Monday Guest Ashna Patel

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Get to know Ashna Patel

By: Mohammed Alqaq   |  December 18, 2023

Hi there, I’m Ashna Patel, bringing over 10 years of customer success experience to the table. My passion? Helping folks, teams, and businesses thrive in the SaaS industry. Currently, I lead an awesome team at Ascent Cloud, focusing on driving growth, hitting revenue targets, and building both people and scalable solutions.

Highlights of my Journey:

Ashna Patel_Headshot

I’m all about empowering, mentoring, and training fellow customer success enthusiasts to shine in their roles and contribute to SaaS business growth. Recognized as a Top 25 Customer Success Influencer, Top 50 Influencer, Top 50 Women in CS, and a Top 222 Influencer, I’m a firm believer that learning is the key to mindfulness, thoughtfulness, self-awareness, and growth.

My Motto: #alwaysbelearning

We asked Ashna to take us through a journey telling us about her career path, how she spends her workday, what advice she can share with someone starting as a customer success manager, and many other questions.

Enjoy reading this interview  

Tell us about your career path?

I come from a business background where I have studied Marketing, Finance, Human and organizational behaviors, and Human Resources. Before starting in the Tech world and diving into “Customer Success” specific roles, I worked in the Hotel, Food, Retail, and Manufacturing industries.

Working in a manufacturing firm prior to my current company gave me a good understanding of business in general and how each of the departments is connected. This was also a pivotal time in my career when I realized I loved working with PEOPLE, I loved nurturing relationships and helping people and businesses find and achieve their greater outcomes. That’s when I decided to pivot into the tech industry.

In the tech world, my journey started as a Sales Development Representative with a goal in mind to get into Customer Success. Within a few months, I was promoted to be a Customer Success Manager and, from there to be an ENT CSM. As a CSM I have worked with all sizes and segments of customers, from managing 1:many customers to 100+ clients to 30 clients at a time. I have worked across different industries, from onboarding through renewals, and I have always exceeded my NRR/GRR targets.

During this time I have also won VALUE awards within our organizations (People First, Integrity, Celebration), brought in the most multi-year contracts in a year, hired/trained, and became a true cheerleader and a supporter for the overall growth of people and organization.

My success and passion for helping people grow moved me into a Team Lead role and from there into Manager of CS (and Support)

My passion and interest also introduced me to a broader LinkedIn community of Customer Success professionals and leaders with whom I have created communities, helped 100s of folks break into CS, and continue to help promote and develop individuals in their Career and personal development through different outlets.

How did you join Customer Success?

As stated above, I have always been in some sort of people-facing, service industry roles. 

Although, about 7 years ago, I joined my current company as an SDR with a goal in mind from day 1 to be in Customer Success Roles.

I worked toward the role, I reached out to our internal CSMs and asked them about the role. I read books and studied about the role in depth along with educating myself with product know-how.

When the time came, I applied for the CSM role internally and was promoted to CSM within a few months of joining the company.

Even after starting the role, I was reluctant to learn and be a master of it. I continued to read, learn, reach out to people to ask for help, and continue to grow my knowledge of People, products, and technology.

It was also around the same time when I started to write content on Linkedin, build my personal brand, and start coaching and participating in webinars, podcasts, and events as I wanted others to find the path that I did and learn to follow their passions.

How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?

An ideal Customer Success Manager (CSM) is someone who genuinely cares about their customer’s success, showing empathy and understanding.

They need to be excellent communicators, making complex information easy to grasp. Problem-solving and analytical skills are a must, as they should be skilled at identifying and resolving issues swiftly.

Being adaptable is crucial, given the fast-paced nature of the tech and business world. Deep product knowledge is essential to guide customers effectively.

A proactive mindset, collaborating seamlessly with other teams, analytical skills, efficient time management, and a commitment to continuous learning round up the qualities that make an ideal CSM.

In essence, they’re not just CSMs; they’re strategic partners dedicated to customer success and building lasting relationships.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?

Focus on things you have control over.

As a CSM, you will find so many things that you don’t have control over and it can become a bit discouraging. Make a list of things you have control over such as being an excellent communicator, continuing to invest in learning more about the role, product, and industry, seeking feedback and doing something about it, etc.

 “Focus on things you have control over.”

Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?

The beauty of a leader or a customer success professional is that not all your days are the same. As a matter of fact, none of them are, but you can still have a good schedule and a process around your days.

My day starts with Yoga every day (5.30 in the morning), followed by meditation, journaling, reading, and writing. This energizes me for the day and gets me in my zone.

Once I start my work, I focus on my tasks (I typically create my to-do list the day before for the next day), reviewing my emails, team and company stats (reports & dashboards), and focusing on urgent vs important tasks.

As a leader, I tend to have more internal meetings than external throughout the day.

Throughout the week, my meetings include 1:1s, team standups, and group meetings, cross-functional leadership meetings, escalation meetings, strategic work meetings, focus hours, customer meetings, etc.

My day ends with me making sure my emails are sorted, my tasks are marked done, creating a list for tomorrow, checking in with my team, and wrapping up.

What makes you feel inspired or motivated?

 – Knowing that I am contributing towards a greater good.
 – Knowing that I have or will help someone grow.
 – Knowing that I am helping and making someone’s lives a bit easier.
 – Getting acknowledged for a job well done.
 – Knowing there is always SO MUCH more I can learn.

What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?

If someone hears me talk, sometimes they find it hard to believe that English is NOT my first language.

Who do you look up to the most? 

There are many actually including, my parents (and family members), folks I work with at work, my team members, folks I work with at CS Insider and other communities, etc.

I also looked up some motivational speakers such as Mel Robbins, Jay Shetty, Adam Grant, Simon Sinek, etc.

What are your top 3 priorities now?

1) Focusing on Physical and Mental Health

2) Continue to nurture and work with my team for their customers and the organization’s growth.

3) Helping more and more people around me through my leadership and coaching services

What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?

Never stop learning. Learning should almost be a HABIT for you.

Find each and every opportunity in each interaction around you a learning opportunity.

Don’t hesitate to ask for ADVICE- it will be more impactful than seeking feedback

lastly, balance is the key to having a successful life. Create a proper routine, harbor a growth mindset, focus on being HAPPY, and live a purposeful life.

What’s your favorite book, and why?

Oh a tough question, as there are SO MANY!

1) Top one: Start with WHY by Simon Sinek because this gave me the vision to focus on purpose. When you look for WHY, you focus on uncovering the purpose for anything and everything around you. It’s the fundamental book that somehow also got me thinking about leadership and coaching in a different light. It also got me so much more interested in Emotional intelligence. It was a pivotal book for many things in my life.

2) My new favorite is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I just finished reading this one a few months ago, and it has been a game-changer.

 – This book helped me focus on identities / different roles we play or can play vs lives we need to live.

 – This book helped me understand everything we do and is a result of our habits. Our habits make us who we are and how we are. It’s been a game changer of a book, helping me focus on who and what I want to become in years to come 🙂

» Check out the 10 Books a CSM should read to advance and improve their skills.

Have you had your “I’ve made it” moment yet?

I think there have been many, and I foresee many more in the future 🙂

The few that come to my mind:

– When I got my CSM role
– When I was promoted to be a Leader
– When I coached for the first time & got a magnificent review
– When I got my Top 25 Influencer Award
– When I got married 🙂
– When we bought our 1st house (last year)
– When I promoted someone in my team
– and many more 🙂

All these moments were “I’ve made it” for me because they were all a result of hard work, consistency, and belief in myself.

What should I have asked you but didn’t? 

Fun fact about me: Every time I pick a fiction book, I always read the last chapter first 🙂

Do you want to know why? Connect and reach out to me – I would love to connect and share.

Where can people go to find out more about you?

LinkedIn is the best place for now until I have my site up and running 🙂

Thank you, Ashna, for sharing your knowledge and for the opportunity to know you more.

Do you have a Customer Success Leader, Expert, or Influencer you would like to know more about?