3 Interview Tips for Hiring Customer Success Managers

March 18 2019 0comment

There has been a considerable rise in the volume of Customer Success Manager jobs in the marketplace, CSM’s are becoming an integral part of extraordinary client experience. Problem is, role in CSM is relatively new and finding the right candidate for the job can certainly frustrate the hiring manager.

CSM main goal is to improve client retention and upsell of services. Customer success can be defined as a proactive, real-time sales approach consisting of building relationships with existing customers, in-depth understanding of their company and product goals, and helping the customer meet those goals through regular contact.

Chances are you won’t find someone with years of direct experience, that’s why many Customer Success executives ask me some common questions like “How to interview customer success manager?”, “What kind of skills to look for while hiring CSM?” and “What should be an ideal personality of the candidate?”, fact is, you need to get little creative in determining the skills to recruit for.

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There are many criteria that you might require to look after before you actually search for the right customer service manager. Whether you require someone to handle a super strategic big account or a mid-size company (mid-touch) or somebody who would manage a slew of SMB (small and medium business).

I would like to share some very practical tactics that most of my clients use to hire an efficient customer success manager that can do the job.

Your Three Tips on How to interview CSM

When looking at common characteristics, skills, and qualifications on CSM job descriptions, I evaluate the candidate through three common traits of Customer Success teams: Productivity, real-time scenarios, and Mockups (through QBR templates).

To make things a little easier, we’ve narrowed down a few of the top traits to look for along with a few must-ask interview questions.

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Tip 1: Productivity

The job of customer success manager is relatively new in the marketplace which prevents the hiring manager to ask the predefined set of questions, instead, the hiring manager will be required to get little creative with the questions and judge the real capabilities of the candidate.

Here is how to do it:

  • Give them a spreadsheet that contains tons of different attribute for your multiple customers and clients.
  • The spreadsheet may include ARR, current healthscore, NPS score, recent trends, number of employee data, etc.
  • How many features they are using vs the holistic modules that you can sell them on.
  • Now ask them to evaluate the data, organize and prioritize the client requirements.

This test will give you a better impression of organizational capabilities of the candidate, do they really have a sense of prioritization and a better understanding of how would they approach to the client’s problem.

Tip 2: Real scenarios

Real-time scenarios can tell a lot about the candidate’s problem-solving capabilities.

Give your Customer Success candidate a scenario that is not straight forward to think about. This might include any kind of real life situations that is a little complex. Take a scenario from your own life experiences and ask them “what would you do in that situation” and really hone in on “why would they take that action”.

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Real work scenarios will give you a better idea about the candidate’s mental clarity and capability.

Tip 3: a QBR Mock-up

Effective customer success is key to overcome churn and increasing ARR, so it’s vital for the hiring manager to hire the kind of CSM no less than a rock-star.

Give them a QBR template and ask them to be a part of the mock-up drill. A difficult scenario or up-sell scenario and ask them to prepare a QBR session.

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It gives you a sense of the candidate’s presentation and communication skills. Candidate needs to master the skill of human communication, it got to be easy, effective and authentic.

How would they deal with different situation and customers? This gives you a better insight into who they are beside the return work on paper. Hopefully, these three tips are going to help you in your interview process.

Summary

A process of hiring a CSM is well beyond a list of predefined question, a customer success manager is going to be the company’s key player to work on client retention, upsell and renewal of services.

Let’s summarized the key pointers to find a great customer service manager:

  • Test the organizational capabilities of the candidate by providing them the data of multiple client scenarios.
  • Real-time scenarios are the best way to know the decision-making capabilities.
  • Mock-up drills to hire the best out of rest.

If you are a hiring manager looking to fill the customer success position, we have service offerings that could help you define the proper CSM Ratio, the segmentation and engagement models appropriate for your business model and define the hiring skill grid necessary to make for a strong customer success team.

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Irit Eizips
Written By:

Irit Eizips

Irit Eizips brings deep expertise in the area of Customer Success. As an early member of Gainsight's executive team, Irit has been pivotal in shaping Customer Success methodologies and best practices. For the past 3 years, Irit has been voted as a top Customer Success influencer and is frequently featured as a speaker at conferences and Customer Success public events. Irit serves as CEO for CSM Practice, a global Customer Success consultancy firm. The firm specializes in working with customer success leaders to accelerate the creation and implementation of Customer Success strategies, derive extensive value from Customer Success technology solutions as well as certify and train customer facing teams in becoming more proactive and efficient.