What was your background prior to becoming a CSM? What attracted you to customer success?
I started my career as a software support specialist, which over time incorporated various elements of sales, professional services, project management, and customer care. As a result, my eyes were opened to the complete customer journey: from acquisition through account renewal and expansion. A few years on in my career, I came across the term “customer success” by chance. I quickly realized that, all along, my drive had been motivated by this key component. After doing more research in the field and leveraging my skills accordingly, I made the official transition to customer success, and I am thoroughly convinced that I made the right professional move.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical workday consists of a multitude of interactions, both internal and external. I do a fair amount of work with internal teams to optimize current processes and allow greater customer success input and direction. I use custom reports to actively monitor all of our accounts through their experience with us and engage where necessary. In particular, I track the usage of our recently onboarded customers to ensure complete adoption in the first few weeks, which is critical to the long-term goals of customer success. Additionally, I create surveys and design feedback forums to facilitate discussions with clients that can offer insights for product enhancements. A portion of my day is spent working directly with our sales team on upsell, cross-sell, renewal, and expansion opportunities that both support our business as well as meet the exact and growing needs of our clients.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I find it rewarding that my role allows me to have a positive impact on both our clients and our company simultaneously. Customers adopt the products and features that match their specific needs and have an infrastructure available for questions, concerns, or training. As a result, our business benefits from customers that are truly invested in our products for the long run, which means more opportunity for renewal and growth.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The biggest hurdle I have faced thus far has been educating our clients on what customer success can offer them. Customer success is still a relatively new industry term, and we need to distinguish it from existing perceptions of customer care, account management, or support. We have been working on various approaches to ensure we reach out to each individual account in the most suitable manner. Our goal is to help them realize that customer success extends beyond general customer care and explain what true success means. Once we bridge this gap, we find that our clients are eager to engage with us to onboard efficiently, maximize use of our product, and leverage all of the resources we have available.
Which team (outside of your own) do you work with most closely, and why?
I am fortunate to work closely with our sales, marketing, and professional services teams on a regular (if not daily) basis. Understanding pre and post sales processes is critical for any CSM. We need to know who we are targeting, why we are targeting them, and how prospects make the shift to onboarded clients. I guide customers through their initial implementation and act as a liaison for them with our professional services team to deliver smooth and efficient onboarding. Working closely with marketing enables me to ensure that CSM interactions fit in with the current marketing schedule and messaging. Having built a relationship with the customer, I work with our sales team to identify areas of growth that will bring the client’s long-term goals to fruition.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting his/her career in customer success?
Make sure it's your absolute passion to be a proactive champion for every account you work with. You cannot be half-hearted about your customers’ success. Bringing that passion to work every day will enable you to work in harmony with the internal teams to deliver the best possible experience for all clients. Be prepared to work with plenty of diverse professional personalities. Your work will bring you in contact with a wide range of people on the corporate ladder, from end users to senior management.
In our Ask a CSM series, we're talking with some of the industry's leading Customer Success, Education and Training professionals about the ins and outs of their day-to-day. Stay tuned for new Q&As each month!
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