Customer Success

How to Hire Customer Success Managers: The New “It” Job in Tech

October 28, 2014

In the startup world, customer success professionals are suddenly the most popular kids on the block. That means finding and hiring a great one isn’t easy.

Often operating as the glue between sales, marketing, and product, customer success professionals must not only serve as the voice of the customer in all internal conversations and initiatives, but also be extremely data-driven and results-oriented to drive improvements in customer retention and satisfaction rates. That can be a lofty task, and the challenge for many organizations looking to build a customer success team is finding strong candidates who can handle the level of work needed to achieve top results in the role.

5 Questions to Qualify Customer Success Candidates

So how do you go about actually assessing and qualifying customer success candidates? Here are five questions to use during the initial phone screen to determine whether to move forward or not.

1) How does your company/ team measure the quality of your customer service and sales reps?

Here is an opportunity for the candidate to talk about metrics and data tracking. Some specific things you’re listening for are details on how they measure the effectiveness of customer interactions and calls, how the company scores churn rates, etc. It’s important for candidates to articulate any key performance indicators that they’re tracking regularly.

2) How do you improve customer churn?

This can be a tricky question. Answers can range from a company-wide methodology or a recent implementation that the candidate led. Regardless, you’re looking for candidates to describe projects surrounding incentive programs, discount programs, customer segmentation efforts, or call-routing efforts. It’s also an opportunity for them to talk about unique interactions they have with customers who decide to leave (ex: Do they have an exit interview/ survey?).

3) How do you measure customer satisfaction?

Top candidates will likely talk to you about customer satisfaction surveys, predictive analytics, or net promoter score. It is very important that they have a system or process in place and that they can measure the impact of that process.

4) What CRM are you currently using?

The particular system is less important than the fact that they’re using a tool to track these metrics. Understanding how they use it for their team/ business will help you conceptualize possible dashboards that could work for your team.

5) How do you motivate other business units to consider customer success in their interactions?

The best answers will include discussion around cross-functional meetings and programs on how they’re gaining buy-in from senior executives. It’s important for them to highlight how they’re maintaining the voice of the customer in their internal conversations.

These five questions are a great start to establishing who is a strong customer success candidate and who is not. With these handy, you’ll likely get the candidate to open up in great detail about the projects they’re involved in and the achievements they’ve had thus far.
What hiring challenges have you had in the customer success sector? What factors have you found to be a key indicator of a candidate’s quality?

Additional Resources

How to Hire: The Most Important Quality of a Winning Customer Success Team
San Francisco-based API management platform Mashery understands that its people are its biggest asset — and that’s particularly true of the company’s Customer Success function. Mashery Head of Global Customer Success, Boaz Maor, reveals the one quality he looks for when hiring for customer success. Read more.

 Image courtesy of Chase Elliott Clark

Technical Recruiter

<strong>Rose O'Connell</strong> is a technical recruiter at <a href="">AthenaHealth</a>. She was previously a Talent Specialist with OpenView.