Alice and Jimmy are customer success managers (CSMs) at two mid-sized SaaS companies. They have the same level of experience, handle the same amount of accounts and report to the same position on the leadership team at their respective companies.
If their job functions and workloads are comparable, then why is Jimmy constantly stuck pulling his hair out at the end of the day with more than half of his to-do list left untouched, while Alice experiences record high productivity and a constant stream of positive feedback from her customers?
Alice employs a tactical approach when it comes to controlling her calendar.
Wanna be like Alice? Of course you do. Here’s how:1. Block Your Time
Have you ever wondered how uber successful people like Elon Musk, billionaire CEO and space exploration extraordinaire, make time in their day to actually get things done?
According to Musk, the key is time-blocking. Before his head hits the pillow each night, every minute of the following day is accounted for on his calendar. He goes so far as to break tasks down into 5-minute blocks. While this may be a bit too extreme for regular Joes like you and I, it’s a nice blueprint we can tweak for realistic, everyday use.
When it comes to time-blocking, get as detailed as possible by breaking out specific holds for each individual task to stay accountable. Instead of blocking 4 hours for “work time”, block 30-minute increments for each to-do on your list.
In a recent webinar with UserIQ, Kate Current, VP of Customer Success at Novidea, jokingly said her team members often remark that her calendar looks like a ‘nightmare’. She explains the scarier it looks to an outsider, the better it will serve you in the end.
Tools to reclaim your time:
⏰ Clockify - Time tracking app with a variety of blocking features
⏳ Time Hero - Automated time-blocking app that offers task sequence insights and team collaboration
📆 Reclaim - Intelligent calendar assistant2. Learn To Say “No”
The simplest, and yet possibly the hardest on this list is just learning to say “no”.
Studies show that if interrupted during a task, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back on track and finish what you were working on. Now, multiply that by the 5+ times a day you are distracted by someone requesting an unscheduled call or a “quick favor”. To put it plainly, you’re kissing at least 2 hours of productivity goodbye every day when you take on all your distractions.
One big tip 💡: Shut off technologies that allow people instant access to you during your working blocks (like Slack or Skype).
Learning how to say no to your coworkers and your customers is a marketable skill for any CSM.
When to say no:
- When the request does not directly serve the goals of your customers or your company. Always think about what the end result will be.
How to say no:
- Be honest.
- Always explain the “why”. Again, think about what the end result will be.
- Try to compromise (see if there is an alternative action that serves the best interest of both parties).
- Focus on the positive things you will be accomplishing by not taking on said distraction.
- Have confidence in your decision.
3. Set Reasonable Response Times
The shorter the response time, the happier the customer, right?
Immediate responses to every customer request is not a feasible strategy long term. You will get behind on your emails eventually. And when you do, your customers will be left wondering why you care less about their concerns than you once did.
While you and I know this is not the case, they might. Because of this, it’s important that you set a precedent from day one when it comes to response times.
Just because you can respond to a customer’s email immediately doesn’t mean you always should.
How To Temper Expectations:
- If the request is not an urgent one, normalize waiting 12-24 hours to respond. This gives you time to create a thoughtful response and it shows the customer you are not available 24/7.
- Speak up. Be honest with your customer from the start about how you will communicate with them. People value transparency.
Hungry for more project management tips? Catch the on-demand version of our most recent webinar, “Taming Your To-Do’s”, at any time.