, information in the video format is perceived better than in text. Creating instructional videos is usually within the responsibility of the one-to-many CSM team. Videos can be recorded both with the participation of the CSM itself and in conjunction with other departments (for example, the motion design commands).
Each CSM must be a product expert, both in terms of its core functions and in terms of knowledge of best practices. Therefore, even if there is a dedicated team in a self-learning materials development company, such as video (for example, many organizations have dedicated help center teams and product forums), the one-to-many team can still take part in these resources, sharing experience.
- Additional references
One-page reference documents, books in electronic form and other materials act both as a supplement (to webinars, videos, etc.), and as independent learning resources. Due to the fact that the CSM team is in continuous communication with clients, managers must understand the typical problems of clients and (if possible) know all the best practices. This knowledge can make materials of this format even more useful to customers.
- Other activities
Different companies have a wide range of activities that fall under the responsibility of the one-to-many team. For example, in Wrike we have a so-called. “One-to-many customer queue”, which allows our customers, despite their small size and small monthly payment, to receive an hour of CSM time to discuss their specific situation and hear the expert's opinion on this matter. In some companies, one-to-many teams work in conjunction with email marketing teams. The CSM team helps to determine the content for newsletters, selects topics that are most relevant to customers, and prepares this very content.
Now you know what the one-to-many team does, but we still haven’t answered the question: “at what levels does it interact with customers?”. Obviously, this is not a high touch: members of such a team simply do not have time for regular conversations with the same clients. Their task is to reach as many clients as possible. Therefore, it turns out that the team works between the levels of low touch and tech touch. Thus, the team also practices direct two-way communication with clients during webinars and other interactive sessions, and also develops materials for independent onboarding.
But how can companies determine when a separate one-to-many team is really necessary? The answer to this question consists of two parts:
- Firstly, in a situation where your company has grown substantially and now has many clients in its portfolio that you cannot offer personal CSM to, but which still require your attention.
- secondly, when you would like to develop materials for independent onboarding in various formats, so that customers of any value can use your product (service) in the most efficient way.
The one-to-many command can be useful both for companies operating according to the traditional model, and also for those that have already switched to the subscription-based model. But its presence is extremely important especially for the second category of companies, since the amount of revenue from a client directly depends on how long he uses your product. Therefore, you must be sure that absolutely all customers receive the proper level of service.