Today’s Tech Role Model is Alyssa Edelman. Today, she’s a Customer Success Manager at Greenhouse, a SAAS organization that helps companies manage their recruiting processes. Throughout her career, Alyssa’s thrived in roles that let her help others and build relationships. Alyssa draws on her psychology background and her years of experience in customer service.
What’s your official title and how long have you been in this role?
I’m a Customer Success Team Manager who oversees two great teams within our larger Customer Success department. For the past three years, I’ve been at Greenhouse and I’ve been in a leadership position for a little over a year and a half.
What attracted you to this customer success manager role?
As Greenhouse continued to sign more customers, having different workflows for companies of different sizes became important to help us scale our operations. Focusing on small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) meant that I’d help build a team to execute on our first one-to-many account management strategy. I was eager to take on this challenge, as I knew SMB was only going to get bigger over time, and I’d get to lay the foundation for that growth.
Since then, Greenhouse has added more products to our offering, and I’ve been fortunate enough to become responsible for our Greenhouse Onboarding (GHO) customer success team, too. I was excited to apply everything I’d learned by helping build our SMB team to help make our GHO processes more mature.
Walk me through a typical day in your customer success manager role. What activities do you engage in? What types of meetings do you join? When’s lunch?
Every day looks a little different, but it’s generally a mix of coaching, working on projects, connecting with customers, and iterating on processes. I find myself away from my desk more often than I’m at it, but I do my best to make myself as available as possible to those around me.
What skills/technologies help you to succeed?
I know this is a gimme, but Greenhouse! Building a high-performing team starts with a great recruiting process, and I feel lucky that we’ve been able to use our own software to hire such a passionate, motivated group of people to work with our SMB and GHO customers.
Secondly, having a single source of truth for customer data is critical to our success. We use Totango to keep track of interactions, stay ahead of red flags, send campaigns, and monitor product usage.
Lastly, part of my team is in San Francisco, so Slack and Zoom have helped us bridge the location gap and helped us feel present without being physically present.
What’s the most fun or creative part of your customer success manager role?
I love seeing a big project or initiative come together. For example, we recently hired a second Customer Success Manager to support our SMB customers. We tasked her with creating a process for proactive outreach to fast-growing companies. Our hypothesis was that their needs have changed over time, but they might not know how to get the most value possible out of the system.
The new CSM and I collaborated to define the segment, create templates, write a playbook, and execute on the vision. Now it’s an important part of our overall processes, and we’re continuing to build on it as time goes on.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this role?
Time management is a huge one. There’s a delicate balance between working on projects and process and being an available and supportive people manager. I’m sure I don’t get it right 100% of the time, but I do my best to course-correct when I see myself leaning too far in one direction.
What teams/individuals do you work with cross-functionally? Can you give an example of a time when you collaborated with another group/individual?
The cross-functional teams I usually collaborate with are Customer Support, Sales Operations, the SMB Sales team, and our Data team.
Most recently, I collaborated with our Sales Ops team. We operationalized a system for round-robining new customers to an Implementation Strategist (who customers will work with to get their Greenhouse account up and running). Before we had this system in place, I made assignments manually. While this worked for a while, it was clear that we needed a more scalable alternative. In extreme cases, it was a few hours before I could make time to assign an account.
To make this process more effective, I envisioned an auto-assignment system. Our Sales Ops team was able to quickly bring that vision come to life. So far, we’ve received a positive reception from both my team and our Sales team, so I’d say it was a success!
What’s an area where you’re trying to grow in your customer success manager role?
Right now, I’m trying to learn from leaders around me to think more big-picture about my teams’ processes. What works for us now may work for the next 6 months, but what about the next year? Or five years? How can we set ourselves up for success now by building the best foundation possible?
In your role, what metrics define success?
I bucket metrics into three categories: company goals, people goals, and personal goals. Some examples of those in my role are:
- Company – SMB and GHO customer renewals, expansion revenue, and NPS scores
- People – a happy team with high engagement rates (our People team administers a twice-yearly engagement survey to measure this)
- Personal – building upon existing skills, and working toward new ones
What skills (tech/non-tech) have you improved as a result of working in this customer success manager role?
This was my first management position for a large team, so I’ve learned a lot in that realm as we’ve continued to scale.
One that surprised me was my writing skill. As part of our SMB services, we send pre-written emails about best practices to customers about once a month. We recently revamped our content for about two years’ worth of emails, which was an exercise in clarity and brevity. Writing a thorough, detailed email to a specific customer about a specific scenario is a very different beast than writing an attention-grabbing campaign that’s being sent to thousands of people.
Aside from technical skills, what personality traits/characteristics make for an ideal candidate in your role?
Three work-related philosophies have always resonated with me: work hard and be kind, work smarter not harder, and help other people do great work. I’ve used those as a guiding light when working toward my and my teams’ goals. I think they’ve helped me be as effective as I can in my role.
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