You asked, Kristi answered! We're gathering your tough work questions for this new series, Dear Insider. Post your questions anonymously here for Kristi to answer.
Dear Insider, If you’re transitioning into your first CS role, what would you recommend doing in the first 30-60-90 days to stand out?
First off, welcome to the wonderful and wild world of Customer Success. The first 90 days of any new role are so important, so it’s great that you are thinking about how to make the most of this window. It’s easy to want to make a big impact right away to prove your value but i’d recommend focusing on the following:
- Be a sponge: The most important thing you can do in your initial days and weeks with a new company is to learn. You will need to learn as much as possible about the technology, the current processes, the people, and the company. Let me be clear, the learning will never stop but you need to make sure that you’ve learned everything (or as much as possible) you need to know to do your job.
- Know what’s expected of you: Take the time to meet with leaders, your manager, peers, and cross-functional teammates to understand what is expected of you in the role and how you can improve their day-to-day. You might think you know what’s expected of you but this is a good opportunity to get on the same page with everyone, and if you are really interested in standing out, knowing how you can positively impact the teams you work with will serve you well in the long run.
- Know your customers: If you are looking to make a significant business impact, there is no better way to do that than to get aligned with your customers. If you are inheriting a book of business made up of existing customers, transitioning to a new CSM can be extremely disruptive to the partnership, but seize this opportunity. Do your research on each and every customer before you engage with them, ask thoughtful questions and make sure to understand what they need and want from you in this role, and lastly, make sure to follow up with them on everything that was discussed. Setting proper expectations and building the proper relationships will allow you to drive a significant impact to the partnership.
Remember, the first 90 days are all about you getting ramped into the role and company effectively, so make that your priority.
Dear Insider, during our meetings, there is always one or two dominant persons speaking. It's not that I'm an introvert but I value people listening to each other and letting each other finish sentences and contribute to discussions rather than blurt out anything that comes out. So what often happens is that my voice is not/never being heard and I am concerned that my leader and team think I have nothing to add. I really don't like interrupting people or raising my voice just to be heard, this is really not in line with my authentic self. How can I approach this situation?
I can absolutely relate. I’ve found myself in this situation many times in my professional journey, and it sucks. To be honest, I am sure there have also been times I’ve been the dominant speaker as well. At the end of the day, no matter what, you should always feel like you have a voice and know that just because you have a different communication style does not make your contributions any less valuable. Here are three things you can try:
- The first thing you should do is make your manager aware of how you are feeling and the challenges you are having contributing to the discussions. As a manager myself, when I’ve had someone on my team share similar feedback, I’ve helped give them the floor in meetings. For example, if we are in the middle of a discussion I might say something like, “CSM NAME, what do you think?” or “CSM NAME, haven’t you navigated something like this before, how did you handle it?”. Partnering with your manager will not only allow them to better understand your communication style, it will also help you have a way to share your thoughts.
- Another thing I’ve done in the past is share my thoughts after the meeting, send an email on the invite thread and say something like, “after having time to reflect on the conversation, I think … “, this tactic can help ensure you get to add value to the conversation in a way that allows you to be your authentic self.
- Have a conversation with some of your peers about their current communication style and how it's impacting you and your ability to contribute, perhaps opening up to them will open their eyes to how their communication style might be impacting others as well.
I believe that you can find a way to navigate this, but what I also know to be true is that there will always be situations you cannot control and where you will need to adjust accordingly. I appreciate your communication style, but I’d also learn to step outside your comfort zone, and alter your style a bit from time to time.
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