A Customer Success Guide for Teachers

December 21, 2021

Mo Gorman

Category: Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Maturity, Customer Success Strategy, Voice of the Team

I was a teacher for nine years. It’s what I had always wanted to be growing up and I never even considered anything else. I attended a university with a top education program and immersed myself in the path to becoming a teacher. After graduation, I got my first job teaching second grade and settled into what I thought was a long career in education.

I loved the relationship-building part of being a teacher, but I wanted my impact to reach more than just the twenty-eight students that rolled through my classroom each year. When I first thought about leaving the teaching profession for something new, I had no idea where to start. What else could I do with a degree in Education?

Since then, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who has asked that exact same question – friends and other teachers I’ve talked to over the years have expressed the same worry about moving on from teaching to another path.

What teachers might not realize is that the skills they’re developing in the classroom are transferable to a career in Customer Success. So, I’ve developed a handy reference guide to help you transition your career from teaching to Customer Success.

Psssttt…if you’re a CS leader reading this – keep these concepts in the back of your mind (or come back and reference this guide) the next time you’re searching for a new candidate pool to fill that open CSM role on your team. Your next great CSM may just be a teacher!

Customer Success (CS) Term: Success Plan
Teacher Term: Lesson Plans

A Success Plan is a detailed path customers will follow toward achieving their goals with your product. They typically contain objectives, key challenges, milestones, actions and dates, and success criteria. Teachers, isn’t a lesson plan a detailed path teachers follow for what students should accomplish during class? You’re creating Success Plans that are shared with your principal, teaching partners, and students every day. You are well equipped to conduct Success Planning with your future customers no matter the industry or product.

CS Term: Customer Health Score
Teacher Term: Report Card

A Customer Health Score uses customer data points to determine the value that is being delivered to the customer. Typically represented as red, yellow, green, this score helps to identify which accounts are at risk and require urgent attention and which are doing well and can continue to be nurtured and primed for growth. In education, progress may be reported with letters or numbers, but the goal remains the same, to identify student progress for remediation or growth.

CS Term: NRR, ARR, & ACV
Teacher Term: Lexile, Quantile, F&P

One of the most intimidating things about being new to Customer Success, at least for me, was learning the metrics that are typically used when measuring success in a SaaS business. But these metrics can be taught and learned just like many of the metrics used in education. I’m sure my face had the same scrunched-up expression the first time I heard the word Lexile as when I heard the term Net Revenue Retention (NRR). Bottom line, every industry has a way to measure success, when interviewing for a Customer Success role you don’t have to know what NRR is to be able to speak about how you measure success.

CS Term: Executive Business Review (EBR)
Teacher Term: Parent/Teacher Conferences

The EBR (or Quarterly Business Review/QBR as some refer to it) is nothing more than a meeting with your customer to review progress and demonstrate value. As a Customer Success Manager, you must prepare, present, and follow-up…I don’t know you about you, but that is exactly how I approached Parent/Teacher Conferences.

CS Term: Handling tricky customers
Teacher Term: Parents

During the hiring process, an employer may ask a situational question, for example, what’s one time you worked with a difficult customer and how did you resolve the situation? Your mind might immediately panic thinking that you haven’t worked with customers. Don’t sell yourself short! As teachers, parents are part of our customer base, and you are well equipped to answer this question using various scenarios with parents that you’ve worked during the school year.

CS Term: Journey Map
Teacher Term: School Year Planning

A journey map is a visualization of the process that a person (customer) goes through in order to achieve success with a product. Mapping out the customer journey helps to avoid potential issues ahead of time, increases customer retention, and uncovers key information to make the best decisions for your business. As teachers, we plan out the entire school year to ensure that we cover the necessary curriculum, accounting for school breaks and holidays, and ensure that our students achieve success by the end of the year.

CS Term: Cross-functional relationships
Teacher Term: Working with other teachers/school staff

I have a coffee mug that says, “It takes every single member of our school’s education team to help our students develop, grow, achieve, and dream!” When I was teaching, there was rarely a moment when I didn’t have a member of our support staff in my classroom, or a time when I wasn’t collaborating on a lesson plan with my grade level teaching partner or correlating a science lesson with the art teacher to capture a concept from a different perspective. So, when I transitioned into Customer Success and I was asked how I work cross-functionally with other departments, I simply had to tap into the endless examples of my school’s education team working together to help our students achieve success.

Okay, I need to cut myself off somewhere, as I could go on and on with this list, and the truth is, I’m having so much fun doing it! Part Two coming soon? Maybe!

In the meantime, teachers, remember that you have all the skills to be an amazing Customer Success professional. All that’s left to do is go out there, conquer that interview, and continue to change the world!