The Product Leader’s Cheat Sheet for Alignment: The Customer Success Edition

The Product Leader’s Cheat Sheet for Alignment: The Customer Success Edition

You’re probably familiar with the expression, “teamwork makes the dream work.” But how often do you feel like this is your lived reality at work? If it’s not nearly as much as you’d like, you’re definitely not alone. Setting expectations with cross-functional stakeholders was one of the top challenges faced by product leaders, according to the most recent Product Excellence Report.

One of the reasons stakeholder communication and expectation setting is so tricky is that each group of stakeholders has their own interests and priorities. Just as you do for your customers, it’s important to develop a deep understanding of each group and how you can best meet their needs.

As a product leader, though, it can be hard to find time in your already jam-packed calendar. Is it really realistic to add yet another item to your never-ending to-do list? We won’t sugarcoat it — it’s not easy, but neglecting your stakeholders today can lead to much more trouble down the road.

That’s why we’ve put together a series of cheat sheets to help you achieve alignment with each group of stakeholders. In this edition, we’ll explore how you can best work with your customer success team.

“When CS and Product work together, the results far exceed what either team could do on their own.” – CS Insider

4 tips for partnering with customer success

Building relationships with the customer success team will help product teams understand customers’ needs and requirements, which can then be used to inform product development. By listening to customer success managers and understanding their goals, product managers can ensure that the product is meeting the needs of the most important customers, which will increase loyalty and retention. 

Here are four tactics to try: 

1. Establish a regular cadence of meetings between product management and customer success management. During these meetings, customer success managers can provide feedback on the product and how it is being received by customers. They can also share insights on customer behavior and identify pain points that the product can address.

“When we meet with our customer success and tech support departments, we’re looking for their insight on whether:

  • The proposed feature will solve users’ problems.
  • We’ve provided enough information for them to drive user adoption and help customers succeed with our product.” – UserVoice

2. Regularly share product development plans and roadmaps to help customer success understand why certain features are being prioritized and what they can expect in the future. If there are limitations or trade-offs that need to be made, make sure customer success understands why and feels comfortable explaining these decisions to customers.

Only 31% of respondents said roadmaps can be easily shared and accessed by cross-functional partners.Product Excellence Report 

3. Ensure that customer success managers have access to the necessary resources to effectively communicate the value of the product to customers. This can include product documentation, training materials, and other resources that can help them better understand the product and its capabilities, which in turn helps them deliver more of a white glove treatment and better serve and engage customers.

54% of respondents don’t believe they have an effective system in place for communicating feature updates to customers. – Product Excellence Report

4. Close the feedback loop by sharing roadmaps that reflect customer requests. This also allows CSMs to build stronger relationships with customers by giving them constant updates on features they’ve commented on, making everyone feel like the critical part of the process that they are. 

“Customer-facing teams bring the insights about customer needs and pain points while Product teams have the technical knowledge of what’s possible and which changes are being prioritized. Better communication and collaboration between these two areas of your company will ultimately lead to customers who feel more informed — and heard. And when that happens, everyone wins.” – Gainsight

Remember: Product and CS may sometimes find themselves at odds with each other, but they ultimately share the goals of retaining and expanding customers. Forging strong relationships between product and CS allows CS teams to deepen their understanding of the product and its capabilities, which ultimately improves communication and strengthens the relationship between CSMs and customers. This collaboration is especially crucial during challenging economic times, since it increases your chances of successfully renewing contracts, upselling, and maintaining customer loyalty. 

Never fear your next encounter with a stakeholder again. Download the cheat sheet to help you handle every interaction with your customer success team with confidence, or our guide on uniting the business for tips on how to work with other stakeholders. You can also check out the below video for tips on how product can build stronger cross-departmental relationships.

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