CSM Chronicles: Create 3-month account plans for every customer with specific goals

With Jay Bid, Former Director - Customer Success, Density

With over 18 years of experience across customer success, sales, and consulting, Jay's expertise lies in developing and executing strategies that drive executive partnerships, exceed growth targets, and maximize revenues.

At Density, he built a revenue-focused CS team that consistently hit retention and growth targets through fee-based advisory and custom analytics services.

Here’s Jay sharing his secrets to putting the success in Customer Success.

How do you define Customer Success? 

It's about achieving positive outcomes for the customer and ensuring joint agreement on their significance. 

It involves continuously understanding the customer's needs, gathering feedback, and refining our understanding of how our offering can best serve them.

What does it truly mean for a customer to be successful?

While this can vary depending on the company and industry, at Density, we aimed for our application to become integrated into the client's regular business processes –  ideally reaching a point where it was considered mission-critical. 

Given that we were in a relatively new category, clients didn't always have a clear idea of exactly how our tool would fit into their business.  A key aspect of the CSM role was to collaborate with customers to identify specific goals and success metrics. 

We looked for verified outcomes and measurable examples of how our tool was driving value for the customer –  whether as a one-time event or an ongoing process.

What is one of the most difficult things about being a CSM? 

Driving a shared understanding of the purpose of the role. 

Stakeholders – both inside and outside the company – have different ideas about what a CSM does. This often leads to CSMs being pulled in different directions.

They end up being ‘catchall’ players – instead of focusing on specific goals and deliverables.

The key is to clearly and narrowly define the responsibilities of a CSM.

On one hand, you need to educate your sales teams, product teams, and leaders on this.  

On the other hand, you also need to clarify this with your clients right at the outset of the relationship – while delineating it from other functions like sales and customer support.

Are there any things that you dread when you open up your calendar?

Back-to-back calls that block my day.

Too often, CS teams end up being in a reactive mode reacting to what clients need without much strategic thinking. Or they end up going through the motions of regular check-ins.

But clients want you to be proactive and thoughtful in how you engage with them. 

So, you need to take the lead in the relationship, setting the pace and deciding how things should go.

Think about how you plan your day, and the next steps for each of your clients.

Any tips, tricks, or hacks you'd like to share with fellow CSMs that helped you or your team?

I find structuring my day to be incredibly helpful. I dedicate the first part of my day to focus time, while the afternoon is reserved for internal or external meetings – with external meetings taking priority.  I make sure to leave at least an hour at the end of the day for critical and strategic thinking focused on my accounts.

I also recommend creating three-month account plans for all clients. These plans outline specific goals and tasks for each account, to help you stay organized and focused. 

Also, create a shared space for documentation with clients. It keeps everyone on the same page and makes communication smoother. 

Lastly, remember that you can't do everything yourself. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure your clients are successful. Encourage your clients to reach out to other experts within your team for specialized needs.

Can you recall a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to pull off a heroic act for a customer?

I see these acts as falling into two categories: those that build on what's already working well and those that patch up problems.

For example, at Density, a client invested in our data sensors but didn't know how to use the data effectively. Drawing on my background in analytics, I teamed up with their data team to define goals, reporting methods, and data usage. 

It took us over a year and half to implement and operationalize things.

But it was worth it.

Besides helping the client, it made our product crucial for their real estate portfolio management.  That’s a heroic act that enhances what's already good in the business – something any CSM should do.

On the flip side, there was a time when I had to stay up late at night for weeks to support an overseas client due to a gap in our process and technology.

While it may seem heroic –  in reality –  it was a sign that something was broken and that we needed to fix it.

How are you leveraging AI across your work as a CSM? 

I haven't fully integrated it into my workflow yet, but there are two key areas where I use it. 

First, I use it for quick company and team-level research on my clients before meetings. For example, I can quickly learn about a client's strategy or the history of their strategy changes over the years. This helps me get a summary of their policy changes or their business profile.

Second, I use it to help write emails. However, I've found that AI-generated language can sometimes fall short or lacking in depth. I'm working on trying to improve this.

If you were to wave a magic wand to do your job better or provide more value, what would it be?

I’d establish a universally clear understanding of the CSM role within the company. 

It would be amazing if everyone understood the CSM role as clearly as they do the role of a sales rep.

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