Customer Success Manager
I’ve always wanted to work in a fun tech startup environment. Unfortunately, my development experience is limited to coding ‘Hello World!’ in seventh grade.
But you don’t have to be a developer to work in tech. In fact there are many roles within the industry that require a different skillset.
As successful startups scale, new commercial and customer-facing functions become necessary. The one I’d like to focus on here is Customer Success.
It’s a relatively new discipline that aims to improve retention, increase spend and lower churn by setting aside dedicated resources to work proactively with customers.
Customer Success is a client-facing, post-sales discipline. It involves working to ensure that customers get optimum use out of your product or service. In effect, we are here to help them realise the goals that motivated them to purchase in the first place.
Since the field is fairly new, it is difficult to find a one-size-fits-all definition. A Customer Success role can look different for each company. Duties and workload will vary depending on the organization, the product and the customer base.
But the responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) typically include onboarding and training a customer as well as proactively identifying and addressing strategic blind spots that may appear down the road.
09:00-09:30: Typically, I start the day by going through my emails and organising them according to priority. Actually before that comes coffee – I only drink decaf but yay placebo!
Depending on the day, my schedule will be a mix of customer meetings, testing and configuration sessions, as well as internal alignments.
Whatever’s on the agenda, it’s imperative I always respond to technical and commercial questions in a very timely manner. Customers in the process of onboarding often encounter challenges that require immediate action. This can mean liaising with colleagues and shifting internal priorities.
09:30-10:30: Later today, I’m training a new customer on the platform. Ahead of this call, I set aside some time to make the configurations and changes we’ve been discussing – and one last round of testing to make sure everything is running smoothly.
10:30-12:00: Show time – I have an hour-long training session with my customer. All key users are invited and I walk them through the relevant modules and features.
12:00-13:00: Lunch break and getting sent on a walk by my fitbit because I am afraid of the passive aggressive reports it sends me at the end of the week.
13:00-14:30: The CSM Review – during this weekly team meeting we get strategy updates, cover best practices and discuss any escalations that need to be made.
Each week, one of the team members will also share a challenge they’ve been working on. This way we get to learn from each other’s experiences.
14:30-16:00: I have no meetings in my calendar which means I can work on my to-do list, respond to any emails that came in during the day and catch up with internal communication. I am also preparing for an upcoming QBR by extracting relevant data from our Customer Success platform and analysing trends in the customer’s behaviour.
16:00-16:15: Time for a (decaf) coffee break!
16:15-16:45: A quick catch up with my manager – when working remotely these meetings become especially important. I give an update on my objectives for the week, any challenges that I’ve been facing and go over the relevant platform dashboards to analyse the metrics. If anything needs to be handled immediately I do so – the rest of my to do list I disperse in the free pockets of time in between priority tasks and meetings.
16:45-17:45: I’m ending the day with an internal alignment meeting with one of our Project Managers. The customer we are collaborating on has made some feature requests
Once a customer has signed an agreement to begin working with us, a handoff will usually take place between Sales to Customer Success. In this meeting, you will be given all available information on the customer to begin preparing for the next, big step…
This is the crucial first meeting with your new customer. By meeting with stakeholders, learning about their objectives and understanding their use case, you will be able to start building a roadmap detailing their upcoming journey.
Here you will also agree on metrics to quantify the success of the project once it is wrapped up.
Now that you know how your customer works and what their expectations are, it is time to begin implementation. What this looks like will depend on your company.
Urbantz, for example, is a cloud-based last-mile delivery management platform. It’s designed for enterprises to use at scale and to be fully configurable to their requirements. So things can get very granular when you look under the hood!
In this case, implementation means setting up the initial configuration of the platform according to the customer’s needs, before training them on the use of the platform.
Training at the start provides a solid foundation for customers. If your platform is self-service, a lot of this may come in the form of knowledge-base articles and PDF guides. We have these materials, but we also offer a more personal touch. I’ll actually be running through the platform with the relevant stakeholders explaining things as we go.
Ideally, they’ll then have sufficient knowledge to make smaller adjustments themselves and will only need my help to deal with bigger issues or requests.
Customer Success Managers wear many hats, often at the same time. This makes cross-functional collaboration crucial. At different points, you’re providing strategic account management, technical support and plenty more.
Certainly to begin with, you’ll be the main point of contact for your customers. This means any and all questions they have will reach you first: be they technical, legal, logistical or commercial.
Communicating with engineering, support, sales and occasionally even marketing will become part of your day-to-day.
Customer Success is a versatile and unique field – so is the skill set required to be successful at it.
A good CSM is:
How many of these check boxes can you tick off?
When I was looking for the next step in my career, I had three main requirements in mind:
I found these things at Urbantz, which helps enterprises manage their last mile delivery operations sustainably at scale.
The last mile is a hot space right now, with plenty of money being invested as online deliveries become more prevalent and companies in retail and logistics struggle to identify novel solutions to help them manage ever-more complex delivery networks and mission-critical processes.
With customer experience one of the biggest differentiating factors for ecommerce, the last mile delivery experience is an absolutely crucial touchpoint for companies to control.
And it’s also one that is becoming increasingly unsustainable. A cursory look at the stats shows that the carbon footprint of the last mile industry continues to rapidly climb.
This is an industry with real challenges to overcome around the cost-effectiveness and environmental impact of deliveries. And in Urbantz I found a team that is always striving to find new ways to do just that.
It’s in our DNA to drive greater sustainability at scale in this industry and that’s reflected in the culture of the team and how we’re set up.
For me, it meant remotely joining a team that is spread right across Europe. Despite the distance between us, we’ve very quickly become a tight-nit bunch!
As a recent starter, I’ve not had a chance to meet many of my colleagues in person yet, although I know there will be some exciting opportunities to do so.
Did you read about the summer offsite the company conducted in Portugal? My biggest regret so far is that I wasn’t able to join the team a few weeks earlier!
Working as a Customer Success Manager at Urbantz means onboarding and training customers to autonomy, collaborating internally and checking up on the health and happiness of clients in order to create a pleasant experience from start to finish.
It also means working as part of a team with a strong ethos for driving sustainability in an industry that really needs more focus on ecological considerations. It’s incredibly rewarding working for a company with shared values that reflect my own and keeps me that much more engaged in performing to the very best of my abilities.
I get to collaborate extensively with great people from other parts of the business and learn something new every single day.