This is one of the hardest relationships to get right in a SaaS company. Each team has a massive impact on the success of the other, yet they hardly work together on a daily basis.
An effective collaboration ensures a winning product roadmap, how well new features are adopted by existing customers, the ability to scale Customer Success through in-product messages, the renewal of key accounts, and many other outcomes.
However, most companies don’t have a framework to ensure effective collaboration between Product and Customer Success. And if this was already hard when everyone shared the same office space, remote work widened the distance between Product and CS.
But it doesn't have to be this way. With the right tools and processes in place, remote work can help break silos and even increase alignment and the visibility Product and Customer Success teams have on each other’s work.
Why is collaboration critical between Product and Customer Success teams
We tend to look at Product and CS teams as two different departments. One belongs to the tech organization, the other sits with revenue. They have different rituals, different methodologies, and different budget allocations. But when we look closely, we see they share the same outcomes: customer activation, retention, and expansion. So before we jump to share how can these two teams effectively work together in a remote company, it’s important to understand exactly how each team impacts the other.
Why Product should be Customer Success best friend
- Share product usage data to understand account health: most product teams today, especially in Product-led growth models, collect customer usage data to understand how they use (or are not using) the product. This data includes frequency of usage, feature usage, time spent in the product and even warning triggers like clicks on data download or cancelation buttons. This is key information for Customer Success teams, so they can proactively engage with accounts to educate on the features or integrations they are not using, to offer help when they get stuck and even to start upsell conversations when they expand their usage to new products and use cases.
- Coordinating upcoming releases: a successful new release requires close collaboration between Product, Marketing and Customer Success. And while marketing takes the lead in creating the content and promotional materials, Customer Success Managers can leverage upcoming releases to engage with their customers and give that special feeling of a VIP service by sharing with them the news before the marketing communication goes out.
- Scale CS operations with in-product messaging: A proven way to scale customer success and customer support operations is by leveraging in-product communication: in-app messages, tooltips, checklists, and even banners to offer contextual help and information to users where they are most likely to look for them. This will ensure customers will find the information they need, when they need it without having to open a support ticket or email their Customer Success Managers. Product is a key partner here, since most solutions need to be implemented with tech resources.
- Nurture key accounts: Enterprise customers want to ensure Product is listening to their feedback and acting on it. It’s not always possible to immediately develop all the enterprise-grade features and even when Product starts working on them, these might take longer to implement. One way to show customers we are listening is by creating regular forums where we actively seek their feedback on the product roadmap and the direction the company is taking. These can be ah-hoc feedback sessions or even regular Customer Advisory Boards. What’s important here is that Product actively participates and even leads these sessions.
- Prioritize product issues impacting key accounts: Let’s face it, nothing negatively impacts more a healthy customer than constant bugs and issues on important features. Customers can even live for a while without certain features, but they won’t keep paying for a product that is unstable and buggy. While this is true for all customers, it’s important to ensure that when resources are limited, Product teams prioritize the issues affecting the most valuable customers to prevent churn. Customer Success can flag these situations and ask Product to intervene.
Why Customer Success is a key partner to Product teams
- Collect customer feedback to inform the product roadmap: Customer Success and Customer Support team speak with customers daily, via emails, calls, and support tickets. This is vital information about pain points, feature requests, and new use cases. Depending on the volume, it can be impossible for Product teams to digest all this information. That’s when a Voice of the Customer Report becomes critical. This can be a monthly or quarterly report where customer-facing teams highlight the most important feedback of that period, ideally presenting the data using the same segmentation you use to classify your customer base.
- Select customers to give feedback on early design reviews and beta features: Customer Success Managers have the closest relationship with your customers and can easily identify who would be a good candidate to test new features and even give feedback on early designs.
- Share feedback on new product releases: Many product teams today roll out new features to customers gradually before going to 100% availability. This is important to detect bugs and UX issues before making the feature available to everyone. Customer Success teams play a critical role here, by monitoring Support tickets and ask for feedback during calls so Product can act right away.
5 ways to strengthen Product-CS alignment through async video collaboration
Creating a continuous communication flow between Product and Customer Success is key. But in today’s world—with more companies going remote and even working across time zones—there’s the added challenge to make it work without forcing teams to schedule even more meetings.
Here are five ways you can use asynchronous video collaboration to bring Product and Customer Success teams closer together:
- Weekly updates: when both teams share their priorities, progress and setbacks with a claap video, everyone is aware of the status of each other’s projects and what’s coming next. From product demos, to customer health reviews, a video recording ensures you don’t need to hold cross-functional meetings, particularly difficult in distributed teams. Even if a live meeting needs to take place in a particular team, this can easily be recorded and uploaded to your claap workspace so you can still benefit from in-video annotation and asynchronous Q&A
- Roadmap alignment: similar to the weekly updates, Product teams can present their product roadmap and easily gather feedback from all teams, including non-product people. This ensures alignment and gives everyone the possibility to give feedback, without spending hours in meetings.
- Coordinate in-app onboarding: a shared goal between Customer Success and Product teams is ensuring new customers onboard successfully to increase activation and prevent churn. A frequent problem here is having these teams working in silos and sending redundant and event conflicting messages to new customers. Recording new initiatives to improve onboarding—like new in-app messages or product tours—ensures everyone is aware of all projects impacting activation and even highlight areas for collaboration.
- Record meetings with customers: By recording meetings with Claap, Customer Success Managers can ping a Product Managers when the customer gives feedback on a feature or UX flow under their focus. Likewise, when Product Managers and Product Designers record user research sessions, Customer Success can uncover new use cases by reviewing these interviews and even enhance the feedback by bringing the insights from their own accounts.
- Report bugs: both teams can record bugs instead of filling long tickets, showing exactly the steps to reproduce and what needs to be fixed, without the constant back-and-forth
Product teams have established weekly rituals with engineering and design teams, from sprint planning to design reviews or product demos, yet collaboration with Customer Success is infrequent and ad-hoc.
Check out our resources below for more best practices and insights for how your organization can ensure alignment with internal teams and customers.