Your business can struggle to maintain customer loyalty in today’s competitive and fast-paced marketplace. Statistics show that retaining existing customers is five times cheaper than attracting new ones. Because customer retention saves money, companies are increasingly hiring success managers to build and maintain customer relationships.
When hiring a customer success manager, you should first understand how your business can benefit from a professional in this role before creating a standardized hiring process. Consider your business needs and work model to determine if the role should be remote.
What is a Customer Success Manager?
Customer Success Managers focus on the relationship between a company and its customers. They ensure customers have the best possible experience when interacting with a product or service. A customer success manager helps businesses onboard and maintain constant contact with customers. Ultimately, you should hire a customer success manager to help align your customer service goals with your larger business mission.
A customer success team personalizes the feedback loop, making customers feel your business values their voice. Customers should feel confident using your product; however, they should also feel comfortable reaching out to your company’s customer success team if they have a problem.
What are the responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager?
A Customer Success Manager helps your customers stay satisfied and comfortable with your products or services by acting as a reliable and consistent contact for your customer base. While a customer service team’s job is to answer technical questions about how a product or service works, a customer success manager shows customers what a product or service can do for them.
Your sales team can also rely on your customer success team to help you close complex deals. Customer success managers can be a potential customer’s first point of contact with your business. They can introduce potential new customers and encourage them to use your products or services. The Customer Success Team is instrumental in forming a customer’s first impression of your business, including the level of support they can expect throughout the onboarding process and beyond.
Key responsibilities of a customer success team include:
- Managing the Customer Relationship: Customer Success Managers are responsible for building and maintaining customer relationships. They gain valuable insight into customer needs and how they use a product or service. When considering new projects, consider consulting with your customer success team during the development stage, as they can help team members from all departments understand their customers’ needs. Maintaining strong customer relationships also increases retention and makes your customer base feel valued.
- Help with customer onboarding: Onboarding is key to helping customers fully engage with your business and understand how to use your products or services. Customer Success Managers seek out and guide your customer base to ensure they get the most out of your business. This information will allow your team to understand better why a customer needs a particular product or service and how they can best implement it in their business. Your team must meet the specific needs of each client.
- Oversee upsells, cross-sells, and renewals: Customer success teams understand how customers use a company’s products and services. Therefore, customer success managers must also drive upsells, cross-sells, and renewals. Customers should see your team as an ally that helps them leverage your products or services to achieve their goals. Your customer success team ensures a customer is happy with your services before renewing and needs to identify when an upsell can benefit both parties.
Customer success managers work to understand why customers want to partner with your business. Plus, they recommend how your business can use customer data to ensure customers successfully achieve their goals with your product or service.
How is a Customer Success Manager different from other customer service teams?
Customer success managers differ from account managers and customer service teams because they build and maintain a long-term relationships with customers rather than assisting them at specific points in the sales or onboarding process.
Customer service teams and account managers assist customers with issues, working with them to resolve any issues they encounter while using your product or service. Account managers can also help customers onboard for the first 90 days and manage customer account revenue. Customer service and account management teams typically respond to issues after they occur.
Conversely, customer success teams help customers acclimate to your business and prevent problems before they arise. They collect customer data to reduce churn, using this information to improve your products and services – and show customers that your business can help them succeed. Customer success managers strive to benefit both your customers and the business.
Why use a Customer Success Manager?
A Customer Success Team is a long-term investment in your business. Hiring success management can save other team members time by centralizing communications with customers and reducing costs through higher retention rates.
Other benefits of hiring customer success managers include:
- Reduces customer churn: By targeting issues before they arise and building relationships, your customer success team helps maintain customer satisfaction to maintain high retention rates and reduce churn.
- Increase renewals: In addition to reducing customer churn, customer success teams can improve the renewal process. By having more frequent renewal conversations, your team can ensure customers are satisfied with your products and services before each renewal.
- Increase revenue and reduce costs: A customer success manager generates revenue and saves money by identifying when to cross-sell and up-sell to customers. Higher retention rates will save you money because onboarding new customers are more expensive than customer retention methods.
How to recruit Customer Success Managers
Since a customer success manager position can vary by company, you should clearly define the duties and responsibilities of the role before you begin the hiring process. After determining job objectives, you can search for the right candidate, ask relevant interview questions, and assess prospects to find the best candidate for your company.
Define the position
The first step in defining a customer success role is asking yourself what your company wants to get from hiring success management. Your recruiting team should create a scorecard that includes what you want the position to accomplish and a way to filter candidates based on desirable attributes. Define the job mission with a summary of the essential purpose of the role before listing the necessary qualifications and experience.
All customer success manager positions should include an overlapping set of results, including understanding customer needs and sharing customer data with the rest of the team to advocate for areas of improvement.
Next, do background research on your own business to identify areas where your customer service thrives and areas for improvement. Determine which team members have historically built strong customer relationships. Analyze their attitudes and behaviors to see how successfully they have engaged and retained customers, and develop your ideal success manager profile around these positive traits.
You should also look at your company’s historical data, such as customer satisfaction score, renewal rate, and churn rate statistics. Assessing customer success metrics can help you identify areas where your business needs to improve.
Find the right candidate
When considering finding customer success managers, remember that the profession is relatively new, so you’ll likely need to look for candidates in departments other than customer success. Many qualified candidates may come from various backgrounds, such as management, consulting, or sales.
When recruiting candidates for your customer success team, use the resources you already have and reach out to customer success managers from respected and trusted companies in your network. Established professionals can help you clarify which candidates have the best qualities for what you’re looking for in a position. Because the field is so new, the customer success management community is tight-knit, which narrows your candidate list.
You can also post job offers online. Platforms like LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking platform with more than 774 million users, can help you uncover a broader talent pool. You can post on niche job boards for specific fields if you are hiring success management for a particular industry.
As a general rule, you should look for candidates with a standard set of skills and traits, including:
- Emotional solid intelligence: Your customer success team should be the voice of your customers within the big business. Therefore, you should look for candidates who demonstrate high emotional intelligence and empathy. The best customer success managers can understand customers’ feelings and help them with personalized solutions.
- Transparent: Transparency is also essential, as building and maintaining customer relationships is one of the primary responsibilities of a customer success team. Open and transparent candidates are more likely to build strong, trusting relationships with clients, which increases your chances of future renewal or upselling.
- Proactive: While traditional customer service departments deal with incidents after they arise, customer success managers need to be proactive by anticipating issues that may arise and listening to customer concerns. Fixing minor issues before they become profound builds customer confidence in your business.
- Strong communication skills: Your customer success team will work with customers and colleagues daily. Team members must create a feedback loop to communicate customer needs and characteristics to sales teams. Customer success managers can empower sales by using data to impress customers during demos.
Conduct the interview
When interviewing a potential customer success manager, you’ll need to determine what format to use, which team members should be present during the interview, and what questions you’ll ask candidates.
The first step in the interview process is to organize selection interviews. The pre-screening interview allows you to get an overview of all candidates and determine which candidates you want to continue assessing. During this initial meeting, you will focus on a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, career history, and goals.
When selecting the interview type you will hold, you should include one or two colleagues from different departments. Customer Success Managers interact with many different people daily. You will therefore want to assess how a candidate interacts with other departments by including developers, salespeople, support agents, or marketers in the interview.
You can also hold a panel interview, have the interviewee present on various topics, or conduct a mock session with a client to see how a candidate might perform in the workplace. Whichever type of interview you choose, you need to assess how the candidate interacts with others.
After deciding who should attend the interview, you will need to write the customer success manager interview questions. Since you will cover basic questions during the selection interview, you should focus the second set of questions on the specific role.
Potential interview questions for customer success managers can include:
- What does our product or service do?
- What solution does the product or service offer customers?
- How do you determine when there is an upsell opportunity?
- How do your skills and experience transfer to a customer success manager position?
- What indicators do you use to assess customer satisfaction?
- What is your experience working with sales teams?
- How to manage several projects at the same time?
In addition to the traditional interview process, you can ask candidates to write samples. Communication is at the heart of managing customer success, so you must hire a clear and effective communicator.
After conducting the interview, please consult with the interview team to identify the best candidate and follow up with their references. Looking at a candidate’s credentials can be especially helpful when deciding between two candidates and can help your companies combat hiring bias.
Can Customer Success jobs remotely?
Many companies worldwide have adopted a remote working model due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to a survey, 70 percent of CIOs worked remotely in March 2021, and 30 percent planned to do so indefinitely. Companies have adapted to working remotely, so many are looking to hire remote customer success jobs.
You will want to ensure the following when hiring a remote customer success jobs:
- Check their organizational skills: While all remote workers need self-discipline, customer success jobs must meet customer needs and be available to colleagues while balancing day-to-day activities. The best remote customer success manager should be able to create a distraction-free work environment wherever they are. However, they must remain flexible and empathetic when communicating with clients and colleagues. Ask during the interview if candidates have experience working remotely.
- Improve training programs: Remote workers need help getting help from co-workers to learn on the job. Therefore, you should implement comprehensive training programs during the remote onboarding process to ensure employees understand what you expect of them. However, even with improved training programs, you’ll want to hire a candidate who can do freelance work. In a traditional work environment, team members can quickly seek advice or brainstorm together. Remote customer success jobs must be able to make independent decisions confidently.
- Establish Effective Communication Channels: In remote businesses, business activities are conducted with distributed teams in mind, and strategies aim to facilitate communication for all team members. Set clear expectations for when each type of communication, such as emails, phone calls, or video calls, is appropriate in your remote work policy. Remote companies also typically favor asynchronous communication to facilitate collaboration across time zones. Finally, you’ll want to host virtual social events to help remote customer success jobs feel connected to the team and build a corporate culture.
When working with a remote customer success team, stay flexible and be prepared for schedule variances. While your team may have excellent organizational and time management skills, be aware that the different working conditions of team members can impact performance and productivity.