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Customer Success Engineering, the sweet spot between business and technology (Christoph Walpert)

Posted by Viola Vester


„You have become a Customer Success... What exactly?“, is probably the most common reaction you get from your friends when you tell them that you are starting as a CSE.

When people ask me what I do, I don't usually start with the title. I explain that I work closely with the IT departments of many big corporations like Addidas, Volkswagen, and Zalando to implement LeanIX. Companies buy our tool to make data-driven decisions about how to evolve their IT landscape and every customer has his own requirements as to how they want to leverage LeanIX. I show them the best ways to bring the data into dashboards and reports that decision-makers require. Sometimes that demands creating customer-specific data objects or adding to our custom reporting to provide a tailored view for the stakeholder. Lastly, I deliver integrations to customers, increasing data quality by removing the need for manual data maintenance. As a CSE I am a problem solver for the IT department with the technical tool belt of our SaaS solution at my disposal.

All modern companies are becoming IT businesses, whether they are manufacturing cars, synthesizing drugs, or selling sneakers. As a CSE I get to look behind the curtain and see how IT businesses work in all these areas. Getting so many impressions makes the work very refreshing. Every new customer is a new challenge, a new business, and has slightly different requirements. On the other hand with every new customer case you become more and more familiar with the LeanIX product, learn its strengths and limitations. Combining the industry knowledge with the tool expertise puts CSEs in a strong position to drive product innovation. The combination of technical and business challenges has personally made a fascinating journey over the last 18 months. If you are interested in understanding the CSE role even better, be sure to check out my article on the role of CSE in modern SaaS companies.

I had built a B2B SaaS solution for one year, prior to joining LeanIX, but through the CSE role, I strongly advanced my understanding of this industry. I learned a lot about how SaaS solutions are designed from a product perspective. Even after being in the market for 8 years LeanIX cannot simply improve based on customer requests but also has to invest in strategic bets. As part of the CS team, you learn to be the customer's voice, surfacing important topics and filtering out less important ones to support product innovation. After less than a year at LeanIX, I could participate in one of the biggest strategic bets that LeanIX has ever made: Building a second product, the Cloud Native Suite.

Customer Success has taught me how to build trusting relationships in a supplier-customer engagement. As a CSE you are not selling software, you are the advisor of your client to guide him to best use the product. But you are also not there to fulfill every need they have. To quote our SVP Customer Success, Christian Richter: "You are not here to make customers happy, you are here to make them successful."

On a more technical note, this role has taught me a huge amount about building integrations fast and reliably. I believe that connecting data points from different sources and bringing them together in a central location automatically is a very valuable skill. I learned how to write Python code with the intent to extract large amounts of data from REST APIs, transform it into a LeanIX data structure of factsheets and relations, and then load it into the tool. Together with an understanding of server-less cloud architecture and webhooks this has become one of my strongest technical skills and has proven extremely useful even after my CSE time. After one year in the CSE Team, I could build an integration in under 14 days.

Lastly, LeanIX as a company, is truly a great place to work. In the teams I have worked with there has always been great respect between colleagues. Everyone is helpful and there is a lot of fun besides work. I found a lot of like-minded people from all over the world and have made a few good friends.

Even as a junior employee there was always room for voicing my opinion and constructive feedback has always been taken well by the management. The feeling of being able to contribute and to improve where I see fit motivates me every day.

LeanIX is one of the fastest-growing technology companies in Germany. Behind the scenes, our management does not only work to grow our revenue but they also strongly support employees in achieving personal goals. Over time I have received a great amount of trust and advice. I have received training and coaching where it suited my personal development. And after 18 months in CSE, I could confidently do the next step in my career and become a Product Manager. I am excited to see where the journey goes from here!