Do you need to become a tech-specialist to build a successful Customer Success career?

One thing that I’ve encountered with every Customer Success team I ever worked with:

a) they are the most empathic team in the company (what a surprise!)

b) they also have the biggest grip on the technical side of the product

While B is absolutely logical – of course CS needs to know the product inside-out – it comes with a big caveat:

How can we expect our CS team to be the most customer-focused, but also most product-specialized team in the org?

It’s an extremely daunting ask, especially with CS teams that often don’t get the resources and love they deserve.

And it doesn’t stop there: Specializing in one type of technology can radically shape a CSM’s career path, too. If you’ve always worked in MarTech, you’ll be more comfortable with MarTech lingo. But what if you want to move to HRTech after?

So today, I want to share my tactics on how to overcome the Customer Success specialist vs. generalist dilemma.

1) Customer first, tech second

Whenever a new CSM starts, it’s crucial to first focus on the processes and playbooks. Not on the technical side of the product. We can always ask a technical support or product team member to help us out with these questions. The order of effectiveness is very clear:

1. Understand the customer profile
2. Understand our processes

3. Understand our solution

2) If your tech is too complex, split up your CS team

No CSM needs to know it all. If you notice that the ramp up time for a new CS takes too long, consider splitting them up. I’ve seen cases where a specific onboarding team took away a lot of the technical challenge for the CS team. Another solution was a CS-duo team – where one CS took care of the relationship, and the other CS was the technical (industry-)specialist

3) Break the silo and share knowledge

The simplest tactic to implement: Implement a weekly CXP meeting: Commercial meets product. This can be in the form of a sprint review, or in the format of a feature review, where we dive into the technical foundation of a given feature in the solution.

Another cool adaption of that format that I have seen is a weekly CS standup, where one CS team member has to break down a specific feature and share why it’s valuable. If you do that every week, you will continuously improve the solution awareness and the technical knowledge of your CS team.

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