More thoughts from Gil Lhotka, Director of Customer Success at Kronos! Gil expands on the concept of “serving your customer” as the fourth of the 5 Commandments of Customer Success.

Put your customers first. Every job requires employees to make choices about how they balance their time – being a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is no different. There are internal requirements, paperwork, reports, and the myriad of non-customer facing tasks that are part of the daily routine. But despite these responsibilities, when we’re working with customers, it’s all about them, and we must stay focused on successfully guiding them toward their desired business outcomes. How? Uncover the most efficient and effective way to get them what they need.

It's All About the Customer's Outcome

We all want to do our best for our customers, but being helpful doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers yourself. As Customer Success Managers, it’s important to recognize when to act on customer issues and when to connect customers with others who can help them reach their goals. This is a lesson I’ve learned throughout my career. I used to feel like I should know the answer to every question that came my way. But think of Customer Success Managers as playmakers – we’re not always responsible for the direct delivery; however, we play a role in initiating that outcome. And that’s equally critical in helping customers achieve their desired results.

A classic example of this in a software company is when a customer asks a Customer Success Manager a highly technical question. For simple questions, seeking out the answer is the way to go. If the need is complex or requires further discussion, the best approach is to facilitate a conversation between the customer and a technical expert to efficiently gain the answers they need. The CSM’s role is to introduce the discussion, set the stage, and then confirm that the result brings the customer to a positive business outcome. This is an excellent way to provide value to your customer – and even though you might not have personally delivered the good news, you are the reason they now have it.

A Cautionary Tale – While this is a great tactic to drive results, there is a fine line between facilitation and avoidance. If CSMs facilitate or redirect every question, need, or interaction, customers will lose confidence in them as trusted advisors. How do you know if you are adding value? If your customers want you to be involved in their meetings, discussions, and planning sessions, you are adding value. If they don’t, it’s a sign that there is more work to be done to show how you can better deliver value to their experience.

Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.

  • Ask yourself “Am I the right person to respond to this request?” If not, seek guidance.
  • Once you have made that choice the next question to ask is, “Will this issue likely come up again?” If the answer to that is yes, the best tactic might be facilitation for the first interaction but not for future conversations regarding the same topic.

As you gain more knowledge through these discussions, you not only serve your customers well, but you increase your knowledge to continue serving them even better in the future.

Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2017