November 3, 2022

Inside Smartcar: How I found myself in Customer Success

Travis Joseph

Product Manager II

Hi! I’m Travis Joseph (yes, two first names),  a Customer Success Manager here at Smartcar. The objective of “Customer Success” can be defined differently at various companies, but my main goal is to serve as the product expert for our customers — this means ensuring they have a smooth implementation process, helping them leverage Smartcar’s API effectively, and surfacing feedback to our engineering teams so our roadmap is as customer-focused as possible.

How did I get to where I am today?

Time for a brief history lesson.

Oh, you’re committed now.

I started out as a Computer Science major (and eventually started working part-time as a catering assistant - this will become relevant, I promise) honestly because I enjoyed building computers and writing scripts to automate stuff, but quickly realized that:

  1. I didn’t actually know if this was something I wanted to pursue as a full-fledged career.
  2. There were people in my classes that seemed to be far better attuned to this than I was (In hindsight I shouldn’t have let this deter me, but regardless, I’m glad I recognized early on that it wasn’t the best fit for me).

So I took a break from school.

During my break, I worked as a Sales Representative at T-Mobile and realized I enjoyed parts of sales, but mostly I enjoyed helping customers with their phone and account issues. I always enjoyed seeing that look after I saved a phone they thought was already dead or managed to get a billing issue sorted out.

By this point, I’d started taking classes again to finish my degree and started looking for jobs. My friends from back home had graduated and started their careers as veterinarians and engineers or were working toward research PhDs.

But I wanted a career that would allow me to continue becoming a jack of all trades.

I discovered that a Sales Engineer role was the closest fit to my skill set, so I ended up working as one for a year. The downside was that I ended up in an industry and company where I couldn’t see myself growing in the long term.

So I started looking for something new.

Discovering Smartcar

Smartcar’s job post stood because the company’s emphasis on cars and engineering aligned with my interests.

The idea of working for a startup sounded like a nice change of pace.

It weirdly reminded me of what I enjoyed about being a catering assistant — having a lot to do and not enough time, potentially wearing many hats (food prep, delivery driver, or waiter), and pivoting quickly.

OK, the pivoting analogy only works because at times we had to literally turn the truck around to pick up another catering order.

But hopefully, that illustrates my point (I told you my catering assistant days would be relevant).

After passing the screening call and getting to the next stage with my hiring manager, I started to do some recon on Smartcar’s Head of Success, Victor.

I saw “Jack of all trades, obsessed with customer experience” in his bio. That’s when I decided I had to land this job to hopefully learn a thing or two from him.

I’ve been at Smartcar for over two years now, so I’d say I made a pretty good call.

What I love about being a Customer Success Manager

There’s so much to say, but I’ll try to summarize.

  • Communicating with a talented engineering team that is happy to answer any of my questions so I’m never siloed from the product.
  • Having a brilliant sales team that understands the product and is closing great deals. It’s a wonderful feeling when customers have their expectations set in the sales cycle.
  • Liaising closely with customers to make their visions a reality. By this point we’ve implemented Smartcar in various use cases, so we have a good understanding of where to start. However, as the space is still relatively new, it’s great to problem-solve with customers and drive the product in a direction that helps their innovative use cases.

Most of all I enjoyed being put into the thick of it as the second member of the team and working to really define what Customer Success at Smartcar means — from putting together minimum viable product guides for certain verticals, setting up and writing content for our guerilla Notion-hosted help center, standing in as an accounting associate to help with contracts and invoicing, or building out dashboards to make troubleshooting easier.

It’s been a blast and one of the best learning experiences I’ve had.

It was a much-needed breath of fresh air to have our second Customer Success Manager, Ryan, join the team recently to fine-tune our internal processes. We look forward to growing the team as Smartcar continues to scale.

Speaking of scaling,  did I mention we’re hiring across several departments, including Customer Success?

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