Carine Clark CS100 Summit Presentation – Top Customer Success Leadership Characteristics

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist

As we’re less than two weeks away from the 2018 CS100 Summit, we’re reflecting on some of the amazing messages we’ve heard over the years. Notably, Carine Clark, CEO of Banyan, presented at last year’s premier customer success leadership event in Sundance, Utah, and her message was both powerful and practical. While Carine won’t be speaking at this year’s conference, you can expect to be inspired by an equally incredible lineup of speakers and thought leaders. In the meantime, get inspired by what Carine had to share with CS100 attendees.

As a customer success leader with over 30 years of experience in the technology industry, Carine brought her story of dedication, personalization, and resiliency to the CS100 Summit stage and discussed how an organization-wide culture of customer-focused success is key for innovative companies to thrive in today’s marketplace. As an executive with a strong focus in customer experiences, Carine’s professional outlook was substantially impacted by her battle with cancer, which resulted in years of treatment and chemo.

“I’ve learned not to waste time on bad people or on bad experiences,” she said at the 2017 CS100 Summit. “This outlook has extended to the way I build professional relationships as well.”

When it comes to building a culture of customer success, Carine recommends making your onboarding, training, and activation experience as easy as possible for the customer, no matter what. Think about personal customer service experiences with your doctor, dentist, smartphone provider, or even insurance agency, and think of how you felt when dealing with those situations. Bring the best parts of personal service over to your professional team to ensure your customers feel special.   

“Highly evolved customer success teams know client success is more than just surveys,” Carine said. “It’s one of the most important parts of an organization – it’s translating the needs of clients to rest of company.”

The rest of the company includes your CEO, which, in Carine’s opinion, shouldn’t be as hard as many customer success teams expect. CEOs and other executives are constantly looking at top-line growth and profits, and to increase your company’s focus on customer experience you need to speak this language. It’s universally accepted that it’s cheaper to retain customers that to find new ones, and if your team can show hard numbers that are directly attributable to customer experience and retention, your C-suite will have no choice but to listen to your ideas.

In her CS100 Summit session, Carine shared her ideas of the top customer success leadership characteristics. For Carine, in her experience working in leadership roles at various organizations, it all boils down to three main attributes, which she calls ‘Seal Team Clark’:

  • Adapt: Things happen. Projects fall behind, product rollouts don’t go as planned, and customers get upset. The best customer success leaders quickly adapt to their surroundings and make the best of their situations. Real customer success leaders are more interested in taking care of the customer than taking credit for the success itself.
  • Improvise: A high-functioning customer success professional doesn’t wait around to ask questions or to get sign-off from managers to make decisions. It’s about making creative choices that result in customers feeling as though they’re more than just a revenue number – they’re a person who matters.
  • Overcome: The best customer success leaders are those who can creatively overcome obstacles. They don’t escalate problems, they solve them. They can confidently solve problems because they always err on the side of the customer, ensuring the customer’s needs always come first.

Carine’s biggest advice to customer service leaders? Don’t lose hope.

“There will always be days where you feel overwhelmed or under-appreciated – trust me,” Carine says. “Don’t waste your time moping. Share good experiences with your team, your customers, and with yourself. Keep pushing success forward and proving your value to executives.”

To hear more from other customer success thought leaders like Carine, join your peers at the CS100 Summit. Learn more and register today.

You can also watch Carine’s entire presentation from the 2017 CS100 Summit now:

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Here are other customer success resources:

Customer Success eBooks:

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Ultimate Guide to SaaS Customer Success Metrics

Other ClientSuccess Blog Posts:

Sam Feil, ClientSuccess – 11 Books Frontline Customer Success Managers Should Read Right Now

Recorded Customer Success Webinar: 5 Strategies of Top Performing Customer Success Teams

Cole Sanders, ClientSuccess – 3 Principles I Learned in My First Year as a CSM

6 Customer Engagement Best Practices During the Summer “OOO” Season

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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