6 tips for Developers working with Customer Success

Colin Goudie
March 29, 2023
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Customer Success Managers working with developers

So a few weeks back I posted about Customer Success working with Developers and I promised to put together a list for the developers and product team as well.

If you’re a developer, this list is for you. However, make sure to check the article above as many of those tips are cross-functional.

And if you’re a CSM - share this with your product teams. Maybe at your own risk  

So first, a story.

I spent about 3-4 years during university working as a waiter. Some of the best times of my life!

Being mostly introverted the job helped me out of my shell - Made me expand my taste buds - and meet a bunch of really awesome people (staff and customers alike)!

Friday and Saturday night would come and we might put 300-400 people through the restaurant. It was busy, the restaurant was hot and stuffy AND if it got really crazy, do you know what sometimes the kitchen would do?

They’d tell the floor to NOT TAKE ANY MORE ORDERS!


It’s as if they’d expect the floor staff and waiters to magically entertain the customers while cooks were busy doing what they were supposed to have been doing before customers came - Prepping food and dishes and having a fast and effective process ready.

I’m not saying it’s all on the kitchen staff when things go wrong like this. But working in a software development business is very similar.

You have customer-facing teams, that have little control over the deliverables, and you have ‘back office’ teams that hardly speak to the customers and who forget how much they actually control.

So here are a few tips for ‘us developers’, to work better with our Customer facing teams.

🕹️ You’re in control

Have you heard of the 6 Ps? My kids hate it when I say it







I know developers don’t make every decision in a business. But when it comes to the product you’d be surprised how much they really do.

So it’s important to be prepared.

When you’re building new features and making changes, taking the time to really analyze every aspect that is reasonable to do so goes a long way to minimizing the negative impacts.

And this builds safety within the Customer Success team.

🤔 Be curious - Be open to learning

If you’re being handed requirements from the Product or CS team, try to not be defensive or closed off with solutions.

Often subconsciously we start thinking of the myriad of things that will have to change to implement the new feature. This can be dangerous as it tends to narrow us into a local maximum when determining how we would go about making these changes.

Put yourself in the customer's shoes and make sure you’re looking at it the way they would. It helps to answer these questions:

Why are we building it this way?

Why are we building it at all?

And even more importantly, would I be happy to use this, day in and day out, when implemented this way?

Remember, the CS team has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can help you to improve the work you do and better serve the customer.

🍔 You're on the same team

This is worth reiterating over and over and I mention this in my other article about Socializing and Eating Together.

It’s such an underrated process to implement.

Founders and managers need to take this seriously and make sure their teams are interconnected outside the office.

If you get along well, this is a no-brainer, but if there is tension, you have a lot of work to do. But it’s worth it.

Socializing is one way for sure, but also working together on projects where both teams come away with a win, will really build up that sense of team.

🧙🏼 Get involved - Use your problem solving

Try to have regular touchpoints with both the Customer Success teams and your customers.

One thing to remember is that CSMs tend to see all solutions through the eyes of the current product.

They have to, it’s the only tool they really have.

You have the luxury of actually creating new value and ways to solve problems.

In addition, you’ve probably used a tonne of other technical products on the side, that could solve a customer's problem way more efficiently and faster than most non-technical people.

So get involved, and learn what customers are really trying to do in their day job.

Remember, it’s very rare that a customer is using your tool because that’s what they want to do.

You eat at your favorite restaurant, not because of the process of eating but to solve being hungry, to meet friends, or to unwind.

Customers do the same with your product.

🦴 Use your product

Ok, this one can be so valuable, especially for those of us lucky enough to be able to dog food our own solution.

But even if you wouldn’t use the software day in and day out, try and pick some aspects you could apply daily. It won’t be perfect in that environment, but it will help to highlight any of the frustrations and workflow issues that might be present.

If you can’t use it at all, in your development setup, try having data sets that really mimic the real world. Funny example and test data that is comical might be amusing, but if it doesn’t highlight the real world both in content and volume, you are going to miss so much that is right in front of you.

✨ Quality and testing

We choose to write every single line of code we write

I wanted to leave you here with a note about quality and testing. It’s a hot-button topic a lot of the time inside a development team. Who’s responsible for testing? Developers, the QA team, UAT via CS team?

And what about this vaunted automated testing we keep hearing about? Why is our product not 100% covered in tests?

I raise this because I have heard, time and time again, that as developers we’re not given enough time to do everything right. That we don’t have time to build out our test suite.

Let’s be honest, this is bullshit.

We set the estimates. We choose to write every single line of code we write (Unless it’s all Github co-pilot these days?).

So if we’re not writing tests, we are choosing that.

Not the business. Not the CS team.

Worth remembering.

It’s grounding.

I hope I didn’t get too critical in this post, but I hope to open the eyes of developers and take away some ideas in helping to successfully work with the customer success team. Not just to work well, but to excel and rocket together. 🚀

And, if you’re doing it right, you’ve already gone out to lunch with some CSMs so drop a comment with a selfie of your team 📸

I write on Medium for my own personal thoughts, and you can follow along with my company Userlot here - https://www.linkedin.com/company/userlot

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