In this edition of our Ask a CSM series, we're chatting with Zach Hawley, Senior Customer Success Manager at InsightSquared.
What was your background prior to becoming a CSM? What attracted you to customer success?
I was relatively raw. I spent the first 2 and a half years of my career as a Field Account Manager for a consumer goods company before making the jump into Customer Success. I made the jump because I loved the idea of transforming from a “vendor” in my Account Management role to a “business partner” in a Customer Success role. I felt like Customer Success really provided me the opportunity to cross that threshold.
What does your typical day look like?
Everything about my day revolves around making sure every customer in my portfolio has the best experience with my company as possible — whether that's conducting live trainings with new customers, creating content for existing customers, or working with different stakeholders internally to reform processes that can ultimately improve the customer experience.
What's the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is getting to that “Aha!” moment. Most customers know they should buy our software for one reason or another, but when I can help them reach that ultimate level of understanding, where the true value of the product is realized, that’s when I feel like I’ve contributed the most.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
It’s a cop out, but time management is the toughest part of my job. We work with a portfolio of existing customers, are responsible for a new batch of onboardings every month, and have to make sure those renewals happen seamlessly. That’s leaving out all the fires we put out on a daily basis. Having Skilljar to share with customers has really helped with that last one. It’s just so easy to use that it often takes care of about 20% of requests that we used to field.
Which team (outside of your own) do you work with most closely, and why?
I work most closely with sales. Other than renewals, our team isn’t responsible for any other commercials (this includes upsells and cross sells). Therefore, it’s really important that we are in lockstep with the Account Executives about what the status of each and every customer is. I know that at the end of a quarter/month I am going to field questions about customers and whether or not they are in a position to buy more from us. It’s important that line of communication always be open.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting his/her career in customer success?
Work on your empathy. The more you can empathize with a customer, the better you will be at making them successful. Now, this certainly doesn’t mean give into every request they have, but it does mean truly understanding where they are coming from on these requests. If you can get there, you will have a better chance at tackling the real pains they have. And, sometimes, those pains are ones the customer didn’t even know they had.
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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