How to Succeed in Customer Success

Brandy Drzymkowski
Nov 21, 2019 · 4 min read
A man looks up to a high rise with arms outstretched.
A man looks up to a high rise with arms outstretched.
Success. Photo by Razvan Chisu on Unsplash

With an emphasis on customer satisfaction and problem-solving, it takes a jack-of-all-trades to be a good fit for a career in customer success. The expansive skill set required is not for the faint of heart. If you’re thinking about pursuing customer success, or just hoping to become more effective at it, here are some traits you can develop to bring maximum value to the role.

Proactivity

Proactivity is causing something to happen, not waiting to react when it does. It takes a proactive individual to foresee the difficulties that may arise for a customer along their journey using a product. This is the key difference between customer success and the reactive nature of customer service. In success, you need to be able to anticipate what the customer may need and provide it for them before they ask. This makes them feel like they have a problem-solving team at their disposal, which is (after all) what they’re paying you for.

Things you can do to practice proactivity in your daily life:

  • Suggest your ideas for the next family vacation. Then help plan it. Proactivity is all about seeking solutions and taking actions toward them.
  • Be the person who does what they say they will do. Set realistic deadlines for your goals so you can achieve them, and don’t commit to what you can’t achieve. This signals to others that you are reliable, honest, and seek to complete instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you.

Resourcefulness

Are you the kind of person who asks and answers questions? This is the making of a great customer success agent. In CS you deal with a lot of questions and concerns from the customers themselves. If you are not able to help them solve their problems, you risk them going to another service who can. It is your job to find and share solutions, which usually means finding them yourself. Returning a response as quickly as possible will be an asset in times when you don’t have the answer a customer is looking for, so it is critical you seek and seek efficiently.

Things you can do to practice resourcefulness in your daily life:

  • Be curious and answer your own questions through Google and research.
  • Learn how to maximize what you have. Read the books on your shelf and take notes. Go through old lecture notes. Take advantage of past effort and collect your own information database. A great tool for this if you’re stuck is Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain.

Empathy

Being interested in people, developing relationships with them, helping them reach their goals, and putting yourself in their shoes are all necessary for the CS agent. If you are not interested in connecting to people in this way, CS will be very difficult for you. The reason being you will need to patiently listen to a customer’s problems, their goals, and help them bridge the gap using your knowledge of the product. To do this effectively requires you to make them feel they are being heard, for even the slightest issue. A connection between humans is what makes customer success such a powerful role.

Things you can do to practice empathy in your daily life:

  • When you ask someone how they are doing, actually listen to their answer. Follow up with another question about their life and try not to bring up your own experiences. See if you tend to talk about yourself or focus on the other person in a conversation, and try to emphasize the latter.
  • Become a mentor to someone in your community. Help them sort through and solve their problems.

Adaptivity

Customer success has an ever-changing workload. You need to be able to roll with the punches and be willing to learn something new every day. With an emphasis on new technologies, remember, you are the one with the answers to a customer’s questions. Figure it out and learn from your mistakes so next time you can figure it out faster and with more accuracy.

Things you can do to practice adaptivity in your daily life:

  • Go to a coffee shop/store/place you haven’t been before. See what your natural reactions are to a new environment with new information.
  • Practice meditation and yoga to learn mental relaxation techniques. This will help you let go of the stress associated with newness and go with the flow.

What’s the Goal?

To give you an idea, here is an email I received from the customer success team at Loom, a video recording tool I use weekly.

Not only was I impressed by the seemingly effortless and personal communication, but I reached out to interview someone in the position and heard a response from a real person within 24 hours. (Interview transcript to come!)

Needless to say, my experience with this email was positive and the interaction made me excited to use Loom more often. The pictures make me feel I can relate to the team. I know there are people attached to the product, not robots. The interaction was proactive on their part, as I didn’t expect it at all. I’ll admit I even considered paying for the premium service.

All of these feelings from one simple email. That’s how powerful good customer success can be.

Brandy Drzymkowski

Written by

I use creative thinking to solve people’s problems.

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