By Tom Wells on Aug 7, 2019 6:09:00 AM
As a customer success manager, you form a crucial link between your users and the product. Your ability to give product demos, perform onboarding, resolve support issues or find upselling opportunities can significantly influence the churn rate and adoption rates at your company. And your success in the role depends on one thing more than any other: communication. As a non-native speaker, this may well be your biggest challenge. It may even be standing in the way of you landing your dream job.
That's why we created this new communication guide for non-native CSMs:
From our experience working with Customer Success experts, we have observed that the following are 6 of the most popular challenges that can damage your customer success as a non-native professional. Have you ever experienced any of these?
1. It’s more difficult to pass interviews at top companies
As a non-native speaker, it is undoubtedly harder to get a top-paying CSM job at a major tech company. But why? Every skill you need to excel at Customer Success revolves around communication. The world's top companies mainly look for communication ability when interviewing candidates and they design questions and interview tasks accordingly.
Another reason is something called cultural bias. Also referred to as native speaker or accent bias, this is where interviewers subconsciously prefer native speaker accents to foreign ones. This means they may judge your interview performance to be worse unfairly, putting you at a disadvantage (check out this Forbes article for various examples of this).
2. You’re more likely to be overlooked for an internal promotion
We are not saying that non-native speakers are worse at the job. Some of the best CSM teams in the world are made up of a very diverse group of candidates. But biases make it harder for you to get a promotion.
Firstly, your team leader and HR manager will probably look at KPIs to assess your performance. Typical KPIs include user churn for your portfolio for users, time to onboard, retention rates or just general user feedback. Especially if you are still learning English, your KPIs will probably be worse than your colleagues'. It may take you longer to resolve support issues, and your client communication will be slower. Users usually leave the best feedback to CSMs with the best communication skills.
Internal interviews and performance tasks present another problem. Performance review tasks are conceived by native speakers. This makes it next to impossible to remove unconscious native speaker bias from them. So while companies claim to treat everybody equally, when it comes to your performance review, your foreign accent may disadvantage you.
3. You experience misunderstandings with other team members
Every great CSM team collaborates really well. But collaboration is directly correlated with you ability to communicate a problem, delegate tasks, and resolve issues. So there's very little room for misunderstandings. Your communication skills also affect how competent your colleagues think you are. Misunderstandings can lead your colleagues and managers to undervalue your work as well as cause the team to miss their targets.
4. You are slower to resolve support issues
Don’t get us wrong. Some of the best CSMs in the world are non-native speakers. But there are certain tasks where weak communication may impact your ability to resolve support issues. For example, navigating user documentation in a foreign language is typically slower than in your own. Not only this, but non-native speakers are extra careful to avoid grammar mistakes when typing emails or Slack messages. All in all, non-native CSMs are likely to have worse KPIs, including time to resolve.
5. Your client-facing communication will seem less professional
Annoyingly, even if you have a natural talent for communication in your native language, it is difficult to achieve the same level in English. The thing is, users judge your competency based on your communication. If your communication is weaker than your colleagues, it could negatively affect your perception in the following areas:
- Training users and onboarding
- Product demos
- Resolving issues
All of these skills require clear, concise, and nuanced communication skills. Not only do you need to empathize with your users’ needs, but you also need to be able to communicate solutions across written and verbal channels.
6. It is harder to delight your users
Weak communication skills affect your primary mission as a CSM, which is to delight your users. Unfortunately, if your accent is hard to understand, or you don’t speak with confidence, then your user feedback may be worse. And this is a vicious circle: the worse your feedback, the less likely you are to get a promotion or impress your team lead.
If you are feeling like this is a problem you are having, get in touch with us and we’ll tell you how Talaera can help you.
How you can overcome these challenges
It’s not all bad. It is possible to overcome these challenges, as many of our students working in CSM have already done.
The new Talaera Communication Guide for Customer Success combines our expertise with insights from our students to provide practical strategies to overcome these challenges. Downloading this guide can help you make a roadmap to landing your dream customer success job.
The guide includes:
- The main communication challenges for non-native customer success managers
- The benefits of great communication skills
- Practical strategies to overcome these challenges from our experts
Talaera is an online platform that provides one-on-one business English language training, anytime, anywhere, through 100% personalized lessons, HD video quality, and excellent native teachers. It's effective, engaging, and empowering, Want to know more? Let's talk!
Did you enjoy this post? We have more like this:
- 60 Sales Phrases that will make you sound like a native speaker
- 150+ Useful Email Phrases That Will Make Your Life Easier
- The 10 Proven Tactics You Need To Make Your Boss Say Yes
- Effective Onboarding: Vocabulary for Non-Native HR Professionals
- Useful Answers to Business English Top Questions - Expert Advice
- 14 Simple Rules That Will Make You A Better Communicator