3 Key Takeaways from My First Two Years as a Customer Success Manager

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

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.

Let’s get started with this week’s post!

From: Himanshu Patel, Customer Success Manager
Company: Icertis
Location
: Pune, India

In May 2017, I joined the Icertis Customer Success (CS) Team as their first Customer Success Manager (CSM) and have just completed my second year. I came into this role with 9 years experience working in various roles, such as a technical support specialist and an Accelerated Value Specialist (AVS) with IBM, which has enabled my natural progression into the role of a CSM.

When I started as a CSM, I knew that successfully executing the role would show the value of having this function within our company as well as pave the way for other CSMs to be hired into the organization. This was my sole aim from the start and I have worked over the past two years to prove that customer success does make a difference in a customer’s journey. CSMs specifically can help enable clients to define and derive value from the product or services offered and, in the journey, create a mutually trusted partnership and relationship for years to come.

The following takeaways have helped my clients become more successful by achieving their desired outcomes, and in turn I’ve been able to prove the value of CS and CSMs to my company.

3 Key Takeaways from My First Two Years as a Customer Success Manager

1. Establish a Sales to Customer Success Handoff

  • Streamlining the transition from Sales/Implementation to Customer Success/Support is very important. For a customer, this process should be seamless and take little to no effort from their end. A smooth transition shows the client they are dealing with a company who is working as one team. CSMs play a crucial role during this phase.
  • A successful transition requires a lot of focus and work. Early CSM involvement can ensure that both a company and customer are continually aligned on desired outomes or success criteria.
  • CSMs often act as a bridge between Sales/Implementation and Support/Customer Success and play a vital role in internal coordination. We can be a single point of contact for the customer during transitions and help with any coordination.

2. Understand Implementation:

  • CSMs need to understand product implementation at a level the customer can understand in order to effectively achieve desired outcomes or success criteria; these are the business problems your product or service was purchased to solve.
  • We need to be perfectly aligned with our customers’ expectations regarding their desired outcomes or success criteria. As a company, we should also be internally aligned to solve for these items.

3. Remain Involved to Create a Trusted Partnership:

  • Remain involved and continue being a trusted advisor. Key stakeholders and contacts should be able to rely on their CSMs at all times, not just during QBRs or renewal periods.
  • An important skill of a CSM is the ability to quickly and effectively solve customer inquiries. We must use our unique skills to influence, whenever required, and propagate client-related information through appropriate channels within our organizations to truly build customer success as a culture.
  • Have proactive support mindset and create automated or self-service options wherever possible. This can help you serve the customer at scale.
  • Use your skill set as a CS team to deliver more appropriate experiences; anticipate the needs of your customers. This will increase your customers’ confidence in the relationship, and in turn your company’s ability to deliver an exceptional customer success experience.

Conclusion

My time as a CSM so far has taught me that we must work to maintain and enrich our CSM mindset. We should always be looking for new innovative ways to serve our customers according to their desired outcomes or success criteria. As Arthur Ashe, an American professional tennis player, once said: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome”.

The ultimate satisfaction in customer success as a culture comes when you see our client thrive and become successful through our products or services.

 

Other Blog Posts:

6 Metrics that Help Calculate Your Customer’s Health & SuccessScore

The One Question that Will Transform Your Customer Success Strategy

eBooks:

Ultimate Guide to SaaS Customer Success Metrics

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

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