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January 27th, 2021

Shifts to Watch in 2021 for Customer Success and Product

By Liz Ferguson

We were all hoping that 2021 would reset all the clocks and start everything over. Luckily, from a business perspective, a new year is often a new beginning with a chance to really get things going with our customers.

For those in customer success roles, you're likely busy mapping out your new customer onboarding plans and focusing on prioritizing goals. You're crossing things off your to-do list left and right. 

While you're in this planning stage, don't forget...Alignment is key to success. 

Are your customer's goals aligned with the company's larger objectives?

Once you've onboarded your customers, chances are your focus shifts to your more task-oriented to-do list. You're focused on driving engagement and adoption for your customers by:

  • scheduling check-ins 
  • sending out meeting invitations for QBRs
  • mapping out success plans

And plenty more.

We're seeing a new wave of innovative processes emerge from customer-facing teams. A shift is taking place where customer-facing teams are developing more cross-team and cross-stakeholder processes, all with one goal in mind: customer engagement and adoption

But this shift is a more holistic and, ultimately, more beneficial process for both the customer and your company. You're still doing that great planning, but it's now even more aligned and holistic.

3 Shifts We See for Customer-Facing Teams

1. Customer Success, Sales, and Product Alignment 

Success comes in the form of product adoption. The most successful teams are beginning to sync more frequently to talk through top customer priorities, long-term goals, and how the product aligns to those. The customer's voice is being integrated directly into the product roadmap to retain, expand, and win new business. 

It is critical for Customer Success to communicate customer needs to product and sales teammates. The more insight those teams have into customer feedback, the more likely you will see customer-led growth with current and future customers.

2. Increased Roadmap Visibility with Customers  

Product release notes are so 2020. 

Customers want to know how their specific feedback and needs are being incorporated into the product roadmap. Teams are beginning to directly bring key customer stakeholders into the same loop where they're coordinating with Product to track value expectations, goals, and ROI in real-time. 

Making the information about product roadmaps more customized for your stakeholders will help do just that – engage your customers in the future of your product.

3. Moving Beyond Traditional Health Scores 

Traditionally, customer success managers (CSMs) leverage health scores to prioritize which accounts need the most attention. Prioritization happens on an account-by-account basis. 

Unfortunately when an account enters an at-risk state, most times, it's already too late. 

But there's good news. We're seeing a shift where teams are beginning to define product goals more deeply with customers, segment these customers into cohorts, and measure these cohorts' success over time. At Outline, we call this Customer-Product Health, which gives you a more holistic view of your customer, their current (and future) success with your offering. By using this approach, you can minimize customers reaching that at-risk state by ensuring their product success early and often. 

Ensuring that your Customer Success and Product Teams are tightly aligned is key for creating the most impactful product. It's Customer-Led Growth at it's finest. 

But the issues of internal silos go beyond just Customer Success and Product. Other teams need to be involved in customer feedback and product development, such as Customer Marketing, Sales, and other go-to-market teams. 

Here at Outline, our mission is to help you prioritize the customer across all teams. We've created a workspace where you and your teams can collaborate on customer-focused projects and prioritize product roadmaps based on your users' current and future needs.

We'd love to hear about other shifts you're seeing for Customer Success and Product Teams heading into 2021. Tweet us at @heyoutline or email us at team@heyoutline.com.

And if you're interested in seeing how Outline can help with internal collaboration around the customer, request a quick demo here, and we'll set up some time to show you.

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