Welcome to our blog series CSM from the Trenches, a community for frontline Customer Success Managers (CSMs) that discusses trends, best practices, and advice for the frontline.
Being on the CSM frontline allows us to directly influence the success of our clients. I love that; as our clients are successful, we’re successful. Each day we learn from the trenches what it takes to make clients happy and successful.
CSM from the Trenches has a segment of the series that focuses on 7 mentor questions for the frontline CSM. The goal is that by sharing our experiences, we’ll be able to learn and apply more practical advice / practices to our customer success careers.
One of those questions asks, “What is one customer success best practice you’ve applied in the last few months that has had a positive impact on your success in your role? How has it helped you?”
We’ve compiled a list of 12 Customer Success Best Practices That Can Positively Impact Your Work as a CSM. Let’s get started!
12 Customer Success Best Practices That Can Positively Impact Your Work as a CSM
With so many priorities being juggled by the CSM team, time management and prioritization are key. I always try to follow a variation 5-minute rule. If a task can be done in 5 minutes, just knock it out. It helps me create a meaningful to-do list, manage my non-stop Inbox, and plan to provide surplus value for my clients.
Our team has recently implemented a “top tip” sharing as part of our weekly team meeting, and it’s had a huge impact. Whether it’s a new calendar tool that shows multiple time zones at once, a great email subscription platform to stay on top of industry trends impacting our customers, or a new screen capture tool that allows us to communicate with our customers more efficiently, everyone on our team is constantly stumbling upon these micro-wins.
By taking 5 minutes a week to step back and share these with the rest of the team, we’re constantly improving as a team, gaining efficiencies, and allowing every team member to contribute to the success of our team.
True customer advocacy – giving everything I have to building customer success as a culture. I do this in part by bringing back the often difficult-to-hear stories from customers about what isn’t working for them in the hopes that advocating on their behalf translates into success for both them and for us as a company. This honest and transparent approach to managing customers has helped me prove in my newer role that I am passionate about our customers.
I’ve stopped focusing on renewals (even though my team is responsible for them). Value must be the area of focus, and renewal is a byproduct of that. If your customers are truly finding the value and path to success they desire, the renewal will come naturally.
Shrink variability to increase predictability. It all comes down to pattern recognition – you can look at patterns of what makes customers successful, grow, and renew, as well as what has made customers bad fits or not successful. As you test and gather more data points, you can start to distill best practices. From there, you test, get feedback, and fine tune. The more you can do this, your processes and operations become more repeatable and scalable, and ultimately allow you to accurately forecast the health of an account based on your operations.
Something we’ve recently implemented with our CSMs is a term we’ve coined frontline empowerment. In a nutshell, it’s empowering CSMs to take care of their clients without needing specific approval from management.
From a leadership stance, this has been beneficial for two reasons. First, we’ve found that CSMs are getting more creative, innovative, and strategic in their approach to “customer success”. Second, our CSMs have shown a higher dedication to their customers with the added autonomy in their jobs.
I’ve actually learned to better utilize LinkedIn! Though it’s primarily thought of as a platform for sales, job-seekers, and recruiters, it can be equally as powerful for customer success professionals. My strategic use of the tool has enabled me to help build client confidence, form strong relationships, reduce churn, and even increase revenue – results that come from balancing professionalism and authenticity. While I by no means consider myself a LinkedIn guru, I have learned quite a bit through research and utilizing the features available to me in the platform.
For a full list of the best practices I’ve learned, check out my other CSM from the Trenches post 5 LinkedIn Best Practices to Build, Grow, and Improve Client Relationships.
Finding the right software tools and work processes that helps structure your day. As a CSM you have to be able to navigate in between a lot of different tasks and assignments, which at times can difficult.
So making sure that you have time in your work day where you can zoom in 100% on 1st priority tasks is important. For us at Traede, this has meant changes in regards to our service channels (phone, e-mail and chat), so that we continue to deliver timely and first-class service but also allowing us to focus on complex tasks without having to jump in and out of it these.
Setting up regular calls (weekly, 2x/month, or monthly). It sounds elementary, but it’s really helped me build relationships quickly, stay close to clients, and keep us top-of-mind with the client. If I had to put a number on it, I’d guesstimate the clients I have regular calls with are 50% more successful than those I don’t have standing calls with.
As Customer Success Director, I’m tasked with helping the Tinyclues CSM team do their best job possible, as well as ensure each of our clients are provided with the same quality of experience regardless of who the assigned CSM may be.
This can be challenging in the context of high-touch customer success practices and a fast growing team, so one effective practice we follow is sharing knowledge during our daily stand-up. Here each CSM has the opportunity to explain situations they’re facing and how they’re managing them, as well as ask for help and advice from other members of our team.
This morning routine has created a great sense of team spirit where rookies and experienced CSMs work together.
More of a tactic, but my team has started to pick up the phone more instead of shooting off so many emails. I think it’s really easy to resort to sending off a bunch of emails as you work through your to-do list, but there are some conversations that merit a phone call. It’s harder to really “reach” customers through email when you need to convey an important message.
We’ve also started using a product called Loom to send videos/screen recordings over email for certain questions (e.g., if a customer asks a specific question about a specific feature, we just record a quick screen recording to email back instead of just writing out a description).
While I think it’s obvious that clear communication is important in customer success, I think that accurate creation of expectation with your customers is of paramount importance. This is particularly true when dealing with a segmented customer base.
Whether you segment by size, growth potential, pricing package or some other method, it’s vital to your success that your customers have a clear understanding of the level of customer success that you will deliver to them. I find that this, more than anything, helps to avoid frustration and issues down the road.
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