I am Olivier Fiaty-Amenouvor (aka Oliver officially in the U.S.). I am a Senior Customer Success Manager at Camunda (a company that helps organizations in their Digital Transformation), and a Founding Member of Success in Black (an organization that promotes and advances DEIB of the Black Community in Customer Success).
Originally from Togo-Bénin in West Africa, I now reside in sunny San Diego in California (USA) for almost two decades. I am trilingual speaking fluently Gingbé, French, and English. I also can greet and thank in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Thai but do not consider myself fluent in those languages. I am an avid traveler and have visited 13 countries and counting…
We asked Olivier to take us through a journey telling us about his career path, how he spends his workday, what advice he 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 started in Tech as an Account Service Manager about fifteen years ago while pursuing a degree of Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Systems and Information System Security.
I loved interacting with my customers by helping them achieve the outcomes of their investments to my company and building strategic relationships with them. So much so that after completing my degree of Bachelor of Science in Information Security, I continued in what is now called Customer Success path, but was called back then Account Management.
I learned quickly, thanks to Thought Leaders in the Customer Experience space, mostly on LinkedIn and applied all of their methods which allowed me to deliver outstanding results to my customers and earning multiple awards with companies I worked/work at, and last year I was recognized by the Global Customer Success Community (sponsored by SuccessHACHER), as a Thought Leader Watchlist in North America. I am now serving as Senior CSM for Strategic Accounts at Camunda, a company in the Process Orchestration and Automation space helping organizations in their digital transformation.
Like mentioned above, I also work with Success in Black (LinkedIn Page) to advance Customer Success within the global Black Community by being in charge of Talent and helping many SiB members land their first CS job by providing tools and coaching, with the help of Leaders in our community and with the assistance of many Partners in the CS Space that ( Allies).
I have been officially seven years in Customer Success, but have been doing the work for fifteen years.
How did you join Customer Success?
I joined Customer Success, seven years ago as a modification of my prior role of Account “Service” Manager role (that I was serving under for 8 years prior). My then-company started to look at better ways to address their customer’s retention issues by incorporating new retention strategies, onboarding, and more proactivity in our engagement with customers.
I embraced it right away as it aligned with what I was already doing with my customers with constant collaboration with Sales counterparts and cross-functional teams. At the time of that transition, I began following thought leaders on LinkedIn to learn more about the concept of Customer Success.
So, I feel that I have been doing Customer Success my whole fifteen-year career in Tech.
How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?
My ideal CSM candidate would be someone who really cares for customer experience and is great at cross-functional collaboration.
No matter what field or line of work you are coming from, trying to break into CS, if you have those 2 skills, then you can be a great hire CSM. If you care for your customer’s experience, you will try to understand what success means for them and how your company’s solutions contribute to that success.
And since as a CSM, we are not Product Managers, nor are we Account Executives, Technical Support, Marketing, and Executives, we need to successfully collaborate with all these teams to deliver a great Customer Experience.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?
My one piece of advice is to Learn why your customers purchased your Company’s solutions. In other words, what problems your customers are trying to solve by signing up with your company. That’s the key to providing a great customer experience. The rest will follow (adoption, retention, proactivity, engagement, etc…)
Learn why your customers purchased your Company’s solutions. The rest will follow (adoption, retention, proactivity, engagement, etc…).
Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?
My workday habits vary from day to day according to what’s on my schedule. But on a typical day, I go through my emails to respond to any urgent messages from clients, then I consult my internal company communication platform for any messages to address and see what’s going on within my company.
Then I review any deck that I have prepared for clients’ meetings and see their level of engagement in our CSM platform to understand their adoption journey thus far.
Then I conduct those meetings to add value each time by sharing tips or new features that will help their experience. After meetings, I send short but meaningful recaps with the deck presented.
Toward the end of my day, I take product courses to learn the latest about our solutions. I also allow time during the day to collaborate with my teammates. During my lunchtime, I take a half-hour walk outside to get some steps and sun in and use the rest of my lunchtime to read about the latest of Customer Success on LinkedIn or host my popular half-hour Customer Success 1:1 Chats with CS People around the world.
What makes you feel inspired or motivated?
My drive for success: I strive every day to be the best at what I do (whether professionally or personally). So that thought alone inspires and motivates me to do my utmost best in any situation.
What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?
Nothing much. What you see is what you get. So, people are not surprised by anything as they get to know me. Everything about me makes sense.
Who do you look up to the most?
Many people: Chris Contreras, Ejieme Eromosele, Kristi Faltorusso, and many others.
What are your top 3 priorities now?
I would say Artificial Intelligence (as it is here to stay and we should embrace it), driving Expansion within my clients (as with the current macroeconomic situation, that is the way to find new source of revenue), Continued Education about Customer Experience (so I can stay relevant and constantly learn new ways to provide value to my clients)
What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
Lots of learning and networking: our profession is new so there aren’t school courses yet to teach how to be a CSM. Therefore, learning from Thought CS Leaders and experienced CSMs, networking and joining various CSM groups, attending webinars about recurrent and new CS Topics, and also seeking mentorships are primordial in one’s growing and developing CSM career… 🙂
What’s your favorite book, and why?
I am not a reader at all, an area where I need to improve on. I love reading short articles and blogs and enjoy watching a movie about a great book instead of reading it.
» 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?
Not yet. I am a continuous learner. Even though I may feel like “I’ve made it”, I think there is more I can achieve. Perhaps winning the Top CS 100 Strategists this year will be a start of my “I’ve made it” moments. Hahaha! 🙂
What should I have asked you but didn’t?
You did not ask me about where I see the Customer Success heading in the future.
I would respond that it will spread more globally due to the work organizations like Customer Success Middle East and Success in Black are doing to expand and make the discipline known to their communities and beyond.
So, thanks to CSME for considering me for this outreach through this interview. 🙂
Where can people go to find out more about you?
Obviously on LinkedIn, also, through my work with Success in Black.
I mentioned the CS 1:1 Chats I host above. I post a summary of those on my page. I also have attended a series of webinars and podcasts that you will also find on my LinkedIn page under “Featured posts”.
And of course, here after this interview with CS Middle East is published.
Thank you, Olivier, 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?