What Cross Country Coaching Taught me about Customer Success

If you participated in High School sports, you might remember some of the feelings you had as a 14-year-old being on the same team as 17 and 18-year-olds.

I’ll never forget my first cross country practice as a freshman. Being on the same team and going to the same school as guys who could drive and grow beards had me feeling a little intimidated. But running cross country for 4 years in high school was a great experience. To this day, I still run as a hobby. In fact, running is so much of a hobby for me that I volunteer at the local high school as an assistant cross country coach.

My running career has now come full-circle.

Now I get to work with freshmen who have the same look on their faces as I did my first day at practice. One of the greatest things I get to see is their development as athletes and as teammates. Helping them feel accepted by the team and pushing them to be a better and stronger runner are the greatest parts of being a coach.

Now, as a front-line Customer Success Manager, I get to have similar experiences with my clients. While it may be a very different situation, the principles are the same. I work with them on a consistent basis so they get the maximum value out of our product and service. I ensure they understand the value of our services. And I help them identify best practices, workarounds, and solutions so that they can be successful.

In short, I’m their coach just as much as I am the coach for my high school cross country kids.

In a recent article posted on the HubSpot blog, Michael Redbord said: “Customer success helps you engage and guide customers to help them grow into happy power users, and these satisfied advocates will recommend your brand and help grow your business as fast as sales and marketing.”

Read the full article here: https://blog.hubspot.com/service/making-customers-more-successful

As a Cross Country coach, helping my high school kids develop as athletes helps their confidence in themselves grow. They then are able to share that confidence with other new athletes. This is a chain reaction that helps the team develop not only as runners but as individuals working together to make one another better.

If you’re in Customer Success, you know one of the best things about the profession is developing clients enough to where they get maximum value out of your product or services and share that with others who later become new clients.

It’s a pretty great feeling as a CSM and a Coach to see this enthusiasm and advocacy develop in my clients and athletes.

Dave Blake, CEO of ClientSuccess, was recently interviewed on the Customer Success Leader podcast. In his interview, he hits the nail on the head when talking about what makes a CS team successful.

“It starts with authentic and passionate humans that go above and beyond that genuinely care about our customers as individuals and that carries through with them truly wanting to help the clients succeed as a business.”

Full episode can be found here:

As a coach, my effectiveness ions measured by how much a care about my athletes as individuals. It’s through that personal connection that I can see their potential and push them to reach it. This applies to my clients and my desire to help them succeed as individuals and as a business.

While it’s easy for me to been seen as just another vendor to my clients and just another adult yelling at my athletes to “go faster”, I can truly set myself apart from the others. It all starts with me and my desire to serve and develop those that I’m serving.

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