HOW TO ASSESS CANDIDATES FOR A CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGEMENT ROLE?

Selecting the right person for a Customer Success Management role is challenging, especially if you don’t know exactly what you expect them to do- their purpose, actions, and the cost of having one. It is then essential to identify first whether you really need a CSM in your department and your expected outcome. 

If you have one already and finally decided to have a dedicated CSM, it is crucial to choose the right fit for your goals. To do so, it is important to assess your goals- what knowledge, skills, and attitude should a CSM have to be able to help me achieve my and my customers’ version of ‘success’?

Do they know what customer success is all about? 

The first thing to ask yourself is: Do they know what customer success is all about? Of course, a candidate for a CSM role must know what Customer Success is and how to do it well. 

In simple terms, Customer Success is “helping” customers be able to reach their desired outcomes in the best way possible with the purpose of retaining them- which means increased revenue for your company.  

Customer success is defined as the process of providing exceptional and proactive interventions that would benefit the customers and the company alike. Customer success managers are responsible for planning, implementing and measuring this process through every step of their company’s lifecycle (from acquisition to exit). 

If a candidate doesn’t have an understanding of what it means to be a CSM, then you should pass them over for other roles until they do.

Do they have a genuine interest in helping people? 

Customer success is the art of making customers happy, and this requires someone who can understand what makes people tick, which is why it’s important to look for candidates with a genuine desire to help others. This isn’t just about smiling for the camera or saying “yes” when asked how their day went—it’s also about being willing to do whatever it takes (within reason) in order to help your clients achieve their goals.  

For example: if you’re interviewing someone who has been tasked with improving customer satisfaction, ask them how they would go about doing so by asking questions such as: “What would make your job easier?” “What would improve things today?” or even just “What would make today better than yesterday?”

Is the candidate a team player? 

To be an effective Customer Success Manager is to understand that it’s not a one-man job. Each department within an organization has critical roles to play in order to provide the best customer experience. 

Hence, a candidate that is a team player, able to lead, takes initiative, and able to take on projects without being told first (proactive) is one step closer to becoming the perfect CSM for your company. As CSMs also take on the role of a leader when coordinating actions within and on your customers’ organization, they must be able to positively influence people to change for the better- towards efficient value realization.

Check for fundamental skills. 

To be a Customer Success Manager is to be flexible. They are someone knowledgeable enough on how the business works and to negotiate with stakeholders, but also be able to build trusting relationships between the customer and an organization. Hence, a Customer Success Manager must have the fundamental skills necessary to do the job well: 

  • Communication skills.

    Candidates should be able to clearly and concisely explain their experience in writing and verbal communication, as well as how they’ve applied this knowledge to customer success roles. As they interact with a variety of people with varying levels of seniority, they must be able to adjust accordingly and communicate well no matter their position. 

  • Problem solving ability.

    Your candidate needs to demonstrate the ability to work with a variety of stakeholders (including customers), resolve problems quickly and efficiently, understand business goals in light of the problem at hand, and think through multiple solutions before settling on one that works best for everyone involved—all while maintaining focus on achieving your goal(s). 

  • Organization skills/self-management capacity.

    Your candidate needs good organizational habits so that he or she can effectively manage his or her time without getting overwhelmed by data overload or stressed out over deadlines being missed due to things like illness or personal issues outside work hours 

Customer Success Management Skills.

Compared to the soft skills stated above, a candidate for a CSM role must, obviously, know what a CSM does and how to do it. To pave the way for success, a CSM requires a lot of skills to master which they must prove to be able to have- through certification. Having a certification will make it easier for you to evaluate their ability to generate outcomes.

Conclusion 

I hope this has given you a better understanding of what to look for when hiring someone for your customer success role. The best candidates are those who have strong skills, are motivated, and have the drive to help others succeed.  

If you wish to learn more on how to assess candidates for a Customer Success Management Role, check out this interview with Rick Adams, CEO and Founder of Practical CSM, by MakiPeople: https://www.makipeople.com/resources/how-to-assess-candidates-for-a-customer-success-management-role

This training asset is worth 6 CPD Minutes