skip to Main Content

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 learn from the trenches what it takes to make clients happy and successful.

Mentor Questions

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!

From: Emilia Maria D’Anzica – Founder & CEO
Company: Customer Growth Advisors
: San Francisco Bay Area, California

Question 1

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?

Companies get so caught up in their product & industry jargon. Leveraging free/lost cost products like reminds a company to write & speak in the customer’s language. Your customers don’t care about your KPIs. They care about how your product is reducing their company challenges and helping them succeed. Using everyday language that resonates with their needs and business has been incredibly powerful when working with my clients as they scale out their customer offerings.

Question 2

What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that leads to a productive day?

  • Exercise! Spending time on my health and challenging my body helps me focus throughout the day. Too often people get so caught up in work they become unproductive because they can no longer concentrate due to burn out. Studies show the average person is only productive 6 hours a day. By being physically active after my morning espresso, I am able to fuel my body with positive energy. I don’t belong to a gym. I use the great outdoors, fresh air, YouTube and weights to push myself to the limit. By the end of the hour, I am ready to start my day as a great mom, wife, and customer leader.
  • Reading/Podcasts: I read in the morning, on the treadmill, when I am walking, commuting. iBooks, Podcasts, Kindle and Library books nurture my learning and constant curiosity.

Question 3

What are one to three books, blogs, or thought leaders that have greatly influenced your career, and why?

  • From Impossible to Inevitable (Aaron Ross & Jason Lemkin) even though I don’t agree with everything they say about customer success – another discussion for another blog!
  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (Travis Bradberry) Companies forget how powerful emotional intelligence can be in the workplace. If you don’t have EQ, you can’t be a good leader or have meaningful difficult conversations. The best bosses in the world retain their teams, they build them, inspire and mentor them. They can anticipate challenges and roll-up their sleeves with a moment’s notice to ensure the customer and company move forward together. 

Question 4

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”?

Failure humbles you. It is a terrible feeling in the moment. It can either break you or empower you. I choose the high road. Don’t bash others, don’t talk about their pitfalls. Be thankful having the opportunity to learn and be part of the journey.

Question 5

What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?

Being a partner in success is the best feeling. Knowing you were part of reaching new heights, new goals, creating new opportunities for others is what leadership is about. Being a customer success manager means being a customer leader…now that is fulfilling.

Question 6

If you had to give one piece of advice to another CSM, what would you say and why?

Stay humble, patient, be curious and learn how to ask open ended questions. These candid conversations are about the product and how you can work together toward mutual success. It isn’t about you or the person on the other end. It is about delivering value and building relationships.

Question 7

What is one customer success principle you try to live by?

When you build out a process, implement a strategy, or take any step that will have company-wide implications, ask yourself why you are you initiating these steps from the customer’s perspective first and then how it will impact your business.


Want to share your mentor advice? Submit your answers 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:

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

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

Erica Newell, Marketware – 5 LinkedIn Best Practices to Build, Grow, and Improve Client Relationships

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

SoapBox Team Shout-Out

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.

Back To Top