The success of our clients has always been a top priority. And to prove it, late last year, we doubled down by creating our Client Success (CS) Team. Since then, our Client Success Managers (CSMs) have been working diligently to partner with our clients to better understand their needs and partner on their journeys to success. By design, our CSMs are our clients’ fiercest internal advocates, and their focus is always on our clients. One of our longest-tenured CSM, Carvel Blakeney, embodies this spirit perfectly. This month, we wanted to get him to share his thoughts on his journey so far.

Q. Why should our clients care that we have a Client Success (CS) team?
We are the biggest advocates for our clients, the ones who speak loudest on their behalf to the Softdocs organization. The CS team is also tasked with helping clients expand their use of the platform, truly capturing all that it can offer across campus and districts. But sometimes, the biggest role the CSMs perform is just being a sounding box for an upset client and helping channel that energy into a productive solution. If they come to you with a problem, and you resolve it for them, you earn their trust for life, and that goes a long way. When I talk to a client, I am not trying to sell them something, I am trying to help them be successful.

Q. What’s your favorite thing about working with clients?
Helping them solve their business problems. I love to listen to a client’s challenges and requirements and then be able to share a possible solution through our products. I get a lot of satisfaction knowing we can improve their current process and then seeing the satisfaction on the face of a client once they see the results.

Q. What distinguishes a good CSM from a bad CSM?
I’d say there are three parts to this:

  1. Firstly, a good CSM knows their platform really well and the full inner workings of each product. You can’t help the client if you don’t even know what your product is capable of. Every CSM should go through project implementation to understand how it is done and place themselves “in the shoes” of the client.
  2. Secondly, and conversely, a good CSM should also be intimately familiar with all the clients that they are responsible for. Every CSM should go through the discovery call of the client they’re representing and listen to the client describes the challenges they’re facing. You can learn a lot of information about the client in those calls, and that will help lay the groundwork for your interactions with them.
  3. Lastly, only sell the client what they need. This position can be driven heavily by quota regardless of market, and some in this role end up trying to sell something the client doesn’t need. Instead, you should focus on what your client truly needs, work with them to flesh out the definition of a win, and be a consultant on how best our solution(s) can help them. Putting it differently, let the need of the client drive what product to sell, don’t start with products to sell, and then try to figure out how you can shoehorn them into an invoice.

Q. What lessons have you learned during your tenure at Softdocs? What advice would you like to share with someone starting out in client success?
I’ve been with Softdocs for 17 years. I joined Softdocs because of my relationship with one of the founders, Mike Murphy. He had a saying – “The customer always comes first.” That’s the principle I’ve lived with my whole time here. And that’s what I’d tell someone starting out – Respect the client. Have the drive to help clients and be eager to build a relationship with them. If you push your agenda or try to sneak something by the client, that’s the end of the trust you’ve built with the client.

Q. What sets the Softdocs Client Success team apart from the rest?
That’s the best question, and I’ll just quote a client of ours – “The fact that you guys come here and interview us and try to learn about the way we do business instead of assuming everything and jumping in with your preconceived notions, we love that!” I oversee nearly 80 accounts, and I can tell you that no two clients are exactly alike in their business processes. It takes a lot of work to get to know the client, and we put in that effort.

Want to learn more about we ensure Client Success at Softdocs? Check out what our clients have to say about us.

Your institution and district aren’t carved out with a cookie cutter, so we don’t expect our clients to be supported in the same way either. The Softdocs Client Success team is here to offer the best path forward on a journey to digital transformation and process efficiency, and it starts with a CSM like Carvel. We thank him for his continued efforts to make Softdocs the most trusted partner in the education space.