In a competitive, fast-paced marketplace, your company may struggle to maintain customer loyalty. In fact, statistics show that it’s five times more cost-effective to retain current customers than attract new ones. Because customer retention saves money, companies are increasingly hiring success managers to build and maintain customer relationships.
When looking to hire a customer success manager, you should first understand how your company can benefit from a professional in this role before creating a standardized hiring process. Consider your company needs and working model to determine whether the position 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 companies with onboarding and keeping consistent contact with customers. Ultimately, you should hire a customer success manager to help align your customer service objectives with your larger business mission.
A customer success team personalizes the customer feedback loop, making customers feel like your company values their voices. Customers should feel confident using your product; however, they should also feel comfortable reaching out to your company’s customer success team if issues arise.
1. What are a customer success manager’s responsibilities?
A customer success manager helps your customers remain happy and comfortable using your products or services by acting as a reliable, consistent contact for your clientele. While a customer service team’s job is to answer technical questions about how a product or service works, a customer success manager shows clients what a product or service can do for them.
Your sales team can also rely on your customer success team to help close complicated deals. Customer success managers can be a potential client’s first point of contact with your company. They can introduce new and prospective customers and encourage them to use your products or services. The customer success team is instrumental in shaping a customer’s first impression of your company, including how much support they can expect throughout the onboarding process and beyond.
The core responsibilities of a customer success team include:
- Manage customer relationships:Customer success managers are responsible for building and maintaining customer relationships. They gain valuable insights into customers’ needs and how they use a product or service. When brainstorming new projects, consider consulting your customer success teamin the development stage, as they can help team members in all departments understand what their customers need. Maintaining solid relationships with customers also increases retention rates and makes your clientele feel valued.
- Help with customer onboarding: Onboarding is essential to help customers fully engage with your company and understand how to use your products or services. Customer success managers research and guide your customer base to ensure they get the most value from your company. This insight will grant your team a better understanding of why a customer needs a particular product or service and how they can best implement it in their company. Your team should cater to each client’s specific needs.
- Oversee upsells, cross-sells, and renewals: Customer success teams have a solid understanding of how customers use a company’s products and services. Therefore, customer success managers should also drive upsells, cross-sells, and renewals. Customers should see your team as an ally in helping them leverage your products or services to achieve their objectives. Your customer success team makes sure a customer is happy with your services before it’s time to renew and should identify when an upsell can benefit both parties.
Customer success managers strive to understand why clients want to partner with your company. Further, they recommend how your company can use customer data to ensure customers successfully achieve their objectives with your product or service.
2. How does a customer success manager differ from other customer service teams?
Customer success managers differ from both account managers and customer service teams because they build and maintain a long-term relationship with customers rather than helping them at specific moments during the sales or onboarding process.
Customer service teams and account managers assist customers when issues arise, working with them to remedy any problems they have using your product or service. Account managers may also help customers onboard during the first 90 days and handle the revenue from customer accounts. Both customer service and account management teams typically react to problems after they happen.
Conversely, customer success teams help customers acclimate to your company and prevent problems before they occur. They collect customer data to decrease churn by using that information to improve your products and services — and show customershow your company can help them succeed. Customer success managers strive to benefit both your customers and the company.
3. Why hire a customer success manager?
A customer success team is a long-term investment for your company. Hiring success management can save other team members time by centralizing customer communications and cutting costs through higher customer retention rates.
Other benefits of hiring customer success managers include:
- Reduces customer churn: By targeting problems before they happen and building relationships, your customer success teamhelps maintain customer satisfaction to keep retention rates high and reduce customer churn.
- Increases renewals: In addition to reducing customer churn, customer success teams can improve the renewal process. By holding more frequent renewal conversations, your team can ensure customers are satisfied with your products and services before each renewal.
- Drives revenue and cuts costs: A customer success manager drives revenue and saves money by identifying when to cross-sell and upsell to customers. Further, higher customer retention rates will save you money, as onboarding new clients is more expensive than customer retention methods.
How to hire customer success managers
Since a customer success manager position may vary depending on the company, you should clearly define the role’s duties and responsibilities before starting the hiring process. After determining the position’s objectives, you can search for the right candidate, ask relevant interview questions, and evaluate prospects to find the best fit for your company.
1. Define the position
The first step in defining a customer success role is questioning what your company wants to gain from hiring success management. Your hiring team should create a scoring card that includes what you want the position to accomplish and a way to filter candidates based on desirable attributes. Define the position’s mission with a summary of the role’s essential purpose before listing the necessary qualifications and experience.
All customer success manager positions should include an overlapping set of outcomes, including understanding customer needs and sharing client data with the rest of the team to advocate for areas of improvement.
Next, conduct background research on your own company 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 they successfully engaged and retained customers, and develop your ideal success manager profile around these positive traits.
You should also examine your company’s historical data, such as your customer satisfaction score, renewal rate, and churn rate statistics. Evaluating customer success metrics can help you identify areas your company needs to improve.
2. Find the proper candidate
When considering how to find customer success managers, remember that the profession is relatively new, so you’ll likely have to search for candidates from departments other than customer success. Many qualified applicants may come from diverse backgrounds like 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 at respected, trustworthy companies in your network. Established professionals can help you clarify which candidates have the best qualities for what you’re looking for in a role. Because the field is so new, the customer success management community is tight-knit, which narrows down your list of applicants.
You can also post job listings online. Platforms like LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network platform with more than 774 million users, can help you discover a broader talent pool. You can post to niche job boards for specific fields if you’re hiring success management for a particular industry.
Generally, you should look for candidates with a standard set of skills and traits, including:
- Strong emotional intelligence: Your customer success team should serve as your customers’ voice within the larger company. Therefore, you should search for candidates who demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence and empathy. The best customer success managers can understand how a client is feeling and assist with personalized solutions.
- Transparent: Transparency is also critical, as building and maintaining relationships with customers is one of the core responsibilities of a customer success team. Open and transparent candidates are more likely to build strong, trusting relationships with clients, increasing your likelihood of future renewal or upsell.
- Proactive: While traditional customer service departments handle incidents after they occur, customer success managers must be proactive by anticipating what problems may arise and listening to customer concerns. Remedying minor problems before they escalate enhances customer trust in your company.
- Strong communication skills: Your customer success team will work with both clients and colleagues daily. Team members should create a feedback loop to communicate customer needs and characteristics to the sales teams. Customer success managers can strengthen the sales process by using data to impress clients during demonstrations.
3. Conduct the interview
When interviewing a potentialcustomer success manager, you’ll have to determine what format to use, which team members should be present during the interview, and what questions you’re going to ask candidates.
The first step in the interview process is holding screening interviews. The screening interview allows you to get an overview of all applicants and discover which candidates you’d like to continue evaluating. During this first meeting, you’ll focus on a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, career history, and career goals.
When selecting the type of interview you’re going to hold, you should include one or two colleagues from different departments. Customer success managers interact with many different people daily, so you’ll want to gauge how a candidate interacts with other departments by including developers, salespeople, support agents, or marketers in the interview.
You can also choose to hold a panel interview, have the interviewee present various topics, or conduct a mock session with a client to see how a candidate might perform in a workplace setting. Regardless of the type of interview you choose, you should evaluate how the applicant interacts with other people.
After deciding who should attend the interview, you’ll have to draft customer success manager interview questions. Because you’ll cover the basic interview questions in the screening interview, you should focus the second round 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 provide for customers?
- How do you determine when there’s an upsell opportunity?
- How do your skills and experience transfer to a customer success manager position?
- What metrics do you use to gauge customer satisfaction?
- What is your experience collaborating with sales teams?
- How do you manage multiple projects at once?
In addition to the traditional interview process, you can also ask candidates for writing samples. Communication is central to customer success management, so you’ll want to ensure you’re hiring a clear and effective communicator.
4. Evaluate the candidates
After conducting the interview, consult the interview team to identify the top candidate, and follow up with their references. Consulting an applicant’s references can be especially helpful when deciding between two candidates and can help your companies address hiring biases.
Can a customer success manager work remotely?
Many companies worldwide adopted a remote working model due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to one survey, 70 percent of chief information officers were working remotely in March 2021, and 30 percent planned to do so indefinitely. As companies have adjusted to the reality of remote work, many are looking to hire remote customer success managers.
You’ll want to ensure the following when hiring a remote customer success manager:
- Verify their organizational skills: While all remote workers require self-discipline, customer success managers must handle customer needs and be available to coworkers while balancing daily activities. The best remote customer success manager should be able to create a distraction-free work environment wherever they are. However, they should remain flexible and empathetic when communicating with customers and colleagues. Ask during the interview if candidates have experience working remotely.
- Enhance training programs: Remote workers cannot get help from in-office coworkers to learn on the job. Therefore, you should implement comprehensive training programs during the remote onboarding process to ensure employees understand what you expect from them. However, even with improved training programs, you’ll want to make sure you hire a candidate who can do independent work. In a traditional workplace setting, team members can easily ask each other for advice or brainstorm together. Remote customer success managers must be able to make independent decisions confidently.
- Establish effective communication channels: In remote-first companies, business activities are conducted with distributed teams in mind, and strategies are focused on facilitating communication for all team members. Set clear expectations for when each type of communication, such as email, phone call, or video call, is appropriate in your remote work policy. Remote-first companies also typically prioritize asynchronous communication for easy collaboration across time zones. Finally, you’ll want to hold virtual social events to help remote customer success managers feel connected to the team and build company culture.
When working with a remote customer success team, remain flexible and prepare for schedule deviations. Although your team may have excellent organizational and time management skills, be aware that team members’ different working conditions could impact performance and productivity.
Grow your remote customer success team with Globalization Partners
When you’re ready to grow your company globally and add a customer success manager to your team, Globalization Partners is here to help. Our comprehensive and AI-driven global employment platform enables you to manage and onboard employees in 187 countries. To learn more about international hiring, contact us or request a proposal!