Your First 90 Days as a New Customer Success Leader
October 11, 2016
In any new role, the first 90 days are critical. You’re not only establishing your credibility to your new coworkers, you’re also making a case of the kind of professional you’re going to be in the future.
For executives in particular, this is the period when you hone in on the type of leader you are going to be, how you are going to manage your team, and the metrics on which you are going to measure success.
As a customer success leader, your introduction period needs to extend to both internal team members and the external customers with which you are working.
In this post, we’ll provide a sample 90-day plan that provides a rough outline of key milestones you should aim to achieve.
You First 90 Days
Week 1: Meet Your Team
This is the first step in any new position, and an executive is no different. Make sure you know your team members, understand the organization of your department, and know exactly who reports to whom. This also includes meeting up with other executives across the company with whom you’ll be closely working.
Make sure you establish good rapport with directors and managers from the sales, marketing, and technology departments, as your team will more often than not work closely with these team members. Knowing everyone’s responsibility and understanding the dynamics of your department (and the entire organization) will prove invaluable as you grow and become more involved in your new role.
Weeks 2-3: Understand Key Processes
This will probably take longer than two weeks, as understanding the customer success process in place at your new company is an ongoing task. This includes how you onboard new customers, which customer success managers (CSMs) work with what types of customers, and how the upsell/renewal processes work.
There are many responsibilities and roles within a customer success department, and it is your responsibility to not only understand but effectively manage all of them. Knowing how the customer success department works – and how KPIs are tracked and measured – will help in the future when you want to start implementing new processes or workflows.
Weeks 3-4: Initial Vision and Goals for the Team
As a new customer success leader in the organization, it’s incredibly important to understand the company’s direction, and then apply your own department’s goals and vision to feed into the larger strategy. Your team will be looking to you for direction from your first day onwards, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll look to you to be inspired by your vision for the team and how you plan to help them succeed.
Within the first several weeks, gather the team together to share your learnings of the company so far, and then carefully explain your vision and goals for the CSM team. Just keep in mind (and be sure the team understands) that, while you’re new to the role and certain aspects may change, you have a strong vision and a plan that’s realistic and challenging at the same time.
Weeks 4-7: Learn About Key Accounts
Now we get to the fun part. You probably have been involved in customer meetings before this point and have probably felt fairly comfortable, but this step goes a little bit further. Learning about key customer accounts – why they chose your company’s solution, what was sold to them, how the onboarding process progressed, what types of interactions they have with support, etc. – can be the difference between a lost customer and a renewal in the future.
While you’re at it, work with your counterpart on the sales team to familiarize yourself with some critical opportunities or prospects. Just remember that as an executive you will most likely be called in on various new deals or upsell discussions, and it is crucial that you are well versed in individual customer use cases, even if you have only been there 5 weeks and are dealing with a customer that has been working with your company for 5 years.
Weeks 8-10: Meet Key Contacts
Depending on need, you may meet with key contacts during your first days at your new company. To be fair, I’ll give you a few weeks until you move to this stage. This is the stage where the external networking begins. As a customer success executive, you should make it your goal within your first few months to get to know other executives at your customer accounts. This includes everyone from the CEO to their customer success leaders to COOs and financial team members. These executive relationships can be a key driver in renewal or upsell discussions.
Internally, other executives at your company may eventually lean on you for introductions or references. Meeting and networking with key customer contacts is an ongoing process for any customer success executive, so getting started early in your tenure will only make it easier as you grow and mature in your new position.
Weeks 11-13: Start Implementing New Processes
Now that you’re comfortable with your new company, have met your new team, and understand the processes in place, you can finally begin to make changes. One of the most common changes is how your team members are measured. Do you want to implement new timelines for onboarding? What about new workflows for upsell processes? Now that your team is comfortable with you and your personality, you can make these changes with credibility and conviction. With other executives on board, you can begin establishing customer success as the driving force of your entire organization.
There you have it—good advice for your first 90 days at a customer success executive. Congrats on the new gig and you got this!
Check out our resources below for more customer success best practices and insights for how your organization can build strong customer relationships:
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