How did you get started in CS?

I developed an interest in account management/customer success in my previous company (not tech), where I work as an Inside Sales Account Manager.

I decided to try the tech industry and see if this is my cup of tea or not. Not having any technical experience/background – I decided to start as an SDR – with the end goal of becoming a CSM.

I was confident being a CSM since day one. I had expressed my interest to my manager back then while in orientation. Four months after I got promoted to a CSM. In another six months, I became Enterprise CSM, and nine months later, I got promoted as a Team Lead of our CS team, and now finally becoming a Manager of our SMB CS team.

As I say to everyone, CS is my calling. Helping people do better makes me happy and fulfilled.

What is the biggest challenge you think CS is solving?

CS serves as a bridge between customer expectations and customer experience. Between product/services and customer. CS helps customers understand the value of the product/solution and provides a vision for itself to guide organizations in the right direction.

In a nutshell – it is about the experience and not about the revenue – it is about quality and not about quantity.

How the pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping with these changes/challenges? 

Like most businesses – we also have/had to deal with the slow sales cycle and difficult times convincing clients to renew. At this time, we decided to focus less on numbers (more than ever) and more on relationships.

We have been very creative with our renewals and sales opportunities. I recommend being more sensitive during these times. Here are some suggestions on how we can keep up with customers at this time.

  1. Start with empathy and authenticity. This should be natural to you.
  2. It is their show, and we are just the audience. (Keep the conversation focused on their goals and business objectives).
  3. Be kind and show gratitude.
  4.  Listen more and speak less.
  5. Work on building and maintaining relationships first.
  6. Try to be in their shoes and think from their perspective.

How do you effectively partner (or what will you recommend) with your customers to help them address their business challenges? 

It goes back to the basics. If you want to HELP someone, listen to them – even when they are not speaking. Focus on the quality of your work rather than quantity.

Make small changes to your processes to help understand your client’s needs. Such as:

  1. Have them talk to you about their end goals on your calls.
  2. Set yourself reminders to stay on track with them.
  3. Keep your unconscious mind whole or unimpaired when communicating. It is all about intention. Put aside your thoughts and opinions so you can keep up with the person in front of you.
  4. Listen to their behaviors, expressions (if you are on a video call), do they sound happy/sad, note down little things (their virtual background), perhaps a crying baby, etc. Follow up on these things.
  5. Make a healthy personal connection.

Lessons learned

It is all about the relationships that you save, nurture, and grow rather than numbers. In other words, provide value first, and numbers will follow. We need to make sure our team remembers this while working with clients in difficult situations.

Thanks for the great interview, Ashna.