Customer-centricity: putting customers at the heart of what you do is surely Business 101? Well, that's definitely the goal of any CS team. But the question is: how do you make sure this is replicated across the whole company?

We chatted to Francesca-Elizabeth Havemann Salisbury, a Customer Success Leadership Consultant, who answered some questions raised in the CS community. Francesca dishes the dirt on how to create a cross-departmental customer success strategy throughout your whole business.

Make sure you don't miss hearing Francesca's presentation at the Customer Success Festival! 👈

Q. Getting people to fully appreciate the significance of customer success can be hard. What is one of the most common challenges that you see facing customer success managers on a regular basis?

A. Customer success managers (CSMs) are really at the centre of an organization – both from an internal and external perspective.

They carry the Dollar/Euro value of clients, continuously showing them value and are customer advocates. But they are also the first line of defense if something goes wrong. So the responsibility on their shoulders is huge!

I think what is important is that customer success is understood as a company mission so that customer success as a team are also supported accordingly. That's important because a customer rarely churns based only on CS deficiencies – it's a company-wide effort to retain and delight clients.

Q. CS is still such a new sector compared to other areas of business, but how and when did you realise it was the career for you?

A. I started off in Business Development and Partner Management.

Thankfully I noticed early on that whilst I was good at the “hunting” side of my work, I was even better and had the most fun when I was working with partners and clients. In essence, it was nurturing of relationships I loved.

So I was lucky to find out really early what I enjoy the most. That led me to customer success – one of the most exciting parts of a business. It has allowed me (pre-pandemic) to travel the world and guide customers to success.

In my executive roles it has also allowed me to lead company-wide business transformation projects that not only redefined the companies' customer journey and their internal collaboration, but also their understanding of customer success.

Q. For any aspiring customer success managers out there, what advice would you give any new starters to the industry?

A. Networking is important!

It's key to network both with clients and internally to build your network. I have saved many customer situations through support from around the globe because of the strong and genuine relationships I had forged.

And when it comes to clients:

  • Always show empathy for their problems
  • Keep reminding them of the value of your solution
  • Aim to become their trusted advisor

Q. If you were in a situation where there was a conflict of interest with another department, how would you aim to resolve the issue and still maintain the customer’s goals in sight?

A. I am a big fan of direct, yet always courteous, communication. Both sides need to understand the other side's expectations and issues - then they just need to find the middle ground. What always comes first is the customer and, provided that is understood by both sides, a solution shouldn't be hard to find.

Q. And finally, what do you hope is the key takeaway from your presentation?

A. Firstly, customer success is a company mission.

Secondly, in order to delight your customers and work well together within a company, you need to have:

  • A clear mission
  • Clear communications
  • The supporting structures to enable the most efficient collaboration