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Success often comes down to strong support. Getting guidance throughout your journey is a huge peace-of-mind. But what does solid help look like? And how does it differ from customer service?

It’s finally decided.  After spending months mulling it over with stakeholders involved in purchasing the ed tech solution of your dreams, the team decides to pull the trigger. The challenging task of getting buy-in is over — surely the value will speak for itself post-implementation… right?

But the real battle’s just begun. How do you leverage the most out of the product to make it work for your institution? Are there best practices to maximize its value to better support your objectives? What kind of training is needed to use the product effectively? Who can you rely on to answer current and future questions?

Enter the Customer Success Team.

A big misconception in the ed tech space that results in many vendors falling short, is the belief that the customer simply needs a working product. However, this is only scratching the surface. Think about your smartphone and how many of its features you’re actually using. There are a myriad of customizations, widgets, and settings the average phone user doesn’t realize could improve their quality of life, yet their phones function just fine. If you had a personal guide taking the time to consistently identify your needs and demonstrate the best ways to maximize utility, you’ll no doubt perceive your phone as having more value over time.

A customer success (CS) team is like that personal guide. A good CS team will work hand-in-hand to help bring your goals to fruition, explain how the product is translating into business value, and configure the product in a way that best suits your personalized needs (they’re deathly allergic to the prescriptive one-size-fits-all approach).

So how do you know you’ll be in good hands? Here are 4 things you’ll find in a solid CS team that takes advocating for your success seriously.

1. They’re Different From Customer Support

Though both roles share similar skill sets and goals, they assume different responsibilities. Where customer support is a reactive approach to solving customer issues and challenges as circumstances arise, customer success is a proactive set of procedures and practices that seek to help you with your success. Great customer success teams develop strategies that maximize the value you get out of the product, even without you directly asking for it.

In fact, sometimes customers ask for one thing without realizing they need another. This is when a customer success team shows a seemingly sixth sense ability to anticipate their customers’ needs before they get a chance to articulate them. Ultimately, it’s a team that believes good enough isn’t good enough for their customers and will work hard to make you feel heard both during and after implementation.

2. They’re Expert Consultants

Good customer success strikes the balance between being a product expert and an expert detective. It’s certainly helpful if your future CS team is well-versed in the product you’re using — but the reality is that they won’t have all the technical answers. Instead, they’ll have something arguably better: the respect for your time and the resourcefulness to put you in touch with the right people who can help.

The ability to be forward-thinking, curious, and passionate distinguishes an excellent CS team from a lackluster one. Having these characteristics fosters a mindset that prefers phrases like “I’ll find out” over “I don’t know” so you aren’t left hanging in the dark.

3. They Help You Help Yourself

Asking customers questions, clarifying the confusion, and keeping the project right on track are all baseline for CS teams. How they accomplish this involves bringing you into the same organizational system they use — after all, what better way to manage a project than with project management software? From here, you’ll get a clear overview of the contract items assigned to you that the CS team needs to move the project forward.

At times, It’s hard to see the forest for the trees, which is why a customer support manager (CSM) is assigned to schedule recurring meetings to discuss product, training, concerns, goals, and expectations. CSMs are facilitators that help you understand where things are in the process: what’s complete, what’s left, and how close you are to the finish line.

4. They’re Empathetic

How often have you sent support an email only to get silence in return? Or run into dead ends on forums and chatbots after deciding to seek answers yourself? It’s no secret that people not only desire a human connection, but also a stellar customer experience. Having a CS team that radiates empathy is capable of surprising, delighting, and understanding the people around them. It’s the trait that can stop an email chain from going too far and motivates CS to schedule 1:1 meetings.  

An empathetic CS team is a responsive and personable one that takes pride in being the voice of the customer — advocating for them and helping things get moved up in the product line that aligns with customer goals.

Final Takeaway:

Figuring who has your best interests is an important piece of the decision-making process. There’s nothing more distressing than seeing the excitement for a product taper off, only because there is little guidance on getting the most value out of it.

Expansion and adoption come after setting up your contract items to continue amping up vested interest. CS teams employ advertising to generate internal awareness, explain release notes about a new feature and aim to provide continued learning well after implementation.

Essentially, good customer success is a strategic partner who builds plans aligning with your institution’s needs and objectives to ensure you’re always getting value out of the product. This is how CS teams elevate their role beyond “glorified support”, and function as the team player who is constantly rooting for your success.