Hi everyone, I’m excited to introduce you to another member of the Drift team.
I know you’ve already met Shannon Donovan, Mary Mitchell, Catherine LaMacchia, Nadine Shaalan, Kahlil Trocmé, Britnee Laughlin, Sam Boyd, Allison Betito, Carolina Caprile, Michelle Ai, Frank Schepps, Tate Knapp, Pat Timmons, Alexa Nguyen, and Zareena Javed.
This time on Inside Drift, I’d like to introduce you to Chrissie Cronin. Chrissie joined Drift almost four years ago as our very first CSM on our Customer Success team. That team has since grown from about five people to almost 70. Chrissie has been instrumental in helping us level up and identify new ways we can better serve our customers as we continue to scale through hypergrowth. She plays a huge part in helping us stay true to our number one Drift Leadership Principle – put the customer at the center of everything you do.
Ready to meet Chrissie? Let’s go ⚡
Editor’s note: The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Kaitlyn Martins: We’ll start with an easy one! Can you tell me a little bit about what you do at Drift?
Chrissie Cronin: I am the Director of Customer Success at Drift, and I currently oversee the Growth, Focus Mid-Market, and Email Customer Success teams, in addition to the Professional Services team.
Kaitlyn: What does your day-to-day typically look like? Has it changed at all now that we are a Digital First company?
Chrissie: Well for one thing, I have A LOT of Zoom meetings! That is definitely how my day to day has changed the most. We’ve been really lucky with the growth that Drift has seen over this very challenging year. As we continue to scale the business, that means we’re rapidly expanding the team, so a big part of my schedule these days is that I’ve been doing a lot more interviews.
In general, I really enjoy my day-to-day because it varies so much. I can be doing anything from a few interviews a day, to hopping on customer calls, doing pipeline reviews, reviewing decks for my team, or iterating on processes we need to improve.
While the tasks are different every day, what remains the same is that I’m always doing something to help either my team or our customers.
Kaitlyn: You’ve had a couple different roles on the Customer Success team during your time at Drift so far. Can you tell me about how you’ve been able to grow professionally throughout your Drift tenure?
Chrissie: I came in as the first manager on the Customer Success team almost four years ago.
Being able to witness that growth first-hand has been hugely helpful to growing my career. We started out with a team of five and now the Customer team is close to 70 people.
Something that I always say is you can read all the Harvard Business Review articles and all the business books about how to scale a company, and particularly a Customer Success team, but until you live and breathe it (and see how our leaders lead and scale a team day-to-day), that’s when the real professional development happens. Going through it is when you really learn.
It’s been amazing to see how we’ve been able to grow the team segment, build out specializations, and create very specific roles to help better serve our customers. For example, our Customer Success Managers used to do all the onboarding for customers, as well as upgrading them, reselling them, renewing them, etc. Now, we’ve specialized our roles in such a way that we have dedicated teams solely focused on those motions: onboarding, customer success, professional services, renewal specialists, and account management. This has been hugely helpful in up-leveling the service we’re able to deliver to the most important asset we have at Drift: our customers.
Kaitlyn: What does your team look like and how do you share roles and responsibilities?
Chrissie: On my team, we have about 10-15 CSMs under two managers that I currently manage for our Growth and Focus segments. I also directly manage 12 people on the Professional Services team and Email CSM teams.
The managers I work with are amazing and really focus on coaching and mentoring the team on the front lines, whether it’s hopping on their customer calls, listening to calls, helping them with decks and renewal reviews, and account inspection.
My main focuses right now are helping to make sure we’re hitting our numbers and seeing positive results – and doing a lot of phone screens and interviews with potential Drifters.
I also work very closely with other department heads. Customer Success is a very collaborative role, so building a really tight partnership with our Sales counterparts is something I take very seriously. We’re always making sure we’re aligned across departments to create a seamless customer experience.
Kaitlyn: You’re currently looking to expand your team which is really exciting. What do you look for in a new hire?
Chrissie: First and foremost, they have to have what I like to call executive presence. It’s very important in a customer-facing role that they’re able to get on a customer call and be engaging, a great communicator, and someone who knows how to drive the conversation. That is number one when it comes to this role.
The second thing I look for is someone who is not afraid to ask for help. That’s critical as we bring in new team members, especially in this remote environment where you can’t just roll over to someone’s desk and ask them a quick question. The best CSMs are able to ask for feedback, coaching, and guidance – and then apply it.
Lastly, I would say have a strong bias for action and be able to work with a sense of urgency. That’s 100% how we operate (and it’s one of Drift’s core Leadership Principles). Time management is such a huge priority for a CSM, particularly making sure we’re being proactive, staying one step ahead of our customers, and anticipating their needs. Proactive engagement is key.
Kaitlyn: What makes the Customer Success team at Drift different from other places you’ve worked?
Chrissie: Put the customer at the center of everything you do is Drift’s first Leadership Principle. And a lot of companies will talk about how they are customer-first and just leave it at that. What’s different about Drift is that we talk the talk on customer-centricity – but we also walk the walk.
Take it from a member of the customer team – if delivering great experiences for your customers is what matters most to you, then you won’t find a better place to be than Drift.
Our focus on customers alleviates some of the stress and challenges that can come from a customer-facing role. Because it’s not just something that the customer team takes to heart. All of the departments at Drift are held accountable for the health of our customers.
Kaitlyn: What’s a fun fact that people might not know about you?
Chrissie: My grandfather is in the Baseball Hall of Fame! His name is Joe Cronin and he was number four on the Red Sox – his number is actually retired. I like to think that I have a lot of grit, and you’ll often hear people say that grit can be inherited. My grandfather definitely had a lot of grit, so I think that he passed that down to me! He was a player, then a player manager, and then he was president of the American League. His story is always my go-to fun fact.
Kaitlyn: Have you picked up any hobbies or discovered any hidden talents during quarantine?
Chrissie: I would say organization, I mean what else is there to do during a pandemic than Marie Kondo your life?! I have bought so many of those organizational devices off TikTok and Amazon (and some of them actually work!), so that’s been a fun, productive project.
In terms of hidden talents or hobbies outside of that, the pandemic has forced me to spend more time in the kitchen. I hate cooking, but I’m slowly getting better at it. I’m mediocre at this point which is a win in my book.
Kaitlyn: Finally, what advice do you have for prospective Drift candidates?
Chrissie: Something I hear quite often in interviews, particularly with folks that are familiar with Drift’s growth and rapid expansion over the years, is that people can’t wait to join a hypergrowth company.
They say that, but they can’t tell me why that is actually important to them.
Working at a company like Drift is an amazing opportunity. We all feel very lucky to be here, but it can be challenging. The only constant we can count on is change. Some people, like myself, like change and uncertainty, but a lot of people don’t and that’s okay, too.
My advice would be to really be able to point to the competencies in your skillset that make you a good fit at a fast-growing and ever-changing company like Drift – and be sure to highlight that in your conversations with us.