The power of team alignment when delivering customer success


In order to deliver a great experience to our customers we must understand that success is not a department but a culture.

Singing from the same music sheet

The most impactful and memorable musical performances have one thing in common, that the band is always in sync! That type of synergy where it seems effortless takes practice and time, but the end result is powerful and unforgettable. The same analogy should apply to how we align our internal teams to deliver a fantastic experience for our customers. We all should take ownership of empowering our customers to achieve their business objectives.

Translating theory into practice

Throughout the customer lifecycle we should continue to maintain a strong sense of what business objectives the customer is trying to achieve. Having a pulse on that should be our true guiding principle. This may change and flex over time, but we should always maintain a reading of this through ongoing cadence of communication or industry knowledge.

As engagement with the customer grows, more and more stakeholders may be involved but there should always be an understanding of the value that the solution provides to solve their business needs. This enables us to work towards being a much more customer centric organisation. However, we can lose sight of this when:

  1. Roles and responsibilities are not properly understood and no clear owner is defined

  2. The goals and pain points the solution or service resolves are not at the heart of the framework

  3. Transparency and success are not part of the culture

Get a feel for the big picture

Establishing roles and responsibilities are a critical part of ensuring alignment across teams. Having an understanding of this helps build a culture of transparency, trust and accountability. Like any major performance, we need to know that we can rely on each other to fulfil our roles and deliver for our audience. By holding ourselves to these standards, we can inspire our customers with our story. There are 3 simple areas where teams should be especially cautious to maintain alignment.

1. Sales to customer success handover

During the sales process we capture such critical information about what makes the customer successful. Where are the pain points that we are solving for and how will our solution grow with them to continue to solve those challenges.

Similar to an intro song on an album, here is a critical touchpoint. We must ensure that we capitalise on customer excitement and translate that vision into results. However, do we have executive buy-in, what are the customer’s expectations for delivery and what are the pain points our product or service will solve. Being tied to key decision makers throughout the process helps build confidence in the engagement and ongoing delivery. Additionally, working from a unified data platform will enable the team, in the long run, to avoid falling into collaborative pitfalls creating inefficiencies and removing administrative barriers relieving frustration.

2. Product team engagement

As the customer relationship grows and matures over time, we want to bring in the wider team to continue to solve for customer business objectives in the future. Solving for growth and making the product or service much stickier will help drive further cross sells and upsells positively impacting net retention. The product team’s involvement is so critical to driving long term strategy and growth in line with customer needs.

To build alignment here, it helps to understand the language and processes in place on the product side. Gaining an understanding of what is being shipped this quarter, what the team has planned for upcoming sprints will mean that the customer won’t miss out on the value add products that will accelerate their growth. Conversely, where are existing pain points that are blockers for the customer? Have priorities been communicated, shared and use cases correctly understood? Avoiding data fragmentation challenges is also key to ensuring that the customer is heard and we champion them internally.

3. Risk mitigation touchpoints

It’s never easy to hear when customers share that they wish to leave. We believe in our product and know that it's the best fit for our customers. Furthermore, these instances could arise for multiple reasons and to help mitigate, a cross-functional team will yield a higher chance of success.

However, as more and more stakeholders are involved, this increases the likelihood of misalignment. Communication channels become saturated, data becomes fragmented, and ownership becomes muddled. Building on the culture of transparency, having a single owner driving the plan is critical. Being able to orchestrate and lead these initiatives with the support of wider stakeholders will help drive these identified actions to completion. How often is the core team meeting, are internal sponsors kept aware, what are the required actions of the team? As this process scales, it is important to not reinvent the wheel and create a clear, repeatable process that works.

But what about external alignment?

Collaboration and transparency should extend beyond internal stakeholders. Teams should champion the customer and keep them at the heart of what they do, but partner with them towards their success. Customers should be empowered and enabled to be part of that journey. Having a collaborative, transparent portal to work within will aid this practice.

Planhat offers Customer Portals as a way to encourage collaboration and build trust towards driving key business objectives forwards. Product adoption can be visualised in real-time, customisable dashboards and playbook actions tracked towards agreed upon objectives.

Final Words

Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do helps ensure that their success is the ultimate goal for the organization. Building accountability and transparency sets us up for creating a culture of success and compliments being a customer centric organization. Define owners, set goals and drive for success of the customer. For more information check out our webinar on what it means to truly be a customer centric organisation.

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