Customer Success

How to Hire: The Most Important Quality of a Winning Customer Success Team

July 15, 2014

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.

When leading API management solution Mashery kicks off a search to add a new employee to its growing Customer Success team, the company typically receives and reviews resumes from people with a variety of backgrounds. Some have worked in sales, marketing, IT, or product management. Others have a more direct history in customer service, professional services or support.
But Boaz Maor, Mashery’s Head of Global Customer Success, says he doesn’t really care too much about where an applicant comes from, or which roles they’ve worked previously. Instead, Maor, who has led similar customer success groups at WaveGuard Technologies and newScale (acquired by Cisco), says he looks for one very simple characteristic: A clear passion for making customers successful.

“Our Customer Program Success Management (CPSM) team comes from all backgrounds in sales, account management, product management, professional services and marketing, but the common thread among those team members who are ultra successful is that they’re driven by an intense desire to help customers achieve or exceed their goals,” Maor says. “The goal of this team is to help enable Mashery’s clients to achieve success with their API program, so passion is something that has to jump out to me as a clear key success factor for people in such a role.”

What Customer Success Looks Like

“Many of our customers are using our solutions as disruptive forces to change trajectories in their markets, and sometimes within their internal businesses” Maor explains. “Doing that is hard from both a business and technology perspective. It requires lots of change management and adaptation. As such, our engagements with customers have to be flexible and evolve over time as our customers encounter new challenges and find more opportunities on an on-going basis.”
“Additionally, every situation has multiple implications on our business: feedback for product enhancement opportunities, technical hurdles to overcome, commercial up-sell opportunities, resource allocation challenges, and more,” says Maor. “The common thread is that they are all impacting the customer’s ability to gain value from our solutions and their engagement with us.”
By putting the customer’s ability to maximize value from Mashery’s solutions first, the company sets a simple and clear guideline for its teams in making decisions on the competing vectors for each junction. The most successful CPSMs are those who internalize that notion of customer success and use it as their guiding principle.
Maor says the reason is twofold: first, they are consistent in their decision making process and therefore are producing higher quality decisions on an on-going basis. Second, their customer-oriented guiding principle is very visible to the customer and that in return strengthens the relationship between the customers and the company.

Measuring the Immeasurable

Maor admits that “passion” isn’t exactly a quantifiable or easily identifiable characteristic, but Mashery holds the characteristic in high regard. In order to make sure its CPSM’s are up for the job, the company conducts its recruiting process with a good dose of rigor.
To facilitate that process, Maor has candidates undergo an intensely thorough interview process that includes at least six interviews, each of which focuses on different components of their background and personality.

For instance, candidates might be asked questions like:

  • What keeps you up at night or gets your engine running?
  • What types of problems are you most eager to solve?
  • If we did not offer you this job, which other jobs are you interested in / applying for?
  • Regardless of our job description, what is the best job definition for you?

The goal, Maor says, is to get to the heart of what really drives candidates, since their success will be based on their ability to drive our customers.
“We spend a lot of time observing body language and overall energy,” Maor says. “It’s completely non-scientific. But our approach is critical to moving past a lot of the typical interview rhetoric so that we can truly understand whether or not someone shares our love for creating successful customers.”

To Hire or Not to Hire?

How does Maor ensure his team is successful?

Keys to Profitable Customer Success

3 Keys to a Profitable Customer Success Team

After each round of interviews is complete, Mashery’s team of interviewers swap notes and evaluate candidates using all perspectives of feedback, based on a set of key criteria.
“Interviewers ask different questions and are asked to focus on different areas,” Maor says of Mashery’s process, “so we actually end up with a lot of data points about each candidate, and that obviously makes it easier to make an objective decision about something that’s pretty subjective.”
Ultimately, Maor says the decision to hire someone must be unanimous.
If just one interviewer has doubts about a candidate’s passion for customer success, the company won’t move forward with that person. While that stringent requirement has probably caused Mashery to miss out some high quality talent, Maor says he can accept that.
“For our team to function at a high level, we need to share the same level of passion and be driven by the same goal,” Maor says. “If there’s any doubt about that, then we won’t hire that person. I think that’s helped us build a highly cohesive team that’s truly energized by the same things.”

Interested in Learning More About Customer Success?

Download our quick primer guide:
Inside, you’ll learn how you can get started with Customer Success Management to improve your customer retention, secure more referrals, and reduce your churn. Learn more.

What strategies do you employ when hiring for customer success teams?

Image courtesy of Aristocrats-hat

Customer Success Advisor

Boaz Maor is a Customer Success Advisor. He previously has held roles as the EVP of Customers at <a href="">WalkMe</a>, and served as VP Customer Success at Mashery (acquired by Intel), where he built the company's first Customer Success team to over 60 professionals. With over 25 years of experience helping organizations transform and grow businesses to achieve measurable operating results, he excels at turning early startups into well-structured organizations with thought-out strategies, positioning, processes, and supporting cultures.