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Why Customer Success is Embracing the Technical Side

In an exclusive interview featuring Vibes's very own Elyse Cress, Director of Mobile Engagement Services, Built In Chicago learns more about how these accomplished customer success managers carved out their own paths to take on more responsibilities and grow as leaders in their space.

You can check out the complete lineup of interviews originally published here on Built In Chicago's website.

Briefly, tell us about your current role and the career path that brought you here.

Elyse Cress: I am currently a Director of Mobile Engagement and Launch Services in our Customer Success organization, overseeing half of the mobile engagement team and running our customer onboarding via launch services. Our team enables customers to use the Vibes platform in the most effective way for them to meet their business goals. We are technical consultants for both in-platform campaigns and third-party integrations, including custom programs like interactive ready-to-reveal programs. 

We work with our customer strategy team, the other practice in our CS org, to help make our customers’ mobile engagement programs successful. The customer strategy team drives the what and why with our customers, then the mobile engagement team shows the how.

I joined Vibes in 2015 as an account manager helping to guide brands like Redbox and Lane Bryant, who are still my customers today, on their mobile engagement programs. In 2018, Vibes made the strategic decision to split the customer success team into two distinct practices under the CS umbrella. Having developed a passion for building solutions with our platform and APIs, I moved into the technical track of the mobile engagement team.

How did you develop the technical skills needed to step into this role? 

Elyse Cress: All of my technical skills have been 100 percent learned on the job at Vibes. From early on, it was my goal to be able to lead technical-oriented meetings without needing to bring in a product manager or engineer. Being part of a mid-size growth organization like Vibes provided me the opportunity to immerse myself in technical conversations to help build my tech business acumen. I’d sit in on meetings with our most tenured technical teams and did my best to learn and absorb everything they said, looking up any acronyms or terms that I didn’t understand or wanted to learn more about on my own time. I asked a lot of questions and was fortunate to have a lot of people willing to help me learn and grow.

One example that I often reflect back on was a business trip to visit a customer in 2019. My manager at the time had just had surgery and wasn’t able to travel, the product manager got stranded during a layover and our VP’s flight got canceled, leaving me to run the in-person technical meetings by myself. Thanks to what I had learned at Vibes, I was able to answer all of the technical questions on my own and run a very successful meeting. It was a big growth moment for me.

How have you continued to develop your technical skills in your current position?

Elyse Cress: I collaborate with our product team through bi-weekly meetings, and also work to stay involved in customer projects. I serve as an escalation point for my teams and cover execution when members of my team are on vacation. It’s my goal to never lose touch with our platform capabilities, so I love any opportunity to test and troubleshoot.

I like to follow industry publications, listen to webinars, and stay in tune with both customer and non-customer mobile programs. Having a natural sense of curiosity enables me to constantly learn – it’s one of my personal core values and biggest motivator.

Through the mentoring program at Vibes, I got paired with our chief technology officer, Brian Garofola. He continues to be a great coach for me as a manager, as well as an inspiration in my quest to always be learning, which is a core value of Vibes. One of my favorite experiences with Brian was working together to launch a Smart Response Engine pilot for one of our customers using machine learning to respond to incoming messages on a short code.

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