CSM from the Trenches – 5 Habits to Become a Proactive Customer Success Manager

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

For those just joining my blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. In this series I discuss trends, best practices, and advice for frontline customer success managers.

Being on the CSM frontline allows me to directly influence the success of my clients. I love that; as my clients are successful, I’m successful. Each day I learn from the trenches what it takes to make clients happy and successful. Let’s move forward with this week’s blog post!

Reactive vs. Proactive Customer Succcess

The responsibilities of customer success vs. customer support are often intertwined. After all, both focus on serving the customer to ensure they find success with your product or service, right? Though the answer is “yes”, it’s important for the CSM to remember their distinct role in the customer relationship.

Customer success is proactive. It’s as simple as that; CSMs build relationships with existing customers, have an in-depth understanding of their client’s goals, and help their customers meet those goals through each touch and engagement.

Even with a clearly defined role, it’s still possible to fall victim to the trap of reactiveness. This means that even though you may know your responsibilities as a CSM, there comes a point where things simply slow down and you start to rely on your customers reaching out out to become engaged. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation and wondered what your next steps should be?

5 Habits to Become Proactive in Customer Success

In order to make each day meaningful and to avoid falling into the trap of reactiveness, there are 5 habits I’ve tried to form as a customer success manager:

1. Calendar Game Plan

Consumed with busy schedules, time is our most valuable resource because it forces us to assess and evaluate our priorities. Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to create a calendar gameplan. This will help you remain focused as you prepare for and move between meetings, calls, or other activities. As simple as it seems, this habit will improve your organizational and time-management skills, as well as ensure your priorities are where they’re supposed to be.

2. Understand Pulse of Customer Health

Once organized, the next thing I look to do is understand the health of my clients…particularly those who I am meeting with that day, are “at risk”, or coming up for renewal. Are my customers happy or are they not? Pretty simple; if they are not satisfied, a game plan is created to improve their health and overall success.

3. Create Customer Based Action items

Based on what I discover during my first two habits, specific action items are created in order to help me accomplish what needs to be done. Whether I need to prepare an agenda for an upcoming call or respond to a client inquiry, action items foster urgency for and guide my work.

4. Respond Quickly to Customer Questions

Even when swamped with work, I always strive to be quick to respond to my clients. I look to make their priorities my own. From experience, I’ve learned that quick response time is one of the best things a customer success manager can do to build trust. When I don’t know the exact answer or am busy with another engagement, I at least try to respond and let them know I’m on it and have heard their question. I’ll even occasionally set them up with a co-worker to get resolve the issue, if necessary.

5. Calendar Prep for Next Day

For a CSM, nothing is worse than not knowing what’s coming next or missing out on something to which you are already committed. I’ve learned that – in this case – a good defense is the best offense; before I head home for the evening, I review what’s coming the next day. I don’t get too specific, but I want to know what’s coming.

These 5 habits will help you become a proactive customer success manager. I look forward to sharing more best practices, advice, and learning from the CSM trenches.

If you missed last week’s CSM from the Trenches, you can read it below:

Three Keys to Understand Customer Health

Check out our eBooks below for more customer success best practices and advice:

Customer Success as a Culture: Marketing Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Sales 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.

New posts each Tuesday and Thursday.

Customer success best practices delivered to your inbox.

Also worth reading

A New Way to Improve Your CSM Team Performance

CSMs Are Problem Solvers Like diligent gardeners, Customer Success Managers (CSMs) excel at identifying problems and attacking them at their roots. Once one problem is solved, they move on to the next one, steadily weeding out every problem until only the healthy crops are left to flourish. But fundamentally, their focus is always on a [...]

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

CSM from the Trenches: Mentors – Kristi Faltorusso, Vice President of Customer Success, BetterCloud

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

How Valued Engagement Touchpoints Help Build a Proactive Customer Success Strategy

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