For those just joining our blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. This series, now a community for frontline Customer Success Managers (CSMs), discusses trends, best practices, and advice that can help 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.
We recently launched a new segment of the series that focuses on 7 mentor questions for the frontline CSM. The goal is that by sharing our experiences, we’ll be able to learn and apply more practical advice / practices to our customer success 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?
True customer advocacy – giving everything I have to building customer success as a culture. I do this in part by bringing back the often difficult-to-hear stories from customers about what isn’t working for them in the hopes that advocating on their behalf translates into success for both them and for us as a company. This honest and transparent approach to managing customers has helped me prove in my newer role that I am passionate about our customers.
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that leads to a productive day?
I stop to write out my priorities, the things that I know I need to focus on that day – I may or may not get to them but by writing them down, and referencing them I know when I am making a conscious choice to deviate and when I am just getting sucked down the rabbit hole. I also stop to take a break at about the 2 hr mark. At that point I am usually deep in the weeds, and a 5 minute breather to get a cup of tea or say hi to a colleague helps me reset.
What are one to three books, blogs, or thought leaders that have greatly influenced your customer success career, and why?
1) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference has helped me understand how small adjustments in my own way of handling things could have a huge impact on the outcome. It was incredibly empowering to realize that simply by using different words, or adjusting my tone, or making sure that I didn’t take something personally I could affect the outcome in a much bigger way than I would have previously imagined.
2) Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Increasing Recurring Revenue was an eye opener mainly because in reading it – and I devoured the book – I found my calling. I was able to recognize that Customer Success is something that completely aligns with my core competencies and fundamental beliefs that have built over time and that I have something truly valuable to share with the business world. It also has become like a bible for me, informing decisions and input that I give to the companies that I work for.
3) Red Shoe Experience and Customer Success (video presentation by Lonnie Mayne). I only recently came across Lonnie Maynes ‘red shoes’ philosophy by accident but I was incredibly moved by the notion that red shoes treatment in business and in life can have a ripple effect on human beings. It gave a fun label to an ideology that I believe will inform a lot of what I do in years to come. The idea of ‘what did you want to be when you were 12’, tied back to how I was inspired by Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Increasing Recurring Revenue – I wanted to be a talk show host, partly because I loved to communicate and partly because I thought I could positively impact people’s lives.
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”?
So many learning opportunities (failure implies that it ended badly) – one big lesson for me was figuring out how to not take angry customers personally, as I would get so invested that I couldn’t see past their anger and frustration.
What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?
The psychology of understanding the customer story – both personally and their company. Everyone has fears and aspirations and if I can understand both then I can likely build a really amazing customer experience tailored to helping the individual and the organization I am working with reach heights they were afraid weren’t possible.
If you had to give one piece of advice to another CSM, what would you say and why?
If you learn nothing else, learn to listen. We come from a society where we jump to the solution without truly hearing the question or problem. Only when you have a good understanding can you possibly consider trying to solve.
What is one customer success principle you try to live by?
Customer Success is NOT Customer Service, and the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes the most powerful way to advocate for a customer is to tell them they are wrong, and that what they think they want or need is not in the best interest of their organization.
Want to share your mentor advice? Submit your answers here.
Here are other customer success resources:
Customer Success eBooks:
Other CSM from the Trenches Posts:
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