When you want to get on the fast track to reducing customer churn and increasing your company’s MRR, you need to get focused on achieving customer success. To accomplish this, you need to have someone who can lead the entire customer success team, along with your customers, to experience stellar customer success. When you are ready to hire a VP for customer success, what do you look for? We’ll go over the most essential elements that make up a rockstar VP of customer success.
They Are a Relationship Builder
Only 37% of business leaders’ budget for making sure their customers are as successful as they can be. All business involves relationships. A stellar VP of customer success will be a pro at building and sustaining relationships. This is a critical step towards achieving higher customer retention and lower churn.
The relationship-building should go beyond just the customers. Building internal relationships, especially within the customer success team, is also essential. All needs of the customer have to be communicated effectively. The customer success team will have a closer and deeper relationship with customers than any other, including sales. This means you want to make sure you pick someone who can nurture those relationships that are essential to your company thriving.
They Love Seeing Customers Succeed
A VP customer success loves seeing customers succeed. They are wildly passionate about staying engaged with customers and seeing them thrive thanks to their SaaS product. Only the best candidates will go beyond just talking the talk.
You should identify whether they have a real passion for customer success. That means that even when customers are unsatisfied or are faced with challenging issues, they will jump at the opportunity to improve their user experience and make sure they are satisfied with the product.
They Are Willing to Get Directly Involved
The best VP of customer success will get directly involved with the needs of customers, whatever they may be. This means getting their hands dirty, rather than believing they are too good for that. If they act like that, it shows you they are afraid. Besides being an image problem, they will not be involved in genuinely helping customers with achieving success.
The VP should be comfortable engaging with customers. Yes, even the challenging ones. Also, when they speak with customers, they shouldn’t just be spouting off politically-styled responses. They should come across as authentic and genuine. Furthermore, the VP will come across as authentic to their team.
They Know How to Communicate Effectively
Effective communication between customers and teams is essential at every level. When looking for a VP of customer success, you should evaluate their communication skills. That means both verbal and written. Make sure their answers to your questions are clear. Identify the tone they use in their responses. These are important markers that will give you an understanding of how they will communicate with customers and internal teams.
With effective communication, the amount of communication that has to occur related to support will be dramatically reduced. This is because customers will have understood what is being expressed by the customer success team the first time.
They Understand What CSMs Should Be Doing
A VP of customer success needs to understand, in great detail, what customer success managers are doing on a daily basis. If they are not sure what they are doing, they will be unable to know what the impact of their requests are.
Achieving specific benchmarks may either be more or less difficult than a VP would know, which creates inefficiencies. It also demonstrates that the VP is a leader who does not listen or take action when it is necessary. The best customer success VPs will be tuned into what their team is doing on a daily basis.
They Know How to Conduct Influence Management
The VP customer success needs to have excellent skills when it comes to influence management. Customers need to be getting the training they need. If they are not, the VP will need to have a more direct influence on the training group.
Customer onboarding has to be done right; otherwise, it can lead to churn really quick. When customers feel that they are getting poor support, they will start churning faster. SaaS products that are not performing well or are missing important features will also lead to higher churn. The sales team may become overzealous in its quest for more customers, which ends up attracting the kind of customers you are not after. The teams responsible for these areas need to be guided and influenced by the VP.
While all of these teams and groups are not necessarily going to be controlled by the VP of customer success, they can influence individuals controlling the fate of their customers, all while not directly managing them.
They Have a Guiding Philosophy
Customer success benefits from having a guiding philosophy that is firm and adapted to the needs of your company. The risk of not having one lies in getting pulled in a number of different directions. Someone with no compass steering them will become influenced the most by the last person they spoke to.
A guiding philosophy will keep them and everyone else on track, on a path towards greater customer success. 16
When you want to reduce churn and increase customer retention, you need a VP customer success. This is especially critical within the SaaS industry. This individual will play an integral role in the success of your company, so you need to choose carefully. You need to deliberate wisely, or else the consequences will be apparent very quickly. When you follow our advice, you should land yourself someone who understands the needs and wants of customers, helping them see the incredible value your product has to offer them.
Anshi has over 12 years of experience in demand generation, digital marketing, and managing global teams. In her prior role as head of marketing operations for a high growth US healthcare tech organization she transformed marketing from cost to revenue center.
Published June 12, 2020, Updated June 23, 2022