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Lauren Locke-Paddon has as good of a feel for customer success as anyone you’ll find.

In fact, she’s been in the industry since 2010 – AKA the “early days,” she recently told UpdateAI’s Josh Schachter, when CS Managers weren’t even called CS Managers. “Customer Advocate” was the go-to term at the time. 

A lot has changed since then. The term customer advocate has been dropped, for one thing. And Lauren Locke-Paddon has since become the vice president of customer success at Vocal Video, a Bay Area-based video marketing platform that lets you easily capture video testimonials. 

During that time, she’s learned a lot about what to do and what not to do if you want to be successful in a CS role. Check out some of her CS insights below (and you can check out the full video interview on LinkedIn by clicking here.) 

Ditch the Aimless “Check In” Email

Here’s a great rule for any CS professional: avoid sending meaningless “check in” emails like the plague.

As Lauren said, “people are too busy for checking in.” 

Does that mean you should stop emailing your customers to see how they’re doing or what you can help them with altogether? No, of course not. But it means when you do engage your customers, you should have a measured game plan in place. Don’t wing it. 

Lauren told Josh there’s pretty much “no time you should write an email with a check in that doesn’t have any kind of other goal or offer.” She also shared a few pointers on how you can avoid sending aimless check in emails. 

1. Check your notes 

Whenever she goes to send an email to a customer, Lauren said she refers back to the notes she’s taken on their previous calls. “Do your homework,” as Lauren said. That allows you to focus on a key topic or two. If you previously talked about a hurdle they were dealing with, have your email emphasize how you will help get them from Point A to Point B. 

2. Offer something useful 

As Lauren said a minute ago, ideally you’ll have a new product or feature that can serve as the foundation for your email. For example, Vocal Video recently launched a new feature allowing users to create galleries and carousels of their videos; Lauren has since been promoting the new feature to her customers when she reaches out. You can also mention existing features that your client hasn’t been using but may be useful to their business. 

3. Be responsive 

This step actually helps cut down on the amount of check in emails you need to send to begin with. One reason Lauren has been successful in her CS career, she said, is that she’s been quick to respond to customer emails when they reach out to her, often within minutes. That lets her customers know she is aware of their concerns and working towards a solution – and helps build a strong long-term relationship, too. 

Bridging the Gap 

As a CS professional you are the bridge between your customers and the rest of your company. 

That means it’s important for you to not only understand your customers’ “friction points,” Lauren said, but how to concisely relay those friction points to the right team at your company and find a plan of attack. This will require that you really “dig in deeper” to the problems the customer is facing, see it from their perspective, before pivoting back and finding a solution that works for them and your company. 

Bridging that gap also means sharing recurring trends and feedback with the correct team internally. If multiple customers say they could use a certain feature on your company’s software, or an existing feature has been glitch-prone, that needs to be shared with your product team; that feedback can often help improve your company’s product. 

Of course, not all recommendations are going to be winners. And you’ll often have the occasional one-off recommendation – one customer may really want a purple button in the middle of your software, seemingly out of nowhere. Lauren also said it’s important to manage expectations and make sure customers aren’t expecting something from your product that can’t be delivered. 

Ultimately, just keep your eye out for patterns and recurring themes – and be sure to share them back with your company when it’s appropriate. That’s when it becomes a win-win; you’re improving your product while also alleviating a customer’s concerns. 

Why Education Backgrounds Are a Great Fit for CS 

Attention all teachers: If you’re looking to switch to a new career, CS might be the ideal fit for you, Lauren said. 

Why is that? For one thing, Lauren said educators have one “incredibly transferable skill” – they communicate for a living. That’s a skill that comes in handy whether you’re teaching a 10th grader the Pythagorean Theorem or you’re teaching a customer about a new feature your company just launched. 

“It’s all about patience and being able to communicate and train and coach,” Lauren said. 

The match between educators and CS was even more apparent to Lauren in the last two years, she said, as several of the teachers she’s interviewed have shared creative ways they’ve tackled distance learning for their students. That innovation, coupled with a persistence to find a solution, lends itself incredibly well to CS.

Lauren admitted to Josh she feels a “little bad” that she recently hired a teacher because “we need educators so badly.” But if they’re looking to move in a new direction… hey, it’s hard to find a better match than customer success. 

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