Thoughts on assigning CSM to the same customer they used to work for

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Drew Robinson
Drew Robinson Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations
Hey All!  I'm building a new CSM team within our organization to focus on our largest Contact Center customers.  One of my team members used to work for one of those customers (has been 1.5 years since they left) and I'm debating the ethics of having them assigned to that customer.  The benefits of their DEEP knowledge of that customer organization are endless.  Thoughts from others who have done this (why and what was the outcome, or pitfalls) or intentionally NOT done this and why?
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  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
    Office Hours Host 2022 5 Likes First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited March 2022
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    Unless that individual left on bad terms, I think it would be foolish not to do so.

    But really, it's how your customers feel about having that individual engaged with them. I would propose it to them and ask them if they have any concerns about having that individual assigned. Your customer should have the final decision in this case.

    The objective of your CS efforts is to help the customer get an ROI. Having someone with firsthand knowledge of their operations, and potentially many of the stakeholders involved, will not only benefit you but greatly benefit your customer and potentially reduce the time to value/ROI with your solution.

    Andrew
  • Drew Robinson
    Drew Robinson Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited March 2022
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    Thanks Andrew!  You nailed the reasons why this would be a mutual benefit, and I agree on ensuring the customer gets to decide (as well as the team member).  I would want both parties being all-in on the assignment.
  • Bri Adams
    Bri Adams Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited March 2022
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    Love this question, @Drew Robinson -- One thing I would consider also is that there may be drawbacks (even if the CSM left on the best of terms). Mainly, I'm thinking in terms of expectations on the side of the customer. Because your new CSM has such distinct and in depth knowledge of their business, use cases, and likely purchasing reasons, the customer may expect a level of support and advocacy that isn't realistic for a CSM <> Client relationship.

    I'm working this with two of my own CSMs at the moment who are both absolutely fabulous and left on the best of terms from their last employers, but I'm cautious because I don't want the client to think that their new CSM (their former employee) will be their platform admin. Our CSMs are here for strategy, best practices, and to be a trusted advisor, but we want to always operate with a 'teach a person to fish' mentality. I don't want the CSM doing all the work for the client, even though they have the power, energy, and aptitude to do so effectively. Something to consider!

    Bri Adams

    Director of Customer Success, Commercial

    badams@windfall.com

    www.windfall.com

  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
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    edited March 2022
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    Bri,

    While I agree that could be a concern, I am going to have to wholeheartedly disagree with you on this. Once again, with the caveat being the former employee truly leaving on good terms. 

    If you've clearly laid out the purpose and expectations of the role with the customer (which you should be doing for every single customer...every time....and in some cases re-iterating that over and over), then you mitigate that risk significantly.

    There is far more upside potential for a CSM with inside knowledge of both the business operations and relationships with internal staff than someone new trying to gain that knowledge and build those relationships.

    Information and relationships like that could take years to acquire. 

    Best,
    Andrew
  • Bri Adams
    Bri Adams Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
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    edited March 2022
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    Andrew, I am by NO means saying not to do it, I am just reiterating that there could be some potential drawbacks to consider and make sure that expectations are clearly managed. In both of my current cases, we are likely to have that CSM take over as CSM for their former employer, but we are reiterating all expectations to make it clear that this should not be considered as a special CSM to client relationship, but they should be treated as normal (with the one major plus that this person won't need to get up to speed and will likely come with immediate positive suggestions!).

    Bri Adams

    Director of Customer Success, Commercial

    badams@windfall.com

    www.windfall.com

  • Andrew Marks
    Andrew Marks Member Posts: 54 Expert
    Office Hours Host 2022 5 Likes First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited March 2022
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    Okay, we're saying the same thing then. :)

    Have a great weekend!

    Andrew
  • James Conant
    James Conant Member Posts: 37 Expert
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    edited March 2022
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    @Andrew Marks nailed this. I agree and recommend his advice. Not only did I assign them to the client they came from, we drove testimonials and referrals through this person as well by leveraging the existing relationships.
  • Harsh Shah
    Harsh Shah Member Posts: 40 Expert
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    edited March 2022
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    Great question @Drew Robinson!

    Totally agree with such great reasons and values shared by @Andrew Marks and @Bri Adams for introducing the same CSM to any client who was working for them previously and left on a good terms.

    Apart from these, I feel even if the CSM does not leave on a good term but have an in-depth knowledge of their use cases and goals then you should at least leverage his knowledge and understanding of their business to support/consult another new CSM who is going to handle this client. It will surely give him an edge to make customers more successful and to develop a positive long-term partnership.

    Best Regards,

    Harsh Shah

    Customer Success Manager, Woliba

    Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harshshah-15/

    Email: hcshah15.hs@gmail.com

  • Guy Galon
    Guy Galon Member Posts: 26 Expert
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    edited March 2022
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    Hi Drew.,
    I can share a very positive experience in a similar situation. I checked that my CSM left on good terms and explained the customer about the benefits of him working for them. The CSM knew their business environment, internal procedures, politics and how to get things done and it was win-win for all of us. Make sure you do your "due-diligence" right in this case.

    Good luck