Customer success is essential when it comes to raising your monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and reducing churn. That makes it very important to hiring a CSM (Customer Success Manager). We will go over what you should be looking for when searching for someone to fill an open CSM job you have. When they check off these qualities, they will help your churn rates drop as low as they can and ensure you retain your existing customers for a long time.
What Is Customer Success?
Over 40% of companies in the industry have a customer success manager. With practically half seeing a CSM job as integral to their success, it’s essential to understand why this is the case. Let’s do a brief overview of what is customer success in the first place.
Customer success is when you deliver results to a customer who benefits from using your product. You provide customer success by delivering realized value to the users of your product. This success for them translates into a higher renewal rate for you, as well as more upsells and cross-sells. It’s no wonder that customer success 86% of customers are willing to pay more when their user experience is better. A customer success manager can help make all of this happen.
What to Look for When Hiring a CSM?
With that primer on customer success out of the way, we can dive into what you should be looking for when hiring a CSM. When you keep these areas in mind, you will have a rockstar who can propel your product’s success to the stratosphere.
Customer Success Experience
Having direct customer success experience would be ideal. Of course, since the concept of customer success is still new, it doesn’t make sense to avoid hiring anyone who doesn’t have experience strictly within the domain of customer success. However, if you do find one of these unicorns, you will have hit the jackpot.
You can look at other areas of success, such as someone being experienced with analytics platforms. This is because a CSM will be knee-deep in analyzing data every day. It would be even better if they were working on an analytics platform that is geared towards customer success.
While experience is actually not the most important quality to look for when hiring a CSM, it still is helpful to mention and look at.
Ability to Build Relationships
Someone who is right for a CSM job will be excellent at cultivating and building relationships with customers. To succeed, you need to make sure your customers feel valued and cared for. People want to know that their needs, wants, and concerns matter. An expert customer success manager will make sure every customer is heard. A CSM will have a deeper relationship than anyone else in your company.
Beyond customers, CSMs also should be good at developing internal relationships. This will help get the needs of customers successfully relayed to teams within the company that can help take action on those requests. When considering candidates for a CSM job, find out how they would cultivate and mend customer relationships.
To reduce churn and ensure customers are satisfied, it’s absolutely necessary to be proactive. If you wait until there is a problem, it may already be too late to stop a user from going elsewhere. In fact, being proactive is the major difference between customer success and customer support. Where customer support is reactive, customer success is proactive.
The best CSMs will have a method of identifying when there are users at risk of churning. They will know when there is a warning sign that needs to be addressed, before a customer says anything. At-risk accounts are one area of focus of a great CSM, but another is the scheduled outreach to customers who are having success with a product. When both are done, you can identify where a customer is struggling, while boosting trust in all customers.
Superb Communication Skills
Having superb communication skills is an indispensable quality a CSM needs to have and it is required in every CSM job description when hiring a CSM. Communication on both internal and external levels has to be excellent. This goes for both verbal and written skills, since a CSM will be doing both.
Both the text and tone of communication needs to be looked at. Depending on how your company wants to present itself, this could mean either using a formal or informal tone. Clear communication is important when it comes to customers as well as internal teams.
A good CSM will be able to have a long-term perspective in a situation occurring right now. This helps make it clearer what actions, or the lack of, today will result in tomorrow, or five years from now. People who excel in strategic thinking will sense and identify when there are changes occurring. Also, they can discern when there are potential conflicts and opportunities arising. They will know how to address them in a way that is clear and compelling.
A great customer success manager will understand what users want and express that in clear terms. They will provide options and alternatives to the way things are done currently, to match up with what users need and want.
Problem-solving involves being innovative. They need to know how to design a process that will achieve higher customer success. This sometimes also requires them to go a little deeper and identify a root cause of an issue a user is having, or why they are requesting a particular feature. Problem-solving leads to solutions that can improve an existing feature, rather than throwing it out completely. 16
A customer success manager plays an integral role in the success of your product and business. When you want to boost revenues and lower churn, you need to hire the best CSM you can get your hands on. These are the most important skills and qualities to look for when hiring a CSM. You should now have a better understanding of what it takes to fill this essential role in any SaaS business today.
Surojit has over 15 years of experience in quality and implementations. He is a promoter of an extremely light and efficient Agile process to fit business needs. In his prior role as product owner, he built a robust product in a very short span of time.
Published May 27, 2020, Updated November 17, 2021