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How to Hire a Customer Success Manager

A customer-centric approach is crucial for companies, no matter the industry they belong to.

In today’s competitive marketplace, customers hold more power than ever before in how they make purchasing decisions. It an be daunting to stand out in a noisy, crowded marketplace. That’s especially true because we now live in a subscription economy where the financial value of customers builds over time, instead of being monetized upfront. Thus, providing an excellent customer experience is crucial to capitalizing more on customer relations and retaining your customers for a long time.

Companies must proactively engage customers, provide meaningful value from the first purchase, and offer more value throughout the customer journey. That’s where customer success managers come in handy. Customer success managers are on the front line, proactively establishing and managing consumer relationships. They play a crucial role in the customer life cycle, but often leave important decisions to chance. Hiring managers usually just rely on “gut instinct” to decide who is the ideal candidate. In this article, we’ll discuss the six qualities a good customer success manager should have.

Top 6 Customer Success Manager Qualities

1. Working Well with a Team

A successful customer success manager must work well with a team. The ability to work well with a team is more critical than it seems. 

A manager who can’t work well with a team wastes even an excellent customer success team. Managers must work well with the customer success team and other departments, such as customer support, marketing, and sales. That’s because communication is crucial for effectively managing your customer success. 

It’s also a bonus for managers to have excellent leadership skills. Leadership skills play a crucial role when the team encounters challenges. That’s when a team needs a leader who can guide and motivate them to get things done.

The following interview questions can help you hire the right candidate include:

  • Tell me about a time when you helped a team member.
  • Describe a time when your team faced an obstacle that was difficult to solve. How did you keep your team motivated? How did you guide your team to overcome the obstacle and succeed?

2. Keeping the Customer at the Forefront

Just like any other customer service role, the customer must always come first. Thus, a good customer success manager must always put the customer at the forefront of their attention. That’s because a customer’s success equals a customer success manager’s success. The more a customer success manager can invest in a customer’s needs and goals, the more they’ll succeed in their position. 

Customer success isn’t a department, it’s a mindset for your entire team. Thus, when looking for a top-performing customer success manager, look for candidates that have a customer-first perspective to their job.  

A good candidate should develop solutions with the customer’s needs in mind. Further, when hiring a customer success manager, look for candidates that will show empathy towards your customers throughout the customer journey.

The following questions can help you hire the right customer success manager include:

  • Tell me about a time a client criticized your product. How did you handle the criticism? (Here, look for signs of empathy and whether the candidate is open to accepting criticism).

3. Problem-Solving and Strategic Mindset

A problem-solving and strategic mindset will enable a customer success manager to develop a solution from a pile of disconnected and complex data. This will help them develop a customer success strategy backed by solid data. Also, this helps the customer success manager troubleshoot problems proactively and construct a roadmap of viable changes based on customers’ needs and goals.

A solid strategy is essential in convincing the stakeholders concerning new concepts, such as leveraging customer success software to improve customer retention and reduce churn rate. A customer success manager with a strategic and problem-solving mindset can easily identify areas of weakness and opportunities to increase your market share. This helps them put forward their strategy compellingly and concretely.

The following questions can help you hire the right customer success manager with excellent problem-solving skills:

  • What strategy will you leverage to manage a mix of customer accounts?
  • Our competitors have just released a new feature, which our brand doesn’t have yet, and our customers are asking for the new feature. What will you do?

4. Ambition and Growth Mindedness

Jay Nathan notes that, “No matter what roles I’m hiring for on my teams I look for three qualities: you have to be humble, hungry, and smart. These characteristics translate into someone who is authentic, growth-minded, and good with people.” 

When hiring a customer success manager, it’s essential to distinguish between a person’s mindset and their skill sets. Mindsets are natural beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives, which one carries with them independent of the environment.

And skill sets are a combination of soft or hard skills, which a person has developed over time. For example, one mindset you should emphasize when hiring a customer success manager is relentless ambition. Relentless ambition is a growth mindset.

A candidate with relentless ambition and a growth mindset always strives for excellence despite obstacles; is resilient and frequently seeks feedback. Thus, a good customer success manager must reckon that there’s something to learn from pushing through difficult situations because there’s always growth and results on the other side of the obstacle. 

The following questions can help you hire a candidate with a growth mindset:

  • What keeps you motivated?
  • What does customer success look like to you?
  • Tell me a time when you set a stretching goal, and how you achieved it.
  • Where do you want to be in the next five years, and how will you get there?

5. Empathy

Empathy is a less mentioned soft skill which plays a significant role in the success of a customer success manager. Empathy is a person’s ability to understand another person’s situation by imagining themselves in that person’s position. 

Empathy is critical in establishing where your customer service falls short or the part that confuses your customers. It identifies the anatomy of an excellent customer experience.

Let’s say a customer is experiencing problems using a certain feature and submits a complaint. If a customer success manager can step into the client’s shoes and assess the situation, then they may relate to the problem and help the client or direct the changes needed. Identifying problems and correcting them becomes easy if a customer success manager can view the problem from a customer’s point of view.

  • If a customer experiences problems using specific features, then what’s the issue at hand? Support, product, training, the customer success team, or the customer?

6. Time Management

Excellent time management skills enable a customer success manager to work more productively. Also, this means that a customer success manager is effectively using the available resources, including time. A customer success manager will handle tons of data and metrics. A manager must derive conclusions to identify where changes are needed. Each key metric requires a customer success manager to have excellent time management and organization skills.

A customer success manager must use time effectively to keep customers satisfied and manage the customer success team. This can only happen through proper time management.

  • How will you manage your time to onboard new clients, keep existing clients, grow the company’s portfolio, and improve customer advocacy?
  • You have a day full of pre-planned onboarding meetings. How will you facilitate an escalation from your key customers?

Tons of managers use CloudApp to offer better customer service. Drift’s customer success team uses CloudApp to save 56 hours every week. CloudApp helps managers create shareable visuals with only a few clicks.

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