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.
This segment of the series focuses on 7 mentor questions for the frontline. The goal is that by sharing our experiences we’ll be able to learn and apply more practical advice / practices to our careers.
Let’s get started with this week’s post!
What is one customer success best practice you’ve applied in the last few months that has had a positive impact on your success in your role? How has it helped you?
Setting up regular calls (weekly, 2x/month, or monthly). It sounds elementary, but it’s really helped me build relationships quickly, stay close to clients, and keep us top-of-mind with the client. If I had to put a number on it, I’d guesstimate the clients I have regular calls with are 50% more successful than those I don’t have standing calls with.
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that leads to a productive day?
I physically write down the top 3-4 things I HAVE to get done during the day. Then I’ll check email and Slack for any items that require my immediate attention. Most people would say you shouldn’t check email first thing in the morning, but as a CSM, I find it’s helpful to get an early pulse on the day so I can get ahead of any issues, bugs, etc.
What are one to three books, blogs, or thought leaders that have greatly influenced your career, and why?
I’m a fan of the infographics on PicturingCS, a site founded by Ellie Wu to help find clarity in our space and efficiently share best practices. I’ve been following their content for the last few years, because I think they have a solid understanding of the CS role, common roadblocks, client engagement techniques, growth ideas, etc.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, during your time as a CSM set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure”?
I’ve failed when I haven’t trusted my gut. There have been a few times when I knew deep down a client was going sideways, but for whatever reason, I didn’t act on it. Pay attention to your gut and always ask yourself, “If this client were up for renewal today, would they renew?”
What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?
Helping people. I get jazzed when I can help a client. It could be something as small as helping an end user through a bug or training. On the flip side, it could be walking away from an onsite knowing you left the client with the tools and next steps needed to crush their goals or drive their EveryoneSocial program up and to the right.
If you had to give one piece of advice to another CSM, what would you say and why?
My one piece of advice would be to be have clear communication and customize the message when needed. In a CS role, we constantly interact with different stakeholders from different entities: the client, internal teams, partners, vendors, employees, colleagues, etc. It’s imperative to understand your audience and tailor the message appropriately. You may share an idea/issue with a colleague and they totally get it, but when shared with an engineer (example, of course), it falls on deaf ears.
What is one customer success principle you try to live by?
Create value. As most CS professionals have experienced, clients are busy and we’re often one of many vendors they work with. I try to create value in every interaction I have with a client. Whether it’s during a kickoff call, a request to meet, a standing weekly call, onsite, etc. My goal is for clients to look at their EveryoneSocial calendar invite and think “My program isn’t going to succeed if I don’t attend this meeting”.
Want to share your mentor advice? Submit your answers here.
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