If you’re considering Customer Success as your next career move, you probably have a lot of questions. But the most important ones at the beginning of your journey are these two:
Is this job going to be right for me?
Can I transition to customer success if I’m in [INSERT CURRENT ROLE OR INDUSTRY]?
These are the questions I get the most on TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube. People want to be sure that the move they're about to make is worth it. However, answering these questions isn’t something you sort out in a day, it takes time (and information).
That’s why, in this blog post, I’m going to help you in your decision-making process and guide you through your next steps if you want to lean into a career in CS. Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Get to know the role
You got to Customer Success land somehow! What is a specific role that piqued your interest? If so, start with looking at day-in-the-life videos–there are a ton on TikTok and YouTube. There are also blog posts and guides that you can access for free. Google is your best friend!
Before you commit to learning more, you want to feel comfortable in knowing what the role itself is. In this step, you need to keep it real with yourself! Get to the bottom of these questions:
Do you like what the role does?
Can you see yourself doing that?
Do you have the core skills to do the job?
If your answer is a flat-out NO, maybe there’s another role you may be better suited for.
For example, if you’re looking at Customer Success Manager jobs and you notice that there are a lot of customer-facing activities like leading calls and you prefer a job that’s not customer-facing, maybe project management, marketing, or a more technical role may be a better fit in the tech space.
If the answer is MAYBE or YES, then we have the green light ✅ let's move on to the next step.
Step 2: Learn as much as you can about customer success
Let me paint you a picture here…
You redo your resume on chatGPT, or you pay someone to do it for you, and it’s PERFECT! You get an interview thanks to your resume, and now it’s time for your first call with the hiring manager. Here are the questions they ask:
What have you done in the past when there's been turnover with your key stakeholders on your accounts?
How would you go about proposing an upsell to one of your accounts?
Tell me how you would do a kickoff call with a customer as their new CSM.
You freeze. What the hell is a key stakeholder? Upsells? Kickoff 🏈?!
You obviously don’t get the job–you lined up a perfect opportunity, but you weren’t ready 😔.
Why did this happen?
Because learning about customer success is the step that usually gets skipped, but it’s the most important one. It takes time, dedication, and commitment.
Understanding the fundamentals of customer success isn't just about memorizing a bunch of acronyms and concepts. It’s about knowing how YOU would speak to these fundamentals, how YOU would do the job, and YOUR plan as a customer success professional.
You’re not learning for a test, you’re learning to apply in the real world.
The thing about starting your learning journey in Customer Success, however, is that it can be extremely overwhelming. It’s normal for you to freeze up during this step, and here’s why:
There’s a lot of information out there, so it’s hard to know where to begin.
The more you learn, the more it’ll feel like you don’t know. One door opens up to three more doors.
The information you’ll find will mainly be about the theories, not the practice of CS, so you’re left… memorizing acronyms and not knowing how to apply them in the real world.
You need one resource to guide you through your learning in a way that’s easy to understand and practical. That’s what the Customer Success 101: Learn the Fundamentals of Customer Success From Start To Finish course is all about.
It’s an hour-long jam-packed course led by me (Diana). In it, you’ll learn about the following topics:
Software as a Service (SaaS) & Customer Success
What is Customer Success?
KPIs/Metrics of Customer Success
The Customer Lifecycle in SaaS
The Customer Success Department / Different Roles Customer Success
Collaborating With Different Teams
Responsibilities of a Customer Success Team
Customer Success Methodologies and Frameworks
This is you learning customer success in a structured way–It’s you understanding not only what a “QBR” is but why it’s done, who’s responsible for it, and how it’s measured.
There are a ton of misconceptions and questions about Customer Success. This course clearly articulates what it is and what it isn't so you can move with clarity in your career search journey.
Step 3: Align what you’ve learned to what you have to offer
Now that you know enough about customer success, you can move on to revisit your experience and skills to identify where you have transferable knowledge and skills and where you have gaps.
Let’s take a teacher, for example. They spent a considerable amount of time learning about CS and decided that a Customer Success Manager Role in EdTech would be perfect for them.
They find a job description, and now it’s time for them to do their transferable skills and gaps analysis:
Lead a book of business of 30 accounts
As a teacher, my students are my “clients,” and in my class, I manage 22 every year. I do this by…
What exactly does leading a book of business look like in CS? How do I “manage accounts”?
Work with multiple stakeholders, internal and external
l I work with students, fellow teachers, and school admin/staff internally. Externally, I work with parents and school district admins. I establish relationships by… I work with them by…
Who are the main stakeholders that I’d work within this role? How would I build relationships in this setting?
Establish success plans with all accounts to drive outcomes
Each student learns differently that’s why I assess at the beginning of the year to understand their needs, challenges, and goals. Then, I use this to guide teaching with each student.
Have never done a success plan, I need to research what it looks like and how it’s applied in CS.
Start with a job description and work your way back. This will give you the prompts you need to start aligning your skills and identifying the areas where you need to learn more. To further your learnings, lean on podcasts, blogs, books, and videos to help you develop your own plan.
Step 4: Know what to expect from the customer success interview process
I’m writing this in the Summer of 2023–the job market is incredibly challenging right now.
I don't share this to scare you off; I’m sharing this because it’s the reality of our current economic conditions, and this will impact YOU and your career search journey.
Simply applying to a customer success job with a resume and a prayer isn’t enough these days. It requires applicants to do their due diligence and bring their A-game if they want to stand out.
So, how are you going to stand out? Here’s one more resource for you–it’s the How To L.A.N.D. a Customer Success Job webinar replay!
In this webinar, I take you through my framework, L.A.N.D. (Learn, Align, Network, Due Diligence) to help you learn about Customer Success, strategically align your skills and experience, how to meet the right people by networking, and how to get you closer to landing that CS job!
This will take time, it's not an overnight move, so hang tight, have patience, and give yourself grace! Now you know what to do, it's your turn to put it into action.