Client success managers are a key component in the way modern business units serve their patronage. They often work cross-functionally with all internal business units to develop, execute, and deliver strategies for clients.
Also, client success is typically the only point of contact for a business’s clients–therefore integral to upholding the reputation of their company. CSMs have a great responsibility to ensure the prosperity of the clients they serve and to do so successfully. There are a few main tenets of good management that help bring and maintain effective client relationships.
Today, we delve deeper into the five frontmost pillars of great client success.
This is the most important tenet of client success. Great communication is fundamental for any healthy relationship, and client relationships are no exception. Without communication, tasks do not get completed (from a macro standpoint), and important details are overlooked (from a micro standpoint).
Good communication from a customer relationship standpoint most obviously relates to project management, but also refers to mediation. CSMs manage the relationship between a client and a company which means effective communication is required externally and internally.
When it comes to communication in a professional setting, there are certain limits on what methods are considered standard. However, a good client success manager knows that effective communication will often incur stepping outside of the standard to get the job done. CSM’s aren’t afraid to pick up the phone or set extra in-person meetings to address a project or problem.
Collaboration might sound similar to communication, and it is. Not just in spelling, but the two are related. Good communication is vital for good collaboration, and vice-versa. Collaboration, however, is defined by the intention of wanting to work successfully with someone towards a common goal. And every good client success manager makes their clients’ goals their own.
That being said, managing a successful client relationship requires collaboration from all involved parties. This means that clients should have the intent to work alongside CSMs, just as they do with them.
If clients are unable to collaborate, it must be communicated effectively that this could cause delays in progress. This typically happens if clients are too busy, which is likely why they are outsourcing in the first place–and is understandable. However, if clients are unwilling to collaborate, this will require a reevaluation of the relationship with the client, manager, and company.
Clients want, need, and deserve to be heard. Anticipation is an essential component of active listening and signaling to others that they’re understood. Through anticipating the needs of clients, CSMs will be able to address their qualms and quandaries before they form them on their own–this adds a layer of excellence to the service.
Anticipation comes innately to some and, fortunately, can be taught for those without the knack. It doesn’t mean the ability to read minds–no one should expect people to know the inner monologues of others.
To better anticipate the flow of future conversations and the path to their conclusions, a client success manager does the following: records interactions, meetings, and conversations with clients, then studies them and identifies patterns in behavior, speech, and inflection. From there, the dialogue can be guided to serve client interests better and help achieve their goals throughout the partnership.
When managing relationships, CSMs often have to act as a mediator between the client and the company they work for. Advocating for clients to the company’s internal business units is imperative to help fulfill deliveries of their desired outcomes.
When a CSM advocates on behalf of their company, it helps educate clients on the reasoning behind the team’s decision making (and how it benefits them)–win-win. After all, at the end of the day, both units share the same goal: for the client’s journey with the company to be successful.
A good client success manager can convey emotions between the two parties honestly, but should never bad-mouth one to the other–that’s unprofessional. Like in all relationships, attitude is everything, which brings us to the final pillar.
My personal favorite pillar of good client success is positivity. In a client-manager relationship setting, a positive attitude can be the difference between the perceiving a roadblock as major or minor.
And while client relationships take place in a professional environment, meetings should be something to look forward to for both parties. Client success managers wield power to instill that positivity into all client relationships–it’s their job.