Customer success is a field where stories abound. And most of them are great!
Today, in this article, you’ll see some truly awe-inspiring stories.
We’ve spoken with industry leaders. We’ve talked to customers. We reached out to all our network of connections in and around the customer success space. The result? A clear-cut list of some of the best stories in the biz.
So let’s get inspired together by reading through this list!
1. “I made sure I fully understood how this incident has affected them before I replied.” – Tal Nagar
As we were implementing a new system, we managed to convince one of our High-Touch customers to try it out, not before we ensured them that all of their time-sensitive projects will not be affected.
Sadly enough, upon their first attempt to use the system, it failed to work and all of their worries came true. As their CSM, I had to handle this situation carefully, as on one hand, we don’t want to lose a High-Touch customer but on the other hand, we weren’t able to provide them with the full compensation they asked for.
I put myself in their shoes and made sure I fully understood how this incident has affected them before I replied back. Then, in my response, I used their language, highlighting how important this relationship is to us, and offered some additional ideas and tools to position myself as a trusted advisor. Thankfully, they were satisfied with my response and with the compensation we were able to offer them.
Moving forward, I make sure I fully understand the customer’s complaints and meet them where they are. I learned (the hard way) that only when you make customers feel heard and cared for, do they actually position you as their trusted advisor.
2.“A constant struggle for me as their CSM to try to fix mistakes made during implementation…” – Fahim Azimi
In our customer’s journey toward their ever-evolving desired outcome, sometimes we, unfortunately, come to realizations through trial and error. I want to share what I learned from a mistake done in the Customer Success Process that later helped me shape a better Customer Journey.
Early on in my Customer Success career, I was assigned to one of our largest international customers as their CSM. When the implementation process was finished, the implementation consultant scheduled a call with the customer, and I introduced myself as their CSM. The problem soon became evident, several features had not been implemented correctly; the customer’s unique needs had not been taken into consideration in the way they expected.
As a result, naturally, the customer was not happy and what followed was a constant struggle for me as their CSM to try to fix the mistakes made during implementation. I learned (the hard way!) the importance of having a structured hand-off process not only from Sales to CS, but also from each stage within the Customer Journey itself.
In this example, we had to improve the hand-off from our implementation team to our CSMs by having a proper hand-off meeting internally with checklists that had to be completed before moving the customer to the next stage of the Customer Journey. I learned my lesson, and it made me a better Customer Success leader today.
3.“The CSM’s job is not just to answer questions, but to understand why the question was asked.” – Irina Vatafu
Some time ago I received a question from a customer that seemed quite urgent. It was already late in the day, but I still wanted to answer quickly and not make the customer wait until the next day. He asked what seemed to be a simple question, which I answered quickly without trying to understand the reasoning behind the question or the use case. I gave him the answer, then turned off the computer and didn’t wait for the response.
They thanked me and said how they were going to use the information, which was completely wrong – but I wasn’t there online to see the answer. They also used that answer to present the solution in a leadership meeting that afternoon – so they created false expectations for something that was not actionable.
The next day I found it out and helped with the right answer. In the end, everything went well, but it was definitely a lesson I learned. The CSM’s job is not just to answer questions, but to understand why the question was asked and how the customer will benefit from that answer.
Since then, even if I’m in a hurry, I try to clarify the question and figure out the use case to make sure I answer directly to the point. Or at least I’m honest. An answer like “I think that’s the right answer, but how about we get together tomorrow to understand the context and help you with more details?” would have saved us time and set the right expectations.
4. “The problem with doing everything is that you’re doing everything.” – Jung Kim
When I first started building the CS team, I naturally leaned into doing everything it took to get the job done. Going above and beyond to do the whole job – whether that was late nights at the office, immersively learning as much as I could about product, engineering, organizational strategy, sales, f&a.
But the problem with doing everything is that you’re doing everything. It also means that there isn’t the ruthless prioritization/tougher path to take, whether it’s a feature request, management of your own time, and selectively choosing which battles you’re taking on internally. The intentional utilization of time and resources is now something that I coach, hire for, and encompass as a part of my personal contribution.
The goal of coaching and managing is to help others be better versions of you and eventually be replaced – so growing and building upon a group of high-impact players is now my priority over throwing my resources at tasks for the sake of completing them. Align your personal strategy with your professional strategy to be a holistic, sustainable impact player across the board.
5. “We discussed additional value from the product to track revenue and create a plan out of their financial burdens.” – Nathaniel Ellis, CSM
I once had a client who expressed to me that they were nearly bankrupt and paying their bills with credit. They were hopeful however that they would pull through. Originally, they were set up on a contract where the renewal came due yearly. While this was preferred for the company, I explained the downside and upsides to changing to a monthly bill. Unfortunately, with a monthly structure, there were additional processing costs.
After reviewing the details with the executives, we determined that due to their loyalty we would reduce those costs and set them up on a longer contract if that was interesting to them. We also discussed additional value from the product to track revenue and create a solid game plan out of their financial burdens.
Fast forward to today, they pulled through and we found mutual success. Doing what you can to help your clients in their unique situations drives success!
6.“As trusted advisors to the customer, we should always study them in detail.” – Chris Ng EnHan
Several years ago, a glitch happened with our product which resulted in a crisis for one of our customers. As the customer was using our system/service as part of their inventory management system, the truckload of raw oats parked in the hot sun was unable to be received by the factory.
While a rerouting of the trucks and a technical workaround were provided to mitigate the situation, time and work efficiency had already been impacted.
Although we managed to alleviate the situation, further reflection clearly shows that we didn’t truly understand the customer’s business. As trusted advisors to the customer, we should always study them in detail and hence provide a more robust solution with redundancy and proactive alerts/measures for any critical service to the customer.
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