Head of customer success advice


Does any one have advice for someone who has just been promoted to Head of Customer success? Any tips/ticks/pitfalls to avoid would be great. Thank you, Katherine


  • MaxDore
    MaxDore Member Posts: 2
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Comment
    Hey Katherine, I'd love to brainstorm this with you - I'm an individual contributor, but it's something I've put thought into before, building 30-60-90s for potential CS leadership positions. Even just as a thought exercise. I have a few questions though - 

    You mention promoted - What was your role previous at the org, and what was / is your relationship with the rest of the CS team? Similarly, what was your relationship with the customer base? 

    It would seem to be the biggest pitfall in most new leadership situations would be trying to affect too much, too quickly. We've all been in a new position where we identify a number of things you believe can be improved, and this is compounded by being in a leadership position where your team is also bringing to you feedback on things they'd like you to impact. It's easy to try to do too much, while still in the information gathering phase. The information gathering phase can take months, and should be considered a different timeline for each 'thing' you want to do. Take your time. And when it's time to act, don't do it all at once. Pick one of the items, projects, pain points, relationships, etc. that you want to affect, and make meaningful progress on it. A single completed initiative that has both an impact on the team, and on the on the org, is worth much more than 10 started-but-meandering initiatives. 

    So to coalesce my thoughts - 

    • Respect the information gathering phase, don't rush through it
    • Focus on what you can affect

    @Diane Ratigan I'd love to know your thoughts - I believe you do the above very well 
  • Diane Ratigan
    Diane Ratigan Member Posts: 1
    Name Dropper First Comment

    Thanks for tagging me @MaxDore and nice to meet you @Katherine Bentley! Congrats on the new role! 100% agree with putting emphasis on information gathering phase. Here is what I think are the top activities to focus on:

    1/What does the end-to-end customer experience look like at your company? From prospect to advocate and all the stuff in between. Dig into what is it like to be a customer of your organization.

    2/Where are the intersections of the various teams (including Customer Success) that support that customer experience? How do you work together? Get to know your leadership peers within each of these teams – book 1:1 intros to start to build relationships that will lay the foundation for the work ahead of you. Investing in getting to know your peers is invaluable before having to solve problems together.

    3/What is your team telling you about that customer experience? Understand what challenges they are facing and the tools they need to deliver a best-in-class customer experience. Solve one challenge right away.

    4/What are your customers saying about that customer experience? Get to know your customers – sit in on calls with your CSMs. Do as many as you can in the first 90 days. Ask questions, listen. They will tell you everything you need to know about where your gaps are.

    Take a broad approach to gain perspective and necessary information that can help you narrow your focus as you emerge from your first 90 days!

    Good luck!
  • Jan Young
    Jan Young Member Posts: 21
    Second Anniversary 5 Comments Office Hours Host 2022 GGR Blogger 2022
    @Katherine Bentley Max and Diane have provided some good advice. Are you coming from outside or inside of the organization? You mentioned you were promoted. A big part of going from IC to leadership is transforming your strategy from your individual book of business to the CS Program and the entire customer base. It's easy to focus on day to day escalations and "fires", but that can easily get overwhelming.

    I would encourage you to reserve time each week to "kick the tires" (or create if they are not established) of your customer base segmentation and customer journey, and consider how your customers fit into those segments and where they are in their journeys. Are all your customers actually receiving the customer journey that you are trying to deliver? Which customers are successfully achieving their goals from their original purchase reason? Which customers are off track and at risk? If you have a framework to work from it will allow you to be more strategic and prioritize more easily.

    Happy to discuss more if you're interested!

  • REmery
    REmery Member, Success Network Members Posts: 6
    The joy (and the pain) of Customer Success is that we are right in the middle of everything and everyone ... Diane Ratigan's suggestions above give you a head start on figuring out where that middle is and what you should change first.

    The recommendation I make to anyone recently promoted is to pick up a copy of Patrick Lencioni's The Advantage. Great guide to building an impactful and long-lasting organization.
  • Mike Williams
    Mike Williams Member Posts: 1
    Second Anniversary First Comment
    REmery said:

    The recommendation I make to anyone recently promoted is to pick up a copy of Patrick Lencioni's The Advantage. Great guide to building an impactful and long-lasting organization.

    Glad I saw this!  Always happy to get a new book recommendation. 
  • tejash_24
    tejash_24 Member Posts: 17
    10 Comments 5 Insightfuls Name Dropper Photogenic

    Congratulations on your promotion! Here are a few tips for success in your new role as Head of Customer Success:

    1. Prioritize customer needs: The customer should always be at the center of your decision-making process. Make sure to listen to their feedback and prioritize their needs.

    2. Build a strong team: Surround yourself with talented individuals who are passionate about customer success. Empower your team and create a positive, supportive work culture.

    3. Set clear goals: Define what success looks like for your team and your customers. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to help your team stay focused and on track.

    4. Communicate effectively: Clear communication is key to success in any leadership role. Make sure to keep your team, your customers, and other stakeholders informed and involved in decision-making.

    5. Stay organized: Managing a customer success team can be hectic, so it's important to stay organized and on top of your responsibilities. Use tools like Trello or Asana to help you prioritize tasks and keep track of progress.

    6. Stay up to date: Keep an eye on industry trends and best practices in customer success. Attend conferences and professional development events, and make sure to regularly seek out feedback from your team and your customers.

    7. Don't be afraid to ask for help: Leading a team can be challenging, so don't be afraid to ask for help or advice when you need it. Seek out mentors or advisors who can provide guidance and support.