Do you have any advice for a junior who is a first customer success hire?
Firstly, good choice! You have picked a hot career and I only see CS becoming more prominent and important over the next decade.
- Be curious. Take time to understand your customer’s business - one of the best parts of this job is the exposure you get to so many different types of businesses. The more you understand this, the better a CSM you will be.
- Put your hand up. If there’s a new product / initiative you can be part of, volunteer for it. Lean in and maximize the learnings even if it scares you.
It can seem daunting jumping into a customer-facing role. Where do I start if I don’t have the relationships built yet? How do I make connections to successfully drive business for my company? At the end of the day we all have to start somewhere.
My advice would be to think about what actions you can take today to create valuable connections and start building customer relationships. Get your feet wet with webinars, workshops, office hours, anything that will help build your knowledge and get you comfortable connecting with customers.
And then the best thing about Customer Success is the community. Network and learn from others within CS to learn and grow your skillset.
The first customer success hire (especially if you are more junior) is both daunting but equally an excellent opportunity to impact the business. As a more junior hire, you will most likely get more flexibility to ask and learn, so embrace that opportunity.
Here are a few steps I would take;
Learn as much as you can about the industry in that your company is operating in
Get a deep understanding of what the product does and, more specifically, how that drives value for customers.
Understand the book of business. Are they renewing, expanding or churning? Then, try to figure out why each of these outcomes is occurring.
Once you understand the why, clarify what your manager expects of you in terms of influencing this.
Speak to and meet as many customers as possible, especially your largest ones (ideally in person).
Listen carefully to their experience, capture this and send this feedback to the business.
Track your performance against the KPIs and metrics set forth, and be proactive with your performance against them.
Volunteer to take on new opportunities as they arise.
Expectations will likely be tricky for you and leadership as you both may be figuring it out together. This highlights many opportunities and risks.
Understand if the role expects you to be primarily a technical CSM, a customer advocate (share feedback internally), expand CSM (more like an account manager to grow/renew accounts), a renewal manager, or other focus. This will significantly help you understand what the job is explicitly or implicitly stating
Continue to check in with leadership on expectations. Don't know go with what was stated at the beginning as you're in a more fluid dynamic
Ensure you have a written job description and return to that from time to time, and review with leadership at least quarterly for your first year. Ask questions like, "are these responsibilities still accurate? Would you make any changes?" This may seem silly, but having it written down helps highlight gaps and differences of opinion
Network! Network with other CSMs and CSM managers about their expectations and how they work and expect to work
Attend webinars, in person gatherings (if feasible), and other events to understand how others interpret CSM
Join every possible meeting, especially with the product team.
Meet with sales an marketin, it is important to know and understand what they are selling to your clients and how to align and meet those expectations.
Don't be afraid of asking questions.
Don't be afraid of making mistakes but always be honest and transparent.
Be flexible and open to learn and think out of the box