CSM Chronicles: Learn about your customers’ competitors

Jake Minturn, Director of Customer Success at Hum

Jake's professional journey has been focused on enriching customer journeys and driving success across branding, marketing, and customer success. With experience advocating for data-driven marketing strategies and guiding clients through implementation/onboarding, Jake brings a unique blend of expertise and enthusiasm to his CS role.

Join us as Jake shares his insights on life as a CSM, building lasting partnerships, understanding client needs, and the art of delivering exceptional customer experiences.

How do you define Customer Success? 

Customer Success is about navigating the delicate balance between the client’s goals and the goals of your company. It's about finding that sweet spot for both parties while effectively bridging any gaps that arise.

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

Ultimately, Customer Success is about making customers’ lives easier or empowering them to achieve their goals or outcomes.

As a CSM, your role is to be an essential part in their journey. 

That doesn’t mean that you need to cover every aspect from start to finish, but you should contribute significantly to their progress – through your product or service.

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

Account defense, or constantly justifying the partnership between the organizations, defending price points, and demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of the product. 

I absolutely love it –  but it takes a ton of time and preparation. 

You need to be able to cover all angles and all areas of pushback in your customer conversations.  There will be times where you may have fallen short, or where the product hasn't met expectations.

 It can be tough not to take those shortcomings personally. 

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

Too many internal meetings.

Sometimes, they can eat into the time I need to prepare for external meetings with clients, which I prefer to have well-orchestrated. 

Interestingly, the internal meetings I find most valuable are the spontaneous ad hoc ones. There’s usually something urgent to hash out and they really get things moving.

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

Anything that gives you an extra ten minutes in the day is a winner. Automate your day-to-day tasks. Tools like Calendly can save you time by handling all the scheduling stuff, freeing you up to focus on clients.

Next, take the time to learn about your clients' competition. It's not just about knowing your clients; understanding their industry and who they're up against can give you major talking points in your meetings and show that you're on top of your game.

Lastly, always have a couple of conversation starters ready to go. Whether it's a recent news story or a fun fact about their industry, it's a great way to break the ice and keep conversations engaging.

Tell us about a CSM you admire and why. 

I have been fortunate to work under some amazing leaders throughout my career. My current boss is an incredible combination of traditional account management and technical know-how.

Then, there's my ex-boss, who had this amazing ability to put people at ease. He spent the time to really know his clients on a deeply personal level; that made his business and his accounts really smooth. 

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

Early in my time at Hum, we had a client with tremendous potential in terms of the need for our tool. But they had a tight budget and a small internal tech team – making it challenging to handle the complex integration work needed for one of our features.

But I knew the potential of the feature in their context. 

So, I rolled up my sleeves, did some coding myself, and worked with their team to streamline the process and minimize any additional costs for them.  

It took months of effort, but in the end, it was worth it.  They saw that I was truly on their team, and invested in their success.

That was three years ago, and they're still an important client of ours.

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

A part of our product is AI-based. But beyond that, I useChatGPT for tasks like summarizing important information. 

I also use a tool called tl;dv to summarize recorded meetings. It's great because I'm not the best note-taker, so having something that can summarize discussions and even point me directly to specific parts of the recording is incredibly helpful. 

It also has a Gen AI feature – their bot –  that I use to get suggestions for themes or important outcomes I might have missed, or important snippets.  

I'm also exploring other tools that can help me with a holistic view of our clients' health from a top-down organizational perspective – because we've had cases where highly engaged clients still churned unexpectedly, and a tool that can handle the manual and holistic pieces would be great.

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

Unlimited energy. As an introvert, I often find myself needing to "stay on" during meetings, which can be exhausting as the day goes on. It would be great if I had unlimited energy for all my interactions with clients.

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