3 Questions Every CSM Can Ask Themselves to Help Level Up Their Effectiveness.

September 3, 2019

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.

Guest Feature

We’re excited to share some insights from Ian Robson, Founder at Success Methods. With over 25 years of customer success expertise in consulting, software and technology, Ian has held leadership roles for some of the world’s most admired companies including Siebel, Oracle, Salesforce, SDL, Veracode, Fuse Universal and PA Consulting.

In this post, he encourages frontline CSMs to level up their game by asking themselves 3 questions and to go deep as just rattling off the answers won’t effectively make us better customer success professionals.

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

From: Ian Robson, Founder
Company: Success Methods
: United Kingdom

Question 1

Who is my most successful customer and why?

Go deep on the “why”. Get a sheet of paper and map it out, all of the dimensions that matter and where that customer is on each of those dimensions. Spend 30 minutes at least until you have a really clear picture of exactly why they are successful.


Question 2

Who is my least successful customer and why?

Once again – go deep on the “why”. Do exactly as you did for question 1. Dig in.


Question 3

What do I need to do to move my least successful customer up to the same level of success as my most successful customer?

This last question is all about identifying and then closing gaps. The exercise, done right will reveal all the gaps between the two AND in the process give you much of the insight and material you need to move your less successful customers up towards your most successful.



Answering these questions will also provide you with a clear view into how well you actually know your customers! I can pretty much guarantee if you spend an hour on this and really commit to it you’ll uncover all sorts of valuable information to help you become a better CSM.


***About Success Methods***

Success Methods offers training and consulting services for customer success professionals and companies committed to excelling in customer success. Contact or connect with Ian to learn more!



Want to share your mentor advice? Let’s connect!

Join the conversation on our LinkedIn CSM from the Trenches group page.


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:

Steve McDougal, Preqin Solutions / Dynamo Software, How to Land Your Dream Job in Customer Success

Cole Sanders, ClientSuccess – How Valued Engagement Touchpoints Help Build a Proactive Customer Success Strategy

Himanshu Patel, Icertis – 3 Key Takeaways from My First Two Years 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

LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report | The Rise of Customer Success in 2020

  Every year, reports are published claiming that ‘this is the year of x’ or ‘get ready to see more of y this year’. Without real numbers to back them up, these reports are typically just hopeful looks at different industries or professions that people think might be big in the upcoming year.  This wishful [...]

Dave Blake

Founder & CEO

Best Customer Onboarding Experiences

When it comes to dealing with customers, there are some situations that can be a little overwhelming for both a customer success manager and the customer in question. For many, onboarding is one of those situations. From the customer side, onboarding typically involves hours or even days of training, meeting new team members, and trying [...]

Teresa Becker

Customer Success Strategist

3 Considerations to Improve Your Digital Customer Experience (CX)

If you’ve ever read any published content from the ClientSuccess team before, you know that we take the concept of customer success as an entire company goal very seriously. After all, your customers aren’t the responsibility of one department – they’re the reason your entire company is in business. This being said, customer sentiment and [...]

Teresa Becker

Customer Success Strategist