Remember that one professor who everyone fought to get a seat with at university? Students actually showed up to class to hear him or her lecture (… even the dreaded 8:00 a.m. filled up!).
What about the bakery on your childhood home’s street growing up, which sold the flakiest pastries and served family recipes you still crave every morning?
Both examples highlight someone doing a good, in fact great, job.
That professor probably encouraged you to pursue a certain career, and that bakery perfected the balance between restaurant quality and home-baked comfort.
These examples show that when people work to perfect their crafts, the recipients benefit in an immeasurable and memorable way.
In the same respect, SaaS companies rely on their CSMs to build and develop customer relationships that will turn clients into advocates.
It’s now more important than ever that companies find the individuals that will work towards increasing retention and encourage return users.
How then, do we measure the success of Customer Success Managers? How can you tell whether you’re doing a good job as CSM, or not?
Mathematical metrics and KPIs only describe the half of it. What about the relevant subjective storyline?
Below you’ll find the 6 telling signs that will speak to your successes as a CSM. Good CSMs should possess these qualities and work on them until they become second nature. Whether you’re the founder of a cloud-based startup researching what to look for in your next hire, or one of the CSMs for a major enterprise, these next few paragraphs should represent the traits of any top-performing Customer Success professional.
Top 6 traits a Customer Success Manager Needs to Succeed
1. Product Managers Respect You
An O.K. Customer Success Manager will know how the sales team pitches the product to potential clients. They’ll have a rudimentary understanding of the product, but can’t engage with it entirely on their own. They require constant assistance from the product team and lack the drive to find answers on their own.
It’s not required that great CSMs are experts of their field from day one, but they should be proactive enough to delve into the topic and gain as much knowledge as they can. This way, they can better assist their clients without relying on the skills of other departments.
If you’re doing a good job as CSM, the product team has probably come running to you with updates in the roadmap. Eager to share advancements and changes in the product with someone who has gained the knowledge and complete understanding for the product, they respect your position enough to know this information can help you better fulfill your role and produce successful customers.
Because you understand the customer base and specific use cases, the product team believes in your ability to forecast how this information will impact the customer and address their needs.
2. Coworkers Call You Nancy Drew
You love to play investigator from time to time and are always welcome to receiving or distributing customer feedback.
You have perfected the craft of active listening and empathy and can fully focus on the customer to ensure their success with your product. You can decipher subtle clues (tone, engagement, mood, personality, etc.) that the customer displays towards your product and you use them to leverage positive associations and interactions.
Not only do you take the appropriate measures to unveil these customer sentiments, you make sure to share this feedback with the rest of the company and relevant departments. The engineering team has benefited from your feedback in the past, and now looks to their company’s very own Nancy Drew to spot potential trends within the market and their evolving client base.
3. You Take Accountability and Ownership
Customers have come to rely on you to engage with and update them when necessary. You’ve received the honorable status as trusted advisor and customers turn to you for reliable information backed by data, experience, and educated intuition.
You understand your client’s goals and can properly identify their needs. You work with them around the clock and do not simply log calls and consider the case taken care of.
On more than one occasion, you’ve probably gone out of the way to ensure the customer’s comfort and colleagues still call you “Mama Bear” for it. It’s ok. I’ve heard worse nick names…
You take accountability for your clients and adapt communication styles to meet individual needs. You’ve learned how to interact and own the unique personalities you engage with each day and your customers have come to appreciate your company’s product (and you!) for it.
4. You’re An Expert at Persuasion
Great customer success managers can actively access situations and persuade their customers to use their product in a way they didn’t realize they could.
Oftentimes, CSMs will deal with clients who have set unattainable expectations. A persuasive CSM can show the client that particular “shortcomings” are no reason to jump ship, and that maybe there is another way to solve the particular issue at hand.
By proactively relaying this gained insight and customer feedback back to engineers or the product team, persuasive CSMs have the ability to foster real change with their company.
Persuasive CSMs also possess the ability to close a customer. Different from a sales call closing a potential client, great CSMs will “close a customer” by ending a conversation with a client only once they can confirm the customer’s goal is achieved, or that they’ve had their issue successfully resolved.
5. Coworkers Ask For Your Help
You know you’re doing a good job as CSM when other people on your team turn to you for support, guidance, and advice.
You’re a natural leader, a fine teacher, and a master communicator. Your peers respect your patience with clients and see how it’s benefited not only your customer relationships, but also those with team members.
You’re an effective teacher and can simply, yet effectively, guide your customer to success.
You intertwine patience into your onboarding strategies with clients, and aid in their achievements by diligently answering any question to the best of your ability.
You also use these methods while onboarding newer CSMs to your team. You never assume to know more than your peers and are always open to assistance or feedback. Your internal teammates appreciate this and rely on your advice to support their own customer interactions.
6. You Welcome Confrontation
No stranger in having to deal with difficult customer conversations, you know the best way to handle them while maintaining the relationship’s integrity and your company’s reputation.
Your colleagues would call you confident and courageous, especially in the way you handle new accounts.
You prioritize listening over providing false answers to clients, which is key when confronting difficult discussions.
Striking the perfect balance between keeping cool and providing facts to disappointed customers, you’re able to deliver the bad news when necessary.
You form strong connections with your customers and push them to think in creative ways that will maximize your product’s value achieve desired results.
Of course, this is not the only way to meet your client’s demands and perform well within your role as a customer success manager. If you think there is any top trait I left out, feel free to let me know in the comments! These 6 traits should loosely guide you towards finding your own identity and style as a CSM, as they are what I’ve experienced as subjective ways to measure performance quality.
It’s important to remember that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, which allow us to shine in unique ways within our roles. If you’re interested in finding out your strength as a CSM, take my quiz that’ll determine the quality customers love most about you!