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Important customer success manager interview questions you should learn for CSM job. Know these questions while you take customer success manager interview.
Customer success is one of the fastest evolving business functions in the modern SaaS industry. Businesses are keen to hire the candidate who can exceed their expectations of a customer success manager (CSM) role. They must have an overall objective of retaining the customers and increasing their lifetime value (LTV). There are some basic skills in a CSM you may want to check through customer success manager interview questions.
A CSM must be able to perform at multiple levels. They need to be an expert in customer service by reacting to the customer queries and providing them bespoke solutions. They should as well be proactive in creating strategies for their customers to succeed. In order to do so, they need to learn about the product and service inside out. This will help them handle customer questions. They must also know when the right time is to approach customers for up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
While the above skills are mandatory in a candidate and should be an essential part of their daily job, there are some more basic customer success skills which a CSM should possess. Let’s take a brief look at them so that you can check these skills in them through the interview questions.
Interacting with multiple clients is the key responsibility of a CSM. Hence, they should be able to deal with tough as well as easy going clients. There would be situations when a CSM must be working on high-pressure situation. In your interview, you must gauge their capability to deal effectively in such situations. How do you deal with an angry customer interview question is one of those questions which will help you examine their response in tough situations?
When you hire someone for a CSM role, make sure that they understand that helping their customers in every situation that is called for is their prime focus. Every time a customer approaches a CSM, it is an opportunity to create a positive impression about the brand. So, a CSM must do whatever in their capacity to solve the customer’s problem. If they can’t do it by themselves, then they should know whom to approach. A director of customer success should be a part of this interview and assess this quality in a candidate.
Understanding the workings of the product is paramount for a CSM. If they don’t have a technical acumen, then would always be dependent on the product management team for any technical solution and that’s a big waste of time. It is not just a CSM but everyone in your Customer Success team, right from customer success associate to customer success analyst, should understand the basic technical know-how of the product.
If you want to gain a deeper insight about the customer success function then this article can be really helpful. But sticking to the present topic, let’s jump straight to the top 20 customer success manager interview questions.
For the ease of your comprehension, we have grouped these questions in their respective categories which you will find in the section below.
Through this question, you are going to check if the candidate has done some market research on your product. Are they familiar with your top competitors and the differences between the kind of service they are offering from yours? They don’t have to give a detailed response but should have an abstract understanding to answer this question. You can also check if they know the basic terminologies and concepts of your niche.
This, in turn, would help them hold valuable discussions with your customers. Even though a CSM you would hire would be new to your organization, your customers must not feel the same. They should be well integrated with your business niche to make the customers comfortable and earn their trust.
Customer success manager is a role that usually exists in the Software as a Service (SaaS) based industry. Hence, it is wise to check how much understanding they possess about this industry. Do they know the kinds of challenges faced by these companies? The kind of business model they operate in? And what are the factors that affect the revenues of the companies? Have they gone through a case study of any top players in the SaaS industry? Have they learned anything from them that can be applied here? A thorough understanding of the working of the SaaS industry would be one of the add-ons for the role of CSM.
Through this question you want to check how aware the candidate is about the average monthly or annual revenues of different companies. Do they know the current valuation of your company and what amount is considered good enough for a small, medium, or large enterprise?
This will help them evaluate the kind of customers they are going to deal with and hence they should come up with further questions to you to display their probing and analysing skills. They can also describe how they can help grow your business.
You want to check through this question whether the candidate has a prior understanding of your product or not. This will help you gauge how much time and effort will be needed to give orientation of your service to the candidate and how easily they can adapt to your company to be able to advocate your brand to your customers.
Besides understanding your product, a CSM must also be able to interpret the voice of the customer. They must exercise their influence in the organization to give customer feedback to be implement changes in the product. To answer this question, they must understand the product from the user’s point of view. Based on that they should be able to guide the product management team for the betterment of the product.
This is one of the most common customer success manager interview questions. One of the skills that the candidate should possess to answer this question is multi-tasking. They are going to handle multiple customers. Hence, they should know how to prioritize their communication with their everyday tasks. It should not have a least impact on either of those. They should be able to prioritize multiple customer queries based on the relationship status and their business values.
This is another one of the most important customer success manager interview questions. The candidate should know that it is not always possible to meet all expectations of customers. But how diplomatically they steer the conversation to deliver the message is what you need to look for.
You can also ask as a follow up question to describe a situation when this has happened in their past experience and what specific steps they took to cover the situation.
The problem-solving skills and how the candidate handles stress can be tested through this question. You must pay keen attention to the kind of strategies they mention about resolving the issue. Were there any conflict resolution skills that was demonstrated through this question that can also be checked upon?
You must extend this question to ask them to share about a time you went above and beyond for a customer. This would reveal how seriously they take their job and how much extra mile they are ready to cover to help their customers succeed.
By hitting the nail right on its head. You must monitor customer’s usage of product and identify the reasons that are causing them for lower usage of the product. Then sending a mail or a call about that specific issue will help you get customer’s attention. This is the time when you solve the problem right at the hand and through that pull them in through showcasing other features too that are relevant.
When the customer has become comfortable with your primary product and reaches the threshold usage. This is the time for you approach them with a better version or advanced plan of the product and show them how buying it would enhance their value realization. Until the customer is fully satisfied with your first product, their trust on your brand doesn’t develop and any attempt for upsells or cross-sells would be liable to failure.
High touch engagement model is when you give most personalized service to your customers. A higher amount of attention is provided to the customer and solutions are quite contextual to suit their needs.
Low-touch engagement model is when you use automated communication to cater a large number of customers through single action. This include automated emails, help docs, online tutorials, etc.
As a director of client success, you want to hire a candidate who is self-motivated and hence, if customer success is one of their passions then there is nothing like it. They should understand clearly what they really mean with the success of the customer and how to measure the same. It is of utmost importance for a client success job to know what metrics or parameters are taken into account to measure success and excel in it.
Are they capable enough to handle an at-risk customer who is at the brink of switching the service provider, how would they improvise in their customer engagement activities to turn a no to yes, how early do they identify the at-risk customers and what parameters they measure to get an early warning. These are few of the areas they must touch upon while handling this question.
This is the kind of customer success interview questions which tests how good the candidate is a team-player. As a part of a CSM role, they have to interact with multiple teams in an organization whether to give feedback of the client, resolve a particular issue or just taking a brief up of the client while they are getting onboarded. It is important that they should be able to hold clear communication with different teams for a smoother flow of information in an organization.
A CSM should clearly know the importance of customer retention in the business and the potential it has to contribute in any business growth. They must be able to demonstrate their negotiation skills with the customer. When to aim for reaching the customer for feedback to know your Net Promoter Score (NPS) or for tapping the opportunities for upselling or cross-selling should be explained while answering this question.
You must tell them about the different kinds of metrics you use for different ways of measuring success. Few ways are:
This is a tricky question. You must understand the customer success discipline not just technically but philosophically too to answer this question. You can start answering this question by saying that you understand customer success as a way to help customers achieve their goals. To implement it in your organization, you can say a culture of customer centricity has to be developed in an organization and all the different functions – marketing, sales, product, support, must adhere to customer centric values while performing their duties. To know how different functions adopt customer success, I suggest you do some research to fully prepare for this question.
Few ways you can mention are:
When the customer’s active duration on the product is beyond the minimum required standard you have set for product adoption. For example, if the customer is logging in at least five times a day and spending a total amount of time close to three hours on your product can be considered as a standard for measuring product adoption.
To enable product adoption, you have to handhold your customer in the initial time. Minimizing time to value is the most important thing where in you conduct your onboarding as fast as possible to help them realize value in the least amount of time.
It is the average revenue a customer generates during their entire period of being in a relationship with your organization. Two ways to increase it are:
You might also like to read: Sample of a Great Customer Success Manager Job Description39
Remember that a CSM is a client facing role. They should always maintain a balance between what the company can deliver and what the customer needs. They should be expert in creating value of the product in customer’s perception. This demands a thorough understanding of the product as well as an abstract knowledge of the client’s niche. Thus, these customer success manager interview questions would help you examine a candidate from all angles. They would give you a clear idea if they were a perfect match for your company or not.
Snigdha Jena is a customer success manager at SmartKarrot. She has been active in the customer success and SaaS space for a while now. She has worked with Quant LegalTech, Intuit, and RepRecom solutions in various capacities.
Published 27 May 2020, Updated 23 Sep 2022
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