Tell us something fun about yourself.
I love traveling. I’ve been to five continents, over 35 countries, and I’ve visited all 50 states. I made it a goal to visit all 50 states before I turned 50 years old. I almost made it…I checked off the last state – Idaho – 3 weeks after my 50th birthday.
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself as a new CSM?
My best piece of advice – and one I always give everyone on my team – is this: “In the absence of clear instructions, do what seems best for the customer.” I figure that the CSM should be the one with the most knowledge and insight into their customers. If there’s an ambiguous or unclear situation that comes up, I trust the CSM’s judgment.
What book, podcast, or influencer do you recommend checking out?
For customer success leaders, I highly recommend the Customer Success Bootcamp series from ClientSuccess. While it’s sponsored by a vendor, it’s very platform-agnostic and doesn’t focus on their specific solution or methodology. It’s just good sound advice for anyone starting or leading a CS function.
I’m also a big fan of the blog and YouTube videos from CSM Practice, as well as anything from Anita Toth.
What is the one tech tool you can't live without?
I’d have to say my iPad. If every other tech device I had (iPhone, computer, etc.) all vanished one day, I could still do about 80% of my professional and personal work from my iPad. I don’t make/receive a ton of cell phone calls, and the iPhone is too small of a form factor for serious work. The iPad is a “just right” size that allows me to do everything from answering emails to writing longer-form documents.
What's next for Customer Success?
I’d have to say it’s going to be all about data collection and data strategies. CSMs are in a position to gather a ton of data about customers – things like what the customer’s definition of business value/success is, what parts of the product they find more useful, relationship sentiment, and so on. There will be a lot of both structured and unstructured data that CSMs can collect. Getting this information into a digestible format for the rest of the company is going to reap big benefits for companies down the road.
Data strategies will have to take unstructured data into consideration. Measuring and reporting on quantitative data like satisfaction scores, annual spending, etc., is easy. Analyzing unstructured data is hard. However, at the rate it’s growing, CS leaders are going to have to figure out how to draw out meaningful conclusions and warning signs from that data.
What’s something you recently learned the hard way?
I learned this a few years ago, and I’m reminded of it frequently: protect your mental health. Customer Success can be an incredibly stressful role at times. And sometimes there’s way too much work to do, which causes additional stress. If it’s not managed well, that stress can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as other mental health issues. Take time away from your desk and your computer to refresh yourself. Remember that life is more than work. Learn to treasure your family and friends above all else. And if you need help from a mental health professional…don’t hesitate to get it. There’s no shame in it.