Meet James, Customer Success Manager at Opendatasoft

ODS Saga Profile

March 11, 2020

Reading time: 4 min




James is part of the Customer Success team at our Boston office in the United States. But what, exactly, is a "customer success manager?" We sat down with James, one of the latest recruits to join the CSM team, to uncover the secrets of this profession.

Let's start by learning more about James and his work with the various Opendatasoft teams. CSM isn't some new computer language - it's short for "Customer Success Manager." So what does a CSM do at ODS? CSMs help our customers develop and launch their data sharing platforms. In particular, they convey their know-how so customers can become confident users of the platform and eventually turn into power users. 💪

As mentioned earlier on, James is based in our Boston office.This interview therefore allowed us to discover a whole new side of our company...

Photo by Todd Kent

Hi James! Can you tell us a little about your background? What did you do before joining ODS?

Sure, I'd be happy to! I'm originally from Taiwan and came to the United States a few years ago to study at Boston University. I majored in management information systems and corporate strategy & innovation. At the time, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I was leaning towards something involving consulting and technology...which is exactly what I do every day at ODS (#SpoilerAlert!).


Your current job is your first full-time job, right?

Yes, absolutely! Before ODS, I did two amazing internships, one at the Bank of Taiwan as a research analyst and one as a business developer at a tech startup.

I also launched my own startup with a friend during my first year at Boston University. We worked with BU's International Students & Scholars Office to help Taiwanese students apply to high schools and colleges abroad. The startup no longer exists today but I still help a few students in my free time. My relationships with these students are extremely rewarding and I always feel useful when I help them build their careers.


That's super interesting. Now I see what makes you a perfect fit for a CSM: you're altruistic and enjoy helping others!

Yes, absolutely! I love guiding customers through the process and helping them - slowly but surely - achieve the desired results.


It's always rewarding when you have a positive impact on the personal or professional lives of others. How did you end up at ODS?

After college, I started looking for a tech job, in particular as a data analyst or project manager, but I couldn't find anything that really fit.  Last October, I was seriously considering leaving the United States. But then I discovered the ODS listing on LinkedIn. After a few interviews, I got the job!


How would you describe your job to someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of the profession?

If I had to sum up the job in one sentence, I'd say a CSM has to have a firm understanding of his or her customers’ needs to help them complete their projects. My tools? The features of the platform and our expertise with regard to data.

I'd also say that what makes my job unique is that I'm constantly in touch with all different kinds of people:

👉 Customers: not surprisingly, most of the time I'm in contact with our customers. I guide them every step of the way, from the creation to the administration of their platforms. This includes everything from onboarding, training, the preparation of data, and the creation of visuals and "data stories." I also help them personalize their portal to match the image of their brand.

👉 The Customer Service Team in Paris: the time difference is a challenge, but we've set up a system that enables us to communicate effectively on a day-to-day basis. The team is always available when I have a question, and weekly meetings allow us to learn from each other’s experience.

👉 The Tech teams (product, development): the members of the ODS tech teams are a great help when I'm trying to help a customer with an extremely specific question. And, actually, it’s not a one-way street. I also provide them with information on the challenges some of our customers face so that they can continuously optimize the platform. 

👉 The Sales team: since I'm on the front line with our customers, I'm in the perfect position to help our American sales team attract new prospects and create relevant offers.

👉 The Data team: as the suppliers of our data network, the data team lets me show customers all the different ways they can use our network. 

Note: the ODS data network is made up of more than 19,000 data sets, including all the open data of our customers. This network makes it possible for everyone to access and cross-reference any data they please, and thus create new services (for example).

👉 The Marketing team: as a CSM, I provide the marketing team with valuable customer insights and put them into contact with users who wish to be showcased on our communication channels.


Being a CSM sounds like being something of a middleman (-woman). You must be constantly learning! Which parts of your job do you enjoy the most ?

That's an easy one - watching customers become autonomous. I saw this happen while setting up the City of Burlington’s portal. This was the first project I led from start to finish. tt It took quite a long time to complete, mainly because many different stakeholders participated in its implementation. But everyone involved was extremely enthusiastic: they knew exactly what they wanted, including the type of user experience. I was thrilled with the final result and the portal has already attracted a lot of visitors.




I also like the challenges that come with my position. Customers often come to me with highly technical questions.Nothing beats the feeling I get when I'm able to figure things out by myself.

Finally, I learn an enormous amount every day. The platform is always evolving, so you have to constantly get up to speed. There's no time to get bored!


That certainly sounds like a very fulfilling job. Besides Burlington, who are your current customers?

Jersey City, a dynamic city in New Jersey that wants to take its open data project to the next level. The city of Cary, which recently developed an amazing portal, and Chapel Hill, which is currently working on specific and ambitious data projects. I also work with the city of Salinas, which is our very first multilingual portal in the United States: all their data is now available in both Spanish and English. 


So you mainly work with cities?

Yes, exactly. The majority of our North American customers are from the public sector (we also work with the cities of  Vancouver and Kingston in Canada). But we also work with individuals and companies from the private sector.


Looking ahead...where do you see yourself in a few years? What are your career plans?

First and foremost, I'd like to continue learning from my work at Opendatasoft and help the Boston team expand our services on the American market. Eventually, my goal is to return to Asia and start a business in the field of  education. Maybe in China...or Singapore.


Sounds perfect! Finally, rumor has it you like to paint during your free time...would you be happy to show us one of your works?

It's true that painting is one of my favorite activities...I especially enjoy painting objects. Here's a sneak peek (😉) at one of my latest creations:


Until next time for more "datadventures!"

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