4 Elements of a Killer Customer Success Team

Customer success is a necessity in the SaaS world. No matter how efficient and easy you think your onboarding process is, there are always customers that need help getting started and staying engaged. More and more companies are emphasizing customer success teams this year than ever before. And for good reason. Companies that prioritize CS activities gain about 60% more profit than their competitors.

A good customer success team is customer-obsessed and passionate about your product. A killer customer success team is a master at internal and external communication and completely bought into your company’s vision. Whether you’re hiring your first CSM or expanding the team, look for these four traits in order to find the fanatics that will take your customer success to the next level:

Tech-Literate

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your customer success team has to have an engineering background. Product expertise doesn’t equate to technical expertise, and your goal is to train product experts. Coding may be a part of the job—if they can dig through support tickets and bugs then they can better help customers—but a foundational knowledge of languages like Javascript or HTML/CSS can be learned on the job.

The amount of tech-savvy that will affect a CS candidate’s qualifications will vary based on your product. For example, a company like Slack caters to a wide customer base with varying degrees of technical skill, but they make getting started easy enough to be done in a wizard, with very little follow-up necessary. In contrast, a marketing automation company like Pardot will need to be able to adapt to their customers’ specific marketing needs and require a degree of technical knowledge to minimize friction when they onboard. No matter how technical your specific team gets, remember that in the end, the people you hire have to be able to have credible conversations with executives and users at any level.

To this end, consider forming a team with varying levels of field expertise. Having a diverse group will help you create better customer success plans at every level and foster better dialogue between team members on the specifics of customer points-of-view.

Define what that means for you:

  • Who is your user? How tech-savvy are they? Make sure your team has the expertise to handle one or two steps beyond a customer’s anticipated needs.
  • Hiring people with experience in sales and account management instead of engineering might help your team create better relationships with customers and solve problems on their level. Plus, if you have a good product team, the bugs will be solved before you know it. The CSM just needs to be able to communicate progress in a friendly and clear manner.

Process-Oriented

Handling the onboarding and troubleshooting for any SaaS company can be very complicated. Your CSMs need to be able to quickly anticipate needs and address problems before customers get confused, bored, or frustrated. Unfortunately, it is impossible to really anticipate every issue a customer will face when using your product.

That’s why it’s important to hire CSMs who are process-oriented. Process-oriented people naturally think more critically about processes than outcomes, a trait that will help you create workflows that emphasizes customer patterns, not problems. As your team digs into the processes behind each support ticket, they might be able to solve multiple problems at once, saving your customers’ time and headache during the onboarding process.

Look for people who don’t see every problem as a one-off issue. Rather, someone who notices (and addresses) the root cause will be able to help the team recognize and address a whole slew of problems or potential problems across your customer base.

Define what that means for you:

  • What patterns do your staff already see in customer onboarding and support tickets? Are they complex or relatively easy to solve with customer success plans?
  • Candidates who are collaborative and natural problem solvers are usually better on this side of things.

Evangelistic

Upselling and renewing your customers can often fall on the CS team since they are a customer’s point of contact after purchase. This can be a big responsibility since over time, loyal customers are worth 10x more than their first purchase.

A good customer success team recognizes that the best way to ensure customer loyalty is to advocate for your product at every step of your customer’s journey. They need to be able to anticipate pressure points in the onboarding process and help customers overcome them without much friction. It can be hard to explain away bugs, especially early in a customer’s journey, but a relentless belief in your software and its mission, and its ability to provide true value to your customers and their businesses, will help your CSMs maintain trust and respect with customers.

CSMs also need to maintain a relationship with clients over time. They should be considered trusted advisors and be the first point of contact for customers who are exploring new subscriptions, product features, and tools. The more credible they become, the more they can help the customer drive strategy as it relates to use of the product. Then everybody wins.

Define what this means for you:

  • Where do you lose customers the most after they onboard? Ask for cyclical feedback from your CS team and brainstorm solutions with stakeholders across your entire company.

Great Communicators

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any team. Your CS team members have to be able to manage communications with and between customers and your internal product team. They will have to contend with a combination of support tickets, in-person and phone meetings, email and in-app communications, and more. Good resource management and organizational skills will be crucial.

Define what this means for you:

  • How do you communicate customer support issues internally? Are there clear lines of communication between teams?
  • Give candidates a situational customer support ticket and ask how they would go about communicating and solving the problem.

There’s no denying that customer success can make or break a SaaS company. As your company and user base grows, attracting and hiring the right people to the CS team will ensure that no customer gets left behind. While their backgrounds and expertise may vary, never forget that a killer customer success team is built on people who are passionate. Passionate about the product they serve, the people they help, and the processes they create.

About the Author:

Jesse Grossman is the CEO of 1H Recruiting, a team of specialized recruiters helping companies chart a new course in their hiring. With a strong belief in “keeping hiring personal”, 1H offers an entirely new way for growing companies to engage with professional, skilled recruiters on-demand to fill in their hiring gaps. Learn more about the team’s story and how they save companies time, money and headache while recruiting top-notch talent. www.Hire1H.com

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