Customers can make or break any business, but they’re even more critical for startups. If you aren’t obsessed with delighting your customers – well, you should be. Every single step of the customer experience should be positive enough to, at worst, bring them back for more, and at best, get them to sing your praises. To get to that point, a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is an essential startup company position. Someone whose mandate it is to effectively onboard your customers, provide them with lasting, memorable value, and establish a positive relationship that lasts as long as possible.
When your startup hires its first full-time CSM, it’s a statement to your customers that you value their support, and that you want to make sure their experience with you is just as positive as your experience doing business with them. The question is – what kind of person will be a good fit for your startup company’s CSM position?
Supportive vs. Assertive
Customer Success was previously referred to as Customer Support/Service, so you might naturally think of a very accommodating, flexible individual. Someone who’s okay with the customer always being right. But depending on your business, there might be challenging onboarding milestones to meet, or renewal negotiations to be had. Those kinds of conversations usually require someone who’s more assertive and ready for pushback. The challenge here is that most people who are naturally suited to let the customer take charge aren’t overly comfortable in situations where they need to be assertive. It works the other way too. With this in mind, consider hiring for the trait that’s more valuable to your startup’s business model, and train your CSM to improve the other trait.
Relationship Builders vs. Requirement Determiners
Every entrepreneur knows that relationship-building skills are critical when it comes to growing customer loyalty. Someone who interacts easily with others is often very useful in a customer-focused startup role, because they’re naturally strong at building relationships. But keep in mind that those whose social skills are off the charts might not be as structured as others, making it more difficult to get hard data on customers’ technical requirements, communication strategies, product use-cases and more. Depending on your product, those kinds of analytical skills might be crucial – so you’ll have to prioritize what’s more pertinent to the way your startup operates.
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Quick To Respond vs. Patient
Most customers expect a response right away. If they ask a question, they want to know the answer now. But as we all know, sometimes the fastest answer isn’t the best answer. Generally, startups favour agility – but make sure you find a CSM who can balance quick responses with accuracy and thoughtfulness. Customers will appreciate a reasonable mix of substance and speed, especially if it helps to address a question or concern in a single interaction.
Out-Of-The-Box Thinkers vs. CRM Champions
The more information you can capture in your CRM, the better. It makes it easier to analyze customer data, support them, and pass them off to new team members if necessary. A CSM who’s detail-oriented and thorough could come in handy as you pass the reigns of the CRM over to them. But – and there’s always a but – the kind of person who excels in routine may have trouble coming up with new solutions to customer issues, following only what’s been done before. How different are your customers from one another? That may help you decide what you need more of.
If no one’s looking out for your customers, how do you ensure that your customers will look out for you? The Customer Success Manager is an essential startup company position for a reason: fostering customer relationships is critical to generating brand loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, and a generally positive reputation. And you’ll need the right kind of person to do it properly. Although not every person can have every quality, there are always some personality traits that are more important than others. Make sure they line up with your business objective before hiring your CSM – once you do, you’ll be primed to improve your customers’ experience and growing your list of brand evangelists!
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