Subscribe now to stay up-to-date


Create a Healthy Balance of Product & Customer Success Interactions

It can be a bit of a balancing act between serving customers via product and CS team interactions. But both are important. 

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Vanessa Hannay, Sr. Director of CS at Muck Rack, helps us find the middle ground when it comes to guiding customers to success by filling the void between problems and solutions.

Finding Harmony

Striking a balance between customer interactions isn’t always easy. Vanessa says to not only be collaborative in the process but to also make sure customers are successful, we should understand: 

  • Where customers are running into pain points

  • Where customers are achieving great success

  • How to capitalize especially off of the success that one customer has

  • How to help other customers realize the same

Meeting Customers Halfway 

When you’re establishing relationships with customers, it’s important to build a foundation of trust. But that trusting relationship should work both ways. 

So how do we build that foundation with customers?

  • Open communication 

  • Understanding as much from the sales handoff process as possible

  • Understanding why they purchased the tool 

  • Supporting the initiatives that customers are looking to achieve

  • Trying to understand and improve the value of their work 

Overall, we want to focus on asking ourselves two questions: 1. What is the value that we're actually providing back to the business and... 2. Can we put something justifiable and quantitative behind that value as well?

Pro tip: a leader or senior level person should really be able to excite the team and motivate them to use the tool in the way that both you and the customer want it to be used.

Designing Team Structure to Support Your Goals 

Vanessa has a cross functional team, but each team member is dedicated to specific tasks and responsibilities that lead toward customer success. The systems in place ensure that there's a high level of communication happening internally about each customer and what their experience is like throughout the process. 

She structures her team like this: 

  • One of team member is focused on customer communication

    • Keeping customers aware of new products and features within the platform

    • Keeping customers engaged 

  • Another team member works strategically with our account management team

    • Managing all of the customer renewals 

    • Helping them better understand customer health 

  • The third team member on the success side is focused on onboarding. 

    • Customers receive one to one dedicated training call upfront

    • Answering customer onboarding questions

“Our team's job is to really make their jobs easier, and as a result, improve our customers day to day as well. So we're definitely more strategic as a cross functional team.” — Vanessa Hannay

It’s a combination of tools and collaboration with the product team that allows for:

  • Taking things to the next level in terms of measuring account health

  • Helping the account managers fund opportunities for upsells why

  • Pointing out the opportunities or red flags are with different customers

  • Staying one step ahead of any issues or decreasing in value that a customer is realizing through the product

This carefully curated balance between CS teams and product teams is her company’s key to success and growth.

In this episode of Customer Success Leader, Vanessa talks to us about… 

  • Striking a balance between customer interactions w/ the product & CS team

  • Tips on establishing trusting relationships with customers

  • Why losing a company isn’t losing a customer

powered by Sounder

Apple Podcasts or iTunes | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify

Subscribe, listen, rate, and review the Customer Success Leader podcast:

For more info, check out or send a message to

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Customer Success Leader on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Podcast quote from Vanessa Hannay

Want to learn more about the Flatfile Data Exchange Platform?

See how it works