Preflight Conversations

Building customer-centricity into your post-sale journeys

Rebecca Nerad, VP - CS @ FourKites, talked about lessons learnt from her CS career, best practices for post-sales functions, and more
January 23, 2023
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Aswinchandar M

We hosted the incredible Rebecca Nerad, VP of Customer Success at FourKites, at our Chennai office for a discussion on the best practices for onboarding, implementation, and other post-sales teams. The Monday was sure a great start to our week and a fantastic way to kick off our in-person event for 2023.

Here are key takeaways from the discussion. 

The soft skills to coach your customer-facing teams on 

Your customer-facing team members will really thrive when they get coached on the not-so-technical aspects of connecting with customers. These skills give them the confidence to handle challenging customer situations. At the end of the day, there are human beings behind the product, the process, or the value our customer-facing teams deliver. Here are some things that'll help your team excel at their work:

Clear communication

Here is what clear communication with your customers looks like:

  1. Knowing how to communicate a timeline by which you will get back to your customer
  2. Sharing what you’re doing in the process, even if you do not have a definitive answer to it right away
  3. Being able to say, ‘I'm meeting with my development team tomorrow, and I will be in touch with them about the next steps, or I'll get back to you on a particular day and time with more information’.
  4. Not waiting until your customer reaches a point where they have to ask your team and follow up on an answer to their question 
  5. Alway build trust with timely responses, even with the most challenging questions.


If you really want to put your customers first, try to get a better grasp of how they interact with your product and the experience your team has in supporting them. Being a leader who cares means taking into consideration your team's needs and coming up with solutions that are tailored to their requirements.

For instance, support consultants are often swamped with tickets at the end of the day. In this scenario, it's a great idea to spend some time getting to know the personas of those who are using your solutions. This means understanding what they expect from you and how any issues can affect them. It's important to put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective.

You will get insight into the minute details which would otherwise have gone unnoticed, like knowing they must report to their boss by Wednesday. If you understand the urgency, you can communicate accordingly. Your internal teams will be empowered to be empathetic and respond with, ‘I know the importance of getting this report to you on time.’ 

Empathy is a powerful tool in a leader’s arsenal!

Customer Centricity 

Customer centricity is when your customer-facing teams help your primary users look good at their org by helping them fully utilize your solution. A great starting point is to conduct joint executive business reviews on how they're successfully using your product. You're making them look like a winner at their organization. This will turn users into champions of your offering! 

Onboarding and implementation 

Implementation is more than just helping your customers transition from spreadsheets to software. It is essential for CS and Onboarding to have more visibility into why the customer purchased the software in the first place. Determine what information and knowledge transfer will help the teams the customer will be passed on to. Even if a CSM is only responsible after implementation, they should be listening, learning, and asking questions about why the customer purchased your product. 

Onboarding isn’t all! 

Train your teams to be culturally sensitive if your customers’ teams are spread across the globe. Work with partners who know the space and have experience transitioning different segments from legacy software to a more comprehensive and sophisticated solution.   

The holy grail is in understanding what success means for your customer

Often, when we ask a customer about their goals (so we can measure and show how we help them create an impact), they might not have an answer. But it’s best to devise a strategy for success planning. 

If you're just starting out on your journey to unlock value for your customers, here are a few pieces of advice that can help:

  1. Be wary of how you approach repurposing work. 
  2. Having case studies that showcase how you have unlocked value for customers is a great way to start the conversation with a customer you have started to onboard.
  3. Sharing baseline numbers and percentages allows you to discuss the pain points in more detail. Doing the math to determine the cost implications makes it easier to present value to customers in a language they understand. 


Your customers have certain expectations for tracking visibility. Be sure to provide accurate, tangible numbers to back up your value propositions in every discussion. Keep releasing more information to give your customers greater insight into your solution. Have a health dashboard tracking the metrics you and the customer have identified together. It provides a quick snapshot of your solution's impact whenever they need it.

There might be times when the customer asks you why certain things are not being tracked the way they wanted them to be tracked. Plan your improvement process to ensure you meet your customer’s expectations of visibility into how your product or solution is helping them. 

Customer reactions are opportunities

  1. Angry customers aren't always easy to deal with, but they care, and it is an opportunity to build a relationship with them because they tell you why they're disappointed.
  2. Quiet doesn’t mean happy! Think about what value you add. 
  3. Have your product marketing team put together new and upcoming features  as an email or a slide deck. Do it at a frequency that makes the most sense for your solution and your releases instead of every CSM having to create it.

Customer Success

One of the most common reasons CSMs are stressed is that they do not own a large part of the customer journey. We get an angry customer coming at us, and we allocate the best resources in our CS teams to deal with them. During these times, it is essential to stand up for your team. Internal relationship building is as important as your relationship with the customers. 

Escalations cadence 

Have some guardrails around who's escalating what to whom. One of the most frustrating things about being a CS leader is when everything has to be escalated from every possible point of contact. Make it clear that the CSM is your customer’s first point of contact. Give them the next best option or a few options just in case the resource you have allocated isn’t available at that time. 

Recognize and reward 

Show your customer-facing teams some appreciation, and encourage them to spread the customer love to the product, marketing, and other teams that don't have the same level of exposure to external validation. It will remind everyone of just how invaluable your product or service is! Building relationships, trust, and appreciation are the most obvious ways to build better teams. 

We host in-person events with exceptional leaders like Rebecca in cities worldwide. If you want to join the conversation, apply to be a part of 2300+ leaders and practitioners in the Preflight Community. Share your thoughts and ideas on customer and post-sales leadership with the community. Watch out for our next in-person session in a local city chapter near you! 

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Usha Kalva
Community & Partnerships @ Rocketlane

Usha is a Community Manager at Preflight. She's been an EIR, runs a successful restaurant, and is inclined toward the social sciences. In a parallel universe, she'd have been a wildlife photographer.

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