At Trek10, the work we do might be very technical, but ultimately, our projects and our customers are only as successful as our relationships. The same goes for every initiative in your business. As a Client Success Manager at Trek10, I've learned that budding relationships are fostered through the execution of three primary characteristics, which ultimately funnel together turning a CSM into a guru at everything and an expert at nothing simultaneously. I would never claim to be a master since I fully believe it is not in my best interest to be the smartest person in the room (or Zoom). Instead, CSMs are more like the AWS Lambda message being sent all over the world just so someone can get a response from Alexa.
CSMs are known to maintain a positive outlook and composure with heightened awareness and insight into contracts and projects. Daily, I walk through the theoretical door with a leader mentality, still open to learning more about the AWS industry and the customer businesses that I am fortunate to support. Trust is built by means of the three keys: transparency, consistent communication, and empathy. By utilizing all three skills, a CSM is better able to understand the dynamics of teams, demands that are being faced, and can better manage internal and external expectations. Of course, there are several other skills that fall under each header.
Transparency places the relationship in a place of organic growth. Relationships are developed solely on a respectful partnership lending way to a more natural ebb and flow. Qualities of both leadership and student are also interchangeable terms when considering this key area. One moment a client might be providing clearer insight into the needs of their business, while at other times a consultant might be providing advice and follow-up based on their level of expertise.
Alas, transparent communication is not enough. There must be consistency in order to maintain the engagement so that no vital information is missed. Consistency is the next tier-level down if we are considering a funnel view. The landscape of any relationship is cultivated further by deepening a mutual appreciation for the individuality of each person. I personally not only care about the well-being of the teams I work with; I also hold high regard for my clients, and I want them to know how grateful I am for their partnership. Within the communication toolbox, humor and friendliness, while obvious to some, lighten the mood and keep people captivated on calls which ultimately reduces strictly transactional conversations. As trust grows, collaboration becomes more fluid.
With that said, we are not a species that functions as a machine, but rather, the core of humanity is humbling ourselves in both our similarities and intricacies. Empathy is utterly vital when managing both projects and people. We work with and alongside real people with lives both inside and outside of the work environment. Some will make great co-workers, and some might even develop into true friendships. The longevity of these relationship engagements is secured by accepting that there will be factors within and outside of your control as a CSM. Identifying what someone needs before they know it (i.e. Intuition based on experience), planning, and being quick-witted are all subcategories developed in an empathetic CSM so as to mitigate as many roadblocks as possible, while also being able to address concerns as they arise. Empathy is at the heart of a CSM. In a position where speaking with others is a huge chunk of my day, having empathy, and at minimum sympathy, cannot be avoided if someone wants to be successful.
Considering all three characteristics, a typical day for me starts with the smell of coffee pushing through the air as I lean over my cup forecasting how I can conquer the day. Already I am performing mental gymnastics, envisioning timelines and tasks. Even with a map laid out perfectly, I know at a moment's notice I may need to pivot to ensure that my teams have the resources they need, while also having a laser focus on how to achieve customer satisfaction. I personally love working with people, highlighting wins, and determining organized action plans or preventative measures in a collaborative environment so that everyone can rest their heads easily at night.
Being a CSM does require hard work, organization, time management, and many other skills, but all of these skills are fruitless if a connection is not created. Call me an optimistic realist if you will, but every person you encounter is not just a 9-5 employee of some company. We can all be viewed as passionate and talented human beings, individuals with interesting stories to share and fascinating hobbies, and if you are willing to be yourself, you might just find that you are one of the luckiest people who has an amazing opportunity to network with individuals you get to collaborate alongside.