How Proactive Communication Helps These 3 CSMs Succeed

Built In Colorado sat down with three CSMs to better understand how they use data to be more proactive with their clients and how they get ahead of potential issues before they arise.
Written by Brendan Meyer
July 26, 2021Updated: July 26, 2021

April Reynolds once had a boss whose mantra was “Good Fridays make GREAT Mondays,” and she never quite knew what he meant — until she became a customer success manager at Udemy.

Now, Reynolds has a clear understanding of that underlying message: manage your time well.

“Setting intentional time aside at the end of your week to look ahead at next week and what you have scheduled allows you to prepare and plan accordingly,” Reynolds said. “I now repeat this mantra with my own team and have them block their calendars for ‘think time’ or ‘do not disturb’ time so they can thoughtfully prepare and prioritize.”

Habits and tricks like this are common among CSMs, who are always finding ways to be more proactive in their communications with clients.

At Gtmhub, Head of Customer Experience Adam Luepke has learned that, as a customer’s knowledge of the product grows, gradually introducing the company’s more advanced product features results in a happier and more engaged customer. At Pushpay, Director of Customer Support Richie Chambers has adopted the mindset of operating as if he is the owner of the company, which means when there’s a frustrated client, he gets to the bottom of it.

Built In Colorado sat down with these three CSMs to better understand how they adopt new tricks, use data to be more proactive with their clients, and what systems and strategies they have in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise.

 

Adam Luepke
Head of Customer Experience

What they do: Gtmhub helps companies adopt and manage objectives and key results for alignment and performance.

 

What’s one habit you’ve adopted that’s helped you be more proactive in your communications with clients?

A habit of mine is gradually showcasing more advanced features as the customer’s knowledge and adoption of the product matures. We perform weekly syncs with our customers and a portion of that time I address the next appropriate feature that best coincides with their product adoption. I don’t simply demo the feature — I actually build out an example that’s useful for them and demonstrate it live, and then follow-up with any relevant material to build off of that.

An example of more mature evolution is including automation in our platform that can replace some of the manual efforts that were necessary as part of the onboarding phase. The natural progression through more advanced features using meaningful examples has shown to both delight the customer as well as keep them engaged in our weekly touchpoints.

 

What role does data play in helping you and your team provide more proactive communications to customers?

We have custom health scores that take into account both objective data (feature usage, engagement, seat utilization, etc.) and subjective data (main contact engagement, perceived customer satisfaction, renewal probability, etc.). These health scores help guide the account, and I’m always checking usage on the account. How many new logins do we have? Who hasn’t logged in yet? What teams are trending down or up? Being able to read this data and tell a story arms our main customer contacts to make decisions that either double down on what’s working or course-correct what’s not. We are constantly looking for ways to further leverage data that correlates to leading metrics of customer success.
 

Being able to read this data and tell a story arms our main customer contacts to make decisions that either double down on what’s working or course-correct what’s not.’’


As a team, what’s a system or strategy you’ve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

Obviously, our customers are at different stages of their product maturity, so our CSM team tries to pollinate as many of the successes we have with other customers. Specifically at Gtmhub, we have customizable reporting called “Insightboards” that can support the customer in almost any way. Some of my peers have come up with helpful insights to solve problems that I have used to get ahead and avoid potential areas of risk and maximize opportunities for success. We work closely with our technical success managers (TSMs) to help design, build and share these awesome reporting dashboards. A lot of the time our TSMs who are working with the CSM will come up with a new board that amazes the customer and can be tweaked onto many other accounts. It’s cool to see this in action and fun to work as a team to do it!

 

April Reynolds
Manager, Customer Success

What they do: Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online, where more than 50 million students learn from over 150,000 courses taught by expert instructors in 65-plus languages.

 

What’s one habit you’ve adopted that’s helped you be more proactive in your communications with clients?

I once had a boss whose mantra was “Good Fridays make GREAT Mondays!” and I never quite knew what he meant until I became a CSM. The best way to be proactive in customer success is to manage your time well. Setting intentional time aside at the end of your week to look ahead at next week and what you have scheduled allows you to prep and plan accordingly. I now repeat this mantra with my own team and have them block their calendars off for “think time” or “do not disturb” time so they can thoughtfully prepare and prioritize. Some members of my team who manage our highest-spending customers have opted for “No external meeting Mondays,” which allows them to start their week on the right foot with proactive outreach to their top clients. 

However they choose to manage it, I make sure everyone understands the importance of owning their calendar.
 

What role does data play in helping you and your team provide more proactive communications to customers?

Customer success, like most things, is both an art and a science. While everyone on my team has stellar communication skills and an immense amount of empathy and curiosity, they are also data-driven individuals. At Udemy Business, our customer success team makes data-driven decisions on where to spend their time using Gainsight, a tool that provides insights into the health of their accounts. We have set up health indicators that show CSMs which accounts may be “in the red” based on their usage and adoption, our relationship with an executive sponsor and even how recently we’ve spoken to them. Being able to visually see which accounts may be struggling and who needs an intervention takes the guessing game out of who to call or which account would benefit from an executive business review.

For those that don’t have sophisticated software like Gainsight, you can start simply in a Google Sheet by listing out your accounts and ranking them red, yellow and green based on the criteria that drive your customers to renew.
 

However they choose to manage it, I make sure everyone understands the importance of owning their calendar.’’


As a team, what’s a system or strategy you’ve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

At Udemy, we hire CSMs who are both risk-averse and persistently optimistic. In other words, they see trouble around every corner but also believe that things will work out for the best with their influence. 

We have a special meeting each week that we call “never surrender” where CSMs can nominate an at-risk account to be discussed with senior leadership and sales. They come prepared to share why they are worried or concerned about the account. They have 10 minutes to share what they have attempted and their initial ideas for next steps. It is a supercharged brainstorming session where CSMs leave with fresh, actionable ideas on how they can engage or save an account. Leaders leave this meeting with a sense of where teammates need more training or help. I personally love these meetings because customer success is a team effort. This gives our CSMs an opportunity to ask for help, call in reinforcements for support (sales, product, etc.) and hear creative ideas from teammates.

 

What they do: Pushpay helps churches reach and engage with their community via the company’s church management system, community app, giving solution and more to help churches know and grow their ministry.

 

What’s one habit you’ve adopted that’s helped you be more proactive in your communications with clients?

I believe we should operate as though we are the owner of the company we work for. Act as though everything you do impacts your business. If I am working with a frustrated client, I want to understand where we have failed them. Typically there is more to it than what has raised the challenges we are discussing. Once we have a common understanding, we are able to work on resolving the issue.

 

What role does data play in helping you and your team provide more proactive communications to customers?

Data plays a critical role in helping me understand what is needed at that moment. I am able to evaluate trends or topics that are being raised to action with our teams that make an impact on a daily basis.
 

I believe we should operate as though we are the owner of the company we work for.’’


As a team, what’s a system or strategy you’ve put in place to get ahead of potential issues before they arise? What other teams, if any, help support this strategy?

We acknowledge that there is always a season of change. We retrospectively look back over the past months and years to see how our volume in the support channels has changed. In an effort to get ahead, the business needs to recommend the number of associates we will need as we move into seasons of change.

Jobs from companies in this blog68 open jobs
All Jobs
Data + Analytics
Design + UX
Dev + Engineer
HR + Recruiting
Marketing
Operations
Product
Project Mgmt
Sales
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
HR + Recruiting
new
Udemy
Denver
Project Mgmt
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Operations
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
HR + Recruiting
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Data + Analytics
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Operations
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Operations
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Product
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
HR + Recruiting
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Marketing
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Design + UX
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Operations
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Product
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
HR + Recruiting
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Design + UX
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Sales
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Sales
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Marketing
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Project Mgmt
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Operations
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Data + Analytics
new
Gtmhub
Denver
Developer
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Sales
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Operations
new
Udemy
Denver
Design + UX
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Sales
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Developer
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Operations
new
Udemy
Denver
HR + Recruiting
new
Udemy
Denver
Operations
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Developer
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Marketing
new
Udemy
Denver
Sales
new
Udemy
Denver
Design + UX
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Sales
new
Gtmhub
Remote
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs
Marketing
new
Church Community Builder, a division of Pushpay
Colorado Springs

Colorado startup guides

LOCAL GUIDE
Best Companies to Work for in Denver & Boulder
LOCAL GUIDE
Coolest Tech Offices in Denver & Colorado Tech
LOCAL GUIDE
Best Perks at Colorado Tech Companies
LOCAL GUIDE
Women in Colorado Tech