CSM from the Trenches – 3 Key Learnings from Taking a Customer Success Industry Expert Out for Lunch

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

For those just joining my blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. This series, now a community for frontline Customer Success Managers (CSMs), discusses trends, best practices, and advice that can help 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 move forward with this week’s blog post!

The Importance of Networking with Customer Success Experts

For this post, I thought I would share insight about an experience I had last week. I’ve been a Customer Success Manager for over 2 years now, and am lucky to work with many customer success professionals by nature of my work (I’m a Customer Success Manager for ClientSuccess, a Customer Success software). This position has helped me learn how different companies define success and work within various customer success roles.

A few weeks ago, I was in New York making client visits when a VP of Customer Success told me he tries to connect with another customer success professional each day. He explained the importance of continually learning from others in order to refine your own expertise and hone in on best practices and trends you may not necessarily be aware of.

When I got back from this trip, I was at a local CS meet-up in Utah where industry expert Greg Daines spoke to a group of 50+ professionals about how customer success needs to focus on consistently delivering value to each customer. Customers don’t renew or not because of certain features (even if they claim to at that time); they renew or not as a result of achieving some sort of perceived value.

I wanted to learn more from Greg. I had questions. Thoughts. Topics I wanted to discuss in further detail. Following the example of the VP of CS I had just met with a few weeks prior, I asked Greg if I could take him to lunch to talk more about the things he had shared that day. He happily agreed, and we set a day / time for us to meet.

Items I Wanted to Discuss During Our Networking Lunch

Leading up to the lunch, I put some time in preparing items I wanted to discuss. I knew it was going to be important to let the conversation flow, but I wanted to come prepared. Below is that list:

  • What’s it like being a CS consultant now vs. previous experience as a VP of CS?
  • [From a slide he presented on at the local Utah customer success meet-up] Why is it that the outcome of some renewals is not what you’d expect? (Note: Greg had pointed out that clients who are frustrated will sometimes renew, while others who are happy and enjoy the relationship will sometimes churn)
    • Does this make the investment in CS worth it?
  • What have you learned later on in your career that you wish you could have implemented earlier on?
  • What advice do you have for me, as a frontline CSM, to become better professionally?

While we ended up discussing some items not listed, this served as a good starting point for much of the conversation that took place over lunch.

3 Key Learnings

The hour lunch went by quickly – time truly does fly when you’re having fun. I was fascinated to learn more (in a much more personal manner) about Greg – it was amazing to see where 20+ years of dedicated passion and experience can take you. Walking away from the meeting, there were 3 key things I learned:

  1. CSMs need to have more confidence in their role, ability, and acquired product / process / customer knowledge. See something within your responsibility that needs to change or be improved? Don’t hesitate to fill those needs.
  2. CS professionals need to learn and understand as early as possible the power and understanding they hold with and about their customers.
  3. The one thing that can take a CSM to the next level more quickly than anything else is process. Everything about process. Taking the time to understand their own process and purpose. Tactfully learning their customers’ process better than their customers, all the while helping their customers to optimize process (which often requires some sort of change). Shortly said – the future of CS is in process management!

Challenge: NETWORK!

This lunch was an enjoyable learning experience and I would challenge the CS frontline community to also network with the industry experts who have come before us. They have invaluable experience that they’re anxious to share – all we have to do is ask.

As you begin to network, I would love to hear about your key takeaways. Feel free to join the CSM from the Trenches community! Details below for how to get started. Until next time!

Join the CSM from the Trenches Community

You can become involved in two ways:

Guest blog posts: Have a frontline CSM best practice you’d like to share? I want to hear from you! This is a great way to share your unique perspective and thought-leadership. Example – this post is a good example

CSM shout-outs: Do you know a CSM who goes above and beyond the call of duty? Have a team member you’d like to give a special shout-out? This is what CSM from the Trenches is all about – celebrating the frontline CSM. Example here

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 CSM from the Trenches Posts:

Mieke Maes, Intuo – 5 Keys to an Effective Customer Apology

Priscilla Zorrilla, 15Five – Asking the Right Questions to Challenge Customers

SoapBox Team Shout-Out

4 Segmentation Strategies for Frontline CSMs

Why Product Usage Isn’t Always King & 3 Lessons Worth Learning Early

2 Techniques to Avoid the ‘Overpromise and Underdeliver’ Temptation

My Purpose as a Customer Success Manager

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.

New posts each Tuesday and Thursday.

Customer success best practices delivered to your inbox.

Also worth reading

CSM from the Trenches: Mentors – Benoit Bouteille, Customer Success Director, Tinyclues

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 [...]

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

3 Reasons Why Marketing Needs a Seat at Customer Success Strategy Planning

Departmental strategy planning: a necessary evil of any high-growth company. Although these meetings may take a full day (or even multiple days), they are fundamental processes that must be acknowledged. While it’s clear why Customer Success should be involved in executive initiatives and C-Suite planning, the reasoning behind including other departments in customer success strategy [...]

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist

CSM from the Trenches: Mentors – Emilia Maria D’Anzica, Founder & CEO, Customer Growth Advisors

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 [...]

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager