Congratulations! You’ve been appointed as the new head of Customer Success. You made it through the resumes, interviews, and negotiations – the hard part is over!... Until your first day.
Getting started on setting priorities, goals, and actions is daunting. Where do you begin?
Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. As Head of CS, a 90-Day Plan will help you build credibility, set an agenda, and establish clear priorities to start acing it from the outset. This way, you can lead your team with a vision and well-structured strategy to provide customers with a cocktail of guidance, support, and success.
The best way to approach a 90-day plan is to keep it simple. Block it into three sets of 30 days, and dedicate each block to achieving one big goal. These are our suggestions on how best to go about it:
Days 1-30: Immerse
Days 31-60: Implement
Days 61-90: Improve
Let’s dive in on what this means.
The first 30 days should be dedicated to immersing yourself in the environment of your new role and understanding the basics. Think of your first 30 days as finding a cocktail recipe and going to buy the ingredients at the supermarket. The more familiar you are with how things work, the quicker you can lead your department to success.
You should focus on these four key areas:
Building strong relationships with the people around you and your customers is the best way to set yourself up for long-term success. Take the time to:
- Understand the important processes and systems in the business and how different teams are immersed in them. This involves discussing the main responsibilities and objectives, establishing rapport, and building trust with your team and relevant stakeholders;
- Get to know your team and understand their experience on the ground;
- Align with the C-Suite on their goals for the company. What is their biggest priority at the moment?
- How does your role support lateral teams like Sales, Marketing and Product?
- Understand your customer base, the different customer personas and profiles. Who are the key accounts and what makes them so? Why do they use the product? Look at the customers who’ve churned and understand what are the common triggers of churn.
Identify how your product and practices can guide customers and help them achieve their goals. How can you fulfil expectations considering what you have learnt and the resources you have at your disposal?
- Play around with the product to its full capacity. While you’re doing this, put yourself in your customer's shoes, seeing the product through their eyes. How will it help them solve their problems? What new problems might come up once they start using it?
- Understand the burning issues and pain points your ideal customers face. A chat with the sales and marketing team can help you with this;
- Analyse the support issues coming through. What are the most common problems?
There are a lot of moving parts in a Customer Success team. Understanding the processes such as onboarding, upselling, and managing renewals helps you make sure your CS engine is running smoothly.
Look at the processes with a critical lens - you’ve been hired to manage the team and take Customer Success at the company to the next level.
- What are the current processes in place?
- Are there any communication gaps where key information could fall through? What knowledge silos exist?
- Can any parts of the process be streamlined or automated?
Understanding data will make or break your success in CS. Indeed, data-driven decisions create impactful results and give you an edge over the competition.
First, you need to evaluate the metrics your team is currently using.
- What are you tracking? What’s being missed?
- Do you have a good picture of customer health?
Next, think about what you can do to enrich your data collection.
- Where’s the data coming from?
- How do you maintain accuracy?
- How are you reporting on this data?
Write down your observations and start to strategise on how you can improve. The goal is to identify the most relevant metrics you need to focus on both for your team and your customers.
It’s now time for you to go home with the ingredients you bought and start making your cocktails.
By the end of these next 30 days, you should have formulated and begun implementing new strategies.
Here’s how you get there:
Start to collect feedback and analyse it
Continuous internal and external feedback will help you ensure your strategy evolves accordingly.
Build a process for collecting internal and customer feedback so that you can take action. You should already have a wealth of information at hand from your observations in the previous 30 days, but it’s always good to use surveys to confirm your hypotheses.
Plan your next move
Use all the information that you’ve gathered to map out new strategies, processes and automation. Here are a few key things to focus on at this stage:
- Segmenting: Different customers have different needs. If your customer base isn’t segmented yet, this should be one of the first things you work on to provide a great customer experience. You want to define a well-structured customer journey to determine customer segmentation. What are the different paths?
- Onboarding: A poor onboarding process can lead to churn further down the line. Making sure that the customer onboarding experience is as pain-free as possible should be one of your top priorities.
- Health parameters: Set the wrong parameters, and you risk spending too much time and effort on the wrong accounts - and you don’t want that! Take some time to nail down exactly how you will track customer health so you can stay on top of your accounts.
Define specific goals you want to achieve with KPIs. You’ll also want to be clear on how you’ll collect, monitor and report data.
- What KPIs will you focus on? Think about what characterises successful customers and how the experience you are providing is different.
- What activity in your teams drives the most value for your customers?
Streamline your workflow
Once you’ve mapped out your plans and established your KPIs, it’s time to think about some tools that can help speed up your processes and boost productivity.
New tools aren’t always necessary, but if you keep meeting stubborn bottlenecks you can’t seem to move past - it could be a sign that you need to get tech on your side to help you out.
With the ingredients chopped up and the mixer connected to power, it’s time to blend them, taste them, and see how you can improve and refine the recipe.
This is the time for troubleshooting and upgrading the processes you’ve got in place. You want to optimise your workflows and build on each new initiative you implement.
These last 30 days should involve triggering the snowball effect so that in the months to come, your team’s performance can grow exponentially.
Here are a few best practices to follow:
You should have a formal strategy that aligns with established objectives and ambitions and is communicated to key stakeholders and your teams. Explain how this will lead to better management and increased customer retention.
Constantly monitor your data to ensure you’re moving in the right direction. Evaluate based on the targets and KPIs you have established to measure success and adjust strategies as needed.
Standardize the processes you’ve set in place. Create video training, handbooks, and playbooks your entire team can refer to. This will also be helpful if you have to onboard new CSMs to the team further down the line.
It is important to keep engaging with customers to identify new opportunities, and areas of improvement; to monitor trends and satisfaction levels.
Start compiling customer success resources. These could be videos, newsletters, blog posts, Twitter threads, or any other type of insightful media your team can use to up their game.
Whew! So there you go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember you just went over 90 DAYS' worth of action items. Don’t forget to pace yourself. That’s your foundation for making the best of our first 90 days in your new role.
I always like to say, don’t try to boil the ocean. Use this as a rough guide and focus on one thing at a time. Now you can sit back and enjoy the perfect cocktail.