Eagerness and Apathy: A Double-Edge Sword / by Joseph Palumbo

Believe it or not, being too eager to help is just as bad as being too apathetic.

In either case, the CSM's attitude (one overly positive, one overly-negative, or perhaps non-existent) becomes a barrier to effective communication.

I think we've all had experience with that person who has checked-out from his/her job. Their lack of enthusiasm makes getting help like pulling teeth. Everything about the interaction clearly conveys they are more interested in avoiding or minimizing customer interaction by going through the motions (overly transactional), or worse yet, providing some misdirection to move the problem to another department.

It goes without saying that this is inherently a negative experience for the customer, but as with anything negative, you can have an over correction.

Take for example the eager CSM who might be prone to jump into in-depth solutions and esoteric product knowledge well before they truly understand the customer's problem or question. Most of the time this comes from a good place - an eagerness to help. Other times it stems from some insecurities, somebody trying to prove that they have the knowledge and experience to do the job and be trusted.

It happens to the best of us

I fell into this trap a couple of weeks ago and it has been haunting me since then.

Somebody I met at a conference asked me for help in building their customer success program. I eagerly volunteered, excited to share some of my lessons learned and wisdom gained.

After giving me a general overview of his CS team and burgeoning strategy, he asked me if he was doing it right.

OK. That's a very general question, given the nuances of building a complex team. I should have asked him to be more specific, or break his question into specific parts. But no..

In my eagerness to help, I started breaking it down in my head the way I thought it should be broken down. The ensuing conversation was less than effective, confusing at times and felt disconnected from the start. I confided my feelings of failure (not providing good advice) in him before we ended the talk.

Not too hot, not too cold, just right

The moral of the story? Don't be too eager. Don't be too checked-out. Be present. Listen and realize that asking the right questions is more so much more important than saying the right things.