Dear Insider: Help! I Want to Move From Support to CS.

Dear Insider: Help! I Want to Move From Support to CS.

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Ask anything here anonymously and we'll answer in our next installment of Dear Insider.

Q: What guidance would you offer for making a smooth transition from a customer support specialist position to a customer success role within a SaaS company?

If you are interested in moving from a Technical Support role to a Customer Success role the most important thing to understand is how the two roles differ in your organization. Once you have a good handle on how the roles differ make sure to understand what skills are required (hard and soft skills) to be successful as a Customer Success professional in your organization. Once you’ve got a good handle on the internal nuances here are a few steps you can take to better prepare you for your role as a Customer Success Professional:

  1. Invest in Your Training: Check out resources like CourseCareers and SuccessCOACHING which have training programs which will help you get a solid understanding of the key frameworks for Customer Success.
  2. Immerse Yourself in the Community: Engage in the Customer Success Community to familiarize yourself with best practices and ask questions. There is an endless amount of content and resources you can leverage to best support your transition.
  3. Align on Expectations: Make sure to understand what is expected of you in your new role; what KPIs are you responsible for, what does great look like in the eyes of your leadership team, how are they setting you up to succeed.

If your company is allowing you to move from a Technical Support role to a Customer Success role they know what your experiences are and they know what areas you’ll need to work on. They believe you are capable of doing the job which is already half the battle.

Q: After a long career in niche Account Management I moved to Customer Success and really like it here. What are some ways to grow CS into a career rather than just a job? What career paths exist within CS independently of the company I work for?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Customer Success. I'm thrilled to hear you’re enjoying it and looking to build a career. There are a few things you can do to advance yourself professionally both inside your organization and outside for long-term success.

  1. Immerse yourself in the Customer Success Community: The CS community is unlike any community for any profession, everyone is willing to share and support one another. By immersing yourself in the community you will learn so much and build your personal network. You are likely to build real friendships with like-minded professionals who will be there to support you along the way.
  2. Focus on Performance: Doors will open for those who perform. Make sure that you are crystal clear on how you are being measured and understand how to achieve your goals/targets. Work closely with your leadership team to understand how your ability to meet and exceed your goals will contribute to your career trajectory.
  3. Find Opportunities to Lead Out in Other Areas: There is always work to be done outside your scope of work. Find opportunities to help the broader team or organization - this could be by taking on new projects, assisting your manager with a big initiative, finding a gap and addressing it without being told.
  4. Interview Professionals in Other Roles Outside Your Organization: If you have aspirations of becoming a CCO, find a handful of CCOs and ask to interview them. Find out how they got to where they are and see if they have advice for you on how you might be able to pursue your own path.
  5. Get a Mentor or Career Coach: Working with a mentor or career coach will help you better understand how you can continue to grow and reach your personal goals.

There are a ton of things you can do to forge your career path, but start by learning more about all of the potential options and determine which feels the most aligned to what you want to do professionally.


Want to get advice from CS Insider and Kristi Faltorusso?

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Q: My manager and VP of CS are not allowing me to join in on any projects or creative sessions for the reason that I am the Enterprise CSM and my main focus needs to be my accounts. I've also been told that any continued education needs to be vetted out by me as they don't provide that. They are a scale-up and often say "We're doing this for the first time, so I don't know how to help you". It's not conducive to growth and development, but the job market is so tough right now. Looking for some guidance on how to navigate through this. Thank you!

I’m sorry to hear you are navigating a tough situation in your current role, but I have good news for you … YOU own your personal and professional development. Very few organizations I’ve ever worked for had the funds or formal programs to invest in my growth and development and in fact I’d go as far as to say many (not all) of my leaders failed to lead by example, so growth always felt limited, until I realized that I was in control of my own growth.

The Customer Success community is the most engaging community and there are thousands of people who are actively trying to help others by sharing experiences and content through a multitude of channels. If you want to grow more do the following:

  1. Actively participate in the CS Community: Join groups like GainGrowRetain, participate in Office Hours lead by Jan Young, attend webinars hosted by ClientSuccess - there are so many ways to get involved. Participating in the community will also allow you to build relationships and your personal circle of advisors that you’ll be able to go to when you are navigating things for the first time.
  2. Take Initiative: If there is something you see not working or something that has not been built out etc. invest some of your free time into solving for it. Help your leadership team understand where you found a gap and what you did to bridge it. Taking this approach will feel like “ask for forgiveness, not permission.” If you’re really interested in doing this type of work use your time.
  3. Get a Mentor: Find someone who is willing to mentor and coach you. You’ll be able to leverage this person to help you navigate some of these ongoing situations and will be able to serve as a sounding board.
  4. Share Your Feedback: It’s important to communicate your needs and feedback with your leadership team; help them understand what you are hoping to get from this opportunity beyond the scope of your “day job”. See what they say.

If you feel that things are really unbearable then I recommend you start your search. You’ll eventually find the right role and things might work out. Just remember make sure you are running to something, not from something.

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