Customer success departments have different structures in different companies. Large enterprises have a well-laid structure of the whole department with a proper reporting mechanism. The Director of Customer Success comes somewhere in the middle of the corporate ladder. Mostly they report to the Vice President of Customer Success or the Chief Customer Officer.
A Director of Customer Success is responsible for building and leading the customer success team. This team consists of various roles like Solution Architects, Customer Success Managers (CSM), and Account Managers.
The customer success team helps the client achieve value from the product and facilitates product adoption. This results in loyalty and therefore long-term customer retention.
The director’s role is to ensure customers are successful using the product the company sells. This sounds simple but it’s quite complex. It involves building the right team to train and onboard new customers and forming strategy to accomplish the team’s goals.
It also entails developing tactical plans, executing them, and measuring results to ensure the team is making clients successful as well as satisfied. Long-term, reliable recurring revenue results from a successful CS team.
The director carries a lot of pressure to produce results. If he succeeds, the company grows. If he fails, he may find himself without a job. But what does his day-to-day job look like? Let’s dig in and see.
Responsibilities of a Director of Customer Success
The responsibilities of a CS director range from managing the team of CSMs to developing initiatives that deliver unique value to customers. Below, we touch on the most common day-to-day activities of a CS director.
Optimizing the customer journey
They have to examine the various stages of the customer journey and identify gaps in customer-facing processes. There are almost always gaps. So, those gaps must be filled to ensure a stellar customer experience at every stage of the journey.
Aligning and educating internal teams about the importance of customer success
A director of client success has to coordinate with different departments to align all of them towards customer success. Every department must participate in the effort to bring value to the customer and provide exceptional service.
The director must proactively drive these initiatives. For example, pulling other teams away from their responsibilities to educate them on the role they play in the overall customer experience and how that contributes to customer success.
Adding meaningful value to customer interactions
Optimizing customer success initiatives and helping CSMs understand customers’ objectives and use cases is important for a director. They help CSMs to define value for the customers and the best way to deliver it to them.
Forming upselling and cross-selling strategies
A director has to align the marketing and sales teams with customer success managers to identify prospects for business expansion. They define the CSMs involvement in upselling and cross-selling to the existing customers.
Maintaining insights from a customer success platform
They extensively use of their internal customer success software solution every day. This enables them to keep tabs on customer health scores and the performance of CSMs. These insights certainly help them identify and implement necessary process improvement steps.
Using key metrics and prepare reports
CS directors identify key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure team performance and the growth of the organization. Commonly-measured metrics include monthly recurring revenue (MRR), product adoption rates, customer satisfaction levels, etc.
Through these metrics, they prepare monthly or quarterly reports that illustrate how the CS team is performing. Then they share these reports with their superiors and subordinates to ensure everyone is armed with the latest data.
Building, structuring, and mentoring the team
Hiring the right candidates and mentoring them is an important responsibility. Therefore, CS directors participate in and drive the interview process to select the right employees for their team. They must also create an effective team structure that produces results and surpasses expectations.
Requirements for the Role
There are specific requirements and traits a candidate must possess to be considered for a CS director role. So, we’ll shift to discussing those now.
Experience and qualifications
The list below isn’t empirical, but rather intended to provide a general idea of what it takes to land a CS directr role.
- They must have at least eight to 10 years of overall management experience in the tech space.
- The candidate must also have five to six years of experience in a customer success manager or sales-related role.
- They often hold an MBA or other postgraduate business management degree. Additionally, an undergraduate degree in any technical discipline is a plus.
- Exposure to subscription- and renewal-based business processes, upselling or cross-selling, and deep knowledge of and experience in implementing customer success best practices.
- Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to lead and inspire mid-level managers to drive company growth.
- Ability to create strategies, implement them, track performance, and achieve set objectives.
- Must be an analytical thinker with keen problem-solving; process development and improvement; and task planning and delegation skills.
- Proven record of driving customer satisfaction and enhancing customer experience in their past work.
- Must be able to actively participate in meetings with C-Suite executives and contribute unique perspectives and value.
This is one of the most lucrative positions in SaaS companies. For example, the average pay for this role according to industry research is around $102K USD per annum. Moreover, these roles often offer opportunities to earn additional pay via bonuses and commission. Similarly, the average salary for a Director of Customer Experience is roughly on par.
The Hiring Process for a Director of Customer Success
Most of the time, a Vice President of Customer Success along with the Chief Customer Officer would interview candidates for this role. Above all, the interviewers look for personality traits that would be best suited for this role along with subject matter knowledge and expertise.
Subsequently, once you make your way through the various interview rounds, the CEO might conduct a final interview, depending on the size of the company.
Preparing for the interview
If you are applying for this role, then you must be familiar with all the customer success roles. For example, an interviewer may ask: What does a customer success manager do? Or what are the responsibilities of a customer success specialist?
Moreover, you must know the various KPIs that you will have to use while working as a director of client success.
For a detailed list of interview questions, you may consider giving a quick glance at this blog.
Other Roles on Customer Success Teams
There are other roles, both above and below the level of director, in a customer success team. These roles are often used interchangeably in different organizations based upon their maturity and size. Below, we list a few of the most common ones.
Customer success manager
This is the most common role in a CS team. A CSM is the face of your CS team and directly interacts with customers more than anyone else. They have to be engaged with the customer’s daily product usage and monitor them closely.
When their job is overly technical, they are often referred to as a customer success analyst. Regardless of the title, they are responsible for driving customer engagement and retention–ultimately customer satisfaction. Similarly, they generally report to a CS leader like a director of customer success.
VP of customer success
A VP of customer success is higher in the company hierarchy than the director. However, they are sometimes a substitute for a director. In addition, they usually report to one of the C-suite executives. As a result, their responsibilities are similar to those of a director.
Chief customer officer
This is the highest role on the CS team and forms the part of the C-suite. They work in parallel to the CEO, CPO, COO, CMO, and CFO. Their responsibility lies in championing a customer success philosophy across the organization.
They are involved in creating and delegating high-level customer loyalty programs that drive customer retention at scale.
For a detailed look at all the other similar roles in customer success, their responsibilities and salary, take a quick look at this article.