The 7 Traits of Exceptional CSMs

Ron Lunan

Lead Solution Engineer

Sometimes you meet a Customer Success Manager that makes the job look effortless. Even in a team full of other qualified CSMs they seem to stand out. They haven’t just learned how to keep their clients from leaving for a competitor, but they have what it takes to make their clients thrive.

It’s not hard to tell who these exceptional CSMs are. They think of their customers and the customer journey a bit differently than others do.

Exceptional CSMs aren’t born with inherent skill that can’t be taught. In fact, while some may have an aptitude for the “intangibles” as we call them in the space, many good CSMs become exceptional with time and attention. They seek to model those who are great Customer Success leaders and through attention, training, and experience can become exceptional too.

If you’re a Customer Success leader these are the traits you want to look for in your next hire. And for us CSMs hoping to sharpen our own skills look to focus on the follow seven traits and work at them until they become second nature:

1. They Advocate

No customer relationship is 100% effort free. Bumps show up in every customer journey and customers need to know that they’ve got an avenue to communicate those challenges inside the four walls of your organization. That’s why the most successful customers have trust in the fact that their CSM is advocating on their behalf to Executives and support staff alike.

2. They Anticipate

Good CSMs illicit a feeling from customers that they’re an extension of the team. Just as they would expect a good teammate to anticipate potential problems and pitfalls so too do they expect an exceptional CSM to keep an eye on the horizon. Changes to the product, roadmap, or organization all have potential impact on the customer journey and the recognition and communication of potential customer problems is very valuable.

3. They Address

Skirting problems is never good, but the opportunity to do so exists in every job. Instead of avoiding difficult conversations great CSMs address them head on and immediately. In fact, conversations that might be uncomfortable for others really aren’t for exceptional CSMs because they’ve established themselves as the customer advocate and problem solver.

4. They Own

CSMs are often referred to as the quarterback of the customer relationship making sure that the customer moves swiftly across the customer lifecycle while maximizing customer value. In this role it’s easy to abdicate ownership to other departments who are responsible for delivery or support of your product, but Exceptional CSMs take full and complete ownership of these functions as if they are the ones actually doing to work.

5. They Challenge

If I asked you right now what the secret to Customer Success is you’d probably say it’s fundamentally about relationships—and you’d be wrong. Exceptional CSMs don’t just build relationships with their customers—they challenge them. They have such a deep understanding of their customer’s business and their own products/services that they’re able to push customers to think in new and creative ways that enable them to maximize value.

6. They Investigate

Too often it’s easy for CSMs to shuffle issues off to customer support, product management, or developers for resolution—often copying and pasting the exact words given to them from the customer. Rather than pass the buck exceptional CSMs will investigate the problem themselves, fully understand the entirety of the situation, and find possible cause and resolution before handing it off to someone else.

7. They Teach

There are many ways a CSM can foster customer value, but none are quite as effective as teaching. Exceptional CSMs understand that their customers are always looking for new, better, and easier ways of doing their job or increasing the bottom line. They also know that they’re in a unique position to show the customer how they can do all of the above with their product(s) by offering best practices and tips. Teaching isn’t relegated to the use of their own products, though. Exceptional CSMs take an active interest in their customers’ company by keeping up on industry news and advancements. They pass along this knowledge and in the process help to teach.

eBooks:

5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Blog Posts:

The Golden Rule of Customer Success: 8 Guiding Principles

6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders

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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