6 Tips for Customer Success Managers working with Developers

Colin Goudie
February 10, 2023
Twitter X IconFacebook IconLinkedin Icon
Customer Success Managers working with Developers

As Customer Success Managers, we play a vital role in maximizing the value customers derive from our products and services.

We don’t do this in isolation.

We work with marketing to build out better messaging for new and existing clients.

We work with Sales to help qualify and onboard new deals.

And we work with Development teams to help support, solve problems and identify new areas of improvement for our customers.

It’s the latter I wanted to cover in this article, specifically helping Customer Success thrive when working with Developers creating happy and successful clients.

🎯 Goal Alignment

You have to start at the top.

Achieving goal alignment between Customer Success and Development is critical to the success of both functions.

Both these teams need to be aligned. There’s no use having the development team pulling one way and the CS team pulling another.

Maybe the development team is working on a major new development and not delivering new features at this time. What if your clients are demanding new features because your solution is falling behind market fit? This is an example of poor alignment.

Set shared goals and the processes that get there.

This could include goals around improving customer satisfaction by increasing your NPS score or reducing the number of tickets related to a particular part of the software.

By working towards these shared goals, both teams can stay focused on the bigger picture and ensure that their efforts are aligned.

📡 Communication

Regular communication is essential for any team, and this is especially true for customer success and development teams.

Post-COVID though, we’re also in an era of Zoom fatigue where even our own clients don’t want to have endless remote meetings.

This means being more creative with communication.

There are some awesome tools for cross-department updating and the very real trend of asynchronous communication is getting bigger.

Atlassian Atlas allows weekly project updates as well as monthly goal updates and allows you to send Kudos to other teams.

ZipMessage provides asynchronous functionality to have back and forth video calls without the live aspect. Allowing teams to consume when they’re ready and contribute at the right time.

Use tools like these to celebrate your team's wins 🏆 AND your challenges 😖.

As a CSM why not share weekly your top-performing client sites, but more importantly, what’s one client story that got away?

Don’t shy from churn. Flip the switch and turn this negative into a positive by telling the story of WHY they got away.

Use it as fuel to foster more communication to build your company's response.

🍔 Socializing and Eating Together

Taking the time to socialize outside of work can be a valuable investment in building strong team relationships. This can be especially beneficial given that these teams often consist of introverted and extroverted individuals.

This low-pressure environment can help to reduce stress and foster a deeper understanding and connection. Allowing people to really get to know each other. And be human.

These relationships then help both teams to collaborate and work together way more effectively when at work.

While there are many team-building activities available, simple meals or drinks together can be far more genuine and bonding.

🧱 Cross-Functional Training

Offer cross-functional training where team members from one function are given the opportunity to learn about the work of the other team.

This could include training on the product and customer needs through to learning the type of technical trade-off decisions that developers have to make.

By investing in showing how your teams work in their own functions, you equip people with the fuel that creates empathy. Surfacing the day-to-day pressures each team faces.

Moreover, cross-functional training leads to innovative solutions as ideas often come from outside left field.

Don't underestimate the value of diverse perspectives and insights in solving problems and delivering value to customers.

It results in more efficient and effective collaboration in the future.

💼 Project Collaboration

As above, collaboration is key.

Find and create specific projects to ensure both teams are working together towards the needs of the customer and delivering the best possible product.

This could involve Customer Success team members providing feedback on new features or even better working directly with the development team (even in their sprints) to identify and resolve any issues.

The CS department is the customer proxy in many ways so it makes sense that they should be heavily involved in the lifecycle of development as much as practical.

Also often, CS have great ideas that never seem to get actioned.

Ensuring you are dedicating resources to connecting them with the development efforts can surface novel customer requests and features enabling them to get live in your product sooner.

🤝 Joint Customer Interactions

Finally, Customer Success and Development teams can work well together when participating in joint customer interactions. You're removing the middleman and allowing both teams to hear directly from the customer.

This can include customer meetings, especially things like onboarding, QBRs, webinars and other online events.

Extend this though, to offline events, like trade shows and conferences.

We often only send sales and other client-facing resources to these events, but the product team (even developers) can gain valuable insights and connections from being at these.

By working together, with the customer directly, both teams can better deliver.

It’s not rocket science to build good relationships, but it can take work AND a lot of patience and empathy.

Try to remember, particularly in the high-pressure moments, that we’re all just people and no one is out to do a poor job.

Keep the above points in mind for your teams. Work on goal alignment, integrate customers into every process, upskill your teams on the whole business, collaborate across departments on projects and remember…

Teams that play together, stay together 🙂

Recent Posts

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to learn about new product features, the latest in customer success, industry news and more.
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.