CS kind of sits in the heart of it all. Like we are the ones that have to keep pumping blood through everything to keep this relationship going and make it successful.

Know your client deeply. Michelle Roberts shows us that honest conversation with customers helps develop winning strategies. 

1. On strategy coming to the forefront in the past few years:

One of the biggest things, in the last two to five years, has been that Customer Success role being much more strategic. So I came in—I mean, there's always going to be an element of, if a fire comes up, you need to put it out; you can be a little bit of an order taker. 

Ultimately, the more strategic you can get; having those larger conversations, and going high and wide within an organization so you have a lot of different touchpoints and perspectives, that's changed quite a bit.

Pushing people in this type of role and in our teams to be more strategic. To have those larger business conversations, to take yourself out of the house that you're currently in. To try to get a greater grasp of their overall business. Whether that's digital marketing, or whether you're handling their technologies. I've seen that a lot.

2. Why everyone is looking for unicorns:

It's funny... in multiple organizations I've been in, people always say "we're looking for unicorns in who we hire."

But a lot of people are looking for those unicorns... because they want someone that's pretty technical. If they need to, they can get in there, translate support tickets and get those through. But they also need to have those communication skills and be able to build relationships. So what you're looking for is generally housed in two different personality types. More analytical, technical, and also not always an extrovert. But that person that likes to talk and have conversations. To dig out from these people—what are your actual business goals. There's been a lot of trying to marry those two together. 

Sometimes I've seen it kind of split. They end up having the person that's more technical, and then you have more of an Account Director type of role; that's that strategic person that comes in and has a larger book of business... they help with those conversations. There's a number of ways here. You're really trying to find those special people that can do it all. Or you're starting to split-off and figure out what makes people happy. Do they love digging into the data and figuring things out? Do they like having those conversations? And then creating appropriate roles for them. Kind of having these pod structure type teams.

3. Success is a game of matching communication to personalities:

Yeah, there's a lot around that idea of strategic play. Having the right conversations. How to be able to talk to executives and figure out the different personality types and personas. 

When you're in this space long enough, you start to see different shapes mould. And how you should interact with those people. There's the folks that you always have to give homework because they need to feel involved. They need to have their takeaways. There's the folks that just want you to tell them what they're doing; here's the results and move on to the next. 

It's one of my favourite parts because I like people. I always say that some of my best training was waitressing through college because I quickly learned the types of people you should joke with, and the people that just want you to deliver their food and shut up. And you're working for tips. You want to figure out who these people are so you can make the most money while you're paying for college. So there's a lot around that. That's probably one of my favourite parts.

Thanks Michelle for taking the time to share your industry wisdom with us!

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