Success on the Road

Success on the Road - Belfast, Maine

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By Kristen Hayer

This past week included a rigorous journey that involved 5 states, snow, and training 150 customer success professionals. The travel was grueling, but in so many ways, incredible. I was able to visit Maine, which I haven't ever seen as an adult (beautiful, even with a solid layer of snow!) I also ate some of the best lobster, chowder, and mussels I've ever had!

Travel has been a huge part of my life this year, and it has brought so many friendly people and interesting experiences my way. This has me thinking about stepping outside of my comfort zone (aka cozy home office) in order to drive creativity. It's easy to stick with what we know in customer success. But, what would happen if we stepped outside of our comfort zone? Could we engage someone new? Could we approach a problem differently? Could we help our customers achieve a better ROI by teaching them to think creatively about our solutions? Sometimes, shifting your physical location can help shake you out of habits that hold you back.

My challenge this week is to shake it up. I'm traveling to Cabo (for fun instead of work), and I'm looking forward to spending quality time with my family over spring break. That said, I know that I'll still be thinking about The Success League, and I expect to bring back some creative ideas. Whether you head to the tropics or just get of of the office for an afternoon in a coffee shop, a change of location can help you shake things up. What can you do to spur your creativity? 

Success on the Road: Boston, MA

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By Kristen Hayer

Last week I was in Boston, where we had the pleasure of teaching a group of 90 CSMs about negotiation and persuasion. The “we” included one of our newest team members and a former customer, Colleen St. John (welcome to The League!) Lately, The Success League has been growing like crazy and I’ve been adding to the team. This is really exciting, but has me thinking about ways to quickly ramp up team members to deliver high-quality engagements that align with our brand.

A number of our customers are working on scaling as well, and we’ve been helping them think this issue through for their own teams. Even the most experienced CS professional will need new employee training. With my own CS teams, I’ve found that the broader and more thorough your onboarding training, the more quickly you can move your new team member toward customer-facing work. Think about training that covers the company history, industry, brand, competitors, product, pricing, role, tools and team culture.

How are you making sure that your new team members ramp up quickly? Have you formalized an onboarding program? I’d love to hear about your creative approaches to onboarding!

Success on the Road: Irvine

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By Kristen Hayer

This past week included a short trip to Irvine, and I didn’t really have time to have local fun in between visits to our client’s office. I did manage to contain my email before my flight home so I got to have a whole hour and a half of glorious reading.

In his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about “sharpening the saw”. At The Success League, we studied the strengths of CSMs and found that the Learner strength almost always shows up at the top of the list. I have to admit that I don’t do as much reading as I’d like, but when I have a spare hour and a great read, the result is an amazing mix of relaxation and enrichment. 

For me, flights are turning out to be a great time to sharpen the saw. Wifi is expensive, and in-flight movies are hit or miss. Flights are a nice, concrete block of time to use for reading that business book I’ve been wanting to get to, or the latest issue of HBR (if you’ve taken any of our classes, you know I’m a big HBR fan!) Plus if I forget to bring something along, I can always find something interesting at the airport bookstore.

How are you carving out time to sharpen the saw? Do you have travel or commuting time you can use to read or listen to material that helps you grow? Have a great week and I hope you get the chance to learn something new!

Success on the Road: Bothell, WA

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By Kristen Hayer

Last week I landed at the Seattle airport on Tuesday morning. I ordered a Lyft, and the driver promptly called me and explained that he’d be there in 5. He picked me up in a sweet SUV and regaled me with stories of his driving experiences while we traveled from Sea-Tac to Bothell. He offered me snacks. He was friendly and charming.

My Lyft driver on the way back to the airport on Wednesday greeted me politely but was otherwise quiet. He played 80’s music. His car was an older Prius. There were no snacks.

Which ride did I value the most? You might be surprised to hear that I preferred and valued the later ride. Why? On both trips I was tired, and really didn’t feel like talking. I don’t eat snacks offered by strangers, so that didn’t win me over. I really like cars, but a trip to the airport is A to B for me. Plus, I love 80s music. Guess who got a better tip.

Do you know what your customers truly value, or are you making assumptions? Are you paying attention, or busy chattering away? Great reminder that we all need to listen, watch, learn, and adjust. 

Success on the Road: Sun Valley, ID

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By Kristen Hayer

I got the chance to visit Marketron in Sun Valley, Idaho this past week. They have a fantastic customer success team who took the time to show me around the valley and the historic resort. What an amazing place. It was beautiful, but extremely snowy while I was there. Great for skiing, bad for traveling. Between a couple of rerouted flights, an unexpected bus trip, and hitching a ride back to Boise with two of the team, I had to exercise my flexibility.

Flexibility is something we need to think about in customer success too. We spend a lot of time at The Success League helping companies plan processes, and training CSMs on best practices, but sometimes those processes aren’t appropriate, or there is a corner case where the best practices just don’t apply. CS professionals need to try and be consistent, but they also need the good judgement to know when to be flexible in order to create a great customer experience.

What are you doing to empower your team to be flexible with customers? How has flexibility benefited your clients or team? I’m looking forward to returning to Sun Valley this summer with my family!