CSM Chronicles: Front load Your Customer Journeys

With Tyler Hansel, Technical CSM at Zip

With a career spanning Customer Success in companies like Zip and LinkedIn, here’s Tyler sharing his secrets to growing and thriving in a CS role.

How do you define Customer Success?

It is about understanding what success means to each customer and applying your product or service to help them achieve that version of success. 

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

Being a CSM isn't as straightforward as some might think. The role isn't always well-defined. You wear multiple hats—troubleshooting tech issues, building relationships, dealing with organizational changes within the customer's company, etc.

There’s also the constant battle against churn. Sometimes, you can sense churn coming with all the usual signs. But the challenge is identifying churn when it's hiding in the shadows.

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

QBRs (Quarterly Business Reviews). They're great when the data is supportive and positive.
But they can get tricky otherwise – you could be talking to stakeholders you've never met, or those not happy with your product or the results.

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

Front load your customer journey.

When you begin your relationship with customers, take extra time upfront to dive deep into where they are in their customer journey, their goals/objectives for the future, and their technical challenges. If possible, try to meet them in person when you do this.

This is key to building trust. 

This trust will go a long way when you need to push them a bit to adopt new features or optimize their usage. 

Tell us about a CSM you admire and why. 

Two managers I’ve worked with – Reuben and Summer. 

What I admired most was their deep understanding of the customer persona and pain points.

Besides being product experts, they had the executive presence to handle even the most delicate situations. 

But what set them apart was their empathy – they were true champions for their customers’ success. 

Can you recall a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty for a customer?

We had a customer who had made up their mind about switching to a cheaper alternative.

It can be tempting to write such customers off.

But, as a team, we went above and beyond to show them the value of sticking with us. We laid out all the reasons why our solution was worth it, and how the other solution could fall short.
We were compassionate throughout the whole process, even as they were telling us they were ready to leave.

Six months later, they came back to us – to a product and a team they already liked.

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

I'd want to be microchipped with all the product expertise I need. It'd be like having instant access to answers for all questions that come my way – no more digging around for answers or investigating endlessly. 

Can you share an embarrassing customer interaction that's stayed with you?

I once was in this intense video call with an unhappy customer. But there was a party happening behind me in the office. 

The customer noticed and asked if I was actually at a party! 

I had to explain that it was just a Friday celebration for others at work.

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