The link between growth mindset and customer success is of growing importance to businesses looking to establish superior customer onboarding practices.

In the Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) article, “The Right Mindset for Success,” Dr. Carol Dweck outlines the importance of mentality and mindset in business and leadership. In this two-part blog, TaskRay is reviewing HBR’s article and pulling out the key concepts that support the customer success journey.

What is a growth mindset? 

First, what is a growth mindset? Dr. Dweck’s concept and research is focused largely on the ability of students to succeed in the face of adversity. However, the idea is equally useful for approaching customer success. Dr. Dweck’s work explores two distinct mindsets: people with a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence is innate and unchangeable. According to Dr. Dweck, “a fixed mindset is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that.” In contrast, people with a “growth mindset” understand that intelligence (and success) is flexible and can be developed. In reality, people rarely operate in a single mindset, instead, people tend to operate on a spectrum and can operate with fixed mindsets in certain aspects of their life while having growth mindsets in others. 

Why is a growth mindset important for customer success? 

For two main reasons. First, it helps teams understand that everyone wants to be seen as smart, capable and competent (customers and colleagues alike). The second reason is that the single most important job as customer success managers (CSMs) is to align the customer’s success with their own, solving their problems and  supporting their comprehension of a given product.

When first onboarding a new customer it is especially easy to fall into a fixed mindset for several reasons. Often CSMs are keen to prove value to their new customer, but because  they’ve onboarded a million customers just like them, they think they know exactly what they need to succeed. Falling into this mindset hinders CSMs ability to fully understand and help their customer’s specific needs.

CSMs with growth mindsets see onboarding as more than just a phase in the customer life cycle they must get through. Great CSMs know that issues during onboarding—whether platform related or from another source—are opportunities. They realize that these problems are just bumps in the road on the way to successful implementation, and this is the essence of the growth mindset. Dr. Dweck says, “In a growth mindset, you’re focused on the process, the process that you engage in to bring about your successes, and the processes you engaged in that may have created your failures, but you can learn from them and do better the next time.” No matter the setbacks or challenges, the CSMs with growth mindsets see challenges as an opportunity to grow and improve not only themselves but their platform and organization as a whole.  

Ready to cultivate a growth mindset? Look out for our follow up blog post filled with specific tips from Dr. Dweck’s research.

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