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?
Focusing on value with the customer; understanding what value means to the customer and why they bought our solution. This perspective has been essential in steering away from day-to-day conversations to more strategic ones where the customer is brought back to focusing on value first.
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that leads to a productive day?
I always start my day by planning on what I want to accomplish in my work day. It’s kind of like a mini-burndown list on what I need to accomplish. I prioritize the important tasks first and cross them off as I progress down the list. I find that setting out this daily plan keeps me focused as I deal with the chaos and unpredictability of managing a large customer base.
What are one to three books, blogs, or thought leaders that have greatly influenced your career, and why?
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – Sheryl’s book helped shape my career today as a women leader in tech. Her insights made realize that regardless of what direction you take in your career, you need to be 100% committed to it and set your boundaries so that you are set up for success.
- Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue by Dan Steinman, Lincoln Murphy, and Nick Mehta – This book provided me with the foundational understanding of what Customer Success is all about. When I started my career in Customer Success, I was able to use it as a launching point in helping shape Nulogy’s Customer Success structure.
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”?
One failure that has stuck with me was around hiring without proper due diligence. I had just moved into a management role at Nulogy and I was excited about getting my first hire on the team. My manager at the time and I said yes to a candidate very quickly and failed to do the necessary checks and balances in our interview process. The candidate ended up not being a strong fit and had trouble performing to the standards we had established for the role. Ultimately, I had to make a tough decision of letting them go during their probationary period.
This experience taught me not to rush the process, which in this case happened to be recruiting new hires; the impact of a mis-hire is just a lot of wasted effort and unnecessary stress for both parties.
What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?
I would have to say the privilege of being able to help people every day. Whether it is trying to help a customer find to solve an operational problem or helping a team member solve a tough customer problem, it is very fulfilling to help someone in a positive way every day.
If you had to give one piece of advice to another CSM, what would you say and why?
Do not let the bad days get to you. Being a CSM is all about the long-term benefit to your organization and customers. You might have a bad day but there are more good days than bad ones. Focus on the long-term goals with the customer and you will eventually find success.
What is one customer success principle you try to live by?
Putting the customer first. What I mean by this is when I prioritize my day, I do it from the perspective of my customers. That means customer tasks get immediate attention and the remaining work is prioritized against customer value. This way I know that my customers’ needs are being met first and it sets our team’s North Star firmly on the customer.
Want to share your mentor advice? Submit your answers here.
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