We all know that effective collaboration is the key to success in any organization. However, sometimes collaborating across departments is easier said than done. I want to share with you what I’ve learned through years of leading customer success at Meltwater so that you can join forces with the other stakeholders in your business and drive your customer success team forward.

In this article, we're going to explore:

  • Me and Meltwater in a nutshell
  • Customer success at Meltwater
  • Our culture values
  • Effective collaboration tips

Before I dive in, I want to plant a little seed. It’s Peter Drucker's famous quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” A huge part of collaboration stems from your company's culture, and that’s going to be a topic that I touch on today.

Me and Meltwater in a nutshell

I joined Meltwater back in 2008, straight out of university. I’d studied at the University of Oregon, I was born and raised on the west coast, but I was eager to get out of the States, move around, and see the world.

That's where I found Meltwater. I started in a sales position in Singapore, but since 2013, I've been working with customer success here in Tokyo. I spent three years in Customer Growth – a department adjacent to customer success – working with CSMs to drive upsells and cross-sells into our accounts. Interdepartmental collaboration was key for me to get the buy-in from CSMs to be able to work with them on their portfolios.

In 2016, I took over the team all together as Customer Success Director and started working closely with growth and the other stakeholders, which is a lot of what I'll talk about today.

So that's a little bit about me. Now let me tell you more about Meltwater. We’re a global company headquartered in San Francisco, with roughly 2000 employees worldwide.

Global reach with hyper-local expertise

We provide award-winning digital marketing tools ranging from social media analysis to account management. We've also gotten a lot of awards for our culture, the culture of not just being a great place to work and an equal opportunity employer, but also a fun place to work and a great place for collaboration.

On the software end, we put a lot of stock into being a leader in our space, and we pay close attention to the customer reviews that are coming through. We’re delighted to be seen as a leader in our industry, not just in APAC but worldwide.

#1 Software in media montoring and social listening

Customer success at Meltwater

Beyond our software, we have a budding and fast-growing customer success organization. With 34,000 clients, we rely on a global army of people servicing and supporting those users to keep them happy.

I realize that other companies may be structured differently and that even job titles and roles vary from company to company. To help you understand where I'm coming from, I'm going to talk a little bit about what account management and CS look like at Meltwater.

Customer success at Meltwater is complicated, I would say. We put a lot of stock into trying to grow our client base, and account managers own the entire relationship. Our CS team focuses on proactive outreach, so not just sitting back and getting requests from the clients, but going out and speaking to them and suggesting ways they can use our service.

Customer success at Meltwater

We're pushing to drive adoption and retention. Our product can be complicated at times, and if we're not careful, clients can easily just stop using it, so it’s crucial that we deliver good quality quickly; time to value is something we talk about a lot. Ultimately, we want to create raving fans from our customers, who will go out and tell their colleagues about us and help support us as we grow our business.

We see CS as a growth engine so we're trying to drive ARR growth from our CS organization, and we take a lot of pride in organically getting a minimum of 10% growth on our base from our efforts alone. There are a lot of different elements involved in doing that. Juggling clients at different stages of maturity requires CS to be very good at time management and staying organized.

Working alongside our CS layer, we have client support. They delve into a lot of the reactive stuff, like live chats, support tickets, engineering tickets, and those kinds of things.

And then we have the account executives, the enterprise sales reps, and the other sales teams, who work with our client portfolios. We also have our implementation team, analysts, solution architects, and sales team. So CS has a lot of different stakeholders working with them across their clients.

Let’s have a look at how we define the role of the account manager at Meltwater, and this is coming straight from my direct manager. In his words, “In CS, the account manager is the owner of the account and ultimately responsible for its success.”

It’s about giving our team ownership over the accounts and removing excuses in the case that an account falls short. We want our account managers to take full responsibility for driving the customers’ success.

Meltwater and account managers

What does that mean in practice? Well, it means that for account managers, the core responsibilities are pretty cover a broad scope.

Our account managers need to partner with many different aspects of the business and be the center of those relationships. They need to be able to drive people internally to help satisfy our clients. And for our most complex clients, account managers are essentially project coordinators, trying to get everybody going in the same direction. Lastly, they support our clients and take ownership of ensuring their success.

Responsibilities at Meltwater

People from all over the business work with the client, but the customer success team is right at the center. Account managers dictate what is the best solution because ultimately, we need somebody to steer the ship and say, “This is what the customer needs – we're going in that direction.” And they have to get everybody on board with that game plan, whatever their competing KPIs or responsibilities. That decisiveness has been key to our success.

Meltwater's work flow

Meltwater's culture values

Another key part of how we drive our success is the company culture. When I was deciding what to name this piece, there was no better title than Better Together – it encompasses all of Meltwater’s core values.

As we were founded in Norway, our official core values are in Norwegian. Moro means fun, enjoying your work and the success that comes with it. Enere is the Norwegian word for being number one and trying to do your best. Respekt needs no translation.

Meltwater's cultural values

When you combine all these values, you get Better Together, which is the bedrock of our success. We reach our goals faster and with greater satisfaction when we work together as a team, and this value guides our decisions day to day.

This core concept has helped forge a culture of collaboration: that concept of a win-win-win scenario, and trying to make sure that we can always do things in the best interest of the company, the clients, and our team.

Aspirational goals

Cultural values are great, but if you're not careful, they can easily become just words on a piece of paper. You need to work to make sure these values are put into practice day-in-day-out. Getting people with inherently different responsibilities and responsibilities to work together requires a shared aspirational goal.

Here in Japan, we have big global goals that we're excited about, but we also try to take ownership of our local goals and culture. This starts with the management team being very aligned on its objectives.

I'm in charge of customer success, but we have directors for all the other divisions. My team is really a group of managers, not just my CSMs. It's the sales team, the enterprise team, and the analyst team. They're the people that I need to build relationships with and ultimately collaborate with. It's my job to make sure that I have good connections with stakeholders across all layers of the business.

Aspirational goals

One of the great things about this is if the team sees us working well together, they'll have no issue following suit. People generally want to work together and be part of something bigger than themselves, and this is our goal.

Using your power for good

Power is the capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others. Ultimately, what we want is for our managers to positively influence their teams and their offices, so I’m going to talk to you a little bit about the different types of power and how you can use them to drive that influence.


Organizational power

Managers have access to several types of organizational power. They have legitimate power because they are the boss – people tend to just do what they say. There’s also reward power, a.k.a. the carrot approach. There’s coercive power and resource power too, which are less pleasant.

Personal power

Typically, only management has access to organizational power, so what about CSMs? Well, at Meltwater, we encourage them to build their own personal forms of power. There are four main ways you can do this, and you can do them all from day one, even as a brand-new hire.

Personal influence/power

The first one is building out your network. If you can make introductions to the right people at the right time, you’ll be able to work more effectively across teams, and even call in favors when you need to.

Let’s say you want to collaborate better with engineering. Ask yourself “Who do I know in the engineering department? How well do I know them? Do I understand their KPIs? Have I had lunch with them or a zoom chat recently?” If you can do this, you’re gonna grease the wheels for your teams to work better together.

Another kind of power is information, or being knowledgeable about the job and helping other people. People often struggle to collaborate with CS because they don't understand our KPIs; sharing that information and educating people on what makes a good onboarding or what makes a good client can lead to better sales in the future.

The third way you can build your influence is by being an expert. This is all about leading by example, being the change you seek in the office and trying to model the right behaviors before you complain about other people not doing them.

The last form of power is the referent, which just means building loyalty and being well-liked. At the end of the day, if you are easy to work with, it will reciprocate on both sides.

These are all skills that you can put into practice no matter what level you’re at on the company hierarchy. And if you can use these forms of power to generate momentum for your clients, you can create a best-case scenario for everyone involved.

Effective collaboration tips

To wrap things up, I want to leave you with five tips on how to facilitate effective collaboration within your organization.

Create a culture that fosters collaboration

A great culture is the first part of fostering interdepartmental collaboration. Usually, companies will have strong cultural values, and you need to make sure that you embody them in everything you say and do. This will lead to a more effective team and a better working environment.

Create shared aspirational goals

Creating cross-departmental goals is a great way to drive collaboration. If you’re in a leadership role, you have the opportunity to do this. Reach out to those other directors and formulate a plan that facilitates your collective goals; make it a pillar of your success.

Take ownership and responsibility

At a CSM level and really at every level, take ownership. Try not to place the blame on others if something goes wrong. Instead, think about what you can do to make it right. Another part of this is being proactive to drive solutions for your clients, rather than being reactive and waiting for somebody else to do it.

Develop your personal influence

Another thing that’s gonna makes you a great member of the cross-functional team is developing your personal influence in all the different aspects we’ve seen. You want to build a strong network, be easy to work with and make sure you’re knowledgeable about your position.

Be the change you seek

Lastly, be the change that you seek. Meltwater is not always perfect, but I try to look in the mirror and think, “What can my team do better? What can I do better?” You want to be the solution to the problems in your organization. Ultimately, if you lead by example, others will follow.

Final thoughts

The road to success is always under construction, and customer success can sometimes feel like a moving target. But I hope you’ve learned today that if you can take ownership of your role, you can create a win-win-win for you, your clients, and your business, and that can trickle into the rest of the organization.