We caught up with Rick Adams to discuss his new book, Practical Customer Success Management. Described as 'a complete "handbook for CSMs"' the book is aimed at increasing both productivity and consistency of quality of output for customer success managers of all levels, from relative newcomers through to seasoned professionals.
Read on for our exclusive interview, download your free chapter and take a look at his video below!
What inspired you to write this book?
Whilst some of the core principles and fundamental concepts of customer success management have been around for quite a while, Customer Success as its own profession is still relatively new. There isn’t the same library of literature and reference information for CSMs that there would be for someone in other professions such as sales, or accountancy or marketing for instance. There are some good books out there on the theory and concepts of customer success and the need for businesses to develop a CS strategy, but there’s very little that’s been published that actually helps the customer success manager from a practical perspective. I wanted to write a book that filled this gap, and I believe and hope that I have managed to achieve this aspiration.
What audience did you have in mind whilst writing your book?
What I’ve tried to do with Practical Customer Success Management is create a step-by-step guide book for customer success best practices that would be useful to pretty much all CSMs, whatever industry they are in and of whatever level of experience and seniority, from complete starters through to senior leaders. It’s intended both as a reference manual for best practice that more experienced CSMs can use to look up the right tools and techniques to apply for specific situations that they find themselves in, and as a complete end-to-end guide to what to do and how to do it for more junior or less experienced customer success managers who want a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of customer success management from start to finish.
What makes your book stand out from its competitors?
As previously mentioned, my book is designed both to be read from beginning to end for those who are looking for a comprehensive understanding of the entire customer success role, or can be used more as a reference manual by more experienced CSMs who want specific advice and guidance to help them in particular customer facing situations. It is also a training manual, and indeed is the training manual that my own company provides to students who attend both the online self study and the classroom based versions of our Certified CSM Professional training and certification program.
The book also comes with over twenty “tools” in the form of downloadable Excel, Word and PowerPoint files that simplify some of the common tasks that CSMs will come across by providing templates, questionnaires, checklists and so on. These are all free to use, and can be downloaded at any time from the PracticalCSM.com website, and can also be customized and amended by individual CSMs to suite their own specific needs.
What is your background?
I am a consultant, coach and trainer in the technology industry, with a focus on business outcome and solution selling techniques, and on the post sales delivery of outcomes through customer success management best practices. I have written and delivered multiple sales and customer success training courses, programs and exams including several such programs for Cisco Systems, and I have trained many hundreds if not thousands of technology professionals in over 30 countries over the past 25 years. I have previously owned my own SaaS company, and I am now the owner of PracticalCSM.com, which is a business aimed specifically at helping both individual customer success managers and customer success teams to develop and implement well defined customer success strategy, and to learn and apply customer success best practices to improve productivity, quality and consistency of delivery of outcomes to the CSM’s customers.
What is innovative about your approach?
Before I wrote the book itself I first of all sat down and thought for a very long time about what it is that customer success managers actually do, and eventually I refined my thoughts into a best practice framework for customer success managers, which is called the Practical CSM Framework. This framework contains seven phases, each of which relates to a major step within the overall process of helping a customer to attain their desired or required outcomes from the products and services they have purchased, and also in the ongoing refinement and improvement of the CSM’s and their team’s own CS practice. I was then able to write a book that had a laser-like focus on understanding what it is that CSMs need to do, in what order these things should be tackled, and how to go about completing those tasks in a way that increases productivity whilst at the same time ensuring consistency in the quality of the help that CSM can provide to their customers.
Do you have plans for future books?
Yes. One of the key concepts that ties together everything that a modern business does is the concept of outcomes. I plan to write a book that is tentatively titled Outcomes! Outcomes! Outcomes! The core idea behind the book is that for a modern business to survive and grow, it needs to have a profound understanding of and strategy for attaining three categories of outcomes, namely outcomes for the business’s employees, outcomes for its customers and outcomes for itself. Only by helping employees attain their outcomes will a business be able to attract and retain the best quality talent that it will need in order to provide the best possible products, services and experiences to its customers. Likewise, only by ensuring that customers attain their outcome requirements will a business manage to keep hold of its existing customers and attract new ones. Finally, only by having a strong vision for its own future will that company be able to develop meaningful goals and strategies for attaining those goals that will ensure their vision is ultimately met.
What do you feel has been a highlight for you, in your career?
One thing that immediately springs to mind is the immense enjoyment and personal as well as professional benefits I have received from the opportunity to travel to over 30 different countries across all continents except Antarctica to deliver my consultancy, coaching and training services. The people I have met and the conversations I have had have benefitted me enormously in terms of increasing both the breadth and depth of my knowledge and understanding that would I think be impossible to acquire as one individual working on their own. From a personal standpoint, being able to see so many different places and get to experience perhaps at least a little of so many different cultures and ways of life has also been a fascinating and humbling journey for me.
Anything else you would like to add?
Readers who enjoy the book might also be interested to know about the Certified CSM Professional training and certification program that my company offers, that uses Practical Customer Success Management as its training manual. This training program can be completed online as a self-study course or can be delivered in a classroom training format for CS teams. More information about this and everything else I do can be found at http://practicalcsm.com.
Practical Customer Success Management is a complete "handbook for CSMs", written by a customer success expert who has coached and trained many hundreds of customer success managers across the globe. The book is aimed at increasing both productivity and consistency of quality of output for customer…
Hardback – 2019-06-24
Rick Adams is an independent author, trainer and consultant, specializing in helping companies of all types and sizes deliver measurable business value for their customers. Adams has over 25 years’ experience of helping companies to realize business success, including owning his own startup software-as-a-service business which he sold in 2012 to focus on writing, training and consulting.
Take a look at Rick's website!
"Practical Customer Success Management is a must read playbook for all business leaders and customer success-focused professionals. It imparts a solid grounding in what customer success is and why it is so important, whilst highlighting key challenges and how to respond to them. In addition it provides a detailed practical framework that explains both what to do and how to do it at every stage of the customer success engagement." - Jason Noble Global Customer Success and SaaS Leader
Find out more here!