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Long May You Run

Khoros Oracle

One of the most common crossroads of confusion that a CSM can face is when a Lithium customer wants to do something that is not going to be good for the community.  From a service perspective we always want to give the customer what they want, but from a support perspective, we want them to see the greatest return possible on their expenditure.
I look at it like this:  If I was a concierge in a boutique style hotel, and a gentleman came up to me with this request; “Tell me the best Vietnamese restaurant in town to take my family”, I'd have to lie to him in order to keep my job.  Why?  Because the best Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco is on skid row.
We CSMs oftentimes get a launch that requires the community to be up and running as of yesterday.  This requires a tight schedule, dead-on deliverable dates, etc.  The Lithium launch process does not have many twists, turns, or surprises, so we try to convey confidence in what we've established as a winning formula that gets a community up and running in 6 weeks.  Usually the customer is pretty receptive to that.  🙂
But on occasion a customer will want to add some extra steps halfway through the launch process.  Steps that, while noble in intention, will never actually have any impact whatsoever on the growth of the community.  As a CSM, it is a delicate balance.  Sometimes, unfortunately, a business stakeholder has this requirement placed upon them and it is unshakeable.  Well, in that case, we all do what we can.  But in other cases, the CSM needs to let the customer know that this is not a good usage of time, or worse, time + extra money.  I can say with hand over heart that I hate doing this.  Telling anybody that their idea is not so hot is tough.   The return, when they listen, has ended up being quite rewarding though.  I mean, so what if the restaurant is on skid row?  It is still the best Vietnamese food you've ever had.


So remember: Skid Row can sometimes be good, like the obscure Merle Haggard song.  Or it can be really bad, like the Skid Row hair-metal band from the 80s.

In future blog entries I'll talk about some of these "last minute changes" that can wait until after the community has pushed to production.




I imagine the job of CSM is in many ways like my own, that we need to carry forward the  general business objectives of our employers while also being the advocate for the customer - being a guide and advisor of sorts.   Thanks for outlining some of the challenges here.


I've found both CSM's that I've worked with to be great advisors, and especially during the launch, I felt like I had an experienced partner as part of the team, who listened to the requests and proposed no-cost alternatives rather than just coming back with a quote and asking for more money.  Such actions may have foregone small amounts of revenue for Lithium, but made me feel valued as a customer, and certainly made me feel we had more of a partnership.  I think this is indeed the right strategy for the long run.



Lithium Alumni (Retired)


Great point here. One key statement I made to our CSM (when I was on the customer side) launching a community: "Don't let me do anything that will prevent a future upgrade." The thinking here is that Lithium's SaaS model allows one to take advantage of Lithiums development and innovation cycle. This one statement forced our team to look creatively at the business goals and adapt accordingly. I found that corporate marketing guidelines were just that: guidelines; not hard and fast rules. In the end our CSM, Lynne came up with a suggestion that required a single, low-cost ECR that was upgrade friendly and gave HUGE flexibility. Check out the ACT! communtiy for the homepage effect that accomplished our vision.

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‎09-18-2008 10:09 PM
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