Customer Success Managers (CSMs), as the name suggests, are vital to maintaining successful relationships between your company and your clients. Alongside the Account Manager, CSMs work closely with clients to support them as they implement your product into their day-to-day operations. As your sales team grows, so will your need for strong Customer Success Managers who can foster positive relationships and keep your clients happy.
The task of hiring a Customer Success Manager should not be taken lightly, as this person is key to managing the interests of your clients and, ultimately, your company. Keep reading to learn more about the CSM role and what you should keep in mind as you prepare to hire one.
Setting the CSM Stage
Customer Success Managers essentially shepherd your clients from the sales funnel to the implementation process, helping them leverage the power of your product to scale and achieve their company goals. (Hubspot describes CSMs as “mentors” for your customers.) According to Zendesk, the role of a CSM is to “bridge the gap between sales and customer support, enhance product value and reduce churn, all the while maintaining a ‘high-level view’ of the support process.”
The main job responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager are to:
1. Act as a cheerleader for both the customer and your company.
A good CSM anticipates customer needs before they arise, and they voice these needs to the relevant parties to resolve issues before they become dire. On the other hand, CSMs advocate for your company by constantly promoting your product, encouraging cross-sells and upsells.
2. Onboard new customers and acquaint them with the product.
Based on the specific needs of the client, the CSM should educate them on relevant product features so that they are able to best utilize your product to meet their needs.
3. Reduce churn and promote customer loyalty and renewals.
Customer retention rates are a significant metric for any CSM, as a major part of their job is to promote customer loyalty and ultimately drive renewals. CSMs must keep up with contract expiration dates in order to follow up and encourage renewals in a timely manner.
4. Maintain relationships between customers and the customer support team.
Customers should always be able to come to their Customer Success Manager with any product issues they may have, but the CSM may not be the right person to fix the issue. Instead, the CSM should facilitate a clear line of communication between the customer and the support team so that product issues can be addressed efficiently.
Characteristics of a Good Customer Success Manager
According to Test Gorilla, here are some of the top skills you should look for when interviewing CSM candidates:
1. Good communication.
Key to effective relationship-building are good communication skills. You need to hire somebody who is an active listener, an empathetic communicator, and who has strong verbal and written skills.
2. Effective time management.
Since CSMs are a voice for both the customer and your company, they must know how to effectively manage their time in order to keep things running smoothly on either side.
3. Problem solving ability.
Strong CSM candidates have acute problem solving skills, and are able to draw on their knowledge and resources in order to address any issues that may arise. They can efficiently come up with solutions to your clients’ problems in order to keep them satisfied.
4. Ability to work as a team.
Customer Success Managers engage with other team members (Account Executives, Customer Support Representatives, etc.) to provide a positive customer experience. Teamwork is critical to success on this front.
5. Strong initiative.
You’re looking for a candidate who’s a self-starter, someone who anticipates issues before they arise and is constantly working (without necessarily being asked) to make processes more efficient.
Interviewing for the CSM Position
The interview process is your opportunity to look for the above traits in CSM candidates, as well as to better understand how the candidate aligns with your company goals. Here are a few things to consider as you interview:
1. Look for a solid understanding of your product.
Customer Success Managers need to be able to effectively communicate the ins and outs of your product with your clients. Though a lot of this can be learned on the job, look out for candidates who have done thorough research to get a solid initial understanding of what your company offers.
2. Assess how they handle tough interpersonal situations.
The CSM role is customer facing and thus reflects directly on your company. Ask questions or pose scenarios to get a sense for how the candidate may respond to an unsatisfied or otherwise difficult customer, and look for signs that they are able to remain level headed and focused on finding solutions.
3. Get a sense of their problem-solving experience.
Even those without direct CSM experience have faced problems, and you need to know that the person you hire is able to take all factors into account in order to make an informed decision that benefits both the client and the company.
4. Ask about their career goals.
Knowing what the candidate wants to accomplish in the CSM role will help you determine whether or not your company offers the career development they seek. This also speaks to the candidate’s foresight and ability to plan for the future.
5. Hand over the mic.
As always, we recommend leaving some time at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask you questions. This will help them get a better understanding of how your company works, and ultimately determine if it’s a good fit for them.
Vendition Can Help!
Although Vendition’s M.O. is to source and develop top-tier SDR talent, we also have candidates available for the Customer Success Manager role. Connect with us today to learn more!