How These Pros Take a Consultative Approach to Customer Success

A coaching mindset can help CSMs put customers in a position to thrive.
September 21, 2021Updated: September 21, 2021

A director doesn’t simply ask their cast to recite its lines when the camera’s rolling. Instead — knowing the desired creative vision on the horizon — they bring together all the different creative and technical considerations to ultimately coax the desired performance from the talent on set. 

One might think of customer-facing professionals in the same light, where they leverage their expertise and insights to help clients get the best out of a product, service or offering in order to ultimately achieve success.

It starts, of course, with knowledge of the offering that the customer is using — a customer success manager is rudderless in terms of pointing a client toward success if their own prowess is lacking. But that’s not all it takes. There’s the relationship consideration, too. 

“Soft skills are generally undervalued. It is critical to apply one’s emotional quotient throughout the client process and remind ourselves that our clients are seeing our platform for the first time,” Canoe VP of Client Success Tim Loughrey said. “Thus, we must employ a flexible approach to ensure we truly understand what our clients want and need from us.”

Similar to Loughrey, Pamela Kazadi, an account manager at RTB House, focuses on the necessity of empathetic engagement with customers.

“The most important thing for me is listening to my clients. Without listening, I wouldn't know if they’re content with our products and if there’s a potential to grow the partnership,” Kazadi said.   

Discussing the craft with Built In NYC, Kazadi and Loughrey outlined how their teams strive for an advisory-like approach to their customers. 


 

Pamela Kazadi
Account Manager

 

What steps do you take to better understand the needs, goals and expectations of your customers?

To better understand my customer needs, I ask them: What are your priorities for the upcoming months? Have there been any updates to your marketing strategy?

To better understand my customer expectations, I ask them: What is your feedback on our performance? Is our performance in line with your other channels? How can we improve? 

 

What training is in place to help CSMs in your organization become experts on your products and industry? What impact has that had on the relationships CSMs have with their clients?

To become experts on our products and industry, our organization provides frequent webinars and access to knowledge-sharing platforms. It has had a positive impact on relationships with clients as CSMs are able to answer all questions during calls in an organized manner, which helps with building trust with customers. 

 

4 Key Questions To Ask Clients

  • “What are your priorities for the upcoming months?”
  • “Have there been any updates to your marketing strategy?”
  • “What is your feedback on our performance?”
  • “Is our performance in line with your other channels? How can we improve?”

 

What soft skills have you found to be particularly important when it comes to consulting with clients? How have you strengthened those skills over time?

One is communication. I have strengthened my listening skills over time by adding time for my client’s feedback to every meeting agenda. 

Additionally, time management: This ensures that meetings are productive and helps with nurturing trust as our words only have meaning if we do the things we say. To strengthen that skill over time, I allocate time for each talking point, and if we’re falling behind schedule halfway through the meeting, I ask if someone has a hard stop. I also consult turnaround times internally, so I don’t commit to something that might not be ready on time. 

Lastly, creative thinking and problem-solving: Our product is highly customizable and we can offer more flexible solutions for clients to be a reliable partner.  I have strengthened that skill by asking clients about their marketing strategy and finding out how we compare to other channels to share that information with our teams and see how we can customize our product. 

 

 

 

Tim Loughrey
VP, Client Success

 

What steps do you take to better understand the needs, goals and expectations of your customers?

At Canoe we formally scope each client project. This is traditional in that it focuses on our client’s technical requirements and goals, but given our industry background we also tailor our approach to truly identify intent: What is the client aiming for from an end result and experience standpoint? This allows us to execute on implementations, which results in our clients being fully adopted, with our platform integrated into their systems and operational workflows.

 

What training is in place to help CSMs in your organization become experts on your products and industry? What impact has that had on the relationships CSMs have with their clients?

We take our industry expertise very seriously and feel it is a strength. It’s in our DNA, given that the platform was spun out of an industry participant. Thus our focus is passing this on, and we do so through formal training and cultural initiatives. Further, we focus our efforts on client segments, which allows our CSMs to become experts on specific client types, each with specific workflows, goals and system integrations. It is inherent to our CSM onboarding that they become familiar with their segment, including the use cases and technology partners.

 

It is inherent to our CSM onboarding that they become familiar with their segment, including the use cases and technology partners.”

 

What soft skills have you found to be particularly important when it comes to consulting with clients? 

We must employ a flexible approach to ensure we truly understand what our clients want and need from us. One way we have executed on this is designing implementations from the client point of view, rather than ours.

 

 

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