By Kristen Hayer
The end of last year was busy for The Success League. As the company’s leader, I was faced with running the business, serving our customers, and creating new offerings. Innovative business models, training classes, and marketing programs help us effectively serve our clients and stay visible in the market. Unfortunately, I found it incredibly hard to weave creative work in between meetings, client engagements, responding to email, and proposal writing. The mental context shifting was tough, and the work of building tools for the business was often put on the back burner.
This year I wanted to make a change. I have a number of friends who are creative, and maker days and maker spaces were top of mind. I decided to carve out a day each month as a maker day. Even though I’m not painting, crafting, or sewing, I am being creative when I design models and training for the business. This discipline has turned into valuable time for The Success League, helping us grow and develop new approaches to customer success. It has also turned into one of my favorite days each month because I get to step aside from the day-to-day work and innovate.
Most CSMs struggle with a similar challenge. The job of a customer success professional is wildly busy with meetings, client engagements, responding to email, and proposal writing – the same things that were taking my time. Similarly, there are things that CSMs could be creating that would drive long term improvements for their companies and customers. The best new processes, tools, and communications generally come from the customer success people on the front lines. Unfortunately, they are often too busy with the day-to-day to innovate.
Carving out maker days for your CSMs can help them make the time to create. Some companies take this a step further and implement maker days across their entire organization (check out Why Your Office Needs a Maker Day). Even if you just focus on your team, yourself or individual CSMs, this can be a fantastic discipline to start. Imagine how much you can create in 12 whole days each year! Here are some things I’ve learned that help me make the most of my maker days.
Schedule in Advance
I calendar my maker days a quarter in advance. That means that when I finish a maker day, I throw a new one 3 months out on the calendar. This helps me protect the time and makes it less likely that I’ll have a conflict when that day rolls around.
Plan the Time
Know what you want to get done that day. I keep a running list of creative projects on my calendar, and the week of maker day I figure out what can realistically get done. I move the rest to the next scheduled maker day. This keeps me focused on the most important projects.
Get Out of the Office
I usually work from a home office or a client site. Either way, it’s a location where I tend to follow old habits and work on the day-to-day. On maker days, I shake things up by working from a coffee shop or co-working space where the new environment helps me think creatively.
If you’re a customer success leader, consider giving your team (and yourself!) the gift of a maker day each month. You’ll be amazed at the work you can produce with time and focus. If you’re a CSM, think about ways you can carve out this time for yourself. Try a test day, and when your boss sees the work you’ve been able to produce they will likely let you make it a regular part of your schedule. Get creative about helping customers!
Looking for more tips on how to carve out creative time for yourself in the workplace? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops on core CS topics like Time Management for CSMs and Executive Business Reviews. For more information on these and our other classes and workshops, please visit TheSuccessleague.io
Kristen Hayer - Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success goals and metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington.