Building user success managers

One of a customer success managers (CSM) main tasks with customers he or she works with is to build user success managers (USM).

It’s not unlike the famous Intel Inside campaign that targeted end users of a technology component (microprocessors) through promotion of the PC in which it was used.

The hero was the PC. Sales of personal computers dramatically shifted to Intel-based PC’s after the campaign started.

The fact is Intel spent a lot of marketing dollars on behalf of the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) that were the buyers of their components. Intel were competing with cheaper processor manufacturers. Intel benefited hugely because sales of their microprocessors shot through the roof.

I’ll stop the analogy for now but being an ex marketer and adman and in the marketing technology business at the moment, that was a fun excercise :)

A customer success managers first focus – the user success manager

This typically means the admin or project manager in the customer’s organisation. They have primary responsibility for the technology platform.

Sometimes it is just one person and they are not dedicated to the job full time. In complex organisations and with complex technologies you are lucky to have a full time team.

It’s important that these members are enabled and empowered to deliver successful outcomes to the organisation through users.

They should be educated. They should have resources and a network they can scale their efforts through – like a champions/advocate network. More on that later.

Resources should take the form of templates, documentation, training programs and generic succes stories they can take to the user community to drive usage and adoption.

Also hugely important is that the USM has insight into usage and adoption data. So either directly or via the CSM, there should be access to dashboards showing daily and monthly usage, by feature set, etc.

Ultimately, the CSM should turn the USM into a close approximation of his or her role. That would be deemed a major success.

The USM’s focus should be the end user. Of course they will have other key stakeholders to consider and prioritise but the end user community is one of the most important.

A customer success managers second focus – the user community

Never forget that the end users are the final arbiters of success. They are the ones that will adopt a platform and use it to drive value creation for the organsiation. Or not. They will have lots of competing priorities and technologies so it is a battle for their attention.

Mandating a platform or technology might go some way to ensuring end user adoption but its never a guarantee and should never be your only strategy.

While a USM is getting up to speed it might make sense for the CSM to focus on the end user. But this is temporary as the goal should always be to bring the USM up to speed as quickly as possible to do the job themselves.

It’s not scalable for a CSM to be spreading his or her focus too widely considering they are probably managing many customers in parallel.

Related to scale, this brings me again to a point about champions or advocates and they are so important, they deserve their own section.

Champions and how to scale success

champion program
Click to enlarge

The above explainer is from various programs I’ve helped to run at companies and combines the why, what and how of champion programs.

These are also sometimes referred to as advocate programs although this is often customer marketing terminology. In this case they are user and platform champions or advocates. I’ll keep it simple and refer to them as champions.

The first point in bold under why explains their core benefit around scale.

And just as a CSM is trying to create and scale his or her efforts by identifying and working with USM’s (a form of champion), so too should the latter.

The USM should try and identify champions as early as possible. The explainer provides some guidelines for doing that and more.

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