16HR: Happy Employees Take Better Care of Customers

Let's face it, most customers aren't making their way to your Customer Success manager because they've already gotten a ton of value from your product. They're reaching out because they have a problem.

That's Tracy Cote, chief people officer at Zenefits, a cloud-based human resources software company. She's pointing to how difficult the role of CSM can be, because you're often taking care of challenging client situations. Her point of view isn't unusual. Some would go so far as to say that working in CS is the hardest job in the company. In this chapter, we'll explore what causes the CSM job to be hard and then discuss what CS leaders and their HR partners can do about it.

Why the Customer Success Job Is Hard—And Why That Matters

The CSM job can be super-challenging for six common reasons:

  • The “Glass-Half-Empty” Phenomenon: Whereas Sales reps start at zero bookings every quarter—with a fresh canvas—and need to build up to 100% of quota from there, CSMs start at an assumed 100% default gross retention rate, and the only possible direction is down. When Sales closes a deal, we ring the gong, but a renewal seems more like a save—with sighs of relief and brow-wiping—than a victory to celebrate.
  • The “Downstream” Phenomenon: CSMs are downstream from other departments, inheriting the consequences of those departments' decisions. When Engineering's quality assurance processes lapse, CSMs hear about it from their clients. When ...

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