Scaling Customer Success Is About More Than Hiring and Introducing Automation – Built In Austin

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If scaling customer success were as simple as “hire more customer success managers” and “introduce more automation” then every company’s net promoter score would be 100. That formula is overly simplistic when applied to customer success because the field is heavily reliant on the human touch.
Yes, CSMs have a playbook but each play needs to be adapted to the unique needs of each customer. This is difficult when a CSM has 50 accounts, but what happens when the company’s growth spikes, funding pours in and each CSM’s book swells to 500 accounts?
We posed that question to four customer success leaders at Austin tech companies and were told the answer is: make hires and introduce automation, but do so  with intention and specific goals in mind.
For Eric Weine, manager of customer success at LogicMonitor, the key to growing a team isn’t about how quickly he can get butts into seats; rather, it’s about how long he can keep them there, as LogicMonitor’s product and CSM practices are both complex and take time to learn.
“I strongly believe that employees need to know exactly what success looks like so they can drive toward it,” Weine said. “Transparency builds confidence and happiness, and that equals longer employee retention. Building on the successful foundation of a team makes scaling easier.”
When it comes to introducing new tech, Jennifer Jones, senior customer success manager at LumApps, said her team’s focus is on balance. For Jones, automation is useful so long as it enables her to offer more of the human touch, not less.
“In order to be the best CSM I can, continued growth automation needs to happen,” Jones said. “Automating repetitive tasks, like customer onboarding and release communications, allows the team to focus on the things they love to do: helping customers get the highest value out of LumApps.”
Scaling customer success isn’t simple, but the insight from these four CS leaders shows that it can be done without losing the human touch.
 
 
Udemy is an edtech company offering more than 150,000 courses in marketing, business, software development and more. Caroline Galindo, director of customer success, has been with Udemy for more than four years, and in that time the company made an acquisition, raised multiple rounds of funding and went public, according to Crunchbase data.
Galindo knows a thing or two about scaling a CS team and shared her advice on communicating change to customers, balancing automation and the human touch, and how to increase employee engagement with Built In.
 
What are the most important considerations when scaling your customer success team?
Imagine a Venn diagram with retaining revenue, building efficiency for customer success managers and creating appropriate experiences for customers. Scaling a team means optimizing the overlapping space between those three circles with every decision. You build to make the business successful and to help your team do their best work, all while staying centered on customer needs. 
Our customer success team has a proven track record of consistently meeting ambitious targets while maintaining high employee engagement scores. It’s the increased engagement that drives our team’s performance, and a few key factors influence it.
First, there are unparalleled career growth opportunities thanks to Udemy’s growth and our seasoned customer success professionals. Second, our team is empowered to experiment with new approaches to meet customer needs and scale their own work. Third, we operate within a deeply customer-centric company and don’t have to convince anyone how vital customer success is. Lastly, we’re aligned cross-functionally on our mission to improve lives through learning.
 
 
How are you striking the right balance of automation and human touch?
Data is the beginning, middle and end of getting this right. We use data to help us recognize where risk and opportunity show up in the customer journey, which informs our decisions about when and how to use automation. When we decide human intervention is the appropriate approach, data helps us understand how to “turn on the faucet” of human touch without overwhelming our team. 
Data also shows us the impact of our work and identifies where we need to iterate and improve. For example, we recently adjusted our automation to send emails offering business reviews to a much broader group of customers in our scaled segment. Empirical data told us that broadening the offer wouldn’t inundate calendars with meetings. Qualitatively, we heard feedback about how powerful customers found these meetings. This information helped us make an easy decision on how best to improve our service offerings for customers.
Data helps us understand how to ‘turn on the faucet of human touch without overwhelming our team.”
 
What are the main challenges you’ve faced as your customer success team has scaled?
When customer success teams are growing quickly, it’s safe to assume the business is also rapidly scaling. As our team has expanded, added tiers and differentiated service levels, we’ve had to learn how to keep our internal partners well-informed about our team’s evolution to collectively paint the same picture for customers from every go-to-market angle: marketing, sales and customer success. 
At Udemy, we keep internal stakeholders informed by building in feedback loops, working closely with enablement teams and having well-defined roles and responsibilities. Sales teams in particular grow more quickly than customer success teams, and having an enablement strategy is well worth the ROI in returned time and properly set customer expectations.
 
 
 
 
LogicMonitor provides companies with an automated platform for monitoring the status of servers, databases and cloud infrastructure, among many other IT functions. When it comes to scaling the company’s CSM team, Eric Weine, manager of enterprise customer success, said he stays laser focused on employee retention.
Weine told Built In that he focuses on retention because scaling a team is easier when a team has a solid foundation. Speaking from experience, Weine also notes that when it comes to hiring, some of the best CSMs may be those without any actual experience in the role.
 
What are the most important considerations when scaling your customer success team?
My number one consideration is employee retention. Turnover slows scaling for every team, and at LogicMonitor, both our product and the CSM role are complex. It takes time for a new CSM to fully ramp up and I want them to enjoy a long career here. Thus, I focus on trying to create an environment where our CSMs think to themselves, “Why would I even want to consider going to work anywhere else?”
We are very upfront with what success looks like and present CSMs with clear responsibilities, expectations, desired outcomes and the distinguishing characteristics of their role. There are clear paths for promotions, and we also provide top-shelf benefits and a great culture. As part of our “better every day” value, I strongly believe that employees need to know exactly what success looks like so they can drive toward it. Transparency builds confidence and happiness, and that equals longer employee retention. Building on the successful foundation of a team makes scaling easier.
Enterprise CSMs should be helping clients find more value out of our product and thinking strategically, not drowning in tools and spreadsheets.”
 
How are you striking the right balance of automation and human touch?
Before I joined LogicMonitor, I spent 10 years managing a luxury travel company. We hung our hat on providing a level of service that was second to none, and I brought that mentality to LogicMonitor. Needless to say, I’m openly biased toward the human touch. Luckily, I get to hang out on the enterprise side of customer success where the human touch is high. So speaking from a high-touch enterprise lens, as we scale we’ve put a heavy focus on automating and surfacing the back-end data and information that matters most. 
Every company uses a lot of different tools, and we’re no exception. We’re customer obsessed, so we’re always working through questions like: Can we present CSMs the right data and information they need about their clients in a single pane of glass? What information matters the most? How many spreadsheets or tools are they opening to prepare to meet with a client? How long does that take, and can we reduce this? Enterprise CSMs should be helping clients find more value out of our product and thinking strategically, not drowning in tools and spreadsheets.
 
What are the main challenges you’ve faced as your customer success team has scaled?
Hire the right people! I’ve made my fair share of mis-hires in my career, so please trust me on this: You have to be patient when looking for a great CSM, even though we’re always short on time. The ultimate cost and pain when hiring the wrong fit is much greater and lasts longer than patiently waiting to find the right fit. A foundation of happy, successful CSMs is a foundation for successful scaling. Also, don’t be afraid to consider talented people who may not have customer success experience on their resume: I was one of them!  
Expect constant change and let every CSM know they should expect it, too. Tech companies are agile — agility is one of our core values — and CS priorities shift, teams get restructured, targets shift and more. Expect for change to happen and roll with the punches because they’re coming and they’re not going to stop.
 
 
 
Ethos is an insurance technology company that uses data science to evaluate the risk profiles of individuals and offer them life insurance from a wide variety of carriers in just 10 minutes. Like the company itself, Dale Beard, senior manager of customer experience, said his team also uses technology to work more efficiently, particularly tools for automating routine tasks. 
However, Beard said that he prefers to move carefully when adding new tech to his team’s stack. Here’s why.
 
What are the most important considerations when scaling your customer success team?
We’ve put a lot of emphasis on setting a North Star to guide the growth of our CX organization and a lot of effort into the different areas we can focus on, like enabling revenue, improving customer experience and investing in automation. We’re also focused on striking the right balance in establishing our priorities. Investing in our team in ways that improve performance and manage morale is something we’ve always considered part of our North Star. So much time goes into recruiting, and we want to make sure we’re not wasting effort and watching team members walk out the back door. 
We’ve also spent a lot of time deciding on the level of investment we need to make into technology and what technology to invest in. The technology you choose and the efforts you put into integrations and automated processes impacts everything from how many team members you’ll need to the workstreams you can tackle. It’s important to make sure you’re investing in technology that enables the priorities you’ve chosen for your North Star.
 
How are you striking the right balance of automation and human touch?
I don’t view it as striking a balance between automation and the human touch as much as I view it as a progression. Our North Star is essentially the customer experience as measured by our net promoter score and customer satisfaction metrics. With this, we’ve taken the approach of relying more on human touch when processes or new workstreams are initially developed. Once we have a good handle on the needs and requirements, we start looking at the best ways to introduce automation. This may include small tweaks to our existing platforms or adding new platforms to our tech stack.
This approach has slowed the pace of technology adoption in our CX organization to a certain extent but it has also allowed us to be thoughtful and intentional about the technology we introduce. As we continue to mature as an organization, we continue to increase the technology and automation we rely on while continuing to closely monitor how it’s affecting our customers’ experience. 
I don’t view it as striking a balance between automation and the human touch as much as I view it as a progression.”
 
What are the main challenges you’ve faced as your customer success team has scaled?
Investing in our team has been a top priority as we’ve scaled. With the workforce changing since the beginning of the pandemic, this has been a challenge, both for hiring and maintaining morale. We do have a few focus areas, though.
First, we focus on hiring the right people. To help with this, we include current team members on hiring panels, which provides both a different perspective on the candidate and a growth opportunity for the team member. Our next focus is on team engagement. Two points of focus that have helped here are: having daily standups to ensure face-to-face interactions and always looking for new workstreams that current team members can manage to take on. Finally, we listen to our team. It’s so important to provide opportunities for feedback and to listen and follow through on it. 
There’s no shortage of things to do at a startup, and we’re always evaluating new workstreams to take on. To prioritize what we get involved in, one of our top priorities is enabling revenue-driving teams to focus as much as possible.
 
 
 
 
LumApps enables companies to up their intranet game through its integrations with Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, solutions for employee engagement and tools for knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing is not only a key component of the company’s platform but also of its culture, said Jennifer Jones, senior customer success manager.
Jones told Built In that knowledge gained from working with the marketing team around automation specifically has helped the LumApps’ CSM team deliver more value to customers.
 
What are the most important considerations when scaling your customer success team?
You have to document your CS process! More importantly, think about your current process and ask, “Can this scale?” Keeping that in mind will prevent you from doing it over again in a few months or years. Give CSMs the space to share their ideas and interactions with customers so that everyone can benefit, regardless of what office they’re in or where they work from. Sharing this knowledge has helped the LumApps CSM team grow and become more efficient while also allowing us to gain more insight into how our customers use our product.  
Partnering with our marketing team has allowed us to automate much of our customer communication. Working with marketing has given us a way to get messaging out to all our customers in a more efficient way, which allows CSMs to focus on providing value to customers one-on-one.
 
How are you striking the right balance of automation and human touch?
“Balance” is the key word. I became a CSM to build relationships with people because that’s what I enjoy. However, in order to be the best CSM I can, continued growth automation needs to happen. Automating repetitive tasks, like customer onboarding and release communications allows the team to focus on the things they love to do: helping customers get the highest value out of LumApps.
Partnering with our marketing team has allowed us to automate much of our customer communication … which allows CSMs to focus on providing value to customers one-on-one.
 
What are the main challenges you’ve faced as your customer success team has scaled?
Growing pains are normal, and the best part about them is that the team is growing, which means LumApps is growing. When I speak to candidates, I look for someone our team can learn from because hiring the right people is key to leveling up your team. Work hard to keep top talent and invest in the onboarding process. Shadowing calls is a must, as is continually checking in for feedback. We want our team to succeed.
 
 

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