How to Progress Your Customer Success CareerSep 15, 2021
In one of the earlier episodes of the podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Georgia Harrison, an absolute star and an expert in internal promotions and a career progression in customer success. Georgia started her customer success career at Braze, a customer engagement platform, as a Customer Success Manager in 2016 and has since been promoted almost every year—including this past year! At the time of our recording, she served as the Director of Customer Success EMEA at Braze. She’s now a Senior Director of Customer Success EMEA. I can’t think of a better success story about internal promotions and career progression than that!
On the podcast, we talked about some of Georgia’s practical strategies for career development and progression. Georgia even shares her tips for landing a job on the spot (which she has successfully done!) and how her passion for technology was able to open doors to the Customer Success world. One of the biggest takeaways from my conversation with Georgia was that, to stand out as a leader, you need to get to know your company’s product or services and be prepared to handle a lot of situations. Georgia shares her tips for how to stand out as a leader, quickly progress your career, and even how to land a job on the spot!
How to progress your career in Customer Success
In customer success, a classic career path is to start as a customer success manager and progress frequently within one organization. Excelling at career development like this is not always easy, but Georgia has been extremely successful in this path during her time at Braze. One factor that might have contributed to her quick career progression was the size and state of the company at the time she joined. At her time of joining, Braze was a small company but it has since seen tremendous growth. Being a growth-stage company created a lot of opportunities for Georgia to also grow along the way.
But for those who may wish to join a more established organization, Georgia has advice for you too! At any company, a key to excelling in customer success is becoming a product expert. While knowing how the product works is not usually necessary for the customer success role, having sound knowledge about the product can provide you with the confidence and know-how to do the job well and be prepared to answer any question.
Once you have a strong knowledge of how your product works, you can start having more meaningful conversations with your customers. You can begin to better empathize with the customer, give them advice for how they’re using the product, answer their questions about certain features, and even ask for feedback about what they would improve about the product. Having these types of conversations can help you provide excellent customer success results, but then you can also take inspiration and ideas from these conversations and bring them back to your organization. Contributing to these ideas will increase your visibility in the company and showcase your abilities to act as a leader.
‘Be a product expert, first and foremost. Then, work on your client lists so that they’re in a place where you can start to ask your clients for feedback on what you are doing as an organization and start providing feedback internally. I think that’s a good signal that you’re ready to have a more prominent role.’
How to land a job on the spot
Find something that you are extremely passionate about and let your passion really shine through in your interview and in any communications you have with the hiring manager or whoever you’re speaking with at the company. Now, this tip might not work for everyone every time, but it definitely worked for Georgia!
After attending a speaker event at a marketing conference, Georgia found herself completely impressed and inspired by a speaker who talked about an awesome new technology in marketing. She couldn’t stop thinking about how great the technology was, so she found the CEO’s email address and sent him a message explaining how passionate she felt about his company’s technology and that she’d be interested in coming to work for them.
Clearly, her passionate energy shone through her email as the CEO invited her to interview with him the very next day. As you might imagine, landing an interview the very next day was thrilling but also a little terrifying. To Georgia’s dismay, she originally ended up at the wrong address, so she had to rush to make it on time, her nerves were a bit frayed, and she was not able to prepare extensively beforehand. You’d think things might have gone poorly, but no! Despite the setbacks, Georgia remained confident in her passion for the technology and what she had to offer—and that was what mattered for landing the job.
‘The CEO started the company so he was obviously very passionate about his technology, so when I displayed that similar kind of passion for it, that went a really long way in his eyes.’