It’s time for another installment of our blog series where we spotlight a Customer Success professional and get their take on the industry as well as get to hear some of their top tips they’d like to share.
This spotlight will be featuring, George Boyar, Head of Customer Success at Mentor Collective, who partners with higher education institutions to help students develop a deep sense of belonging, build a connection to their institution, and ultimately succeed, by leveraging peer mentorship and technology.
Q: What does your team look like at your company and how do you center around the customer?
A: At Mentor Collective, we structure our Partner Success team in pods. Each partner works directly with two team members — a Partner Success Associate, who specializes in project management, and a Partner Success Lead, who specializes in strategy/renewals. Each Associate works on a portfolio of 15-20 contracts, and each lead works with a portfolio of 45-60 contracts. We’ve found this structure to be particularly successful because no one is left on an island, and it builds redundancy in case someone moves on.
Recently, we’ve also added in a 3rd internal member to each partner. The Student Success Manager executes on customization requirements, and specializes in meeting the needs of our platform users.
To sum it up, we’ve found that the renewal/account strategy, project management/client management, and execution/user support are best filled by 3 different ‘jobs’.
Q: What’s something you wish you first new when starting out in Customer Success?
A: In my experience, Customer Success is often confused with pure operations and project management roles. Most roles that bridge Customer Success & Operations include two of the following (and I’ve never seen a successful role that can scale while bridging all three):
- Technical implementations/integrations
- Project management
- Client relations
For me, Customer Success roles end up falling within the later two (project management + client relations). When there is a significant investment in technical implementation/integrations required, I would think deeply about whether you have two entirely different jobs to fill.
Q: What’s a moment you’re proud of in your career?
A: The moment I am least proud of is the first time I tried to scale our Customer Success team from a 1-person jack-of-all-trades to a team. I failed and we had to start over. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from the experience, such as what to look for in a successful Customer Success hire, how to be an effective manager, and set clear goals.
The moment I am most proud of in my career is the point at which we successful scaled from a 1-person jack-of-all-trades team to a successful multi-person team. What has been especially exciting is realizing we have a body of experience much larger, later stage companies in the area have been excited to learn from.
Q: What’s the best thing a customer has ever said to you?
A: Early on in a relationship, a partner told me they would like to expand their mentorship program to include alumni <> upperclassmen mentorship. This would involve a sizable upsell & significant revenue for our company. I was able to outline for our partner that this was ultimately an important step for us to take in achieving their goal of providing better support for first generation college students, but we had to make sure our initial roll-out focused on new student transitions was effective first.
Two weeks later, we found out several key stakeholders weren’t fully aligned with our approach, and we had to double down on making sure we got our program launched in the for the school year.
Several months later, once we had some initial indicators of success, we were able to return to the question of alumni <> upperclassmen mentorship, and when I suggested we also include an additional cohort of students in the new pilot, our partner was very excited to take my advice, even though it ‘cost’ more. The level of trust built by my earlier decision to not push an upsell they were asking for was sufficient for me to be a trusted advisor.
Q: In your opinion, what makes your company better at Customer Success than others in the market?
A: We say “no”. Ultimately, we are the experts in what it takes to meet the goals our partners are trying to achieve with our mentorship programs. Often they ask us for two things that are in conflict. We’ve gotten very good at saying, “Well, it sounds like you want A and B. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to do both. Let me help you figure out which is most important to you and achieving your goals.”
Thanks to George for participating in our spotlight and we look forward to talking to and sharing insights from others in the Customer Success community!
Follow these links to check out tips from our previous spotlights.
- Brooke Goodbary, Customer Success Expert, dataxu
- Marcel Andrei, Customer Success and Product Marketing Manager, Paymo
Advice from Customer Success Experts: Best Practices for Year-End Planning eBook
The end of the year is a busy time for Customer Success teams. Businesses are under pressure to finish out the year strong, perform Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs), determine and refresh KPIs for the new year, finalize budget – and most importantly ensure your customers are successful going into the new year.
We decided to reach out to some industry leaders and solicit their advice for end of year planning. Download this eBook to learn best practices for closing out the year strong and getting set up for a successful new year.
Customer Success Around the Web
- Planning for 2019: Auditing Processes– Learn tips on reviewing your CS processes to make sure they are solid for the upcoming new year.
- Customer Experience is Stressful– If you are going to put the customer first, you must also put those that serve the customer first.
- How to Prevent Buyers Remorse – Learn how to prevent buyers remorse among new customers to improve customer retention and lifetime value.
Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.