cloudTALKS with David: “Success starts with listening.”
Today, we have the pleasure of sitting down with David Guttmann, a Senior Customer Success Manager at CloudTalk, to delve into the world of customer success management. David, with his unique journey and approach, offers valuable insights into the importance of building strong customer relationships, the role of open-midness, and the art of active listening.
From vintage cars to customer success…
David, your career has taken you from restoring vintage cars to the IT industry and now to CloudTalk as a Senior Customer Success Manager. Can you tell us more about your journey and what led you to customer success management?
Absolutely. My career began in the automotive industry, where I was part of a team restoring vintage cars. Even then, my focus was on building relationships with customers and understanding their needs. When the automotive industry faced a crisis in 2008, I transitioned into IT, even though I had no prior experience. Dell offered an opportunity for German-speaking individuals, and that’s where my IT journey began.
I later moved to technical support at Honeywell, completed my management degree at the University, and continued learning about project management. Eventually, I ventured into account executive roles, but it was at Soitron, where I worked as a project manager, that I delved into sales configuration and artificial intelligence.
When COVID-19 arrived, I took parental leave, which provided me with time to reflect and recharge. That’s when I was approached by CloudTalk, offering a role in Customer Success Management. CloudTalk gave me the freedom and flexibility to balance my work and family life effectively. From there, we began to see great potential for growth in the Customer Success Management domain, expanding our reach from Asia to Latin America.
Could you explain the difference between Customer Support and Customer Success and why the latter is crucial for businesses?
Customer Support is primarily about resolving customer issues when they arise. It’s a reactive approach, focused on immediate problem-solving. On the other hand, Customer Success is a proactive and holistic approach. It involves looking at the company from a global perspective, understanding its technology, market, marketing strategies, and decision-making processes. Customer Success Managers need a background in management and business to provide valuable insights to both the company and the customer. It’s about building long-lasting relationships and ensuring the success of the customer and the company.
Building trust with customers…
Building trust with customers is essential in Customer Success Management. What advice do you have for establishing and maintaining that trust?
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship. As a Customer Success Manager, you need to demonstrate that you care about your customers’ success. This involves showing that you understand their needs and challenges. It’s essential to be knowledgeable and honest when interacting with customers. Active listening is key. You need to listen to their goals, frustrations, and problems. Success starts with listening.
I’ve found that sharing personal experiences and connecting on a human level can also break the ice. For instance, during the pandemic, when my children were running around during calls, I apologized, and some customers revealed that they were in similar situations. The human factor can be a powerful bonding tool.
Bridging departments in customer success…
In your role, you communicate with various departments. What are the biggest challenges you face in bridging these different areas within a company?
The human factor plays a significant role. As a Customer Success Manager, you need to understand various aspects of the business, from product knowledge to marketing and finance. It’s about speaking the language of different teams and individuals. You must adapt your communication style when talking to developers versus salespeople, for example. Essentially, it’s about understanding the roles and needs of each department and finding common ground. We can fix anything if we work together.
Adapting across cultures for effective engagement…
You work with customers from around the world. How do you adapt your approach to connect with customers from different cultures effectively?
Practice and genuine interest are key. I make an effort to learn about each customer’s culture, business, and communication style. By asking questions and showing curiosity, I demonstrate that I want to understand their world better. For example, I’ve talked with customers from Mexico about their cultural celebration, Diós Muertos. I’ve also had conversations with customers from Singapore and the Philippines about the typhoons that affected them. It’s about respecting and acknowledging their unique perspectives and experiences.
The role of empathy…
Could you tell us more about your involvement and the importance of empathy in Customer Success Management?
Empathy is vital in Customer Success Management, and while it can be taught, it’s often about fostering an open mindset. Empathy is not just understanding. It’s actively listening and being open to others’ experiences and needs. Soft skills play a crucial role. Ultimately, it’s about being open to the world, listening and connecting on a human level.
Balancing work and personal life is essential. How do you disconnect from work and recharge?
The mind and body are interconnected, so I engage in activities that help me switch off from work. I hit the gym, listen to music ranging from Rammstein to Latin tunes, and, of course, spend quality time with my family. It’s about finding that balance and letting go of work when it’s time to recharge.
David’s life motto…
To wrap up, could you share your life motto with us?
My life motto is “Go with the flow.” It’s about embracing the world around you, actively listening, and being open to new experiences and perspectives.