Why Assigning a PM to Customers is Key to Success for Startups

Dan BenjaminDan Benjamin
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Why Assigning a PM to Customers is Key to Success for Startups

At Dig, we’ve made a decision that may seem counterintuitive to some: We’re not hiring customer success managers. Before you dismiss this as a rash or uninformed decision, let me explain why this is a strategic move for our company at this point in time.

First, it's important to note that we are still deeply committed to our customers succeeding. However, I have found that the traditional approach of hiring numerous customer success managers has its drawbacks. Most notably, having multiple people involved in the customer journey can lead to delays and miscommunication. 

That’s why we decided that by assigning a product manager to every single one of our customers, we can achieve better results. This approach allows our product managers to gain a deep understanding of how our customers are using our product, what their top problems are, and how to best address them. This direct interaction with customers allows us to deliver value more quickly and effectively.

Another benefit of this approach is that it allows our product managers to be closely connected with our engineering team. When a customer has an issue, the product manager can quickly involve an engineer to troubleshoot and resolve the problem. This eliminates the need for a separate customer success team to act as a middleman.

Of course, this approach is not without its challenges. Good product managers are scarce and expensive, and assigning one to every customer is an added expense. However, I believe that the benefits outweigh the costs for an early-stage startup. Our customers appreciate the direct interaction with our product team, and we're able to better support our customers’ success.

One of the key advantages of this approach is that it forces our team members to take more ownership of their accounts. When you're responsible for a customer's success or failure, it reinforces a sense of ownership and accountability. This is important not just for the team members themselves, but also for our customers. They know that they're working with someone who is deeply invested in their success.

It's worth noting that this approach may change as our startup matures and our customer base grows. It may then become more challenging to provide dedicated resources to every customer, and a more traditional CSM model may be more suitable for bigger companies. However, for now, this approach is working well for us and allows us to be nimble and focused on our customers' needs.

In conclusion, while it may seem counterintuitive, my decision not to hire customer success managers is a strategic move for my early-stage startup. By assigning a product manager to every customer, we're able to deliver value more quickly and efficiently while still being deeply committed to customer success.


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