How to manage a remote Customer Success Team?

How to manage a remote Customer Success Team?

Eight (8) tips to effectively manage your Customer Success team remotely. 

Customer Success Management is a vital part of modern businesses.

Its job is to help customers to generate the most from your products or services, which can mean anything from onboarding to providing relevant training resources and to value realization analysis and presentation. A business needs a strong Customer Success team to handle this work effectively.

With the current situation, specifically the pandemic, we are forced to face the possibility of remote working. Remote teams have their unique challenges, but they also have many advantages. When appropriately used, remote teams can be a powerful tool for your business. Here are some of the top benefits to consider:

  • It’s cost-effective. A 2017 study by Deloitte found that remote work could save organizations $1 billion per year in real estate costs alone.
  • Remote workers are more productive and creative than office workers—it doesn’t matter where they’re located! One study showed that direct reports were 64% more productive when they worked remotely rather than being located in an office environment full-time.

Despite all its advantages in supporting Customer Success Managers to meet customers globally without much cost, it proved challenging for Customer Success leaders to manage a remote CS team. CSMs may easily get distracted from work due to a variety of reasons- with some more severe than others (i.e., household issues). These distractions may negatively affect the Customer Success team’s productivity in handling tasks and effectiveness in interacting with the clients.

So how can you, a Customer Success leader that your team no longer gets to meet physically on a regular-and-often basis, manage your remote Customer Success team to the greatest effect? 

1. Set your team’s goals and strategy.  

As the CS Team leader, you must align your CS team’s goals with the company’s overall goals. If your company is focused on growth, for example, you’ll need to ensure that you’re setting your CS Team up for success by empowering them with the right resources to drive growth for your customers. In setting goals, make sure that it’s SMART.

Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timebound.

Learn more about setting SMART goals for your Customer Success team here.

When setting goals for yourself and your team, failing to develop a smart plan can cause frustration in both parties when realizing that it’s almost impossible to reach the set goals. You should also be able to measure how well your goals are being met over time to keep track of progress and make adjustments where necessary based on what worked or didn’t work previously!

2. Establish a metric for evaluation. 

The first step to managing a remote customer success team is to set up metrics. Metrics are important because they help you measure the success of your customer success team. It would be best to define which metrics will be relevant for your business and set them up in advance.

Once you have defined the right metrics, it’s time to make sure that these are measurable, actionable, transparent, and easy to collect so that everyone can easily use them as a basis for their actions.

3. Keep in touch with your team. 

Communication methods are essential for remote teams. The right tools will enable your CSMs to communicate more effectively with customers, with each other, and with you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution — the best tools for you will depend on your business model, industry, and, most importantly, your team’s preferences. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose a communication tool:

  • Make sure it’s easy to use. If team members have trouble getting started, they won’t use it as much or recommend it to others. 
  • Keep things simple — don’t try to incorporate too many features into one platform (unless there’s a specific reason for it). You can always add features later if needed! 

Most importantly, make sure you’re available to your team. The Customer Success Leader must be available to their team through video calls, email, and messaging tools. Like how CSMs are open to the customers not only when there’s a problem, as the Customer Success leader, you must also ensure that your Customer Success team is ready for work and in the suitable “mental head space.” Learn more about mental headspace and managing remote Customer Success teams here.

4. Provide the right technology for your CS team. 

One of the many challenges in managing a Customer Success team is the quick progression of technology that your team should be able to integrate and utilize quickly. What does your CS Team need? Are they facing any tech difficulties? Assess your team’s grasp with the tools being used and if they need help, provide them with the resources to help your Customer Success Managers.

Learn more about building the best Customer Success team here.

There is more to training a CS team than their need to improve their technical skillsets, such as personal development, career progression, and more, but we will talk more about that next time.

5. Know when to hire. 

If your remote CSM team is working with a small enough number of accounts that you have no more work than they can already handle, then hiring may not be necessary right now. However, if the demand for additional work is increasing or the existing account workload has gotten too big, it’s time to start looking for someone new to help out with some of those accounts. You can hire an additional person if you want one person focused on clients while another works on projects or marketing initiatives. Even so, having more people in place doesn’t mean there won’t be any room for growth later on down the road! Just make sure everyone knows what their role will look like when they start, so there aren’t any surprises along these lines later down the road — especially since new hires tend not to know exactly what it means yet anyway!

6. Hire people with a good self-management skillset or train them to have one. 

To manage a remote Customer Success team, you need to hire people with a good self-management skillset. What does that mean? People who can manage their own time and workload.

These aren’t new concepts, but they take on an even more critical role in the context of remote working. That’s because there are no visual cues—like someone staring at the clock or frantically looking around for something else to do—to indicate that someone has too much work on their plate at any given moment. As such, it’s more important than ever to hire employees who can effectively manage their activities and make decisions on the fly without input from anyone else (including managers).

7. Provide training for your Customer Success team 

One essential difference between an amateur and a professional is that the professional is fully qualified to perform their role. All professionals need basic certification training to ensure they know the core skills and activities involved in their role. On top of that, there are many different skills ranging from the most generic (such as Time Management and communication skills) to more specialist ones (such as Change Management or Risk Analysis for example) that you may need to offer to some or all of your team.

Training can be delivered in all sorts of ways – perhaps the most obvious being an instructor-led class but also ranging from online self-study materials to hands-on practical workshops, and even books, DVDs, and lectures. Also, don’t forget one-on-one and group coaching and mentoring, and try to encourage your team members to become lifelong learners.

If you’re not sure what options might be best for your team, remember that you can schedule a free 45 minutes CS Training Strategy meeting with our CEO Rick Adams here.

8. Understand that your Customer Success Managers are also humans. 

Your Customer Success team is made up of people who have lives outside of work, and sometimes, with the lack of physical offices, they cannot completely separate themselves from their worries. This is where understanding what we mentioned earlier is essential- being in the right “mental headspace.”

The mental headspace of a Customer Success Manager dictates whether they are in a suitable condition to work. As a CS Team Leader, you must help them be in the right state of mind to work by:

  • Evaluating their mannerisms online and their work quality 
  • Communicating with them; most importantly 
  • Providing an open environment to talk about things, not about work 

You should consider proactively auditing and monitoring these strategies once in a while to check their status and promote a healthy workspace.

In short, 

Customer Success focuses on providing the optimal environment for your customers to achieve expected outcomes. A successful customer has reached their business goals with your product, and it’s your CSM’s job to make sure that happens as quickly as possible. Then why should your Customer Success team not have a conducive remote workspace for productivity and a sense of community?

Your remote Customer Success team is an extension of the business, and its success depends on how well you manage it. If you put in the work, then there’s no doubt that remote teams can be one of the most effective ways to run your business.