CSM Chronicles: Proactively understand the goals of other departments

With Eric Oleynick, Client Success Manager, Omnidian

Eric has over six years of experience in fast-paced B2B startups. He excels in building robust customer relationships and fostering growth, and takes pride in being a trusted and collaborative partner to his teammates.

Here’s Eric sharing his insights on what it takes to grow and thrive as a CSM.

How do you define Customer Success? 

Customer Success is the ongoing process of ensuring that customers achieve their desired outcomes – while continually identifying and addressing their evolving needs. 

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

Customers achieve success in stages. Initially, the sales team has aligned with the customer to identify current business needs. Once the CSM has established credibility through addressing the current business challenges, success evolves into discovering new ways the customer can find value. 

As CSMs, building trust and demonstrating to customers that we’re invested in their success is paramount. True success is when a customer has achieved even more than they thought they could with your product, and had a great experience partnering with you along the way.

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

Maintaining a high-resolution picture of your book of business while prioritizing the day-to-day demands of your job. CSMs can and should be enabling other departments in the company with unique knowledge they have about each of their accounts. 

If you’re a CSM managing a large number of accounts, it pays to be prepared for your client meetings. What do I want out of this meeting? What does the customer want? What valuable information can I deliver back to the Sales, Marketing or Product teams?

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

Recurring meetings that are no longer productive. 

For instance, a weekly meeting that was valuable during a client’s implementation phase but has since become less relevant. Or, it could be a meeting that is still valuable for the customer, but has started to infringe on other priorities I am balancing and requires me to conscientiously adjust expectations.

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

Be proactive in understanding the goals of other departments within your organization and look for opportunities to support them.  As CSMs, we're often reliant on the efforts of teams outside our own to successfully fulfill our responsibilities. By demonstrating a genuine intent and ability to assist others,  you may discover new ways to add value to both your customers and your team, and put yourself in a better position to ask for help when you’ll inevitably need it.

Tell us about a CSM you admire and why. 

There have been several CSMs I greatly admire. 

One colleague stood out for their ability to take ownership and create their own high quality content for training and customer enablement. Their approach pushed me to think about how I can empower myself by being proactive in creating value for my team and my customers.

I also deeply admire CSMs who can keep things light and friendly, even in high-stress situations. Being able to inject humor goes a long way – especially when dealing with miscommunications or delivering bad news to customers. 

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

We had a key client whose billing needs were inconsistent with our standard system. They required monthly billing cycles, with licenses coming and going throughout the year, and had some unique data requirements that necessitated each of their licenses being partitioned into separate accounts.

Given that our system wasn't set up for that, I worked with a couple other departments to implement a manual process that supported their unique implementation and billing needs. The process was a bit arduous, but it was worth doing to retain and grow the customer relationship. 

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

At my current company, we're tapping into AI to extract insights for clients from the vast datasets related to the solar assets we monitor.

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

It would be to open up more time for me to focus on the most important priorities. 

At times I’ve found myself spending too much time tracking updates on significant bugs that impact multiple clients. If I could receive updates as soon as the bugs were fixed internally, and I had a button I could press to quickly notify clients externally, that would be fantastic.

Similarly, when a client makes a feature request and our Product team implements it, having an automated feed that notifies me about new features relevant to specific clients would be incredibly helpful. 

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