Uncomplicate – How to hire for a customer success role

Uncomplicate by Freshworks brings you crisp and insightful videos which will focus on answering one tactical question around sales & marketing, support & collaboration, employee engagement, and growth. 

Customer success as a function is evolving. The demands of the job are ever-changing and companies are constantly finding it difficult to innovate in the field. Consequently, given the complexities, hiring for a customer success role has become quite challenging. 

So, we sat with Ari Hoffman, the director of customer success at Coveo to discuss this. Here’s what we learnt: 

Empathise and grow

“Each individual contributor is going to play a part into the maturity of the total game.”

One of the factors Ari looks for in a candidate is his ability to grow within a team, and foster a collaborative environment. This is more of an attitude rather than a skill, and the attitude of putting customer over company over team over individual is a pivotal aspect to creating a successful customer success manager, Ari says. 

Empathy ensures you provide a great experience to your customer, and also helps your team grow. If you’re not able to empathise from the customer’s perspective, the customer is not going to empathise with what you are trying to do. 

Ari recalls Newton’s third law to stress this point. “If you try and force your customer to follow your practices, your  message, you are going to be met with an equal amount of resistance to that type of change.”

So, the next time you want an ace customer success manager, look for someone who is empathising with the customer. Your customers will be magically open up to the suggestions and recommendations from your team. 

Flexibility and Resilience

In a role like customer success one has to deal with a wide variety of internal and external customers. “You have to be able to jump from personality to personality to be able to handle them. You have to be nimble and flexible in those moments to be able to adapt to each situation,” Ari says. 

Also, being resilient and having the ability to handle high-pressure demands internally and externally is crucial for a customer success manager. 

“You’ve got your company on one side that’s pushing you towards the customer saying we need adoption, we need renewals, we need expansion, we need referrals. And on the other side, you have the customer taking jabs at you saying, well, this isn’t as accurate as what the sales rep sold us on, or we don’t have enough visibility into your product roadmaps.”

“You got to be flexible in order to understand the nuts and bolts of the demands from both sides,” Ari pointed out. 

The power of tribal knowledge

If there’s a person in your team showing traits of ‘holding’ information, it’s a very bad sign and you should weed out such culture at the very beginning, Ari says. Why you may ask? Having a culture where one person is a champion because of the knowledge and ‘secrets’ will begin the downfall of the team. 

You need people that are not just collaborative, but want take on the ownership of not just making their customers succeed, but making their co workers succeed.  So creating a ‘tribal knowledge’ is going to create a culture where the team is feeding each other and has a formal documented way of disbursing information. 

To summarize, here are the four things you need to look for when you hire for a customer success role. 

Empathy – To understand the customer’s point of view

Flexibility – To be nimble and be able to handle different personalities

Resilience – To handle the pressures of the job

Tribal knowledge – To make your team a successful one