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CSM from the Trenches: Mentors – Rachel McElwain, Head of Customer Success,

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.

Mentor Questions

We recently launched a new segment of the series that 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: Rachel McElwain, Head of Customer Success
: Indianapolis Area, Indiana

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?

My role involves both customer on-boarding and traditional customer success management, so I created a workflow from the moment the customer signs their initial contract through to the renewal process and then built out templates and documents for each step of our process so that I can quickly edit and adapt communications for each customer.

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 like to check in with our CEO on any pressing issues to see if I need to shift my priorities for the day. I use trello to manage my ongoing implementations and live customer tasks, so scrolling through those lists to check due dates and priority tasks is the most important thing to do early in the day.

Question 3

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

I am a member of TechLadies and a local Women in SaaS group and the discussions featured in both groups has been hugely beneficial in learning from others.

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”?

Failures are always good inspiration for process improvements. If something doesn’t go well, I like to identify how to prevent the same thing from happening again with other customers. I showed up to train clients and didn’t have enough background information on the customer use case and hadn’t confirmed the staff had been informed of our implementation. The training went well in the end and I developed a series of resources for customers to provide their staff before we show up for training.

Question 5

What do you find most fulfilling about being a CSM?

Continual opportunities to positively impact the lives of my customers. Our software aims to make it easier for caregivers to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently so I love knowing that in some small way I am making a positive impact on those in care.

Question 6

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

Adding value to your customers is always going to pay off. Even seemingly small improvements or add-ons can make a huge difference for customers.

Question 7

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

Show your customers that they are important and that you appreciate them. Solicit feedback and then do something with it. Say thank-you.


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 – 3 Best Practices that Drive Powerful Customer Experiences (How to Avoid the Dreaded Car Dealership Experience)

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

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

Priscilla Zorrilla, 15Five – Asking the Right Questions to Challenge Customers

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.

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