Why the Best Customer Success Managers Have Transferable Skills

Not all great customer service managers have traditional CS training. Some — like Graham Gill — transfer their skills from roles like product management to CS.

Graham Gill, the VP of CS & Services at Accent Technologies, shares how he found his way to customer success and brought his knowledge of product with him. His perspective coming from the product side of operations helped him become a better CSM. 

In this podcast, Eric and Graham discuss the similarities in their customer success journeys as well as...

  • How to break down silos and build a foundation of alignment

  • Why it’s important for CSMs to be able to empathize 

  • How CSMs can create strong customer relationships in a pandemic

Breaking Down the Silos 

At the heart of any small team, you have a dedicated group of really smart folks who often end up wearing many hats. 

But how do you get customers successfully engaged while providing a true separation of church and state between sales, implementation support, and building and cultivating customer relationships? 

And what’s the best way to figure out where people perform best? 

  • Focus on your people and what makes them excited about their work

  • Understand teammate’s and client’s communication styles

  • Understand what's working and what isn’t

  • Find out what gaps need filling 

Graham leans in by speaking directly with his teammates in an interview style approach.

Graham says: “We started a slice and dice, almost an interview, that was hands on understanding where folks felt comfortable and then figuring out where the gaps were. It's a gap assessment. Do we have all the right players and all the right skill sets to fill these different areas within the organization?”

Getting Some Perspective 

Customer success is a give and take. 

It boils down to empathy and really seeing the value of multiple perspectives. 

Coming from the product side of things and being able to transfer his knowledge of how products and services are being utilized by customers gave Graham a big advantage when it came to making his way into a CSM role.

Understanding all sides from the product perspective to the end user perspective and all the ups and downs in between is a big part of the CSM journey. 

 "Just being able to be honest, truthful, and transparent and help folks, really gave me  understanding." — Graham

Building empathy with customers, recognizing their needs, and knowing how they’re using your products and services is how successful relationships are formed. 

It’s also important to journey through the various parts of the business operation.

“I think sitting on all sides, doing a tour of duty on all sides of the organization, whether it's QA, whether it's marketing, whether it's product, whether it's, you know, account management, customer success, I think makes you a stronger person further on down the line.”  — Graham

Understanding all of those different facets and being able to design your organization the most effective way, ultimately leads to better service to the customer.

Graham’s Best Advice

The Covid-19 pandemic faced us with challenges in communication and made us look at new ways to establish relationships with customers. 

Graham’s best piece of advice he offers to new and upcoming CSM’s: 

Be honest, and start talking.

“A lot of folks hide behind emails or automation components of it. Just be honest, be transparent and build rapport. You're not going to do that through email alone.” — Graham

CSMs must be able to have honest conversations with customers because at the end of the day, you’ve got to get to know people. Ultimately, that's what drives businesses forward.

In this episode, Graham discusses how he found his way to customer success and brought his product background and knowledge with him. Additionally we discuss… 

  • How to break down silos and build a foundation of alignment

  • Why it’s important for CSMs to empathize with other roles

  • How CSMs can create strong customer relationships in a global pandemic

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For more info, check out customersuccessleader.com or send a message to hello@flatfile.io.

Podcast quote from Graham Gill

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