We’re thrilled to post an interview with Tashina Combs of Get Satisfaction, a customer community platform based in San Francisco. Tashina started at Get Satisfaction as Customer Success Manager and is now Sr. Manager, Product & Community Education. Today, she shares with us her extensive experience as a customer educator and success manager, and how she’s adapted her role to help meet customer’s needs.
Learndot: What's your favorite part of your job as a Customer Success Manager?
Tashina Combs: Being able to help and educate people is my favorite part of my role. When something clicks for a customer and you can see that they really understand how aspects of community work and how the Get Satisfaction platform can help them. Then seeing them put it into action and receive positive results is even better! Knowing that I've helped them to achieve their goals is really rewarding.
Learndot: What traits do you think makes a Customer Success Manager successful?
TC: Being able to put yourself in your customers shoes, having great communication skills, and being understanding go a long way. Not everyone is on the same page or at the same level, and it's our jobs as CSMs to help them get to the next page and the next level. You need to meet people where they are and not expect them to meet you at your level right away. Being able to clearly and effectively communicate with different skill levels, personalities, and backgrounds can have a huge positive impact on your role as a CSM.
Learndot: As a CSM, how do you fit into the bigger picture of the goals of your organization? What departments/teams do you usually work with directly?
TC: Get Satisfaction recognizes that the CSM role is essential to many parts of our business. I work closely with our Sales and Product teams. As a CSM, I have a good knowledge of how our customers want to use the platform, where it's working and where it falls short. Part of my job is to communicate that up into our Product team and close the loop with the customer. I work with our Sales team to help identify other product offerings that may help the customer in achieving their goals.
Learndot: Have you ever worked with a customer who needed more support or resources to be successful? If so, can you share what that looked like?
TC: I have. Since everyone comes with a different skill set, as a CSM you have to be prepared for this. Each customer starts their community journey in a different place. It may take more time in the form of phone calls, screen shares, and written documentation created just for the customer. Often with these types of customers I offer additional screen share sessions or to meet in person. I think that going above and beyond for these types of customers is not only beneficial to them, but also to you as a CSM and to the company as a whole. It can be challenging at times, but in a good way. It helps you gain a better understanding of a customers experience with the platform, but also pushes you to learn and grow as a CSM.
Learndot: What kind of results have you helped create for your company and your clients through your work as CSM?
TC: A large part of my role as a CSM is to help support the Community Managers using our platform. Many of them work at companies where Community Manager is not yet a valued role in the way that it is here in San Francisco at a tech company. I have helped many of my clients show successes to their managers and to show how their job has value by providing data pulled from their community.
Learndot: What are the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working as a CSM? How do you meet those challenges?
TC: The biggest challenges I face on a day-to-day basis are all great learning opportunities for me within this role. You have to manage your time well, manage customer expectations, and deliver results while making each customer feel like they are the only customer that you have. Sometimes there is simply too much to do within the hours of 9 to 5, but it's all about balancing your time and communicating with the customers.
Learndot: Have you met other CSMs? If so, what has it been like to compare roles and discuss the growing trend?
TC: I have met other CSMs and also held a similar role at my last company. The role seems to be different at each place. Some have an emphasis on renewals, others on support, and others on relationship building. It's definitely interesting to hear about each company's approach to the same role. You can tell that this is an emerging role and the firm definition has yet to be set in stone. Sometimes this seems to be frustrating to CSMs, but I believe that also makes it an exciting time to be a CSM at any company! You are really able to think about which type of focus (or blend of them) will benefit your company and its customers the most.
Learndot: Where do you think the future of customer success is headed?
TC: I see it expanding. A lot of customers really see the value in it and appreciate those who are in the role. Offering this additional bit of support to customers, no matter what the focus is, is something that always makes a company stand out.
Learndot: Anything else you'd like to add?
TC: Using Learndot has been very valuable to our CSM team, and is something I'm very excited to utilize more in my new role. With the focus of any CSM team I think that educating our customers is one of the most valuable things that can be done. It's great to use a platform that let's us do this in an effective and powerful way.
Tashina Combs is Sr. Manager, Product & Community Education at Get Satisfaction. When she's not helping customers become extraordinarily successful, she's also curates a top vegan beauty and lifestyle blog and has several years of client management with high-end lifestyle brands. She lives with her boyfriend and three cats Penny, Bagheera and Juniper in San Francisco.