CSM from the Trenches: Mentors – Naisan Modjarrad; Director, Customer Success; Apttus

September 5, 2018

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.

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: Naisan Modjarrad – Director, Customer Success
Company: Apttus Inc.
: 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?

Believe in the work hard – play hard philosophy, I think we forget the second part with customers. Recently had the opportunity during our user conference week to set up an offsite team building event with one of our strategic clients. I believe this not only allowed for some fun, but the outcome was an additional level of both trust and partnership!

Question 2

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

I check dashboards for possible shift in trends with accounts, keep in tune with sales leadership on expansion deals and set key objectives for the day.

Question 3

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

I recently had the opportunity to see Richard Branson speak and strongly believe in his employee-centric thought-leadership: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Employee centric leadership translates to expressing value, appreciation and support for employees which increases the CSMs engagement leading to improved accountability, performance and outcomes. The values in which we instill in the company culture and employees will be not only reflected internally but also to customers externally.

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”?

From my Kaizen-Six Sigma training, the concept of continuous improvement has been engrained- and each “failure” is a learning event. Failure provides the opportunity to keep getting better, leverage the “rearview mirror” and use data (BI) to separate facts from emotions.

At a prior organization, we had a customer Go-Live that was unfortunately riddled with issues (for various reasons- not all product related), we leveraged data and drilling deep into the 5 “Whys” of root cause analysis – to understand how future deployments would avoid the same errors. This shows the customer we are a learning organization – which continues on the journey to trust, partnership and advocacy.

Question 5

What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?

Staying engaged with clients (specially onsite visits) helps you internalize their business objectives, challenges and drive outcomes. Absolutely love helping people achieve their goals, employees first – which translates to client achieved outcomes.

Question 6

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

Empathy – walk in your customers shoes, understand their business challenges, objectives and how best to achieve those effectively and efficiently.

Question 7

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

I live by Karma – the cycle of cause and effect. Ralph Waldo Emerson most elegantly wrote: “Cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end preexists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

While Karma in its simplest form translates to cause and effect, understanding what actions we are taking and why (cause) are critical for the desired outcome (effect).


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

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