Customer Success Leadership Community

Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

  • 1.  Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-23-2021 10:07
    Hello GGR community, 

    I have recently started (2nd week) at a company as the first CSM team member. I have 7 years experience as a CSM but have never started up a department from scratch - a fun, but tough, challenge!

    As of now the only tools I have at my disposable are HubSpot, Teams, Power BI, and GSuite. I am struggling to identify the best way to leverage these to put together a good CSM workflow/structure. There is no budget, for now, for any other tools. I am trying to think of how to leverage what we have for our current size but also how to scale for future growth. A fun, but tough, challenge! 

    Anyone have feedback on how they have leveraged HubSpot for CSM work? It is a new tool for me and it seems more Sales and Marketing focused from what I can tell. 
    I have a dashboard in HubSpot that gives me quick access to my accounts. I plan to leverage the Notes section for updates on account statuses. I have a field on the account that identifies the CSM. But other then that, I am not sure how else to be leverage the features it offers. 

    We don't have health scores yet, though that is on my list to work on in the near future. Same with NPS, CSAT surveys, etc. 
    I am currently working on the customer journey, handoff document, QBR presentation templates, roles/responsibilities for CSMs (for when the team is more then just me), and tiering of customers. 

    Would also love to hear any lessons learned or insight from others who have started from the ground floor. Anything you wish you had done at the beginning? Things you wish you hadn't done? Tips/tricks? 

    Thanks for help and giving me in a push in the right direction!

    **Update: I just want to thank everyone who has responded. Just hearing that others are encountering the same struggles has helped me not feel so alone in this journey. Thank you so much!**

    -Brooke

    #CustomerJourney
    #CustomerSuccess
    #IndustryData&Insights
    #Strategy
    #Technology

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    ClearSale
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-23-2021 12:23
    Brooke,

    Congrats on your new role and the opportunity to build a team.

    You should be focused on your customer journey and the methodology behind how you're going to deliver it, first and foremost. As you go through the process of defining your "engagement blueprint", you'll uncover phases and tasks where you should consider automation or systems to support them. But approaching this from a systems-first perspective is not the right angle you should be taking out of the gate. 

    This tool that we developed, The Customer Success Engagement Blueprint and Playbook Builder, may be of some assistance to you to help you layout that engagement blueprint and start to flesh out the process behind it.

    Good luck with your efforts.

    Best,
    Andrew

    ------------------------------
    Andrew Marks
    SuccessHACKER
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 12:49
    Hi Andrew, I agree with what you said! I think in my eagerness I was trying to do too much at once and really need to take a step back and focus on that customer journey. I've been doing that the last few days and it is helping put together some pieces for me. Appreciate your feedback!

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-24-2021 08:29
    Hi Brooke,

    I am in the same boat, building a CS org from scratch. Fortunately, I have built teams and processes from scratch before so I have that. However, I have not done some of the core CS work such as building journey maps and playbooks prior to this role. We are currently implementing Hubspot and we also use Intercom. 

    I am about 8 weeks in and have made good progress, and would love to collaborate and share what I have to help! Always good to have someone to share ideas and get feedback. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to connect! You can access my calendar and schedule some time here.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    ------------------------------
    Christopher Bulkley
    Windham NH
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 13:08
    Thank you Chris, I will set up some to chat. I agree, it is great to have someone to bounce ideas off. Appreciate the offer!

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-24-2021 10:21
    I have not built a team or process from scratch either and I am new also to the systematic aspect of CS. The team I've run for the last while has been two people and we've done mostly everything by feel! I'm sure others here will be helpful from a technical perspective and have tools to share, so I'm excited to follow along as well!

    I agree with Andrew that the first - and many - thoughts should be about the customer. Really understanding their Why and how they go about finding the product/solution, understanding its value, what the problem is that it solves, and how the CS team can repeatedly share back to them the impact the product is having. That's the essence of customer success so that sounds like customer journey mapping to start. 

    I've been leveraging YouTube and blog posts from ChurnZero, Gainsight and others to get more of the technical approach going for me and my now growing team. 

    Good luck...you got this. 




    ------------------------------
    Brian Hansen
    VP of Business Development
    Enquiron
    Boston MA
    4158171611
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 12:50
    Thanks Brian, I am also trying to leverage a lot of the same resources (youtube, blog posts, etc). If you have any favorites I would love to know them. Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 13:15
    Certainly...let's share together. One person's LinkedIn content has been helpful as a complement to the information we're probably both consuming on the technical approach to CS. This area is focused on "servitization". Check it out when you have a moment... https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-mcgowan-the-service-design-group/

    ------------------------------
    Brian Hansen
    VP of Business Development
    Boston MA
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-26-2021 08:49
    Brooke, first off, congratulations. Starting a CS department from the ground up isn't easy. Not going to lie, the first few months will be tough. But you have this community that can and are willing to help you. I'm 10 month into this journey and happy to share my lessons and tips if that's be helpful. Not sure what your situation is, but I'd encourage you to understand your clients first. I did a zoom "tour" in my first 30 days which was enormously helpful.
    Good luck!

    ------------------------------
    Qin Coe
    VP, Customer Success
    Gather Voices
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 13:14
    Hi Qin! In addition to taking a step back and focusing on the customer journey, I have also been working on a tour of the both my internal and external customers. I agree that to be able to be successful I need to understand my clients first! Appreciate the advice!

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:56
    Christine Knific from Wisr did a really great webinar on this. I am WOWED by what an incredible team and program she built from scratch in less than 1 year and during COVID. You should definitely check it out  https://youtu.be/mUKZ7IEtgIE

    ------------------------------
    erin christopher
    totango
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-26-2021 10:45

    Congrats Brooke!

    One very important tidbit of advice from my side and this comes from my personal experience. Make sure you have full buy-in from the executive team on your high-level plan and you have their commitment to help you evangelize Customer Success throughout the entire organization. And don't allow them to just say "sure" or "sounds good." They should be playing an active role in helping you make this successful. I would do this before starting anything else (journey mapping, hiring, tool identification, etc.)

    I'm going to be on PTO for most of this week but would be more than happy to share my experience on a call next week if you'd like.

    Regards,

    Daryl



    ------------------------------
    Daryl Colborne
    Director, Customer Success
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  • 13.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-26-2021 10:50
    That's a great point, Daryl. Similar to when you're working with a prospect or customer - making sure all parties agree on the problem that can/needs to be solved. That's a vital starting point for all strategy moving forward.

    ------------------------------
    Brian Hansen
    VP of Business Development
    Enquiron
    Boston MA
    4158171611
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 13:19
    Hey Daryl, I actually have a 90 day goal where I have to present my 'lessons learned' after the first 90 days to our executive team. Laying out where I see our strengths and gaps are and how I feel we can improve. So it is interesting you bring it up. I would be interested hearing about your experience on doing something like this since I will be doing it in the next few weeks.

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-28-2021 19:10

    Hey Brooke,
    100%! Let's chat. Can you schedule time with me next week?

    https://calendly.com/daryl_colborne

    Regards,

    Daryl



    ------------------------------
    Daryl Colborne
    Director, Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-26-2021 13:53
    Hey Brooke,

    First off, congrats! I'll echo some of the other posts in that you'll want to first hammer out the customer journey, it's easier to set up a process etc when you know what your north star is. 

    For Hubspot, I've used it in a similar situation and although it's not the most ideal, there are ways to make it work. What I've done is used Tickets and set up automation from the tail end of the sales pipeline and created Onboarding and Success pipelines. You have the ability to generate tasks as tickets hit certain stages, so in sales case it's our post sales handoff criteria. Once that's complete it goes into the onboarding pipeline with applicable tasks per stage etc, then Success.

    The place where it really does struggle though is post onboarding, you'll just want to set up tasks for yourself well in advance (QBR's, check ins etc) and use Hubspot's priority tag to review who's in need of attention etc.


    As you scale you'll want to look at dedicated CS software, you can really feel Hubspot's limitations later on.

    Hope that helps!

    ------------------------------
    James LaRiviere
    Customer Success Leader
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-26-2021 15:13
    Hello Brooke!! 
    I'm happy to share my experience. I believe Hubspot will be a great tool that will allow you to follow up timely with customers. We are currently using Hubspot as well and I am finding the tool very useful. It allows me to add tasks, create follow-ups, log every note of meetings and training calls with customers, add information of the kickoff call and note information from the discovery notes from Sales. You will be able to monitor everything from the CRM. Another cool thing is you can create email templates and snippets to make the work of the CSM's more efficient as you go. But first things first: identifying the milestones that your customer needs to achieve is key. And before doing any automation try the journey with some customers. Validate it works. 

    Once you have clear visibility of those milestones, start building your processes around them. What steps need to be completed for your customer to reach those milestones and turn those into processes. I would leave renewals and EBRs for later down the road and focus first on getting the journey together. If you are sure the onboarding journey works, the rest will be easier. 

    Some of the things you can leverage with Hubspot:
    - Integrating information of the billing plan (you can integrate with Chargebee, what are you using?
    - Information of the deal and company (all of the valuable attributes should be added for CSMs to be able to better understand who they are dealing with).
    - Integrate with Outlook/Google calendars, log every communication into the CRM so you are able to follow up better with the activity of each account (last time it was contacted, any risks, notes, calls and texts)
    - Integrate with SAKARI for SMS messaging
    - Meetings links (for your CSMs to be able to invite customers to training calls, kickoff calls) and you are able to track how many meetings they've had. 

    Lessons learned: invest more time on perfecting your onboarding journey before getting involved with other things, I believe its the most important part of making sure customers are successful.

    Hope this helps!
    Best,
    Erika

    ------------------------------
    Erika Villarreal
    Customer Success Manager
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-29-2021 10:24
    Hi Brooke,

    I'm in a similar boat. I ended up just creating a CS template in Notion (free tool). It's more comprehensive and, in my opinion, easier to use from a CS standpoint. I created columns for things like the health score, renewal date, concerns, etc, and then just link to their contact page in HubSpot. I'm happy to share my Notion template with you if that sounds like something you would be interested in trying out. I update health scores quarterly based on product (activity, usage, issues, etc) and relationship metrics (customer success sentiment and feedback) - weighted 60/40 - and use a 100-point scale in Google sheets that I can embed in Notion.

    In short, I think it's a great tool because it can bring other key programs the company uses (like Hubspot or Google Suite) together.

    ****UPDATE****

    I had some people reach out asking for the template, so here that is for those interested: 

    • Zoom explaining how it works for me, that's here.
    • Here is the template link. You can duplicate it in the top right corner, I believe and make it your own.


    ------------------------------
    Kasen Wysong
    RealAtom
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 04-29-2021 10:39
    I would love to see your template in Notion, if you don't mind sharing. We also use both GSuite and Hubspot so it sound like it might be a good fit. I haven't heard of Notion but am going to research it now.

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:56
    Hi Brooke!

    I am right there with you but I don't have 7 years of experience as a CSM. We have Salesforce, Simple Survey, and Slack. However, we just purchased Process.st https://www.process.st/ for our customer playbook. It was only $30 per user on a monthly contract. Hard to say no. We are just implementing it now, but it takes almost no time and will definitely help you create a repeatable process and scale. 

    My question would be, why did your company hire you? If it's to fix issues/scale, then you need to convey the importance of tools. Yes, you should document the journey, but to me, "no budget" seems very closed off. Hit on the major issues the leadership team is having and how you can fix them with said tools. To me, it would be an easy sell. 

    If you want to chat or anyone reading this post, go ahead and schedule time with me :) https://calendly.com/ashleywagner/30min-catchup 


    ------------------------------
    Ashley Wagner
    Blackthorn
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-05-2021 08:53
    Thank you, Ashley, for introducing me to Process.st. It looks really helpful.

    How do you expect your team to use Process.st? Are you planning on asking them to go in and follow-the steps/track their progress?

    I like the idea of a tool but am not sure about asking the team to change their process/leverage a tool that may require yet another step. 

    What other tools did you consider using? Why did you choose Process.st?

    For the group at large, are there other tools people are using to manage playbooks?
    I found Process Bliss and it seems similar but even more manageable from a cost perspective (we are very, very resource constrained).

    ------------------------------
    Laurie Barlev
    ComplySci
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-05-2021 09:53
    Hi Laurie!

    Honestly, I found this application through a google search. I was trying to find examples of customer success processes. I did look into recapped.io but process.st is only $30 per user on a monthly plan, free trial, and super easy to use. We currently have a process that when an opp is closed, it creates a checklist in process.st ( I get an email and you can get a slack notification), update a field in process.st and that value is pushed back to Salesforce. More to be built out. I can have the CSM stay in process.st and ALL information is updated back in Salesforce. I can also see how we are tracking on all onboardings. Something I can't do with Salesforce, easily. I went with this because we don't really know what our playbook is yet. I didn't want to commit to a more robust solution until I have a better baseline for process and metrics. We will most likely move to churn zero or something that can cover all customer success processes. 

    Hope this helps :)

    ------------------------------
    Ashley Wagner
    Blackthorn
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-05-2021 10:52

    Being that software is recommended in this thread, I would be remiss if I didn't chime back in wearing the day-to-day user hat of a platform that I also happen to work for. 

    If you are just looking for a project management platform to manage your process there are lots of great platforms - but they don't create a process built on best practices for you, they just help you manage it.

    If you are looking for a platform that gives you pre-built processes, toolkits, and templates purpose-built for customers' success that make you look like a rock star now and that you can customize and optimize as you collect more data, AND also happens to be free (not just a free trial). You should check out totango.com

    If you like your experience, Awesome! If it doesn't fit your needs, that's okay too (we always love feedback).


    Best of luck to you as you get started in your new roles and as you continue to embark on your journey to make your customers successful. 



    ------------------------------
    erin christopher
    totango
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 09:57
    Hi Brooke - 

    I'm about 2 years into the same process, with similar tooling (+ Salesforce but no Hubspot) after coming from a much larger and heavily-resourced Customer Success organization; It was an eye-opening experience. I'm happy to share my "what would I do differently" and other things to consider.  Feel free to reach out and I'm happy to set up some time to chat!

    Best,
    Jon

    ------------------------------
    Jon Roths
    Director, Customer Success at Stats Perform
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 10:14
    Might you be willing to share a couple bullets on what was most vital to bring to start, Jon? I'm in a similar boat so any nuggets would be helpful! Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Brian Hansen
    VP of Business Development
    Enquiron
    Boston MA
    4158171611
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 12:40

    Of course, Brian.

    Here are the 8 steps she focused on in the Webinar:

    1. Set up a customer success organization by hiring people that have the right skills and experience for your unique business – even if this means sacrificing one skill set for another.
    2. Get as much visibility as possible into your company, customers, and products. 
    3. Learn your company's current customer journey – no matter how basic or advanced it may be.
    4. Train your CS team with defined processes and procedures to enable them to confidently handle customers and make informed decisions on their own. (We know this is hard when you are busy, but if you document as you go, it becomes a lot easier)
    5. Plan strategically in order to scale successfully. As you grow, it isn't just your CS team that will need to scale.
    6. Evolve to a tiered coverage model to handle more clients without overwhelming your CS team. (aka determine your ratio of human to digital customer engagement based on a metric like a customer's contract value)
    7. Implement automation to help scale effectively -- this is where the technology you choose can be the difference-maker. 
    8. Begin advanced journey mapping to determine the next steps for building customer loyalty and continuing to provide value.

    I am a little biased because I am all about using technology to make my life easier right BUT I think that the biggest mistake companies make is relying on the technology alone. So my recommendation before selecting a platform is to map out YOUR business requirements. There are a lot of great tools in the marketplace, but it is about finding the right tool for your specific needs. Often times we get dazzled by what a specific platform can do and lose sight of what we need it to do. 

    Always more than happy to help.... 



    ------------------------------
    erin christopher
    totango
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-03-2021 14:55
    Thanks so much, Erin! Thanks is great and very helpful to see all in one place.

    ------------------------------
    Brian Hansen
    VP of Business Development
    Enquiron
    Boston MA
    4158171611
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-04-2021 11:12

    Hi Team,
    I've been scouring Gain Grow Retain for a 30 - 60 - 90 day plan and have only found one but I'm hoping there are more out there. I have a friend that is also brand new to Customer Success that is being tasked with building out a team and program like Brooke. I'm not crazy about the format that I used for my 30 - 60 - 90. Does anyone have a good sample they could share? And if I'm missing good examples that are already hidden in the community, my apologies!!!

    Regards,

    Daryl



    ------------------------------
    Daryl Colborne
    Director, Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 05-04-2021 16:55
    Yes, if anyone has examples of a 30-60-90 plan that they are sharing I would appreciate it!

    ------------------------------
    Brooke Carrie
    Director of Customer Success
    ------------------------------



  • 30.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 06-16-2021 10:22
    Hi,
    I am also building a CS department from scratch. I am working on building out process and workflows for the entire Sales/Trading org since we don't have anything clearly documented. CS is quite different here since they do not interact with the client at all (I will be changing that!). I have a CS person that is very junior so I need to upskill them to be more proactive and be able to someday own the client relationship.  I am trying to put in processes, but getting some pushback on systems. We have Salesforce and Slack - that's pretty much it.  Sales were opposed to JIRA tickets, so I have set up a Trello board to use for incoming CS requests that can be sent from Slack, which is helping me track inbound tasks for the team.

    I am thankful for all the ideas shared. I am happy to connect with anyone who has built a department/team from scratch. While I have worked in start-ups and built systems/process for myself, I have not had to do it for a Sales organization.


    ------------------------------
    Heidi Schmidt
    Hybrid Theory
    ------------------------------



  • 31.  RE: Building a CSM team from the ground floor....

    Posted 06-16-2021 15:51
    Hi Brooke, 

    Congratulations on the new role!
    Coincidentally! Your first statement exactly applies to me as of today, l since I am starting out to create a CS team as well (plus in my 2nd week!) 
    Lots of good comments / suggestions in the thread here. Thanks to all who contributed!

    My approach so far has been to understand our current customer journey, what has worked and what hasn't and define what CS really means for us given our business and that our offerings are not SaaS. I haven't yet started looking at tools yet. 

    I would love to know how things are going for you as your complete 60 days in your role. Your learnings / findings or anything you could share about your journey building the CSM team would be much helpful!

    Thanks in advance! 



    ------------------------------
    Vrushank Salaskar
    Qualitia
    ------------------------------