Overlooking the Unsung Heroes of Tech Startups
The Importance of Customer Success Engineers in Driving Business Growth
May 08, 2023

Kannan Kothandaraman

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Embarking on a new tech startup can be difficult, and is like constructing an aircraft while in flight. During the initial phases, the primary focus is on sales and marketing, while the essential individuals responsible for maintaining operations — the customer success engineers (CSEs) — are frequently overlooked.

The role of customer success engineers involves overseeing the implementation and deployment of a product, as well as providing guidance throughout the technical solution's implementation. Following a successful sale, they are tasked with designing the customer experience.

Unfortunately, customer success often takes a backseat in the rush for sales and revenue, despite their foundational support to the rest of the business. As a result, many companies have teams of skilled solutions engineers and CSEs but fail to provide the resources they need to be effective.

Today's customers have more options than ever, making it essential for tech companies to have a well-trained team to deliver successful products and solutions. However, many companies overlook the three critical components of an outstanding customer success team that set them apart from the competition in the long run.

It's time to recognize the essential role of customer success engineers in driving business growth and give them the resources they need to lead companies toward sustainable success.

Issues in the Customer Success Team Can Be an Indicator of Deeper Problems Elsewhere in the Company

In my experience, customer success engineers often bear the brunt of problems within a company that originates elsewhere. Poorly defined roles, misaligned expectations, and lack of visibility between product, sales, and marketing teams can all lead to issues that reach customers during implementation. To this end, having a clearly defined customer success strategy aligned with the goals, vision, and long-term strategy is essential for creating successful outcomes across the board.

The customer success team should be seen as a crucial player in any company's business strategy. Investing in and empowering these professionals can help create cross-functional alignment for smoother implementations and better customer experiences. In addition, when everyone is working together towards common objectives, it's easier to develop transparent processes that will help prevent costly errors.

The Technical Knowledge and Understanding of Value Propositions Is Essential for Customer Success Engineers

In the tech industry, a deep understanding of the product and its workings is paramount for customer success engineers. Proper education in the form of skills, certifications, and training is necessary to ensure they can get up to speed quickly.

On top of this technical background, teams must understand the value proposition of their product and its unique capabilities. Without truly comprehending how the solution stands out from the competition, customer success engineers may not be able to deliver exceptional results throughout the entire customer life cycle.

Every business should take the time and resources to equip their CSEs with what they need to succeed — technical knowledge and an understanding of value proposition — so that they can handle any customer challenge that comes their way.

Customer Success Teams Should Have Visibility of Other Business Departments and Create Channels for Honest Feedback

When customers are not satisfied with their experience, their first port of call is often their customer success manager. The manager then addresses the issues with the solutions engineers and customer success engineers. Unfortunately, the flow of information doesn't necessarily extend beyond this point, leaving other departments without valuable feedback on the product or service.

At the same time, it's crucial for customer success teams to have visibility into other areas of the business. They must also have open channels through which they can provide honest feedback without fear of judgment. This is especially relevant in subscription-based solutions where companies must make continual tweaks to ensure customers remain satisfied and renew each year. Thus, customer success teams should be seen as a barometer for how useful a product or update will be perceived by customers and provide strategic input throughout its development lifecycle.

Kannan Kothandaraman is Co-Founder and CEO of Selector.AI
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