3 Lessons From my First 3 Years in Customer Success

In June 2018, I accepted my first official position in Customer Success. I had graduated from university just back in December and my first job out of college was, let’s just say, not what I expected it to be.

Hence why I was only there for 6 months.

I had moved my wife and I out to Arizona to start a new chapter with this job and was feeling pretty foolish at this point. I had just found out about this cool new space called “Customer Success” a month or two prior to getting this gig so I was hoping and praying it would work out.

3 years later, and I can say that choosing to persue a career in Customer Success is the second-best decision I’ve ever made (2nd only to marrying my wife).

My first gig was a Client Advocate position for a social media marketing company in Scottsdale. I was there for a year and have been working as a CSM for a global software company that creates Virtual Data Rooms for the past two years. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve grown in ways I didn’t think was possible for the first few years of my professional career.

If I could give advice to any college graduate who is unsure about what they want to do career-wise, it would be to get a job in Customer Success. The skills you will learn and the community you will be a part of are unmatched.

So, with three years under my belt of working in the space, here are the top three lessons I’ve learned thus far:

The Customer may not Always be ‘Right’ but They are Always the Most Important

Sorry Sam Walton, but “The customer is always right” just isn’t correct anymore. As Customer Success Managers, we need to know our product and services better than our clients. This will help us provide them with the highest possible value when working with us.

And because of this, sometimes the client may request something that we can’t offer directly, have a misconception about what our product actually does, or even tell us what our product should be doing when in reality, it just doesn’t work that way. These kinds of conversations happen and sometimes we can’t deliver on specific requests exactly how the customer wants us to.

But because we are knowledgeable about our product or service and care about our customers, we can always offer some kind of workaround and alternate solution that can help our customers get where they want to go. A huge part of CS is delivering on customer’s desired outcomes. And sometimes we need to help them see how our product can do just that even if it may not be what they expect at times.

Working for a social media marketing company, I had to have these conversations nearly on a weekly basis.

Customer Success can only be Attained through Consistent Cross-Department Collaboration

Customer Success, when done right, isn’t just a department. It’s a company-wide mindset.

That means it’s up to Customer Success Managers and Leadership to ensure that other teams are doing what is best for the customer in the respective duties. Usually, this starts with teams like sales and product. Both of these teams are critical when it comes to company growth and customer satisfaction.

Breaking down internal silos is a key duty (often “unofficial”) of Customer Success. We, as CSM’s, are on the frontlines helping our customers succeed. But teams like product are working behind the scenes to ensure our customers are being successful with adopting the product. And teams like sales and marketing are helping to bring in new business to help the company grow and stay “afloat”.

So to ensure our customers have all the tools and training they need to succeed, it’s imperative to have conistent collaboration with these teams. This can be done in a variety of ways. This article isn’t meant to explain it all in detail but having open lines of communication through meetings, Slack channels, and informal conversations is a ‘must’ not only to help the company grow but to help the overall culture of the company actually be something to brag about.

My Job as a CSM is to Make the Lives of my Customers Easier

Simple as that. An organization can only be as successful as its customers. And the first thing you need to look at when assessing the success of your customers is how easy it is to use your product or service.

No matter how complex your product may be, it’s your job as the CSM to help your customer adopt and see value in it as quickly as possible. Value for your customer can be measured by how easy it is for them to achieve their desired outcomes.

So there you have it, folks. 3 simple lessons.

What have been your top lessons from your time in Customer Success?

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