Trusted Advisors for or to customers

A Customer Success consultant recently wrote that it’s a common belief that Customer Success Managers should be trusted advisors to customers.

However, CSMs should be trusted advisors for customers.

Else we conflate Customer Success with Account Management, or even Customer Service. This is not uncommon in organizations.

The first idea—being advisors to customers—is common in our industry today. Being an advisor to a customer is, in effect, helping them to understand us (and our products and services).

This inevitably creates a culture that results in shoehorning customers into our company’s “solutions” for them.

Cinderella - The shoe does not fit!
Customers will fit our offerings—no matter what!

Assuming we believe profitability to be a good thing, the challenge is to instead shoehorn our company’s teams into the customer’s needs.

This is difficult. Some teams are powerful and can rule the roost: marketing, development, sales operations, and product management.

If we try to get the customer to fit our product and services, then Customer Success devolves into a shadow puppet of old-school customer service departments: afterthoughts, understaffed in basements, and issuing apologies all day.

Related Recommendation: If you’ve never read The Trusted Advisor (2001) by David Maister, please put this on your reading list today.