I thought I understood.
I know that a lot of racist individuals the world over start their sentences with, "I have black friends" before moving on to a "but" or a "however", and then continue with various racist tirades, so I am not keen starting this post with that very phrase. But I will.
I do have black friends, and these friends are the very same ones I had from a very early age growing up in a very multicultural, diverse part of London. I went to school in Acton at Acton High School, I played football for Old Actonians and Larkspur Rovers, I played cricket for Acton Cricket Club and most of my teenage years were spent in and around Acton, Ealing and the surrounding areas. All of these experiences exposed me to people from many backgrounds, of many religions, and of many colours whether that was from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and everywhere in between. I have spent many hours, days, nights, weekends and weeks in the company of my multicultural, diverse group of friends, and we have travelled the UK and further afield as the closest of friends. We still do.
As a white man of privilege I thought all of this meant I was educated more than most, that I was aware more than most and that I had seen more than most when it came to racism.
I thought I understood.
But last year during the Black Lives Matter movement I realised how very wrong I was. I had only seen the blatant examples of racism, the in-your-face examples based on ignorance and a lack of education, the often alcohol-fuelled-on-nights-out types of racism. What I didn't see or rather didn't feel was the racism my friends endured on a daily basis. The type of racism I will never see or never feel, and will only hear through the stories they tell. Those stories were not one-offs, they kept coming - from stories of jobs they didn't get whilst being the most qualified candidate, the inappropriate comments made in professional and personal environments, the looks of disgust being in certain places they "shouldn’t be", the crossing of roads so certain people didn't have to walk past them, the overly obsessive security guards following them in Harrods or Selfridges. The horrible reality they endured. The horrible reality they still endure.
During that time last year I spent a lot of time talking to my friends, talking to work colleagues and talking to a number of other people I have the pleasure of knowing. I wanted to learn; I needed to learn and I wanted to take ownership for my learning but I also needed some help on where to start. While they were tired and fed up of carrying the weight of pressure to educate the uneducated they helped me, and they took time out to guide me. Whether it was pointing me in the direction of the book "Biased" by Dr Jennifer Eberhardt, whether it was the documentary on Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech or whether it was just telling me what I can do to be a true ally they took time out to help me.
Now I need to help people.
And it starts with awareness but awareness can only be the very start. More is needed; so much more is needed. I can't go back and change the past, but I can ensure I will be the best version of an ally I can be moving forward, in every and any way I can. At this moment in time, that means me taking what I have learnt over the last 12 months and sharing that knowledge - sharing it with my wife, my family, my children, my friends, my work colleagues & anyone else that hasn't yet truly tried to understand.
But be prepared, you will never understand.
I will never understand.
Monday 8th March 2021 is International Women's Day 2021.
Diverse & Inclusive places of work create an environment of trust, innovation and commitment. This very same logic applies to the communities and networks I am part of as a Customer Success and Customer Experience practitioner. Those groups work best when the dynamics of them include both men and women. I truly believe that Customer Success can lead the way in highlighting not just the importance of diversity and inclusion, but specifically gender equality. Great strides are being made, great things are happening, great people are getting involved but there is so much more that can be done. In the coming weeks and months you will hear and see more from me and some of my great friends around what we will be doing to support this drive.
But on this day of all days, I want to celebrate some of the most brilliantly intelligent, creative, giving, dedicated & focused women in the Customer Success & Customer Experience space. This will not capture everyone, so sorry if I miss you off my list but here are ten of the very best that have impacted and enrichened my life in the last 12 months, and for this I thank you.
Sue Nabeth Moore
I have been thinking about writing this article for a while but I have to admit it has filled me with fear, apprehension and nervousness. So why now? Well, in recent months I have been inspired by a number of individuals that I look up to who have shown their vulnerable side, who have admitted to their own struggles. People who have shown they have battles and challenges they fight on a daily basis just to be successful in what they do, whether that is in their work life or their personal life, or both.
On the surface I imagine I come across as quite self-assured, I come across as opinionated and confident about my passions and very much outspoken about what I believe in whether that is aspects of my professional life or aspects of my personal life. However, I do not mind admitting after all this time that I have my struggles and battles I fight on a regular basis. Some call it depression, some call it anxiety but me, I don’t have a name for it. I haven’t got a label for it but I just know how I feel on some days when it all becomes a little too much for me. When I struggle to show that same level of energy and passion that people associate with me.
At work, I have a job that I am passionate about and one that has an exciting future for me, my colleagues and my team. Away from work, I have an amazing wife and family that brings balance, context and joy on a regular basis. I have interests and passions that inspire, excite and drive me. So why is this not enough? Why does all of this leave me feeling lost and empty even though on the surface I have lots to look forward to? Honestly? I cannot explain it as much as people want and need me to.
So why am I writing this? Because I want people like me to know that all of this is OK. That you are not the only person who struggles, you are not the only person who feels alone on those dark days and actually if you can get through this moment, this hour or this minute then the day after will be a lot brighter. Of course it is not as simple as this, it isn’t this easy but at the very least, you do not need to feel alone. You need to understand that people more successful than me have these days too. That at the very least I sit here with you, knowing and understanding how you feel and if needed, I will sit there (wherever there is) with you to listen and know, and appreciate and respect you.
So why now? Why today? I genuinely do not know why on my flight to Munich this Tuesday night I have been motivated enough to type this. As I said at the beginning I have been thinking about this time for a while and I have been thinking about when I would finally get my head together, get my thoughts clear and just type what has been whirling through my mind for many weeks and months. That moment is now.
Over the coming weeks I will be looking at recording a new #CustomerSuccessMatters LIVE podcast talking about how the roles in Customer Success can impact your well-being, both mentally and physically. Importantly, we will try to learn from people that have and still experience this but have ways to cope.
And hopefully; just hopefully it helps someone to not feel that they are alone.
Every company out there today claims to be customer obsessed. Just scroll through a random selection of companies and you will see values, pillars, beliefs, cultures all claiming to be customer obsessed, customer first, customers-for-life or with customers-at-the-heart-of-everything-we-do. They focus on great products, great solutions, great service with great people. Is this enough? I am not sure it is but what else really ensures this customer obsession runs through the veins of its employees and the very nature of the company?
Through The Eyes Of Your Customer
The starting point for any company wanting to drive a culture of customer obsession has to be to see what your customers see. Mapping the customer journey is very powerful but 90% of companies make the same mistake – they map this with a group of senior executives in a room with zero representation from their customer-base. The other common mistake is thinking the customer journey starts from contract signing or a go-live date, when in reality the journey starts when your customer interacts with your brand the first time. This maybe through viewing your website, it maybe through marketing activities, it maybe through an event or maybe it is through a dinner party when you talk to someone from that company. Either way, map the journey from the true start point and with your customers engaged in the process.
Everyone Has A Stake In It
Customer experience cannot afford to just be a role or even a department, it has to be much bigger than that with the breaking down of silos and a fully aligned cross functional approach delivering a consistent, high-quality customer journey. Siloed departments result in conflict and lack clarity in accountability and there is only one person who truly suffers – the customer.
Ensuring that everyone has a stake in driving a customer obsessed approach requires all departments coming together to firstly understand the customer journey (see above point) and then map their relevant interaction with each touchpoint. Representation from product to sales, engineering to support, consulting to customer success, and everyone in between. And then measure the impact on that touchpoint……
Improvements & Measurements
As the saying goes, you can only improve what you measure and this is particularly true in the world of customer experience. And a token gesture NPS survey every twelve months just does not suffice. The customer journey involves different people from your customer, different people and departments from your company all coming together with a different goal at that journey touchpoint. So why are you not measuring each touchpoint with a relevant question and aligning that score to the relevant department? This ensures the department has a true stake in it. So measure the pre-sales experience and align that to your sales team. Measure the on-boarding experience and align that to your on-boarding and implementation teams. Measure the implementation experience and align that to your consulting organisation. In my honest opinion everyone should have part of their bonus aligned to some thing that impacts the customer experience and only then will you see a true change in a company wide approach to customer obsession.
Right People, Right Seat
Hiring and developing people with the right approach, the right mindset and the right intentions maximises your chances of delivering a customer obsessive culture but this takes time. You inherit people, you can make poor hiring choices and over a period of time employees will check out if the role and company doesn’t match their own expectations and needs. So hiring the right people is important, but getting and keeping them engaged is where the challenges really start. Creating that right environment to feel empowered and accountable, and where decisions are taken with the customer at the forefront of that decision not only keeps them engaged but drives a true customer obsessed culture.
The next determining factor is how you measure your individual employees and your departments. This is key – choosing the wrong KPIs will be counter productive to your goal. KPIs and the relevant rewards of achieving those will drive behaviour so choose wisely.
Recognise & Reward
Recognising and rewarding your employees doesn’t start and stop with the KPIs and bonuses that reward the achievement of them. As you embark on that journey of true customer obsession take the opportunity to reward your employees in small and large ways. It maybe something very simple and easy such as an email and small Amazon voucher, or it maybe something larger and a more structured reward for a specific execution of a goal. Sales have SPIFs, and so should every other department driving those short-term goals.
Learn From Your Mistakes (Churn)!
Eighteen months ago before I joined SAP I was speaking to a number of companies about customer success leadership roles and as a CS leader the one thing you want to know before taking the role is, what problem are you being brought in to fix. Now, 90% of the responses were around churn but churn is the outcome of a bigger problem. So when I asked what was the cause of their churn it is hugely surprising to see CEOs, CCOs & CROs all shrugging their shoulders and offering a sheepish “don’t know” as their response.
For every customer that doesn’t renew you should have a process that in place that reviews the reasons behind that. Detailed analysis of the product usage, analysis and reviews of your C-Sat scores and comments (plus your action management), reviewing your adherence to the governance model (did you deliver your QBRs, etc.), a customer exit interview if they are willing to provide that feedback and then an internal account review that needs to be transparent and honest. The hard work starts now though – a clear plan to address the failings (and there will be failings) needs to be created and owned, then executed.
Our customers expectations are higher than ever before, the consumer experiences of interacting with the likes Amazon have seen to that. Our customers are more empowered and more free to make decisions than ever before, which not creates challenges for all companies but offers great opportunities to truly differentiate yourself from your competitors.
That differentiator should be your people so enable and empower them and as Richard Branson says, “Look after your people, and they will look after your customers”.
Nothing screams credibility like proven customer success. Decision-makers can spend hours listening and interacting with knowledgeable experts who clearly articulate inspirational examples of real-life examples and use cases expanded over time to build up their customers’ capabilities. And just the notion that a vendor, supplier, or software provider can retain customer favor through a steady string of successes may become a good reason to sign on the dotted line.
This approach may be a useful sales tool, but it is also a gross mischaracterization of the fundamental philosophy underlying customer success management. It’s not a way to grow a reference list, protect revenue, nor amass marketing fodder to be shared with businesses all over the world. In fact, its true value has nothing to do with furthering the marketing and sales agenda.
So, what is customer success management? It’s a function of accountability for delivering success that is financially sound, scalable, outcomes-focused, and growth-driven throughout the life of the customer.
Tipping the subscription economy towards the outcome economyA while back ago, the introduction of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings is said to have ignited an economy driven by subscriptions. Goodbye one-time, large purchases. Hello affordable, incremental, monthly payments. But if we know anything about our highly digitally enabled world, it’s the reality that nothing stays the same for very long anymore.
As digital technology is increasingly supported by the cloud, the promise of SaaS is opening up an entirely new economy. Known as the outcome economy, the physical world is moving online, creating a landscape where the value of everything is quantified and accessible. One prime example is Slack’s business model, which closely ties pricing and refunds to the volume of transactions and achievement of desired business outcomes.
How is economic shift related to customer success management? If you think about, customer success management is all about delivering measurable outcomes consistently throughout the life of the customer.
Finding the higher purpose of every interaction with customer success managementThe application of customer success management has evolved over the last decade, primarily fueled by growing SaaS adoption. For businesses moving from an on-premises model to one that is cloud-based, the constant cycle of monthly, bi-monthly, or even quarterly updates can be just as overwhelming as it is exciting.
From my experience, many businesses are rightfully concerned whether certain upgrades and add-ons to their SaaS landscape will deliver significant outcomes that further the boardroom’s agenda, asking:
Since the initiative was tactical and operational in nature, our customer relied on the help of a customer success manager to explore the “why” behind deploying a mobile HR solution. After engaging our customer in a series of discussions, surveys, and workshops, the customer service manager uncovered viable reasons that support the implementation from a different perspective.
Key findings included:
Bringing discipline and proactive action to digital innovationGiven the scale and the pace of technology innovation, customer success management cannot be used as a channel for selling technology, managing accounts, and creating marketing content. Instead, it should become a discipline of accountability and proactive action to allow businesses to refresh their cloud landscape in a way that best meets their need and on their terms.
Customer success managers can become a business’ best partner when it comes to intelligently assessing, for example, specific work behaviors, collaboration preferences, data usage, and digital maturity. This information empowers businesses to proactively advocate for the capabilities, tools, and interfaces that can elevate the ability to gain the most value possible from a cloud investment.
Originally posted as part of three part series for SAP’s Digitalist Magazine:https://www.digitalistmag.com/tag/true-value-of-customer-success-management-series
I have been here before.
Sitting around the garden dining table, surrounded by my wonderful family consisting of my children, both sets of parents, both sets of grandparents and more. A few drinks may have been consumed (Pimms for me, it is a glorious English summer day after all!) and that question is asked again. The one that I have been asked several times before. After the initial questions around how my new job is going, it is quickly followed by the one. “So, tell me Matt, what actually is Customer Success?”.
Rather than the standard responses I have tried in the past (it’s like customer service but proactive not reactive….it’s like sales but rather than making promises, I keep them….etc.), I thought I would try and get this answered once and for all. There I set about trying to talk to them about the ever-expanding global subscription economy, whilst making it as local and as relevant for them as I can.
After all, they all pay for their broadband as a service. Some of them have Spotify. Some have Netflix or Amazon Prime. My wife has Birchbox (it’s a monthly make-up subscription service before you ask). I have my shirts washed and ironed (well, I did until Laundrapp stopped servicing my area) as a fortnightly service. The subscription economy is booming and not just in the B2B space where I have spent the last ten years of my career, but in the B2C space too as you can see with the wide range of subscription services available.
However, “something” as a Service is not a new phenomenon and growing up I remember clearly The Readers Digest (anyone under 40 or outside the UK please Google it!) magazine being dropped off monthly to my nan and my daily pint of milk on the doorstep arriving before I set off to school.
Irrelevant of whether we are talking about the B2C market or the B2B market they share one key challenge – barriers to adoption.
Those barriers are not specific to the consumer or to the business market:
And as I tell my family, now sitting and watching me with baited breath (I may be building this up too much now!) – this is what customer success is – the removal of barriers to adoption of a subscription-based service with the goal of delivering on your desired outcomes.
The range of subscription services available to the consumer continues to grow with most things you can purchase now being offered in a convenient, cost-effective, alternative to the up-front, permanent purchase offered today. Car manufacturers are very aware of the need to provide alternative methods to the traditional car ownership model with the likes of Porsche, BMW and Jaguar launching subscription models. The millennials of the world are not demanding cars and the ability to finance one, but rather the need to be mobile, in a cost-effective, convenient way. A Netflix style offering will be available and consumed by one in ten of us in the next decade say industry experts.
As the B2B subscription industry also grows with increased momentum, businesses are slowly understanding the need and criticality of long term, sustainable relationships between themselves and their customers. Businesses today cannot risk not understanding their customers and how they use your products. Therefore the role of the Customer Success Manager not just exists but is now business critical for all subscription services (and arguably non-subscription services too).
Just checking LinkedIn tonight sees a wealth of advertisements for Customer Success Managers all focusing on the need to understand customers better whilst driving the adoption of subscription-based services.
I have just finished reading “Subscribed”, the book written by the CEO of Zuora (a SaaS finance platform), Tien Tzuo. He clearly believes the subscription industry is here to stay boldly claiming the product economy will fully be overtaken by the subscription economy in the next 50 years.
I look forward to seeing his prediction come true.
Appendix – After a recent debate with a member of my Customer Success network we came to the conclusion that maybe the subscription economy in this current format is not here to stay, well; at least not for 50 years. Maybe we are now transitioning to the “outcome economy” where we are not paying for a subscription to “something”, but rather based on the outcome of that subscription. I feel another blog post coming on……
Article originally published internally at SAP
Social Selling is a way of positioning yourself as a credible individual, a way of promoting the purpose of your company and a way of promoting the value proposition of your solution and/or service. So, is “Social Selling” just for sales? Maybe. But if that is the case, surely “Social CS” is a thing and a thing for all Customer Success professionals to understand, value and practice.
I understand (actually, I am unsure I do) the apprehension of creating a digital presence in the role of a senior executive but what are the risks of creating your digital presence as a Customer Success Manager? Or is the real question, what is the risk of not creating a digital presence? Let me explain further.
You are a Customer Success Manager at 321 Software Company, a leading HR platform and have just been named as the new CSM for XYZ Diagnostics. You have just been introduced to them – their Chief Technical Officer, their Chief Human Resources Officer, a number of IT and HR professionals, and many more. They will check you out on LinkedIn, and they will do it immediately. What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? How does it make them feel as they read and learn more about you? Do they feel confident, maybe even excited to have you as their CSM – have you demonstrated the skills and competencies they are looking for, do you exude ability and credibility, or do they see you as just another face of 321 Software Company? Worse than what they may find, is what they maybe don’t find. You do not have LinkedIn profile or you have a profile but it is scarcely complete. So, what is that telling them about you?
Your LinkedIn profile is your brand – maybe not all of it, but in today’s business world then a major part of it.
Above I give an example of why you need to ensure your own profile is up to date and relevant, but you shouldn’t forget there is also information out there for you too, making your life easier as a CSM.
You should be using LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) to understand your customers, your stakeholders and your competitors.
So, what is your view on the use of social media within Customer Success? I look forward to hearing your views.
At the time I am clearly not seeing this as a “blessing in disguise”, and like most people experiencing redundancy I went through the typical 5 stages of grief. However, I surprised myself how quickly I came to terms with it and immediately started to build a very specific plan for my days, and the coming weeks and months. There were things I had been putting off doing for months that I now had time to do, both in terms of professionally and personally. I was able to spend more time with my young family. I was able to exercise with more frequency and structure. Yes, I wouldn’t have chosen this scenario, but it was an opportunity and one that I was keen to make the most of.
So, what did I do? What did I learn? What advice would I pass on to anyone else experiencing this?
Networking – Networking and doing it well is critical in your search for a new role. A month or so before being made redundant I sat at a Gainsight networking event in London hosted by Dan Steinman and sat at a table with some great Customer Success leaders. On that table were two people that latterly became significant in my search for a new role. One, was a recently promoted Global VP of Customer Success who was looking for an EMEA VP reporting into him and although I went deep into the interview process I lost out at the final stage. Two, was a gentleman called Adrian Beck who was responsible at the time for building the Customer Success function and team at Tanium. Adrian, has since become a trusted member of my Customer Success network and not just because he introduced me to SAP that resulted in my new role that started in January 2018. The moral of this story, is to continuously take the opportunity to extend your network and learn from your peers. This was not the only event I attended after my redundancy with a number of regional Customer Success networking events plus Gainsight’s Pulse Europe where I took the opportunity to speak and host events. Clearly, without that initial chance meeting with Adrian I would not have found my new role.
Social Media – LinkedIn has always been one of my preferred social media platforms and in the search for a new role it becomes invaluable. Yes, it provides job search functionality, but it should be seen as so much more. It gives you a platform to communicate to the world that you are actively looking for a new role, it gives you a platform to discuss and debate with peers, it gives you a platform to write posts like this one sharing your knowledge and opinions. Use your time out of work to build your social media presence, connect with ex-colleagues or industry peers, interact with industry thought-leaders and to have a voice.
In terms of other social media platforms, I made the choice several years ago to have a separate “professional” twitter account and I also use this to interact with colleagues, peers, customers, thought-leaders and more.
Website/Blog – If you utilise LinkedIn for sharing your knowledge and opinions then the next step may be to create your own website or blog. Over the time of being out of work I decided it was the time to transition my blog from the WordPress platform to a full website courtesy of Weebly. With a long-term career objective to look at providing a customer success consulting offering I felt this was a great opportunity to start “sowing the seeds” for this. Hence the website was created with content provided in both written and audio formats. I transitioned my blog posts over and launched my #CustomerSuccessMatters LIVE! podcasts (which is now up to five episodes strong, with a total of ten guests).
Training – Training does not have to be something that costs several hundred pounds, there is plenty of training available if you know where to look that is free of charge. I would suggest start by looking at what LinkedIn has available. During my time out of work I learnt about topics ranging from SaaS finance to storytelling, to customer experience to leadership. There is a wide range of content available and with a little bit of thought and research you can build an extensive training program for yourself.
So while I did “a lot”, I also knew that this was a chance to bring some perspective to my life and regain some balance that arguably had been lost over recent years as I placed work before most other things in my life.
While the above was all done with the aim of making me more attractive to future employers, there was a number of other things I took on and did that was done with the wider aim of bringing calm, reason and balance to my life, including:
As I have alluded to, I am now back in work with a great role at a great company and I can look back at this setback in my career positively and a time that I learnt a lot, both professionally and personally. I hope that this helps any of you that find yourself in this position either now or in the future.
Gainsight’s Pulse Europe 2017 is over after its 3rd and most recent visit to London resulted in near on 1200 Customer Success, SaaS and Venture Capital professionals hearing from a large number of speakers. While nearly 40 countries being represented is impressive, what really hit me from the heatmap presented by Gainsight was how many attendees made the trip from North America even with their very own Pulse in their backyard. This to me really shows that the European based speakers that made up the majority of all speakers have great insight, knowledge and experience that has a demand to be shared from a global perspective.
Customer Success has momentum in Europe and this was reflective of the three days spent at the QEII Centre in the shadows of Big Ben and Parliament. As being an ever-present of all three Pulse Europe events I am well-placed to call out the changes I have seen. While I have spoken about the number of attendees over those three days, it should be pointed out that Pulse Europe has seen near on 100% YoY attendance growth over those three years. The quality and calibre of the speakers continues to improve, the number of senior executives in attendance increases, a wide range of companies were represented from a number of start-ups to the likes of “giants” like Microsoft who sent well over fifty people. All of this alongside recently “adopted” Londoners Dan Steinman and Lauren Olerich building Gainsight’s EMEA presence are all indicative of that growing momentum.
While the large number of talks I attended on the whole were awesome, the value for me still largely comes from the networking opportunities that arise by being under the same roof as some of the most influential EMEA-based Customer Success leaders around including Rav Dhaliwal, Cyrille Saulnier, Adam Joseph, Steven Lewandowski, Adrian Beck, Kelly Long and more.
In terms of talks, my two favourites were Wednesday’s talk from Slack’s global Customer Success leadership team of Rav Dhaliwal and Christina Kosmowski only just beaten by Sage’s Chris Rauch, a newcomer for me in terms of CS leaders but one I am sure to follow more closely now.
Finally, a huge thanks to the team at Gainsight who have done so much to build this community of Customer Success professionals, or in the words of Nick Mehta this “movement”. So, Dan Steinman, Lauren Olerich and Kevin Shirley specifically thank you for all of your support and efforts. You have raised the bar once again!
Let’s get this straight from the start, I am no expert and I do not have a library of all the best interview questions. However firstly, I do have considerable experience interviewing candidates and building high-performing Customer Success and Account Management teams over the last ten years. Secondly, after being interviewed several times over the last 2 months I am shocked at some of the poorly prepared interviewers there are, and how many poor questions are being used.
Hiring is one of the biggest use of time and money at a company. Finding the right person is big business – aligning to both the skills required to do the job, and a culture-fit to the company. Poor performers in your company and team can be disastrous, and as a leader can suck time and energy not just from you, but also from your wider team. The managing of poor performers can have wide-spanning impact on your team hitting morale hard.
To keep your interview process impactful and streamlined means you only have a short period of time to spend with candidates, so asking the right questions is of paramount importance. This article makes the (fair) assumption you know the profile of your Customer Success Manager and the weighting of relationship management skills, technical skills, industry knowledge, etc. so select questions based on the relevant make-up of your CSM profile.
Below are some of the questions I use, have been used on me or have heard being used by some of my leadership thought-leaders I follow. I have tried to provide some context on why I think these are good questions to ask when interviewing for a Customer Success Manager.
Ownership is a fundamental skill associated with being all profiles or “flavours” of being a CSM, and to ascertain this skill I look to ask:
Tell me a time when you experienced not getting the desired result or response from an internal stakeholder while representing your customer’s best interests. How did you react, how did you respond and what did you do next would all be suitable follow-up questions.
At this stage you are assessing their level of maturity, their professionalism, their resolution solving, negotiation skills and how they own the situation to a suitable conclusion.
Curiosity is a skill I really like seeing in my CSMs, the art of wanting to know more with strong questioning techniques and I would suggest a question to test this would be:
Tell me the last time you really became obsessed by something.
I like to see their intent to learn and how they take responsibility for their own learning. How obsessed did they become? What research did they do? What was the end result of this obsession?
Delivering Value is what defines a Customer Success Manager and anyone that knows or follows me will understand that value must be two things: tangible and acknowledged. So, in this question I am looking explicitly for evidence of that. A couple of questions I like to use are:
Tell me about a time where you had measurable impact on a customer.
Tell me about a fellow Customer Success professional you admire and the reasons behind that.
Both of these questions you are looking to see how they translate activities into value, and why that value is relevant and important.
Customer Success Passion – I have a huge passion for the role, the industry, the community and the value that a good CSM brings to not only their customers but their employer too. I always like to challenge this “passion” for Customer Success by asking a series of questions, including:
What are the current trends in the Customer Success space?
What books, blogs or podcasts do you follow?
At a family party, how do you explain your role when asked what you do?
As I have said before, sometimes when you are hiring for a Customer Success Manager it just comes down to a “gut feel”, but that feel usually comes from a passion for doing the right thing for, and by your customer so the answer to these questions give an overwhelming instance of that passion.
Culture Fit – As I become more specific with where I choose to work I have also become more particular on the culture fit of candidates I choose to hire so questions that ascertain that fit are critical. I like this question that I have picked up from an ex-leader I worked with:
Tell me about the last time you encountered a rule or process at a company you worked at that you thought made no sense. What was that rule or process? What did you do, and what was the result? What did you learn from this?
This question allows you to evaluate many different components; is this a candidate that ignores it or addresses it, how does that candidate address it, what was their thought process, what was the impact and the result. There may not be a right or wrong answer to this, just one that doesn’t align to your company culture.
Matt Myszkowski - experienced Customer Success leader & founder of CustomerSuccessMatters