How a Proactive CSM Manages Their Time

March 16, 2016 Matthew McLaren

How a CSM Can Proactively Manage Their Time

Issue 78 - How a Proactive CSM Manages Their Time

As a Customer Success Manager, you’re expected to be proactive. Yet, when your inbox is full of customer issues, customer questions, product updates, and onboarding requests … it’s hard to be. In a recent survey of over 700 CSMs, Glide Consulting LLC found that the most commonly reported frustration of a CSM was time management. We’ve decided to dedicate this issue of the SaaS Tattler to helping CSMs get back to proactively managing their time.

How to stop firefighting and start managing your time as a CSM

It’s Monday morning, you started your day off on a strict schedule but when a major customer issue arises, you find that any structure you had, has all gone out the window. It's the feeling of being powerless. Sadly, it’s the same old story, the most recent fires attract the majority of your time and attention, rather than addressing problems for customers who have the biggest impact. In this article, Nils Vinje shares three ways for any CSM to tackle their time management problems.

1. Process Your Inbox 2 Times a Day

At the heart of CSMs’ time management problem is the dreaded inbox. A lot of the CSMs we work with feel like they live at the whim of their email, constantly checking for new notifications of things that need fixing. For CSMs, each new email represents a new task to be completed, and there’s no predicting when you’re going to get a new task—or five. What’s more, you can’t predict how big a given task will be. Any given email might represent a task that takes 2 minutes or 2 days.

How are you supposed to manage your time with that kind of unpredictability?

What’s more, in order to keep their finger on the pulse of a multiplying task list, many CSMs spend all day in their inbox, constantly rearranging their schedules to make room for new tasks that crop up. Inbox Zero begins to feel like a far-fetched dream.

Here’s the thing: constantly checking email prevents you from getting anything done. If you’re always ready to drop everything you’re doing to put out the biggest fire, you’ll never take care of the smaller tasks on your to-do list.

You need to Heisman your inbox by only processing email twice a day. Check it when you get into the office, then give it the stiff arm until after lunch.


Customer Success Tips From The Pros

Although everyone’s thinking about making their customer’s successful, each organization is focused on improving a different aspect of the customer relationship. Whether it’s training, onboarding, or retention, proactive Customer Success is the secret to the success of your SaaS company. How do the pros manage all the different aspects of the customer relationship? In this article, Miruna Mitranescu, shares some Customer Success tips from the pros at companies such as Basecamp, Olark, Optimizely, Wistia, and more!

Luke Diaz, Customer Success Team Lead at Optimizely

Luke currently leads a 15-person Customer Success Manager (CSM) team in charge of over 80% of Optimizely’s revenue.

The CSM team manages launch (onboarding), success management (adoption & value), renewals (retention) and expansion (account growth; in tandem with the Sales team).

From my Luke’s tandpoint, Optimizely is very advanced on the topic. Yet every startup—whatever their stage of development or price point—can learn from Luke’s very actionable tips:

  1. "Measure the value customers extract from your product"​
  2. "Start Customer Success with the sales team"
  3. "Transform your customer’s organization to achieve success"​

In order to effectively lead the CSM team, Optimizely focuses on 3 metrics:

  • Customer value derived from the product

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Revenue generation

CSM from the Trenches – 5 Habits to Become a Proactive Customer Success Manager

As a CSM, your success is dependent on your customer’s success. A CSM is able to make their customers successful by understanding what a customer hopes to achieve with your product and then helping them get to that point. For fast-growing companies, it's hard to proactively build relationships with your customers. In this article, Sam Feil, shares five habits to help frontline CSMs become proactive in Customer Success.

5 Habits to Become Proactive in Customer Success

In order to make each day meaningful and to avoid falling into the trap of reactiveness, there are 5 habits I’ve tried to form as a customer success manager:

1. Calendar Game Plan

Consumed with busy schedules, time is our most valuable resource because it forces us to assess and evaluate our priorities. Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to create a calendar gameplan. This will help you remain focused as you prepare for and move between meetings, calls, or other activities. As simple as it seems, this habit will improve your organizational and time-management skills, as well as ensure your priorities are where they’re supposed to be.

2. Understand Pulse of Customer Health

Once organized, the next thing I look to do is understand the health of my clients…particularly those who I am meeting with that day, are “at risk”, or coming up for renewal. Are my customers happy or are they not? Pretty simple; if they are not satisfied, a game plan is created to improve their health and overall success.

3. Create Customer-Based Action items

Based on what I discover during my first two habits, specific action items are created in order to help me accomplish what needs to be done. Whether I need to prepare an agenda for an upcoming call or respond to a client inquiry, action items foster urgency for and guide my work.

4. Respond Quickly to Customer Questions

Even when swamped with work, I always strive to be quick to respond to my clients. I look to make their priorities my own. From experience, I’ve learned that quick response time is one of the best things a customer success manager can do to build trust. When I don’t know the exact answer or am busy with another engagement, I at least try to respond and let them know I’m on it and have heard their question. I’ll even occasionally set them up with a co-worker to get resolve the issue, if necessary.

5. Calendar Prep for Next Day

For a CSM, nothing is worse than not knowing what’s coming next or missing out on something to which you are already committed. I’ve learned that – in this case – a good defense is the best offense; before I head home for the evening, I review what’s coming the next day. I don’t get too specific, but I want to know what’s coming.

The Best of Customer Success Today

Chargify asked SaaS leaders and companies known for great user onboarding, “For companies looking to improve user onboarding, what is the #1 tip you wish someone gave you early on?” Here are the 13 Tips To Improve User Onboarding From SaaS Leaders.

When it comes to Customer Success for SaaS companies, it’s a young field and a lot of businesses are only just starting to get to grips with it. So, let’s take a look at what Process Street found when they interviewed the Customer Success Managers from 14 SaaS companies with the question: "What’s your customer success process?"

Whether you are bootstrapping or have a budget to spend, think of this as an essential reading list. Here, you will get an idea of the various ingredients involved in creating Customer Success magic for your SaaS startup. Enjoy these 75+ Actionable Insights and Resources To Customer Success for SaaS Startups.

Improving Customer Retention by Managing the Customer Journey

Improving Customer Retention by Managing the Customer Journey

About the Author

Matthew McLaren

Matthew McLaren works as a Digital Marketing Manager at Amity. His passion for creative design has motivated him to explore the many uses of technology.

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