CSM Rachel Parks For new UserIQ CSM Rachel Parks, her “meta” role as a CSM helping other CSMs with CSM software makes things easier.

And harder.

“They know my pain points,” Parks says. “They also know my tricks.”

With this dynamic in play, any edge is helpful. For Parks, that edge is her background.

As customer success is relatively new, a so-called “linear” career path is difficult to find. Parks’ career started with a degree in advertising and early jobs in marketing. This experience paved the way for her new career: Advertising and marketing, after all, are fundamentally about understanding human motivation.

“I love to think of myself as a detective,” she says. “I want to know what you’re doing in our platform. I like to think about what makes people tick and figure out ways to communicate with them.”

What makes a good CSM?

Parks defines customer success “as viewing the relationship between user and product in a strategic way, as opposed to a supportive or operational way.”

That means being proactive about getting the full story. And looking at how people use the platform. And tying that use to her accounts’ long-term goals.

If you ask her what sets a good CSM (customer success manager) apart, other than being a detective, it’s having a player-coach mindset.

“You’ve got to be a comfortable teacher as much as a savvy business person,” Parks says. “You also have to practice what you preach. In my opinion, it’s the No. 1 way to build trust.”

Where is customer success headed?

Customer success was born in the five years Parks has been doing it.

One of the most important changes? Defining the metrics for success.

Despite customer success’ effect on SaaS — recurring revenue being bigger than new revenue — CS pros “still have to fight for a seat at the table,” she says.

“While many execs admit it’s cheaper to keep a customer than get a new one, it’s harder to wrap your head around how much money a CS team brings in as opposed to sales,” Parks says. “That being said, customer success is starting to get the recognition it deserves because we’re embracing data so effectively.”

So how should the field evolve?

Parks believes her CS peeps should adopt a product mindset.

“We need to borrow some strategies from product teams when it comes to operations and planning,” she says. “Like roadmapping. Or focus grouping. Customer success can play a big role in that.”

Meet Rachel Parks

  • Role: CSM
  • Previous position: Springbot
  • Hobbies: Crocheting and knitting — scarves, elephants, blankets, you name it
  • School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill