Being in a Customer Success role in Gainsight, a Customer Success company, is akin to being an English professor at Oxford. For a good reason, there is a magnifying glass on us all the time. It also continually pushes us to strive to become better than yesterday and get inspired by the business’s best everywhere.
Since my role as a CSM requires me to meet many talented peers in the customer success industry (our end users are often CSMs), I started looking for qualities that make a CSM a superstar. And one quality stood out to me above everything else.
Before I get to the answer, think about that quality that you feel is the most important, the one that makes an amazing CSM stand out. Empathy? Product knowledge? Process knowledge? Great communication skills? Problem Solving? These are all good answers, and probably the right ones in certain situations which the CSMs face. But they fall short of capturing the spirit of this role.
Every rockstar CSM I have seen across the industry has one thing in common: Operational Rigor.
What is operational rigor?
The idea that irrespective of how many customers one has, a CSM can’t afford to take their eyes off the ball at any point. On any given day, one must: follow that 24-hour service level agreement (SLA), write that stakeholder ghost email, reach out to the engineers for technology insight, track metrics, provide risk updates, read those product release notes, and create a documented path to success for all your customers.
A CSM role includes bringing together both short-term and long-term goals to paint a complete picture of what is going on with their customer. That means we have a checklist running for every customer, a discipline to adhere to the checklist without fail, and a willingness to iterate this checklist for continuous improvement.
To put it concisely, It is about bringing discipline, thoroughness, consistency, and conscientiousness in everything we do. It is also about taking the end to end ownership of your customer experience. Indeed, support, services, sales, architects, professional services, product management, and execs talk to your customer and are all working for the customer every day. But the buck stops with you, dear CSM. Yes, there are others in the symphony, but you are that maestro that brings every note together as a CSM.
And for each of your customers, you have a different concert playing at any point in time and that you have to pick up seamlessly. Some customers are interested in doing more/learning more; others cannot get value working with the product and require a jumpstart. Others are still thinking about using their vendor relationship with your company to determine their next career step.
As you build your skills and knowledge for the role, think about this quality. How can we imbibe this quality day to day with our interaction with peers, leaders, customers, community, and teammates?
To be honest, I am not there yet, but I try to imbibe and improve upon this quality inch by inch. Building operational rigor in your day takes time, and it will occasionally be trying, but it is a learnable skill. It will also be worth it! To learn more about how some of the best CSMs can manage multiple accounts seamlessly, take a tour of Gainsight to see how easy work can be for CSMs using our platform.