Thank you for inviting me to be a Monday Guest! My name is Tiffany Morin, and I am currently the VP of Customer Success at FIVE By FIVE. I have over a decade of experience scaling Post-Sales and Customer Success teams to maturity for a range of successful bootstrapped to well-funded VC-backed technology companies. My B2B SaaS experience ranges from Telecom to Adtech, to Cyber Security. I have successfully grown post-sales teams to 3x human capital and 3x revenue while optimizing processes. I take a boots-on-the-ground servant leader approach to the companies I work with, doing what it takes to make start-ups successful at scale.
We asked Tiffany 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?
My career began before Customer Success became a discipline, a philosophy, and a way of life. I was still working in software, but in more of an Account Management role, focused on landing and expanding large enterprise customers.
I quickly realized the key to my success long-term was focusing on the outcomes customers would receive from the product offerings I sold at the time. As companies like Gainsight started to build momentum in the market, the availability of CS roles started to take off.
Knowing I was interested in CS, I joined a start-up to lead their post-sales team. After successfully building their CS team (and fixing their churn-related challenges), I moved on to leading other CS teams throughout my career. Since then, I never stopped building and have successfully scaled 5 CS teams.
How did you join Customer Success?
I had the opportunity to lead a CS team after I left a role as an account manager. Needless to say, I never looked back and have scaled many CS teams since.
How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?
I love this question. 💙 Since the ideal CSM depends on the company, the maturity of the product offering, and the size and scope of the customer base, I’ll focus on the interpersonal attributes I look for in a CSM.
Empathy is the number one. The ability to meet a customer where they are and provide them with the tools they need to be successful at any given time is something that is hard to teach. Another attribute is the willingness to learn and better oneself. For this reason, I hire learners.
No one is perfect and new skills must be learned and developed over time, especially in the ever-changing world. A curiosity to learn and find answers and really get to the bottom of a problem is hard-coded in some of the best CSMs I’ve hired.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?
When interviewing, really dig in and understand if the company truly values customer success. What are their churn and retention rates? What are other groups cross-functionally doing to help improve the success and outcomes the offering provides?
Customer success is a team sport; however, many organizations will treat CSMs like a bandage to fix all customer issues. This does not scale and hints at a culture that is more internally focused than customer-focused.
“When interviewing, really dig in and understand if the company truly values customer success”.
Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?
First things first, my work day starts with customers. I review and respond to any urgent customer issues to address them first before organizing my day and week.
I review my health score and renewals pipeline to understand what needs to be addressed short and long term.
Given the nature of my role, I balance customer issues with process creation for the CS org. I usually have a project that I’m working to accomplish and set milestones for myself for what needs to be completed throughout the week. Perhaps it’s a new health score, or QBR or Kick Off templates, as an example.
What makes you feel inspired or motivated?
I enjoy feeling a sense of accomplishment. I run a very result-driven team and take that to heart when measuring my personal success in a role.
As the Head of CS, I have many customers. Paying customers, my team, my bosses, etc. Each defines my success differently. I set quantifiable goals for myself for each. For example, do we need to turn around X% of customers so they renew? Does a customer need to accomplish X with our solution? Do my executives need to see a certain result for expansions? These are all goals I set and try each day to do a few small (or big) things to accomplish them long-term. Building a CS team is a lot like building a house.
Day to day it may seem mundane i.e. architecture plans, building the home’s foundation, etc. Long-term these activities eventually turn into something truly amazing.
What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?
Though I am a results driven person, I make sure my team puts their family, health and overall personal and mental well-being first. You can’t be the best version of yourself at work otherwise. This is a lesson I learned the hard way and one I hope my teams will learn through example rather than burn-out, which does not benefit anyone. This is a value I set for myself and for my team. It is non-negotiable.
Who do you look up to the most?
Without question, my grandmother.
She helped my grandfather build the family business and was the backbone of the family. She instilled in me a drive to be the best version of myself. She was my support system and biggest champion through school and work and beyond.
I would not be the woman I am today without her support and guidance.
What are your top 3 priorities now?
Finishing re-reading a book called “1984;” completing 1 personal journal entry a day and working out 5 times a week.
I mentioned earlier that you can’t be fully present at work unless mentally and physically healthy. For this reason, I’ll list the above as my top priorities 😉
What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
Find mentors and advocates. The path to success is not a solo journey. In every position I’ve had, I came referred to. I would not be where I am today without mentors who helped me along the way. There is a concept called the ‘Personal Board of Directors’ which includes a small group of individuals you assemble for the purpose of navigating your career. Even for some day-to-day challenges, it’s helpful to have a few sounding boards.
What’s your favorite book, and why?
Right now, it’s a book called “Range” by David Epstein. It’s about how having a wide-range of experiences sets us up to be successful even when the unexpected happens. Having too much of a specialty can create bias and limits creativity.
» 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 can’t say I’ve ever felt this way – for better or for worse. In my mind, the goal post is not stagnant and success is never linear. I celebrate my big and small wins while always looking for what’s next. 🙂
What should I have asked you but didn’t?
I talk a lot about my professional background and rarely my personal passions. One of my greatest accomplishments is getting into animal rescue. I’ve successfully placed over 30+ animals into their forever homes! Animals that may have not survived otherwise!
Where can people go to find out more about you?
Follow me on LinkedIn! I’m always posting my thoughts and advice on all things CS!
Thank you, Tiffany, 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?