In Vitally’s series, ‘17 Questions with the Future of Customer Success’, we’ll chat with Customer Success professionals, from Customer Success Managers to Chief Customer Officers, and everyone in between, to gain insight into both their individual roles and the ever-evolving Customer Success space.
In this episode, we’re chatting with Sarah Steingraber, Manager of Mid-Market Customer Success at Sendoso.
Meet Sarah—gift giver, Customer Success professional, and dog mom to a yellow lab. Sarah is based in Arizona, and has been working in Customer Success for four years. Prior to managing the Mid-Market Customer Success team at Sendoso, Sarah also held the position of Customer Success Team Lead at Sendoso, and Senior Enterprise Client Success Manager at Zocdoc.
One thing Sarah hopes exists in the future is a female president of the United States.
Sendoso is a leading Sending Platform that delivers modern direct mail, personalized gifts, eGifts, and other Physical Impressions™ at scale. This makes it possible to build stronger, deeper, and more trusted relationships that move everything up and to the right.
Q&A on the Future of Customer Success (Extended Cut)
Vitally Team: What’s your ‘before work’ ritual?
Sarah Steingraber: I have a dog, a yellow lab, so in the mornings, I will take him out, make sure he's fed and just enjoy my backyard. And when the weather is nice, just sit on the patio before I have to jump into my day.
VT: What are the top 3 activities you spend most of your time on doing in your current role as Manager of Customer Success?
SS: The top three activities that I spend the majority of my time on as manager of customer success are; one being in one-on-ones with my team and strategy sessions on how their customers are—if they are at risk, jumping into how we can get them out of risk, making sure they're healthy, and also professional growth conversations with my team outside of our one-on-ones with my team.
The other two items I spend the most of my time on are; team meetings, making sure everyone is aligned on company updates, or having working sessions as the wider group. And then additionally, some internal team meetings with some other departments in senior leadership to make sure that we're all aligned on our initiatives.
The Structure of Customer Success at Sendoso
VT: What does Customer Success look like at Sendoso right now?
SS: Our customer success organization is part of our sales department. So, we roll up directly to our Chief Revenue Officer. We also have a VP and Director of customer success, and we are broken out into three different segments, SMB customers, Mid-Market, and enterprise, with a manager or a team lead in each department leading those segments.
VT: If you could wave a magic wand and automate one part of your day-to-day work life, what would it be?
SS: If I could have a magic wand and automate one part of my day to day workflow, it would be assigning accounts. When a new account comes in from onboarding, we are assigning that to a CSM, as well as someone from our partners in the account management department. So it'd be nice if there was a way to automate that process.
VT: Biggest workplace pet peeve?
SS: Definitely when there is a resource built out for something and there's been some enablement sessions on it, and people are asking questions before going to the resources that we had built out for them.
The Power of Gifting Throughout the Customer Lifecycle
VT: What’s one unique, yet critical, variable in your customer health score?
SS: Customer spend. So with Sendoso, if customers are not sending things on the platform, it is a huge indicator of their health.
It either indicates that they're having difficulties sending or they're sending and they're not seeing value out of those sends.
So, how can we be a strategic partner to really show the value of what our tool can bring. And additionally, make sure that teams are enabled and able to use the platform.
VT: Where have you seen gifting make the biggest impact in the customer lifecycle?
SS: It's an interesting question for someone like me at a company like Sendoso because we really believe in gifting at every part of the customer lifecycle, and it being effective. I think where it's most effective though, is when there's some sort of personalization to it.
So, whether it's pre-sales or post-sales, having the prospect, or your customer, feel like, ‘they heard me, they understand me, and this is something specific to me, and not just something to send something because you're sending something.’
VT: What’s one thing Sendoso’s Customer Success team does that’s world-class?
SS: Having pod alignment with our partners and account management, and segmenting our business. We are broken out into the SMB, mid-market, and enterprise segments, so that we can understand those specific customers and those segments, and what's most needed for those types of customers. We partner with specific account managers so that we're aligned on what's needed for those accounts.
VT: Best way to decompress after a stressful customer call?
SS: I mentioned I have a yellow lab. So, just spending some time with my dog. Also, if you have any friends or family living with you at home, that are also working remotely, just having a conversation with them and venting about that [call] so that you can move on and not carry that with you into the next conversation.
Future Planning For Next Year & Careers in Customer Success
VT: What are some strategic CS initiatives you're hoping to carry out in the next year?
SS: It's a unique time for us because we’re going into Q4. It is our busy season with holiday sending. So, I've really been thinking a lot about what initiatives I want to implement in the beginning of the new year, and next year.
I'm hoping to do some additional enablement for my team around strategy and best practices for sending throughout the customer lifecycle. Not just for new folks, but also continue to work on enablement for some of our existing CSMs. I’m also trying to spend more time on executive business reviews, and looping in, not just our main day-to-day champion, but decision-makers in those conversations, and speaking to how we can optimize their account for the most success.
VT: What is one concrete step a (more junior) CSM could take today to set themselves up for a Customer Success leadership position down the road?
SS: I think one thing that they can do is communicate that with their leadership teams so they can identify opportunities for things that they can do to stand out, like leadership training. Also, be able to do the job before you get the job. Help the team and jump in with whatever they need as far as coaching and enablement.
VT: One item on your desk (or in your home office) that you cannot live without?
SS: So anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of rabbits, randomly. I used to have a rabbit, and I have to write everything down while I'm working. So, I have this little rabbit notebook that I use day-to-day. Then I always have my go to sparkling watermelon lemonade water just because sometimes you get thirsty when you're in meetings.
VT: One item on your desk (or in your home office) that you cannot live without?
SS: There's been a lot of webinars and community groups, and I find that really fascinating to see what other Customer Success organizations are doing, specifically around executive business reviews—everyone does those a little bit differently. But I think they're important to get ahead of the optimization of the account and just say, ‘Hey, here's where we can be your strategic adviser and an extension of your team.’ So, I want to continue to see how other CS organizations are doing that and expand on those CS communities that I've been a part of.
VT: What is the most unique/interesting gift you (or your team) has sent?
SS: So actually recently, one of our CSMs was trying to build a relationship with a C-level executive that was new to the company and came from another organization that worked with a competitor of ours. So, we just wanted to get him on the phone and show him all about what Sendoso has to offer. This CSM understood from his team that he was a huge lover of classic cars, and recently he drove a very specific classic car and was very excited about it. So, the CSM sent him a remote control model of that classic car for his desk along with a handwritten note.
VT: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception around Customer Success?
I think the biggest misconception around Customer Success is that it is a customer service role.
I believe that Customer Experience is still a huge part of the customer success role, don't get me wrong, but CS gets to be a little bit more strategic than that, as far as making suggestions on how customers can best use your tool in order to meet their initiatives day-to-day, in their own job.
VT: If you were not working in Customer Success what kind of work would you be in?
SS: So, I used to want to be a lawyer and I'm not sure if that's quite for me. But, I think anything that is either customer-facing or working with people, which is what I enjoy—having that relationship with folks, and being able to help solve their problems and make sure that they are set up for success moving forward.
VT: What’s your best productivity tip for working remotely?
SS: My biggest productivity tip for somebody who's working remotely is to set blocks in your calendar. This really helps me if you're looking at your calendar and it's empty, it's easy to take a break from everything that you've been doing in your day, but if you have a block in there to focus on preparing for an EBR, then you're going to prioritize that during that time.
If you're not able to prioritize what you intended to during that time, try to still respect those blocks and honor them by still keeping them at a later date, so you can still focus on getting that done and making sure that you are up to speed even while you're working remotely.