Customer Success: Turning doubters into believers

Michelle Ann Tilano, learner at NewCampus shares how she built an award-winning customer success team in spite of the doubters around her.

It’s no secret how we at NewCampus love sharing the personal transformation of our learners. We recently got a chance to catch up with Michelle Ann Tilano, Customer Success Manager at Novelship about her learning experience with NewCampus and her journey of learning to believe in herself while inspiring others to believe in her too.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: Proving the Doubters Wrong

Question: Tell us a bit about your transition from telecommunications and finance to leading customer success at Novelship. Did you face any challenges?  

The biggest challenge that I encountered at that time is people doubting me and my ability. People [told] me that I don't deserve to be there. I heard things like: "Why should she get promoted?" "Why should she get that position?" and "I believe that she doesn't deserve that position at all".

Those were times that even I doubted myself as well. I asked myself: "Can I do this?" "Why am I in this position right now?" " Am I really deserving to have this position?". But then I told myself:  "You were given a chance to lead a team and you should grab this moment to prove them wrong - to prove to them that you can do it despite the doubts that they're throwing at you.”

By then, my team started to get consecutive awards for top team and I [got] an award as well as a consecutive top supervisor for the overall company. So that's the time that I was like, "Oh yeah, I can do this. I have proven myself already". As far as the feedback that I heard from my subordinates, they said I guided them well throughout the process. 

I guess the best moment or the best reward is seeing your team member grow and receive awards as well. 

Understanding Motivations

Question: You manage teams from different cultures and viewpoints. When their ideas come into conflict with the company’s mission, how do you them help shift their mindset? 

I give them a larger view of everything: What is the effect on you? The effect on the team? The effect on the company?

[This] is so that they can focus on only just themselves, but think about other things that might get affected by their actions. I make them realise the bigger picture [with] empathy. That's when I get their buy-in. 

Question: Is that a principle that you apply when you approach things? 

Yes, yes, yes. What I've learnt from the cohort as well as to explain to them what they can get out of it. That’s something I’m applying right now. I'm very thankful that I've learnt that from the cohort as well. 

I [used to] just tell them the bigger picture without telling them the effects or what they can get out of it too. I think that’s a difference right now. 

Building Bridges

Question: How do you navigate both internal and external relationship building with your team at Novelship? 

It's a matter of how you motivate them on a daily basis and check in on them - even just a little. 

I guess I have this skill where I can just detect if there is something going on with them, even if they don't tell me I know it already. And then when we go on coaching and then I start my coaching, asking them how are they feeling and getting in touch with them and touch base with them or what is going on with their personal life as well, I don't force them to tell me everything about their personal life because that's their personal life, but anything that they can share. 

I'm always opening the floor to them so that they can open up to me and be more comfortable with me sharing everything. Because if they are comfortable with me sharing their personal life, they are comfortable also sharing their struggles and challenges that they have at work. So that's the main thing. 

I treat them not only as subordinates but as a team and family as well. I don't like to limit them to something like processing tickets only or answering users' enquiries. But I also challenge them to share their ideas, whether it's not related or related. 

Investing in the Future

Question: What advice would you give hypergrowth employers who would like to develop their leadership talent and team? 

Employers need to work on learnings and development of their employees. It's like investing in the education of your child and [giving] your kid a proper education. 

Employers should never hesitate if there's a chance for them to be enrolled there. I encourage them to do so because it will only it will not only help the employers themselves, but it will help the growth and the success of the company as well.

Question: How different is your experience with attending management training from your experience with NewCampus so far?

You know what? It's very funny that I've attended a lot of like training before in my previous company here in the Philippines, but I forgot all of them. Not saying that it was bad, but the impact wasn’t that deep compared to the ones I’ve experienced recently with you. 

We did a lot of breakouts [here]and we’re given assignments and tasks ahead of time. We can make reviews on your and the videos as well. We can think about generating ideas ahead of time so that when we start the conversation or when we start the class, we’re all equipped and ready to share the things that we’ve learned ahead of time. 

The breakout rooms really help because we get to practise what we're doing after the discussion and then we get to share the challenges that we have with other cohort members as well. So I guess the way it was handled is very different from the normal way that I have experienced before. So it's more in-depth now. 

Having a Growth Mindset

Question: Are there any ideas you’d like to work on or habits you’d like to cultivate for 2022?

I’d like to cultivate my skills of getting buy-in from my subordinates by means of telling them that the reason I’m assigning them this is because of what they can get [out of it]. 

The other thing is providing feedback and asking them what their thoughts are. I want to be  consistent in terms of that because I've tried it already several times and it's proven effective in getting your subordinates to listen to you and be more collaborative. 

Lastly is how I provide coaching. What I learnt from like the cohort itself is to let your subordinates think about [their action plan]. That [way] you guys can work together not in one-way communication, but in two-way communication. And at the same time, you get their [minds] working and think it. 

If you didn’t notice already…

Fun-fact: Michelle is an avid traveller. Having left her home in the Philippines to travel to new lands in Thailand, she’s now set her sights on exploring her homeland. Check out how the travel itch has been affecting her: 

I really love travelling and I've been stuck here for a long time. Like two years of lockdowns. The borders have been closed for two years and it's really being very, very strict. Not only the Philippines, of course, but other countries as well.

But it makes me feel but it's it affects my mental health also because I am just that type of person. One of my goals is to travel and experience other cultures and see other places. I'm going to be travelling this month to a remote island called Balabac in Palawan. It's really, really nice in there. So I'm going to go with my friends to visit. 

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