Why Employee Success Leads to Customer Success with Kristi Faltorusso, Chief Customer Officer, ClientSuccess
October 12, 2023
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As customer expectations and behavior continue to evolve, the importance of a robust customer success team can’t be overstated. Today’s customers present unique challenges, from increasingly high expectations to rapidly changing needs.
To remain competitive, businesses must equip CS teams with the right strategies, tools, and resources.
Kristi Faltorusso, Chief Customer Officer at ClientSuccess, joined the LEARN Podcast to share her insights and experience from her 12 years in customer success. Get her advice on the importance of training for building, scaling, and transforming teams to delight customers and exceed business goals.
Employee success leads to customer success
Training and coaching employees is vital to organizational success.
By empowering employees to do their jobs effectively, businesses can ensure they deliver top-notch customer service.
“Employee success equals customer success, and I’ve never felt stronger about a statement,” Kristi says. “The reality is, if you don’t empower and enable your people to do the work you expect and need them to do, they can’t be successful at their jobs. And the only way to get them there is by training and coaching them.”
Kristi emphasizes the need for comprehensive training programs that align with the company’s expectations and strategy.
“You’re going to hire folks from all different types of organizations, and the cool thing about that is they’re coming in with all different experiences, which means they might not have the experiences that you need them to have to execute your strategy in your program,” she says. “Just because someone held the same title you’re offering them in your organization doesn’t mean the work they did is the same. So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on making sure everyone was very clear on expectations, and we trained and enabled them on how to get there.”
Read more: How to Create a Coaching Culture
Training must be specific and thematic
Learning and development (L&D) is crucial for employee success, but it can be overwhelming for team members to receive training on every aspect of their job. Instead, focus on adopting a specific, thematic approach to training.
“We try not to train on everything all the time because I just feel like that’s a lot; we’re asking people to do a day job, not be a student,” Kristi shares. “We’ve tried to be very specific and have themes of things we’re focusing on. So, for example, one month, we might focus on discovery questions, and that’s all we will focus on in sessions and the resources we’re producing for the team. We will do things like role play; we might do some training modules or read books. It might be me designing videos for them.”
By focusing on one topic or theme at a time, teams can dive deep into the subject and practice real-life scenarios through role-playing, training modules, and resource materials. This targeted approach allows employees to develop specific skills and knowledge crucial to their roles.
Measure training ROI
Providing the right resources and learning content for teams is critical, but it’s equally important to understand the impact of your training programs.
Kristi shares the questions she asks to evaluate training effectiveness.
“‘Are we doing a better job capturing goals and setting expectations?’ And all of this we’re tracking in our CSP Client Success. So we’ve got visibility around it. Now, all of those things should lead to better business outcomes. So, as a lagging indicator, we will draw on some correlation of ‘Did we have a great understanding of their goals because we asked better questions? Now, because we did that, did it result in stronger advocates, growth, or retention?’ So being able to understand what we’re training them on and direct correlation to our business and our operating models.”
By tracking metrics and analyzing the correlation between training and results, businesses can gain visibility into the effectiveness of their programs. For example, if training is focused on improving discovery questions, the impact can be measured through improved goal capture, expectation setting, and, ultimately, stronger customer relationships.
Decide on your KPIs and performance indicators to track the ROI of your programs and prove the value of training to your leadership team. This will help you get buy-in and justify the need for more budget or resources.
Read more: 5 Reasons to Increase Your L&D Budget
Customer success teams must focus on commercial motions
While customer success roles were traditionally focused on strategic and consultative aspects, Kristi argues that including commercial responsibilities, such as renewals, upsells, cross-sells, and expansions, is crucial in today’s economy. Proper training and enablement for customer success teams is essential to support this shift.
“We’re giving [CS teams] the most important role right now in this economy, especially where we’re not driving a ton of new sales, so we have to work on growing the base,” Kristi says. “If you have a team responsible [for commercial responsibilities] that’s never done it before, and you’re not investing in training and enablement, that’s crazy to me. You’re expecting these people to fish without a fishing pole.”
Kristi also offers her take on how CS teams should prioritize different aspects of their role.
- Commercial motions: upsells, cross-sells, renewals, and expansion
- Consultative tasks: needs assessments, problem-solving, customer feedback, etc
- Product-related responsibilities: Product expertise, onboarding, product training, and feature adoption
Read more: Top Priorities for Customer Success Teams
Your customer success team are the frontline soldiers in retaining, satisfying, and nurturing valuable customer relationships. By focusing on targeted training, tracking the impact on business outcomes, and integrating commercial motions, businesses can ensure that their customer success teams are empowered, effective, and capable of driving growth and customer retention.
Training isn’t just a one-time event but an ongoing process that leads to continuous improvement and success for employees, customers, and organizations.
Watch the full episode to learn more from Kristi. And don’t forget to subscribe to the LEARN Podcast on Apple, Spotify, or Google for expert advice from top leaders in SaaS on revenue enablement, customer success, customer education, employee development, and more.
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Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
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