“Olá” is the Portuguese word for “hello” – that’s where I’m from! My name is Mariana and Customer Success is a topic I’m truly passionate about, as well as delivering a great experience to customers!
With several years of experience in customer-facing roles across B2C and B2B, I currently work as a Customer Success Manager at Devo, a cloud-native security analytics platform.
I recently completed my Master’s degree in Customer Experience, a course that’s giving me new skills to drive Customer Success like never before!
We asked Mariana 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 hold a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Customer Experience.
Interacting with people always came naturally to me and during my university days I had several customer-facing jobs; despite that, I never thought I would be dedicating my career to it.
After completing my studies, I joined a B2C start-up, where I got valuable knowledge in ensuring exceptional customer experience from start to finish. I quickly realized that dealing with customers goes beyond responding to their queries; the care and attention that you put in, have a direct impact on the company’s results and long-term retention.
Both my passion for the role and desire to know more, motivated me to study the best customer practices and I grew quickly in the company, having had the opportunity to define guidelines and procedures.
A few years later, a different B2C company proposed I work as a Customer Success Lead and manage CS teams across three countries. As I led, coached, and scaled the CS team, I successfully implemented strategies to increase customer retention and reduce churn, improved CS analytics and metrics, and redesigned guidelines to promote a more customer-centric posture across the department.
Motivated to transition to the B2B/SaaS space, I joined Devo as a Customer Success Manager. I am thrilled with everything I have been learning and excited to take a deep dive into this side of Customer Success!
How did you join Customer Success?
I stumbled into the world of Customer Success before I even knew it existed! Although I didn’t have a name for it at the time – it wasn’t support (but also), customer care (but also), or customer service… – I was naturally drawn to provide a more enriching experience to the customer.
As I explored my passion, I was introduced to the ‘Customer Success’ term – it immediately resonated with my vision and approach to customers!
How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?
The ideal CSM is someone who is:
It’s impossible to know everything! That’s why keeping yourself surrounded by professionals from different fields is so important. Keep yourself open to learning from the people around you, regardless of whether they are CS experts or not.
Stay curious and ask, ask, ask questions – I can’t stress this enough! In a customer-facing role, asking questions can help provide a better experience to the customer, become more independent, and ask more sophisticated questions!
What’s not to admire about someone who’s passionate about their vision and committed to becoming a better version of themselves?
If you work in this field, you must genuinely care about people and enjoy building relationships. This applies to customers and stakeholders alike, as relationships are key to success in many areas. “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” —Blaise Pascal
What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?
Take a chance. It’s easy to let limiting beliefs and fear get in the way, so don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. Be intentional about the choices you make today and how they will shape your future. If others have found success in this role, why not you as well? 🙂
Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. Be intentional about the choices you make.
Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?
Sure thing! My day starts with my favorite meal of the day – breakfast! Then, I take my dog Jack for a walk and hit the gym for an hour.
Time to work! I start by reading my email and Slack messages, taking note of my priorities for the day. I prioritize tasks that require immediate action and are most urgent.
My day unfolds between working on my priorities, cadence calls with customers, and internal meetings with colleagues to make progress on pending matters since my job involves collaborating with other teams.
Once work is over, I like to unwind by watching my favorite shows on Netflix! 🙂
What makes you feel inspired or motivated?
– I love creating! Whether it’s experimenting, reinventing, or defining best practices and strategies within a company.
– I also value working in a company with ethical leadership, a positive work environment, and a culture of trust.
– Last but not least, good feedback from customers. Nothing makes me happier than a satisfied customer!
What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?
Foreigners are often surprised that I’m Portuguese, while my fellow compatriots are surprised that I grew up in a city called Viseu which has the most roundabouts in the country – 8 roundabouts/km², apparently!
Who do you look up to the most?
My father’s resilience, kindness, and empathy are an inspiration to me, while my mother instils in me the confidence to be unapologetically me.
What are your top 3 priorities now?
– Advancing my skills as a Customer Success Manager and expanding my knowledge in the field.
– Contributing to the growth and success of the company through dedication, creativity and high-quality work.
– Maintaining a work-life balance and nurturing relationships with my loved ones.
What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
In addition to always staying kind to all who cross your path, my advice is to never settle for “good enough” if you aspire for more. Pursue your dreams with determination, regardless of what they may be, and take ownership of your journey to achieve them.
“The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock.” 🙂 – Tony A. Gaskins Jr.
What’s your favorite book, and why?
It portrays the author’s trip across Italy, India, and Indonesia after her divorce. Her boldness and courage to break free from assumptions without being constrained by societal norms or expectations are a reference to me!
» 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?
Absolutely! We should celebrate all wins, no matter how big or small, right?! I have been having “I’ve made it” moments throughout my journey, and they’re normally tied to the goals I set for myself, like successfully leading a CS team or transitioning into the B2B space. 🙂
What should I have asked you but didn’t?
“Does Customer Success even exist in B2C?”
Oh, if it does!
Although commonly associated with B2B, Customer Success is (or should be) a fundamental aspect of all types of businesses that deal with customers. At its core, Customer Success is about it the way you:
1) deal with your customers and
2) use the data and feedback you receive to deliver better outcomes.
This also marks the difference between Customer Service, which is often reactive by nature. Customer Success leverages interactions to anticipate the customer’s needs and get them to achieve their desired outcome in the first place.
There are endless opportunities in the B2C space: you can optimize operations, improve products and services, improve customer satisfaction, and deliver a better experience. The key in B2C is to treat interactions beyond transactions; when data is used strategically, it can do amazing things for the company – and its customers.
Where can people go to find out more about you?
Check out my LinkedIn! I write some stuff there from time to time, and I always enjoy making new connections. 🙂
Thank you, Mariana, 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?