Customer Success as a Culture — Why the Concept of a ‘Trusted Advisor’ is Something Emarsys Champions

Burke Alder

Customer Success Strategist

customer-success-leader-tips-vp-customer success

Customer success teams have gone through strategic changes and growth over the past few years. This important strategy and business focus drives toward the outcome of retaining and growing your customer base. As you continue to adapt and change your customer success strategies and tactics, remember this key focus—customer success is not a department, it’s a culture.

We are passionate about customer success and it’s positive outcome—building relationships that last™. In our latest eBook, our team at ClientSuccess interviewed 7 customer success leaders at the forefront of these changes. These leaders have incredible advice they’ve learned by actually going through the process and learning firsthand.

Our newest eBook entitled “Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Leaders Edition”, shares best practices focused on the strategic and tactical aspects of building and scaling effective customer success teams. Each week, we’ll highlight one of the customer success leaders and will share some of their key learnings with you. This week, you’ll learn from Alex Timlin, VP, Client Success at Emarsys. Let’s get started:

About Emarsys

Emarsys is headquartered in Vienna, Austria and its mission is the strengthen the relationship between brands and their customers. They help marketers using The Emarsys B2C Marketing Cloud drive deeper brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Emarsys is one of the fastest-growing and most innovative companies in the world, serving more than 1,500 clients in 140 countries. They analyze and segment more than one billion customer records to deliver insights that empower marketers, and campaigns that engage individuals. This strengthens the experience and the relationship between their clients and their customers.

What are the qualities you look for in Customer Success candidates at Emarsys?

“The concept of a ‘Trusted Advisor’ is something we champion at Emarsys, said Alex. “In the first element of ‘trust’, we look for people who are great team players, with high social skills and demonstrate that they are really focused on customers, their business and our business – not just themselves.” Alex explains that this is key because they are essentially the quarterback in Emarsys’ client relationships so the client needs to trust that they’ll run the right plays both in their interactions with clients and most importantly with their services team at Emarsys.

“To be an advisor you don’t need to be an expert in everything,” explained Alex. “We need people who can ask the right questions and run the right processes to understand the client’s needs, wants and expectations and align them with the subject matter experts here at Emarsys. Strong questioning and presentation skills are really key, so for us the second interview is always based around a presentation and a scenario to really make sure candidates have that two way interaction – all too often people are slick at presenting and know the industry or know client management but they ‘broadcast’ too much. When that happens, it’s hard for them to make that leap from Commercial Account Management or more service-based roles into Customer Success.”

How important is past experience when hiring?

Customer Success is a new area – and within different organizations it’s either a function of onboarding (helping clients realize first value quicker in light touch SaaS models) or a function of renewals and growth (higher touch SaaS models post implementation to expand and retain once clients have reached “first value”). Alex explains, “We fall into the second camp at Emarsys so we’re targeting our CSMs on revenue retention (100%) where growth is there to offset churn on annual or multi-year contracts for our SaaS Digital Marketing platform. This means even in the industry and in the same role, you don’t always find all the transferrable skills you need in a candidate.”

Alex’s personal philosophy has been shaped by the expectation that every new recruit they onboard is going to be a project – they just need to understand where they should invest in that recruit during ramp up, but the more they need to invest, the longer the ramp up and the greater the cost to the business and to their clients.

Emarsys Hires Based on Two Pillars

Emarsys breaks hiring down into the two camps:

1. They either ramp up skills in Client Management (many aren’t used to “owning” a portfolio of clients or dealing with delivering the ongoing value or dealing with the same personas, such as: C-Suite, Head of X, Director-Level, rather than user-level)

2. Industry or Product Knowledge (it’s important a CSM really know the value of the product and how to talk to that and really add value to clients around digital marketing with experience from previous roles). According to Alex, “You can teach someone who isn’t strong in one area – but if they don’t have transferrable skills from either a competitor where they know the product and industry OR a strong background in Client Management or Customer Success, the ramp up is too long and the chances of that person being successful almost exponentially decreases.”

Read Alex’s full contribution to the ebook entitled, “Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition” and learn from 6 other customer success leaders like Alex.

Download the full “Customer Success as a Culture” eBook collection below:

Customer Success as a Culture: Sales Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Marketing Leaders Edition

Customer Success as a Culture: Product Leaders Edition    

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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