From a Project Manager...
Every project has a team of people assigned to it. At Endare, these roles used to be one or more colleagues to do the functional and technical analysis, developers, and, yes, a PM. As I'm already part of the Endare team for 4 years now, I too was a PM at that time. My major responsibility was the day to day communication between our clients and our development teams. Next to this, I needed to make sure that the entire project could get delivered within the given time frame and budget agreements.
You could say I acted as an 'Endare guard' to make sure everything that could have had a negative impact on timing and/or budget got sorted out.
However, defining the actual scope of the project and all functional requirements wasn't one of my tasks, that was up to the functional (and technical) analyst. But, in order to estimate the impact of functional decisions on timing and budget and to act upon it, knowledge of the functional requirements was required. This meant that two people were constantly involved in all functional discussions.
...towards a more customer-oriented role.
Because being able to really help and support your customer always starts by really understanding his/her functional needs, Endare shifted towards working with CSMs instead of PMs. They are taken aboard to help construct the solution and understand the client and product goals thoroughly. The goal is no longer to only guard the project as it was defined by others but to co-define the project from the beginning.
As a CSM it's my task to think along with the customer and to provide different solutions that answer their perspective. Based on the experience we have within Endare, we can propose different solutions that might be done at a lower cost or within a shorter period of time.
A happy client with a flourishing business will automatically lead to new business opportunities for us while it's no longer a goal as such.
The key focus of the CSM is to make sure the client is happy and his/her business is benefiting from it.
Now, what are the benefits of working with a Customer Success Manager?
Depending on the specific client needs, working with a CSM will bring forward different advantages.
- By sitting at the drawing table from the beginning, your involvement, as a CSM, in the project increases. Because of this, you'll have the chance to fully understand the needs of the clients and to adjust the features of the solution to it.
- The main goal of a CSM is to help the client towards higher business achievements, the client's satisfaction is the CSM's primary concern. A PM on the other hand is focused on up-selling and metrics tied to the company the PM works for. As you can see the interest has shifted from own company growth to growing alongside the success of the client.
- The customer always has a very clear point of contact to whom he or she can address all kinds of questions. Both for matters that have already been decided and may need to be reconsidered, as well as for change requests or new features.
- The onboarding experience of a project will happen more smoothly - resulting in a better experience for the client. CSMs can recommend best practices for the actual use of the solution. The process of adopting will therefore happen more effectively, making sure the client can use the solution to its maximum potential.
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