Building Internal Relationships w/ CSM Office Hours

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, Building Internal Relationships w/ CSM Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CSM Office Hours</p><p>Every Tuesday. 11:30am ET.</p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Making Sure Your New CSM's are Building Relationships
01:28 MIN
Building Relationships Internally
00:27 MIN
Scheduling Intentional Time to Meet People
01:24 MIN
Fun Ways to Spark Internal Connections
00:49 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Jeremy: We wanted to jump into the discussion around how to build internal relationships. I hope that everybody in the group learned something new and some challenges. I actually wanted to kick it over to one of my group mates, Andrew, to kick us off here to provide just a quick summary of what we talked about. Because I think this is important, whether you're brand new to onboarding a new CSM, or potentially a leader around just thinking about that. So Andrew, if you want to give maybe a quick recap of the-

Andrew: Yeah.

Jeremy: ...conversation. And then we can open it up to the group.

Andrew: Yeah, no. Hi, everyone. We definitely covered a couple topics. The one thing we kind of touched was a little bit of sales relationships and just kind of how to better set some of those things up with maybe playbooks. But the primary discussion we really got into was setting up and then building those internal relationships around onboarding new employees, especially for the customer success team. And to both myself and one other individual in our group, Nikita, they are both getting... We're both getting two new employees. And so we kind of covered having the importance of a team lead depending on how big your team is. And it really can be important that if your manager is spread a little bit thin, or somebody needs to be ramped up, especially if you have a lot of information that the new individual needs to cover, that can be really key. One of the other big ideas that we had beyond that was just making sure that they are introduced to some of the different team members that are kind of relevant to some of the different departments, whether that be occasional meetings here and there. Or summarizing some of the different information that needs to be funneled down to them. But just creating those lines of visibility so that they do know who to reach out to when they need a specific ask, or they need to follow up on something. But I think that pretty much covers it. I'm happy to hear or listen for any other ideas that people have as they maybe bring some of those new employees on, and just kind of scaling them. Especially maybe for some of the companies that are getting a little bit bigger in our examples, at least for myself and Nikita.

Jeremy: Yeah. So Josh, if I may call on you, because I know that you have led teams of CSMs. How do you make sure that a new CSM, whether they are experienced or not, gets engaged quickly, not only within your department, but within the larger organization, and help them? How do you help them build relationships quickly with product, with marketing, with sales, so that knowledge gap shrinks quickly?

Josh: Yeah. In fact, that's a really good question. And thank you for calling on me. There's actually a couple of things that I do, especially as we all face remote teams, et cetera. And I think we all agree that this is somewhat of the future the way that we have things now. First is, and this sounds a little bit auxiliary, but it's actually a bit fundamental, is the first person to enter the team has... Or the most recent person to enter the team has the responsibility of improving the documentation of our internal documentation. And the reason that I do this is that first, there are a great set of new eyes. So they have no biases, they have no preconceived notion. And they can go and make it better for the next person. And in doing that, what I'm also doing is preparing them to say," Wait a minute, something doesn't make sense. I need to go and figure this out as far as what one should do." So just by having that job role, they need to start asking questions to different people around the customer success organization and around the company. Because customer success is kind of a plexus of an organization, right? We touch on so many different things. So by doing that, they start to go and interact in an inquisitive way, which so many people are willing and open to help. And that's one way we get them involved in the company. The next thing is as we're talking with the group, is that sometimes we say," Hey, go and create friendly conversations," what I sometimes call water cooler discussions, where you just take 30 minutes on a walk or whatever it is, and just have a friendly conversation with a person. Go and get to know... You can talk shop. But I generally discourage it, right? It's setting a time aside to go and create the personal relationships with different people. And doing it on one- on- one depending on how extroverted or introverted the person may be. It creates a little bit more comfortable avenue inaudible.

Jeremy: COVID has certainly created some challenges around that, that second one of that one- on- one conversation. But I like the intentionality of making sure that if there's somebody that's going to be very influential in the success of your customers and your role, making sure that you dedicate time to really share just about life in general. We're all humans, we're all people. We ask this the same life questions of our customers. Why not ask those of the internal folks that we are going to be working with day in and day out? Team, going off of what Josh had said there, does anybody have any questions that they specifically, when trying to connect with somebody new internally, are there any specific questions that really work well in helping build that trust and that relationship quickly? Ashna, thanks for joining. I know that you've just recently transitioned into a leadership role. With that transition, how have you used your new position to help you and your teams build relationships quickly? And what are the types of things that you're asking new folks internally?

Ashna: Yeah. Yeah, no, no, that's a great question. I think the most important thing for me was, and still it is, I feel like I'm three months in and I'm still new to this position. And somewhat, I guess, was setting expectations and knowing whether it's setting expectations with the team about what are their expectations of me, if that's my team. Or now I'm working closely with the leadership team and executive team, so their expectations of me too. So what I did... And again, this could be a little bit maybe off topic. But no, but I think what I did is I took time in the beginning to schedule whether it's sessions or have a one- on- one, or whatever that is, with the team and executive to just to learn about," Okay, this is what I'm going to be doing. What are your expectations." And if it's my team," How can I help you?" So I transferred from an individual contributor to a leadership position. So what I did is," Hey, let's get to know each other better," with my team. And that was just merely," Hey, what do you like outside of work? Or what do you do?" Just that friendly conversation, as Josh mentioned. And also," Hey, what are your..." I don't want to call it limitations. But," What are the things that you want to learn this year? And how can I help you?" Because I'm working with my team. And then on the other side, having that conversation with the executive or my director, or whatnot," Hey, these are the things that I'm aiming for. These are the goals that I have, and this is where I need your help." So I think what it really comes down to is setting those expectations. And whether I feel like it's with a customer or internally, it really comes down to... We have this term that we really always use in our internal, it's like," Who's got the monkey?" What it means is that... I know, I'm seeing a lot of like a smile on the face. But if you're taking responsibility of something, whether it's an account or a call, or something, you've got the... So you're responsible for this. So what it means is, when you're setting expectations. Also set," You're handling this, so I'm going to call you out for this. I'm going to hold you accountable for this." So these are... I'm talking a little bit high level terms here. But these are the different things that really helps whether you're working with the external customers, or internally is that," This is your part. This is my part. And I'm going to hold you accountable for this when the time comes. And I'm also going to hold myself accountable when that's needed." I don't know if that really answered your questions for me, but-

Jeremy: I don't know that there's a right or wrong answer necessarily. I do really like that you called out learning what the other party is trying to accomplish. I think that was a critical thing that stuck out to me is, so often thinking about performance reviews. And I think most of us on this call have had a performance review at one point in time. And that's usually peer to manager or leader to leader type of a discussion. Or it's around goals and performance with a customer, and having that conversation. But admittedly, I don't ask questions of my internal counterparts as to," Hey, what is your goal? What are you trying to learn? How do you want to engage?" Right? I made no bits and pieces about them personally. But if I know... To your point, Ashna, if I know what is going to generate success for them, then I can make sure that I'm steering conversations towards their success. Because ultimately that'll come back, that'll be a blessing, a favor that I can cash in on later. Not that I want to have that mentality. But you're laying the bricks now so that you have a path to follow later on. So I really liked that. David, I saw your hand up first. I'll turn things over to you.

David: Yeah, sure. Thank you. I was the same group with Ashna, and I completely threw us off, because I was thinking more about the customer relationships. So I apologies for that. But we had a good conversation. It was just kind of a little bit of internal and external. But talking about the internal side, and I guess around the expectations. One thing that we started doing on my team is actually doing our own version of office hours once a week. And so we've been doing that since September, I guess. And so it's a similar type of format to this. And I think that what we're doing is just focusing in on topics that my team comes up with in terms of what they want to understand. So a lot of it circles around kind of language. So when I say, or when I talk about something like a playbook around renewal, in my mind I know what I'm thinking. But really is that the same thing that somebody else is thinking? And so we have these office hours to really focus in on certain skills and certain strategies, and certain questions or challenges that we have. And honestly, the conversation that comes out of it is amazing. Because sometimes you just realize that you might be using the same words and the same language, but it means different things to different people. So by being able to have those conversations has helped us in terms of alignment, that we're all identifying the same challenges and same goals that we're working on, and how we're approaching that. And then we make sure we record every session. So I know that that happens here too, and it allows new team members, or even anybody that missed something, to be able to go back and watch those. And I think they help a lot just in terms of, like I said, adding perspective. And we all have our own paradigms of how we see things. So I think it just gets us all on the same page. So I think it's been extremely helpful.

Jeremy: Who do you invite internally to be a part of that office hours? So what's the target audience for that?

David: Yeah, that's a good question. So basically anybody that is customer facing, and not... After sales. So we've got tech services and support, and CSMs. And so they're all the ones that would basically be working with the customers once we close the deal now. We open all the videos and everything up to the larger organization. So if people have questions or want to add a topic or say, maybe they're seeing things in a different way from sales. By all means we want to encourage them to bring up topics that we can talk about. But it's meant for the customer facing team. At least at this point.

Jeremy: Well, very good. I appreciate you sharing that. I like that idea of being able to get... Having consistency of an alignment. I'm thinking about, Abby and I, we were talking in our group about, she's got a smaller company. So everybody's kind of in on everything, versus working with. And I think some of us... I would consider we're on a smaller side. But we're still a several 100 employees here. But being able to share what you're trying to do, and being able to have that cross collaborative conversation. So it almost seems like to me as if you don't... That's something that would be beneficial habits about finding who can be your internal champion to really bring those people to the table, so that you can continue to be in alignment. So, yeah. Again, thanks, David.

David: It's only nine of us in that group. Or 10 of us, I guess. It's not like it's a huge group. But we encourage anybody from that group to bring up topics to present. I mean, it's all about collaboration. So it doesn't have to be a big group.

Jeremy: Awesome. No, that's great feedback. And Ben, I like your comment there too, right? Office hours gives a little bit more of an optional type vibe versus," You got to be here. If you miss it... Be here or else," kind of a thing. So that's a great call- out. Susan, what about you? What do you want to add?

Susan: So one topic that came up in our group was the challenge of now everyone being virtual. And you kind of miss out on the cafeteria conversation and the water cooler conversation. And so it's really kind of hard, especially if you're new, to build some internal relationships. Just kind of going off of what Josh was saying about really scheduling some intentional time to meet people. Yes, it can be time consuming. I think it's important to build kind of an initial relationship with someone before you then have to go to them with an ask or a challenge. And one question that I like to ask when meeting people in other departments or other teams is," What can I do in my role to help you in your role, and to achieve your goals?" Because sometimes I think that we get very caught up in," This is what I need. And this is what I need to help my customer. And this is the knowledge that I need to have," that we forget the impact that it might have on another team or another counterpart. So I always try to get an understanding of what they do and what I can do to kind of help them, and make their life a little bit easier. It makes it easier later on when you need something from them as well.

Jeremy: No, that's... Yeah. I think your last comment there, right? It's about extending the hand, so to speak, that they may not need help. But making sure that they always know that it's there. And being able to build that crosstalk say," I'm willing to go beyond just what my job description says that I'm supposed to do, because I'm a decent and good human being to make sure that you feel valued." I think there's some famous psychologist that was talking about, everybody's favorite topic is themselves. So if you want to get to know somebody, just ask them about them. Your chances are pretty high that they're going to share something that you can reference later on. So that's great. Thanks, Susan. Anne, I think, yeah, you had a crosstalk-

Anne: Yeah. Yeah, I had another idea that I forgot to share in the group that I wanted to bring on board. So I work for WellRight. We're a technology company that develops wellness programs to incentivize healthy behaviors for clients. And one of the things WellRight did, which has really gone over super well is, they have something called Personal Pages. And we're only about 70 people, so again, depending on how large your organization. But what it is, it's just a... It's on the Drive. It's a PowerPoint on the Drive, a slides deck on the Drive. And you have as part of your onboarding, one of the things you're asked to do is to fill out your Personal Page. So it's essentially a page that you just drag and drop photos of yourself, interests about you, something personal. And it lives on the Drive. And then when we have our all- hands, which is about once a month, then they highlight new employees. And what's really great about it is I did that with also a lot of meet and greets when I first joined as inaudible leadership and other members of my team, is that you get on and I'll learn that Jeremy is a dad, and Jeremy lives here, and so on, and so. Dave is in Canada. And you learn about all the personal things. And it sparks so many conversations which can lead to... I also did a bunch of 15 minute water cooler chats, where I looked at the org chart. And I said," Who don't I know?" I'm like," I didn't really know a lot of the iOS engineers. I don't know some of the UX people." So I set up 15 minute water cooler chats. And before I did it, I went on that Personal Page. So that was really helpful. And people find a connection," Oh, you're Italian. Or," Oh, you love hats." Or," You code," or whatever it is. It's a great personal way of bonding. And because we're a wellness platform company, we also incentivize employees. You get points for filling that out. So it was a wonderful way to accelerate those new relationships.

Jeremy: I really like that idea. So I work on kind of the opposite end. And I see Josh is still on here. So he knows what I'm about to say. But I work in the cyber security industry. And it just about... Even if you don't know anything about it, nobody likes sharing anything personal about themselves. Right? Because everybody's afraid that that information can and will be used against you later on. So people are very... I almost call it secretive. So the challenge that I have is getting people to open up about even the smallest details like how many kids do they have, are their kids in school? crosstalk.

Anne: And inaudible, I see where you're coming from. And maybe this is something, because we're a smaller organization. But I came from a huge organization with a smaller division. So it felt like a smaller team. But what I like about this is you control what you share.

Jeremy: Yeah. I appreciate that. Carl, saw you kind of raising your virtual hand crosstalk-

Carl: Yeah.

Jeremy: ...I'll come back to you. Do you want to add something here?

Carl: Yeah. Thanks. Sorry. I don't seem to have the raise hand feature on my version of Zoom here. I've just got the emoticons. But yeah, I just want to add onto what Anne was saying. We had that at my last company, at Cloudera, earlier on when we were much smaller. Which is great for that size of a group. And what I've found, once we witnessed Slack, and this kind of dovetails into our group discussion about Slack versus Teams. That's a little off topic. But what I've found was just creating kind of a more personal non work- related Slack groups. And people will see those and kind of publicize in them internally. It's a great way for people from all over the company in different departments to kind of bond together over something that they have in common that's not quite work- related. But that can get you kind of in to meet those people, and get more comfortable to talk with them as well. Some of them were just more hobby based. But some of them were... I know one that I kind of came up with, and this is kind of really kind of surrealist sense. But there was a question that me and some friends at work would always talk about. And it's the fact that you could... If you really thought about it, you could classify any food item into either a soup or a salad, then know what it was. But any kind of classification. For example like steak, you could chop it up would be steak salad. If you liquefy the steak enough, you could qualify that as a soup. But we would just go on all these discussions about all these different food products that you never might think would be either a soup or a salad. But just by thinking about exponentially and getting it from a group setting, you'd come to consensus what it was. So just kind of an offbeat topic. But just things like that that were kind of off work, but not overly personal. So you weren't sharing a lot of personal information.

Jeremy: I really like that. You've prompted me to go look in my own organization and Slack channel just to see what random groups there are. Then I found like one, I'm not a big cook. But there's a whole Slack channel on cooking and sharing recipes.

Carl: crosstalk.

Jeremy: Last year, probably about the summer time we did a whole company- wide trivia competition. And you had to be teamed up with at least three other people. And all three of those people could not be on your team. So it gave you a really great opportunity to be able to get to know other people from engineering and support, that sort of thing. So I think going back to what Ben said earlier in the chat, right? Creating it so that it's available and that it's active, but not required of people. Leaving kind of the door open for that type of a conversation is certainly there. Ashna, I'll pass it back over to you. I see your hand raised. And then got I've a couple more minutes and then we'll wrap up here.

Ashna: Okay. Sounds good. Yeah. I think I've had a couple of things just quickly I'm going to add here. And one piggybacking what you, Jeremy and Carl just said about the Slack channel. That just reminded me, I mean, obviously we have water cooler. And we do this Fun Fact Friday kind of a thing every Friday our marketing person just writes a fun fact question and everybody answers. I think it's just another way of getting to know. But the other thing that we recently started is, we created this whole Slack channel about office mates. So everybody just shares about their pets and the people that they have. And I mean, over the past whole year we went virtual. And I mean, we haven't seen a lot of people that were hired in this whole year. And I think we have no idea about them. And I think it's hard when you're virtual to just kickstart a conversation. But I think when you're sharing about," Oh, here's my cat, and here's my dog," or something like that. I think that really, it kickstarted a lot of conversations internally, and sort of built... It was a first step into building those relationships. So that was one thing that I wanted to mention. But the other thing, which is kind of slightly different that I really want to point out is, I think what I also find is sometimes asking questions, you may not get the answers that you need. So sometimes you also need to keep, what I always say, it's like your unconscious mind also kind of open. And what that means is make a note of little things that are happening, whether you're on a group call or just a one- on- one. And because those are also the things that you can come back with, and give them feedback and whatnot. Because that's also be a part of relationship building. Maybe you find somebody who's really good about certain topics in a conversation. I think you can pick those up. So I think... Yeah. So just a couple of notes right there.

Jeremy: Yeah. I like that. Being able to earmark," Hey, I know that in his room is a fitness guru. And next time I have a chance to engage or I hear about somebody who's asking about that, being able to..." Even if it's not for yourself, being able to..." I'm going to connect Abby," you're the first person I saw on my screen."I'm going to connect Abby with Anne, because I have a relationship with Anne. I know what she does. And I know Abby may be interested in a similar topic." So I really like that idea. I mean, we do the same thing with our customers, right? We've got use cases that are similar. We're going to try to pair them together and try to make that connection if the customers want to do that. So I can see that working well internally. So I'm going to open the floor up for the last about 60 seconds here. And then I'll get a couple of parting comments. And then we will wrap here. So anything else? I'm looking at Kevin or Heather, either of you want to add anything to the discussion?

Heather: No, thank you, Jeremy. It's been great to listen in. But I don't think I have something to chime in, given that we have not much time left. But thank you very much.

Jeremy: All right. I'll rain- check. I'm going to rain- check for the next discussion, Heather, how about that?

Heather: Yeah. That sounds good. I tend to babble, so I don't want to take the floor too much.

Jeremy: Thank you.

Kevin: Yeah. Definitely make me the a focal point next meeting if you have to. But definitely I don't have anything else to contribute today.

Jeremy: Awesome. Well, Kevin, I will certainly be asking you how you use your office background to build relationships for our next call. So a big office fan myself. So team, here as you know, in typical fashion, I know Jeff wants to get us out of here on time. So I really appreciate the discussion. We're working on... I'm working with the other leaders here, the other board members on trying to get out of a schedule a little bit farther in advance, and the day before. So that should be coming soon. And if you all have any topics that you want to see discussed here, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Or if you ever want to take my place so my kids aren't screaming on the call, you're welcome to come and join. And we can get you trained as a facilitator. But until next week, good to see you all. And hopefully see some of you on Thursday for the CS Leadership Hours. Y'all take care.

Speaker 2: Hey, guys. Thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues, and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


A weekly segment:

CSM Office Hours

Every Tuesday. 11:30am ET.


If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:

This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

Jay Nathan:

Jeff Breunsbach: