How can you connect customer success teams with the right knowledge, improve performance and engage clients? Read Dan Farley's insights here.

June 1, 2020
June 26, 2023
Learning And Development

We caught up with Dan Farley, Vice President, Customer Success at Seenit, to discuss the development of Customer Success Teams. From onboarding to knowledge sharing, and collaborating to deliver excellent customer service.

What is one customer-guiding principle you and your teams try to live by?

An obsessive, compulsive drive to ensure our customers are successful.

How do you onboard and train your reps?

  • Exposure: Very early on, you are thrown into the deep end, exposed to customers directly and expected to put yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Process: Customer Success (CS) is all about operational excellence. A lot of time is spent educating around our internal processes and how we ensure we are a customer-driven engine.
  • Empower: Set creative challenges and encourage scrutiny into our current way of working.

How do you share best practices?

We use an internal collaboration tool called Notion, which is very similar to Quip. We have a Customer Success space on here where we create and share our documentation in regards to best practices across the CS Team, which is visible to the entire company. Every time we see something, it goes into Notion.

What are your biggest lessons and challenges at the moment?

Biggest Lesson: Just because your customer is using your platform a large amount and is heavily adopted, that does not mean the value they are receiving equates to them getting additional budget and renewing their subscriptionBiggest Challenge: COVID-19. With most large corporates running off a business continuity plan at the moment, putting Seenit across as a business-critical tool can be very challenging.

How do you ensure reps have all the knowledge they need?

This is generally a really tough one. In CS, realistically, the amount of knowledge you need is completely endless (customer and product Knowledge, finance, contracts, procurement, legal, industry), so we do everything we can to create knowledge areas in Notion to house as much information as possible. We also ensure that, during regular standups and sessions, we are frequently sharing knowledge across the team.

If you were asked to implement a 'customer success' playlist, where would you begin? And what would you share?

This: Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring RevenueFirst things first, segment your customers then build a proactive customer journey built around value and predictable renewal rates and expansion.

How do you share important pieces of information with your customers?

Firstly digitally, via our Webinar program, our Help Center and our Customer Community, where we encourage customers to share and connect with each other. Then there is in person. We meet with our customer frequently and, in those sessions, we like to share frequent industry insights and also inspire them with the work and value points of our other customers.

How do you measure and improve the performance of a CS team?

Customer Health. Our Customer Health Score plugs directly into our renewal rates and can effectively predict six months in advance which of our customers are likely to renew, and which aren't. Therefore the entire team is KPI'd on Health Score, and each Customer Success Manager (CSM) is KPI'd on the Health Score of the segment that they look after. In order to improve performance, we have regular/open one-to-ones, where we challenge each other and work together to help increase our overall Health Score as a team by learning from each other.

How do CSMs build authority and become trusted advisers as well as leaders amongst their teams?

This can take time. However, the quickest and most effective way of doing this is by sharing industry and benchmarking insights in regards to how other businesses are operating and the wins and challenges they are having. Domain expertise is crucially important in regards to increasing the credibility of your CS Team and offering additional value to your customers. You have to show your customers that you can help them be successful on an individual level. if you can do that, the relationship you have with them will be unbreakable and creates true advocacy.

How do you make sure the customer's voice is heard through your entire organisation?

Honestly, this is the hardest task for any CS Team, and I'm yet to find a business who has done this 100%. On a high level, you have to build a 'Voice of Customer' (VOC) program. This has every single data point (NPS, CSAT, CSM Feedback, Product Requests, Support Tickets etc.) fed into it to tell you on a high level how your customers feel about your business and how likely they are to stay with you. If you cannot directly show the CEO and Shareholders how your customers impact the bottom line of the business, then this will never be 100% a priority for the CEO and, therefore, the rest of the business.

How do you build success plans with clients?

I've seen this done in a ton of different ways, however, we keep it simple. A one-pager that outlines the following:

  • High-Level objective the customer is aiming to achieve
  • What will be measured against this objective
  • The Customer's CSM
  • The key strategic and operational contacts on the customer's side

This is built by the CSM and sent over to the customer to verify following their kick-off meeting.

What are the best engagement strategies?

I'll keep this simple—the ones that are proven to deliver end value to the customer. If there is any engagement that benefits the business more than the customer then it shouldn't be there.

What productivity hacks do you use daily for your personal development?

I just read a tonne. I read as much as I can not just regarding the CS profession but also psychologically and about the SaaS industry to stay in touch with the key trends. Jason Lempkin is the perfect person to look up and read from.

How do you teach yourself and your team to deal with failure?

Sh*t goes wrong, it happens all the time, and software is HARD. If it was easy, we would all be running £10 billion companies. It's as simple as this 'if sh*t goes wrong, learn from it, don't let it happen again'.If you're unfamiliar with Seenit, you can learn more about them here.