Justin Veri exploring Paris with wife, Jessica
Ritika Puri

Ritika Puri

Be Your Best as a Customer Success Leader — Perfection Isn’t the Answer

As Customer Success leaders, we have a direct lens into the heartbeat of our market. We know what barriers our customers are navigating and because of this unique perspective, we have the potential to offer a stabilizing force during uncertain times. 

As empathetic people, we have a calling to hear grievances, troubleshoot challenges, and build relationships with a wide orbit of fellow human beings ranging from our teammates to partners to customers — all people responsible for keeping our businesses afloat.

For this reason, we often hold ourselves — and our work — to superhuman standards. That was a key theme to emerge from our May 22nd Quala Customer Success Community Hour, which focused on building relationships.

How can we offer our best during difficult times, while continuing to empower ourselves during such a unique time in human history? What are some techniques that can help us, create the deep, meaningful interactions that business communities need — now more than ever?

Below are 6 suggestions that evolved from our hour-long discussion.

#1 Fortify your core team 💪 

Many Customer Success minds are better than one, though, we’ve seen plenty of you operate as downright superstars wearing all of the many hats that you do. Whether you are a CSM of one, a dynamic dyad, or twenty+ strong — operating with a #supporteachother mindset will take you far.

Suggestions: Start your day or work week with a team check-in to discuss and run through key opportunities. Since not all conversations over video, email, or chat are created equal — a 1:1 connect with each of your core team members will help you dive into the deeper moments that they need help with. If you commit to ongoing 1:1s and education and training sessions — your team will be stronger for it.

#2 Transition from a reactive to proactive mindset ⌛

This is something we are all forever striving for. Those of us that have been successful in getting ahead of churn by focusing on leading indicators like usage behaviors and qualitative assessments know that it takes time. The good news is that getting ahead of any challenges opens up mental bandwidth for the creative stuff.

Suggestions: For those of us just getting set up in Customer Success — start with a journey mapping exercise, uncover the customer “happy path,” and then weave together qualitative stories with quantitative data. Once that’s done, you can create backend automation around Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to keep you and your team focused on what matters. 

#3 Free up customer brainpower 🤔

These days, brainpower is at a premium. Since we’re in Customer Success, our empathetic world spins in a #givefirst universe. We’re always here to help. So, if you have access to benchmark data or industry analytics that can make your customers’ lives easier, offer them up. This information has the potential to save someone’s job, give a parent an extra hour of sleep, or make a tough executive decision easier.

Suggestions: Observe patterns in questions that come up in your customer conversations. Share these themes with your fellow team members to “un-silo” the knowledge you’re amassing. Whether it’s understanding the challenges that executive teams are navigating or listening to the unique needs of your customer champion — work with fellow internal teams to craft reporting frameworks as a solution. By the way, these types of insights are also gold for your marketing team on the lookout to create content that resonates with your community.

#4 Build authentic connections 🌟

Building relationships is Customer Success. If you spent the rest of your day today talking with customers it would be time well spent. But building relationships is not about pure conversation volume — it’s about deeper connections. We know that you care about your customer’s personal success in life, so show them. These days, we can all use support and genuine friendship.

Suggestions: From a human-first perspective, meet your customers where they are and understand their personalities. If you’re looking to build a deeper connection with them — share something first about yourself. When you ask “how are you feeling today” — mean it.

From an outcomes perspective, start tracking your customer’s business goals for themselves. Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs) give you the opportunity to ask, define, and measure desired value and outcomes as defined by your customers. Keep in mind that your buyer, champion, and advocate likely have different CPIs so be sure to connect with each of them and track them separately as the customer moves through their journey. This will be a great foundation for your ongoing reviews (QBRs, EBRs, and CBRs). As always, listen carefully. It will help you immensely. 

#5 Don’t fear failure 💎  

Some of us have a long history with too much dwelling, but that’s for another time. The good news is, innovation comes from continuously trying new things and that means sometimes failing. If an idea doesn’t work, focus on lessons learned, get feedback, and march forward.

Suggestions: Seek out process improvements, look for iterative experiences, and get creative. Don’t expect to hit something out of the park the first time, the journey is what matters most. Finding opportunities and meeting challenges head-on is supposed to be fun. So, the next time something doesn’t work as you expected — take 5 minutes to decide if that experience was the exception or the rule. If it’s the rule, block off at least 15 minutes to get creative. Move to another space away from your desk, away from a computer, and ask yourself “what’s the simplest and coolest thing that could have happened.” See where your mind takes you!

#6 Set the tone 🎶

Here’s where your wizardry comes in. No, seriously. The magic of any leader, especially in Customer Success, is your ability to elevate the room. Consider it your superpower, but it’s also your kryptonite. It means that you’re responsible for setting the scene with every connect. Why do you think self-care is so important in Customer Success? It’s because you’re always on.

Suggestions: Treat your customers in a way that they want to be treated. Full stop. Consider them the ultimate collaborator. They will show you how it’s done if you watch and listen carefully. The easiest way to do this is to be on the lookout for ways to support and elevate them through your conversation.

Final Thoughts

If perfection isn’t the answer, what is? It’s you. It’s how you make continuous improvements over time and how you don’t let great get in the way of good. After all, you make our lives in business more human. On behalf of every customer you’ve ever served — thank you. So many people are grateful, even when they don’t say it out loud.

If you’re interested in connecting with Customer Success leaders united in our mission to champion the personal, human experiences that drive customer growth and retention, let us know!


Contributors Statement

This work was a collaboration between Quala and Humans of CS. Brendon Albrizio, Chaz Logue, and Daryl Colborne contributed to the narrative. Ritika Puri and Sonciary Honnoll were the writers.

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