How to Hire A Stellar Customer Success Manager & Team

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Wendy Mack
Wendy Mack



Today's consumers hold more agency than ever in how they buy — making it a lot harder to stand out in a crowded, noisy marketplace. That's especially true now that we live in a subscription economy in which the financial value of the customer relationship builds over time, rather than being monetized upfront. As a result, crafting a rich customer experience is now essential to capitalizing on customer relations, as well as maintaining them for a long time.


In the age of the customer, brands must proactively engage consumers, establish meaningful value from the very first purchase, then grow that value throughout the customer journey. Subscription-based companies must master this process because customer relations have a tremendous impact on the health of their business.

That's where customer success comes in.

Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, puts it like this:


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Many companies recognize the value of customer success and have invested in teams or departments to lead their strategies. What they don't realize is that customer success is distinct from customer service, technical support, and account management — it's also not an offshoot of sales, either. It's a vertical unto itself and must be treated as such if you want it to best serve your brand.Free Download: How to Build Customer Loyalty

To get customer success right, you need to hire a manager who can fully embody the mission. In this post, we'll explain what you should do to find this person and how you can hire them using the 30/30/30/10 model.

The 30/30/30/10 Model

Finding the right candidate for customer success — or any position on your team — involves a delicate balance of performance and skill assessment, interview impressions, and cultural fit. My company, GrowthPlay, believes that you make the best hiring decisions through a combination of these characteristics.

To be as scientific as possible, we developed a predictive assessment tool to gain objective insights into our candidates and analyze what we call their, "Talent DNA." Understanding a candidate's Talent DNA helps us determine whether a person is better suited to sales than customer success — or vice versa.

We then take the information from our assessment and plug it into a 30/30/30/10 model that looks like this:

  • 30% predictive assessment results.
  • 30% interview results.
  • 30% performance on skills tests and simulations.
  • 10% perceived company cultural fit.

Hiring a new team member always carries some risk. After all, you can't know with certainty whether someone will excel at your company until they come on board. But, this model takes a lot of the guesswork out of the hiring process and gets you much closer to a guaranteed result, which is critical when building a customer success team.

Read on to learn how you can implement this 30/30/30/10 rule to hire a stellar customer success manager for your team.

How to Hire an Effective Customer Success Manager

1. Understand Your Customer Success Team Mission.

Before you can begin the hiring process, you need to define your mission for customer success. Ask your team, "What's the core purpose of our customer success role?"

Several functions may come to mind, including:

  • Ensuring the use or adoption of services purchased.
  • Cross-selling, upselling, or expanding accounts.
  • Ensuring customer renewals.

Now, cross-selling and upselling are primarily in the jurisdiction of sales. However, customer success can aid their goals by understanding how customer needs change and what products may suit them at different points in their lifetime. This will create a seamless transition between success and sales, creating a frictionless experience for the customer.

2. Conduct Background Research.

A great way to identify candidates for customer success roles is to draw on past customer feedback data to see where the company has been strongest. Which team members were most effective in attaining customer happiness and building loyal relationships? Even if you don't bring those specific people into the role, you can analyze the attributes that made them so great then use those skills to craft the job profile.

Look, too, at historical data such as your customer churn rate, renewal rate, and customer satisfaction score. These customer success metrics will indicate areas of strength for your team as well as aspects that need improvement.

It's also useful to study previous onboarding behaviors or engagement patterns surrounding new product launches. Seeing which touchpoints attracted people and which they skipped can be powerful indicators of where future customer success campaigns need to go.

The key is to use data to develop a role focused on building an incredible customer experience that delights, supports, and engages your audience throughout the brand journey. This is a business imperative because research indicates that openings for customer success roles grew by 80% year-over-year. An increasing number of brands see the value of dedicated customer success teams, and those that don't invest in this space could be left behind.

3. Establish a Success Profile for Each Role.

Companies often hire based on characteristics that interviewers think are important but have little to do with on-the-job performance. The good news is you can use a validation study to screen out false indicators of success and instead focus on factors that will help you reach the outcomes you are seeking.

To do this, you first need to decide what roles or positions your team needs based on your market and customer engagement approach. Once you've identified those roles, you can focus on finding people with the potential to succeed in those capacities using a criteria-based validation study.

A criterion-validation study involves collecting performance data and analyzing factors that reliably and consistently predict successful performance. Once a validation study is complete, you can create a specific profile for success. This statistical validation process can be applied to each customer success position and enable you to identify the factors that predict efficacy for every role.

4. Complement Intuition With Data.

Deploying a combination of screening and selection tools (e.g., structured interviews, simulations, and predictive assessments) will improve the quality of your hiring decisions.

Inaccurate, but well-intentioned, "instincts" by interviewers can skew hiring decisions and lead to biased decisions. My company relies heavily on predictive assessments because we feel they're far more reliable than "gut feelings." We believe you should rely on data as much as possible to select the absolute best candidate for the job.

A predictive assessment report will show you how a candidate's scores on what matters most for the role. The assessment helps you glean a candidate's strengths and limitations while indicating where they might need further development or training once they've joined the customer success team.

5. Follow a Consistent Process.

Your hiring workflow should be rigorous, repeatable, and data-driven. Before you begin holding interviews, you should standardize the steps you'll take in the process as well as the tools that you'll use. The idea is to create a consistent process that can be used with each candidate who's applying to your customer success team.

It's also wise to meet with your hiring panel and set standards for how assessment results, interviews, and simulations will be weighted. The 30/30/30/10 model provides a solid framework, but you should decide exactly how each aspect of the hiring process will be categorized and what information will be used in final hiring decisions. Getting buy-in ahead of time is crucial because you'll want to hold everyone on the panel accountable for sticking to the same process with each hire.

6. Monitor Your Results.

You collect volumes of data on your customers. But, do you also have data to determine whether your hiring process is effective?

The ability to analyze your past decisions is essential to figuring out where you may have gone wrong with past hires. The sharper and more relevant you can make your criteria, the better choice you'll make when it's time to add someone to your customer success team.

Here are some of the metrics that leading companies use to measure and evaluate the success of their customer success hiring programs:

• Cost Per Hire

• Time to Hire

• Quality of Hire

• Early Indicators of New Hire Performance

• Ramp Time

• Performance Metrics Once Ramped

• Retention Rate

• Ratio of Voluntary to Involuntary Turnover

Don't feel that you have to track and master all of these at once. Start with two or three metrics, then add more as your process matures.

7. Conduct An Annual Reflection.

Once you've established a consistent hiring process for your customer success roles, you may assume the work is done — it's not. You'll want to review your hiring profiles every year to see whether your conditions have changed. Perhaps your go-to-market strategies or value propositions have shifted, which demands a new set of skills entirely.

Customer success depends on your ability to empathize with your customers, especially as their needs change. To do this, you need the right people leading your team and making the right decisions on behalf of your company. This is why it's important to have an effective hiring process in place that can find this talent as your customer base grows over time.

For more hiring tips, learn everything you need to know about customer success managers.Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  


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