7 Customer Success Management Tips from CS Pros

Sheila Lahar

Posted 10/15/2020

In an emerging field like customer success, we see new strategies, tools, and best practices constantly pushing their way to the forefront. But some tried and true customer success tips will always work despite trends and changes.

We asked seven customer success leaders to share the best advice they’ve ever received during their careers in CS. 

This advice is pulled directly from our podcast, Customer Success Leader where we feature top CS industry pros breaking down their best practices, frameworks for success, and more! (If you haven’t tuned in yet, give it a listen!) 

Now, let’s dive in to the customer success tips:

Customer success tip #1: Get your customers recognition or a promotion at their company

“My old boss used to say, if you can help somebody get recognition or get promoted then you are going to have a connection for life. What he meant was that if our product can not only help the person but they can get recognition from inside the company, then you’re going to have a deeper relationship for a longer period of time. 

“Focusing on the relationship aspect has shaped a lot about how I think about CS. It’s all about getting down to the human level. If you’ve helped someone get recognition and they later move onto another company, they’re going to be thinking about you and how your company can help them. Help somebody get promoted or get recognition, and you have that relationship for life.” - Jeff Breunsbach, Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, The Customer Should Always Be First.

Customer success tip #2: Take up a bigger seat at the table at the right time

“In a SaaS business, at a certain time you will reach the point where the flywheel, which is your existing business, is bigger than what the sales team can sell in a single year. When that happens, it’s time for customer success to demand a bigger seat at the table. 

“Prior to that, sales is generally king. When it flips over, it’s now time for customer success to be a bit more bold than we’ve been and make sure the rest of the organization is onboard with making customers successful.” - Stacie Ward, VP of Customer Care at Red Canary

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, Customer Care in Cybersecurity

Customer success tip #3: Understand how your customers make money

“You need to understand how your customers make money. If I know how you make money then it helps me to understand how I can better help you. If I don’t, I’m only focused on my product and its usage versus the utility that you’re going to gain. The utility is different, even if it's by a little for each business and definitely for each industry. 

“If you don’t know how your clients make money, you’re never going to truly serve them or help them as much as you could. You’re not going to have a global picture of what that contact is going through or what that end user is going through because you’re not going to understand it. So you have to know how they make money, and then you can really customize their experience.” - Skaled Consulting CEO, Jake Dunlap

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, How Sales and Customer Success Make Power Users.

Customer success tip #4: Know what the customer wants, so they don’t have to

“I love Steve Jobs. He was really inspirational. He said simple but powerful things, like ‘It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.’ I think about the Ritz Carlton, and they have a similar saying which is, ‘Know what the customer wants before they know they want it.’ 

“If you can help the customer and know them well enough that you can understand what they need before they even know they need it, then you’ve got a strong relationship. 

Relationships, relationships, relationships. Everything you do is about relationships. If you’re going into customer success you need to be driven and self motivated but also know how to drive a relationship.” - Sara Lauer, Senior Director of Customer Success at Reflexis Systems

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, Decrease Churn: How to Shore Up Relationships.

Customer success tip #5: Focus on progress over perfection—especially in a fast-changing industry like CS

“I’m a perfectionist and have a very Type A personality. I don’t want to do anything unless it feels like it’s going to be wildly successful. One of the things I was told early on by a colleague was that it’s more important to have progress over perfection. 

“This is especially true in a hyper changing industry like customer success. It’s still new. It’s still changing. Every day there’s somebody coining something or changing something. 

“Making progress over perfection was the best advice ever received. That has just stuck with me, encouraged me, and challenged me to fail fast, and pivot fast but I’ve also been much more successful scaling and executing in my roles as a result." - Kristi Faltorusso Vice President of Customer Success at IntelliShift

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, Customer Success: The Ambassadors of Change Management.

Customer success tip #6: Measure success for your customers and yourself

“As a customer success professional, our job is to define and measure success for our customers. But we need to be doing that ourselves as an organization and as individuals. In the same way we’re tracking things for our customers, we want to make sure that we have well-defined criteria for our own internal organization for our own career trajectory. 

“We need to be measuring these goals, and once they’re achieved, look for the next target condition or next milestone of success and plan how we’re going to get there and how we’re going to measure it.

It’s important to really take that model of measuring and achieving success for our customers and apply it across the board.” - Steve Hueber, Customer Experience Strategist at Genesys

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, Building and Measuring a Customer Success Program.

Customer success tip #7: Find a way to stay up to speed with all of the changes in CS

“You need a fast way to stay informed. At Nuffsaid we’ve interviewed dozens of customer success leaders who have consistently said that one of the missing parts of their daily workflows is not having access to curated content that they can scan on a weekly basis to know what’s going on in the industry. 

“We took that feedback, we heard it and generated a newsletter that not only finds and curates the top content from the space but also includes notes from an interview that we’ve done recently with a top leader. And that’s all easy to scan in your inbox every week.” - Chris Hicken, the CEO of ‘Nuffsaid

Check out the Customer Success Leader podcast episode, How to Generate a 360-Degree View of Your Customer.

These customer success tips can turn you into a true CS pro. Stay up to speed with the industry, focus on progress over perfection, help your organization see the value of CS, and do whatever you can to get your customers results and internal recognition. 

If you want to take the conversation deeper and uplevel your approach to customer success, tune in and subscribe to the Customer Success Leader podcast.

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