Nice vs Good Customer Success Manager

Hi, Markus here. Welcome to a free edition of the Customer-Value-Led-Growth Newsletter.

Every week, I share strategies, guides, and frameworks to help you create exceptional value for your customers and company.

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You are going the extra mile for your customers. No matter what your customers ask for - their wishes are your command.

Because you know that the customer is king. Everything but delivering a top-notch experience is unacceptable for you.

And it’s only natural that your customers love the white glove treatment. You are the nicest CSM they have ever met and they appreciate you.

In the end, everybody wins - your customers, your company, and you - right? Unfortunately, despite having the best intentions being too nice leads to bad habits you are paying for dearly.

1. Customer Conversations

Telling customers what they want to hear is easy. You are not stepping on anyone’s toes and build a friendly environment to make and keep customers happy.

Yes, they are doing great. They are definitely on the path to victory. Of course, they will get the features they requested. Even when it does not make sense and these features will certainly not make it on the roadmap.

I get it, I’m wired to avoid conflicts as well. Having difficult conversations is giving me a headache. But what I have learned in the past 7 years is that you are paying for short-term comfort with long-term pain.

A good CSM tells customers what they need to hear even when it rubs some feathers. If your customers are doing things wrong you need to call them out for it. That does not mean to be rude in any way.

You need to simply share the facts and ask questions. If they are not following you advice and messing up things as a consequence, ask them why.

If they are repeatedly not showing up for scheduled meetings ask them if they have different priorities right now.

2. Connection

The easiest way for customers to work with your company is with a single person. A single person who handles

  • product and account issues

  • billing and invoicing questions

  • feature requests

  • education and training.

It’s way more difficult to remember 4+ different people and inconvenient to reach out to the right ones.

So you are volunteering as the single point of communication because as long as your heart beats, you will take away any inconvenience from your customers.

But is it the right call? A rhetorical question of course. You are not only spreading yourself thin working through an overflowing inbox.

It will slow down things for the customer and comes with a risk. What if customer messages are slipping through and never reach the right people?

The better solution is to set clear boundaries right from the beginning. When you are introducing yourself to your customers tell them right straight what you are responsible for and what you are not.

Take the time and explain to your customers why and how they will benefit from reaching out to the right people directly.

3. Solving support tickets

You have some time to spare. It’s 30 minutes until your next customer meeting begins. So you are doing a quick check on open customer tickets. Turns out that some require attention and you feel compelled to care of them.

Again, everything for a great customer experience. You are not an expert in Customer Support but that does not keep you from pursuing it anyway. How difficult could it even be?

And more importantly, you want to treat your customers with a happy surprise. Full of confidence you are providing them with a fast solution.

The only problem is that it’s not the solution they have been looking for. Turns out that you did not understand their problem in the first place. And a journey of forth and back with trial and error begins.

From this perspective, it looks way less desirable, doesn’t it? As a CSM, you will always do the job (much) worse than the experts doing it for a living.

Focus on what you do best - giving your customers the education and training they need to achieve their business outcomes.

4. Work approach

Your customers haven’t done things, right? Let’s quickly fix it for them. After all, time to value matters. The faster your customers see an ROI the better for your company.

While it’s correct in theory it makes your customers depend on you to solve their problems. Problems that they could solve themselves. It’s similar to what’s called bulldozer parenting with the same consequences.

And unsurprisingly, they will ask you to do more and more for them. Customer Success Management is not supposed to do the work for your customers. Its purpose is to enable them to do it on their own through training and education.

In the long run, your customers should be able to grow their skills and knowledge to a level where they can handle future problems on their own.

5. Resource distribution

As a CSM, you are wired to help people. Giving up on them is not in your DNA. You have the unshakable belief that you can turn failures into success stories. While it’s a noble trait, you will eventually pay a hefty price for it.

Nothing drains your energy and kills your morale faster than working with customers who are not meant to become successful. Because the “fix” is not under your control. A certain way to burn out sooner or later.

From a business perspective, you end up with spending 80% of your time on the customers accounting for 20% of revenue. That’s why, at some point, you need to accept that you’ve exhausted all your options and move on.

Successful CSM is the exact opposite - spending 80% of your time on the customers that account for 80% of revenue. The relentless focus on scoring the big points and unlocking.

What kind of CSM are you?

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