That was the first question I asked myself when I was contacted by a recruiter from Slack in November 2019. Is it a customer service role? Is it a sales role? Why have I never heard of it? Am I that out of touch?
By 2019, I had spent more than a decade at Accenture; having had the privilege of partnering with wonderful clients from coast to coast and across many different industries.
Getting into the role
Admittedly, I was feeling a bit restless and was contemplating how I should spend the next half of my career. I wondered if I was falling behind and losing my edge. After all, I had started out 20 years earlier at America Online (“AOL”) just as personal communication was entering a new era and AOL was leading the way.
The company culture was unique for its time too. We had lanyards with flair, disco balls, team mottos and chants, pinball machines, and barbecue pits. In my role I was responsible for:
- Leveling up member’s AOL usage.
- Teaching them how to use keywords.
- How to draft emails, how to add favorites
- Sometimes how to turn on a computer.
It certainly was a different time.
Fast forward 20 years and I feel once again that I am part of a new era of communication. Slack has transformed business communication.
It unites employees, teams, processes, and applications all into one place. Some of my customers refer to it as their single pane of glass—everything they need to do their best work is in a single view.
In practice, this means that a request for time off can be initiated and approved in Slack, meeting minutes and agendas posted in Slack, or incident management tickets opened and updated within Slack.
Building out a community
I am in Slack all day with barely a need to leave it to get my work done. We do everything in Slack including talking to our customers.
One thing I absolutely love and that was a surprise to me, is that culture building can and does take place in Slack.
Keeping employees engaged and happy has become even more important since the shift to remote work.
Social apps and channels have always existed but are now being used to replace water cooler discussions that we all miss so much.
My two favorite internal social channels that have spun up since shelter in place are #socialyelling and #askdanpanything In the former, typing IN ALL CAPS is a requirement and we lightheartedly “yell” about our woes of the day.
For me this sometimes means hollering about the lack of garlic on San Francisco everything bagels or about my recent epiphany that I need to wear reading glasses. We have t-shirts, a custom playlist, and so much fun.
It’s become the replacement for bumping into each other in the elevator and having that quick “what have you been up to?” conversation.
In the latter, we ask our colleague Dan Pino anything. He is the CSM whose desk we would pop over to whenever we had a really obscure question from a customer.
He knows everything and as the topic of the channel suggests, “When in doubtino ask Dan Pino”.
His help was always invaluable in person but now that responses are memorialized in Slack, his help extends beyond the walls of our San Francisco office resulting in a wider reach and impact within the Customer Success organization.
So what do I do in my role as a Customer Success Manager? I get to do all the same things I did 20 years ago at AOL but on a much larger scale.
I partner with customers to help them get the most value from our software while crafting and tailoring my approach to fit their needs.
One day I may be teaching a Sales team how to use Slack more effectively, the next day may be spent connecting end users to Slack Product Managers for feature requests, another day spent deep-diving into metrics, or all of these on the same day.
I see my role as a strategic advisor, there to help customers figure out if any gaps exist and help them be more successful.
As I get to know my customers and their different lines of business, I realize their success is my success and nothing makes me happier than to see them thrive and see their working lives become simpler, more pleasant, more productive.
We may not have disco balls, team mottos and chants, pinball machines, and barbecue pits but what we do have at Slack headquarters is a very large sign that reads, “Work Hard and Go Home”.
That’s exactly what we do. Every day is spent working hard for our customers. Sometimes it feels easy because everyone at Slack leads with empathy.
The focus on our end-users shapes how we design our product, they remain at the forefront of every decision we make.