Customer success versus account management
How do SaaS (software as a service) companies like Sentry Data Systems best align with customer needs? We embarked on the customer success journey three years ago and began attending the Pulse conference, and this year we spent two amazing days getting “fired up” with more than 5,000 customer success advocates at Pulse 2018 in April – “the ultimate Customer Success event.”
Defining customer success
We heard from inspiring speakers that drove passion and offered insights into building a best-in-class customer success movement by aligning best practices and creating fun along the way. Sentry is dedicated to our customers’ success, and the insights offered from Pulse not only recharged our energy to be our best, but provided some best practices for us to adopt.
We’re all familiar with terms like “account management” when it comes to sales teams. But in the last 10 years or so, the term “customer success” has also begun to permeate the market, as technology-driven solutions have taken stage and put the customer at the heart of the relationship. In the 340B space, for example, Sentry tools such as Sentinel and Sentrex are excellent examples of technology that utilizes the customer to drive success. Gone are the days of manual spreadsheets, having been replaced with uniquely defined rules driven by technology. Aligning the customer’s goals and expected outcomes is where true success is found, through effective utilization of customer success team members.
Sentry’s customer success team has continued to evolve in our customer journey, and three themes emerged at the Pulse conference that align with our direction.
1. Executive business reviews: a process of preparation, delivery, and execution.
Begin with the end in mind — and demonstrate success criteria that delivers value to the customer. Less is more; customers want to understand insights and not just be shown data. Preparation is key. At Sentry, crucial conversations about 340B savings and expected capture are essential right from the start of the customer journey.
2. How technical should a Customer Success Manager (CSM) be?
There was much debate over this one. The overall consensus is that the CSM does not need to be technical, but must have access and support from technical associates for questions and information for the customer. Trying to hire a technical CSM is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. To overcome this challenge, Sentry has empowered our customer success managers to connect the customer directly with technical support.
3. CSM time mastery—stay in control. Time management 101.
Managing and controlling your calendar and email flow not only allows you to focus better, but also gives you the peace of mind needed for innovative problem solving. Setting realistic expectations — both internally and externally — allows for a well-thought-out plan or resolution, rather than a hurried one thrown together without gathering all the facts, just to meet an unrealistic deadline. At Sentry, we’ve invested in time management training to help our teams juggle multiple meetings and emails, as well as robust customer relationship management tools to support individual and team goal management.
The customer success journey
The Pulse 2018 conference provided great insights into the customer success industry. It was interesting to hear from different companies, both inside and outside the healthcare industry, and learn how they managed through their challenges – managing growth, training, employee retention, business silos, technical support, renewals, escalation management, reactive performance and company culture.
Overall, the conference confirmed and reinforced Sentry’s commitment to customer success — and to a journey that is centered on the customer.