Is Customer Success Right For You?

Is Customer Success Right For You?
Laurie Vickers

If you’re interested in beginning a career in Customer Success, you might be thinking about how to position yourself to recruiters or hiring managers. You might be working on your resume or your LinkedIn profile and applying for every Customer Success job you can find online. You even might be jumping through hoops trying to get your foot in the door in an industry that you have little to no experience in.

But how much have you thought about why you’re pursuing this new career path?

In other words, how do you know Customer Success is right for you? And how do you know if this work is something that you will enjoy doing?

Because the truth is, it’s not all roses and sunshine. Customer Success is a challenging career. And even the most competent CSMs (Customer Success Managers) can feel overwhelmed. But even with these difficulties, a career in CS can also be very rewarding.

In this article, I’m going to walk through how you can know if Customer Success is right for you.

The Beginning of My Own Career Pivot Journey

There are many reasons why someone would want to transition into Customer Success. Some that come to mind are:

  • Increased stability and consistency, in terms of both work schedule and salary
  • Recognizing that soft skills and transferable skills acquired in a current role can be utilized in Customer Success
  • Pursuit of personal interests and a desire to do what one enjoys, such as helping others

I can personally relate to those who are embarking on this journey. I spent years developing a very rewarding career in the hospitality industry prior to pursuing a career in Customer Success. As many hospitality professionals will tell you, a career in hospitality often means working many long days, including weekends, early mornings, and overnight shifts…don’t forget missing family gatherings.

My "Aha" Moment Discovering Customer Success

When I began considering a career change, I reviewed job boards and read through job descriptions to see if anything resonated. As I dug further, I narrowed my focus by first identifying my skillset.

To do this, I made note of what was most important to me in three categories:

  1. The tasks that I love doing in my current position (ie. building relationships with my customers and working for a company that is customer-first)
  2. Aspects of my work that I don't enjoy (ie. missing family events and an overall lack of work-life balance)
  3. Skills that I acquired in my career that I wanted to continue to build on (ie. creating training materials for my team to support their learning of our various software tools and training colleagues on best practices to help them be successful in their roles)

Once I identified what was most important to me in my next career, I searched for specific keywords such as 'customer relationship manager' and 'software training'. This lead me to stumble upon the role of 'customer success manager' and the job description checked all my boxes!

I researched as much as I could in my downtime. I learned about the purpose of Customer Success in SaaS, its history, and the responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager.

I also spent a lot of time defining my "why".

Being able to comfortably and confidently answer when someone asks "why are you interested in Customer Success?" is incredibly helpful.

Here are just some of the many benefits to getting really clear on your “why”:

  • Helps you to pitch yourself in interviews and when networking
  • Helps when you begin to brand yourself on LinkedIn and on your resume
  • Helps you get a clear direction of where you’re going and provides a source of motivation you can draw on when you need it to push you forward

Tips To Help Identify Your "Why"

Determining why you want to pursue a career in Customer Success and putting together a statement that portrays your passions may feel like a daunting task. But it doesn't have to be!

To begin the process, start with a brainstorming session where you freely write, type, or draw all of the reasons why you feel inspired to follow this new path. It can be as messy and unorganized as needed. The most important thing in this process is to put yourself out there honestly. You can clean it up afterward.

One technique that helps is the "Five Whys" or "5 Whys" framework. The 5 Whys method was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese inventor, industrialist, and the founder of Toyota Industries Co., Ltd. The general idea of the 5 Whys technique suggests that it takes five "whys" to get to the root cause of a problem.

This is a very helpful tool when problem-solving, and can be useful when applied to navigating your own challenges.

Below are some "why" questions to help you get started:

  • Why are you interested in Customer Success?
  • What draws you to pursue a role in Customer Success? Is it the work you’ll be doing, the work hours/schedule, the community?
  • Why are you a good fit for a Customer Success role?
  • What soft skills do you possess that make you a good fit for a role in Customer Success? Are you analytical? Do you love helping people? Do you enjoy building relationships and solving problems? Are you able to navigate and resolve conflict?
  • Why is your experience relevant to Customer Success?
  • What professional experience do you have that can translate to a Customer success role? Do you have experience in customer-facing roles? Do you have any experience presenting to executives or public speaking? Have you ever been a trainer or assisted in training opportunities in your current or a previous role? Do you have technical experience working with software?

Ways to Apply Your "Why"

Once you have brainstormed and have a clear understanding of your "why", think about how you want to apply what you learned. You may want to apply what surfaced in your brainstorming session to update your resume or your LinkedIn profile. Consider editing what you came up with during brainstorming to develop a brief elevator pitch. Having a really solid talk track around your own reasons for pursuing a career in Customer Success will help you in both networking and when interviewing.

Now that you are clear on the reasons why you are seeking this new career path, there are a few additional items you should think over:

  1. Are there any aspects of a role in Customer Success that don't appeal to you?
  2. Are there specific types of software or products you are most interested in working with?
  3. Are there certain industries or customer personas you prefer to work with?

If you read the job description of a Customer Success Manager and find a job responsibility that you feel you won't enjoy doing, it’s a good idea to dig into that feeling. For example, maybe you do not enjoy talking to people via video conferencing software. Customer Success professionals can be on three to five meetings per day. Sometimes more. And because many employees are still hosting meetings remotely, this can mean that much of a standard workday is spent in virtual meeting rooms using a software tool like Zoom.

By answering these questions, you can continue to hone your focus on what your goals are for your next career chapter.

If You Decide No

Customer Success isn’t for everyone. Be honest if this path is right for you. There’s no shame if your answer is no. In fact, it will save you a lot of stress if you discover a more fitting career based on your strengths and passions. If you choose to pursue another career, your time spent going through these exercises should carry over. Use this canvas as your launching pad into your next endeavor.

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