My experience in customer success started back when I was a helpdesk manager at Point Loma Nazarene University. The position allowed me to understand the specific needs through student queries, and while I took on more technical roles, I soon gravitated to the customer service sphere.
Being a CS manager at Mitek has been a fulfilling and transformational journey, which has taught me the adverse effects of over-processing processes. While processes can prove useful in consistently pacing and managing business strategies, they can limit a CSM’s creativity, causing disruptions in the workflow.
CSMs – Being True and Transparent
CSMs should aim to provide customers with the best experience through well-planned data-supported approaches. However, these approaches may involve an insidious uniformity that prevents CSMs from learning, growing, and performing at their highest level. I believe that every CSM is unique – in his/her personality, mindset, and strategies.
Each CSM has something special to bring to the table, and a rigid structure based on preset steps ends up being counterintuitive instead. Through sharing this genuine voice, CSMs can build strong and lasting relationships with customers. There will be ups and downs in the customer journey. While we can’t control the prevailing response, we can maintain a bond based on trust and understanding – and that could improve retention rates.
One case in point serves as a stark reminder of why CSMs should have the freedom to embrace their unique personalities and do what feels right – AKA, the gut reaction or intuition.
Some time ago, I worked with a customer who faced issues with a product launch. Unfortunately, the client exhausted all CS hours with us, and I decided to put the client “on hold” while seeking permission and direction from the higher-ups. I was dependent on the internally established steps, protocols, and procedures that dictated my CS routines. The client ended up waiting for an entire day, desperately in need of help.
In hindsight, I feel absolutely terrible, knowing that I had prioritized my processes ahead of the customer’s needs. I could have helped first and worried about the process later, but the habit of over-processing got the better of me.
Over-processing can cause other problems too. For example, it is easy to get lost in the details of scheduled meetings, and endless product discussions, without coming up with a workable solution. Over-processing may cause CS teams to become jaded and ineffective in the long-term, which affects the company’s efficiency and starts hurting customer relationships – an absolute no-no.
Processes can benefit a CS team. In fact, Mitek has hired a team of technical experts to improve customer relations through the collection and assessment of user data. We should not discount the fact that processes can organize groups and keep them on-task. However, every good thing requires moderation.
Find some time to list and reflect on the processes that seem to clash with your style or fail to add value to the business. It is common for companies to hold on to stale processes that have worked in the past. Unfortunately, this could prove ineffective as the market continues to change and evolve – companies require procedures that adapt with time. Come up with some insightful and feasible alternatives to improve your performance and morale on the job, something compatible with the current environment.
Achieving Collective Change
While it is essential to self-evaluate CS processes, real change requires combined effort and the right support. I’ll be the first to admit that I once took an overly competitive stance in my role as a CSM, but it was exhausting and ineffective. Self-doubt became a staple in my professional life – I’d be worried about reaching out to the wrong people or scheduling way too many pointless meetings. It was overwhelming as I got caught up in the workflow and not the results.
I am lucky to have a supportive manager and innovative director who supports my penchant for originality. An understanding manager respects your take on an issue even if he/she has a fresh approach. Tap on all the encouragement and support you need to disengage from excess processes. It is vital to discuss your “over-processing concerns” with your CS leader and teammates, or rope in other CS teams if necessary. It is a gradual but highly fulfilling experience.
CSMs who trust their inner voice and collaborate effectively with their peers and managers may perform better than those who follow a scripted process. Additionally, it is essential to always put the customer first before everything else. It is okay to try an alternative method or ask questions regarding standard notions and practices.
If a novel approach fails, troubleshoot with the team, discover ways to optimize specific parts, or head back to the drawing board. CSMs should strive toward achieving the best outcome for the customer. That’s ultimately what a CS team is all about, and that’s the only process that really matters.