What To Look For In Customer Success A-Players

It’s no secret that great customer service is key to customer loyalty. It can also be a point of differentiation in a competitive market, generate new business through referrals, and create a word-of-mouth marketing channel.

Gone are the days when a customer service team would work passively in a call center. At a great organization, customer service consists of both support and customer success, a team that proactively seeks ways to ensure its customers meet (or exceed) their goals with the product. 

Jean Walters

Jean Walters

Account Management

Jean Walters is the Director of Customer Success at Greenhouse. Her team is growing fast - and she looks for specific attributes in candidates that would drive success at the organization. In this post, Jean offers 10 characteristics of great customer success hires.

10 Traits of Great Customer Success Hires:

1. Strong Communication Skills - Before I speak to a candidate, I require a cover letter. It’s important that this person can communicate effectively and in a friendly manner. If a cover letter is poorly written, she does not move him/her forward in the process.

2. Emotional Intelligence - We’ll see people with a background in sales apply, and even if they identify with our mission, they are often not a fit. The best customer success candidates show a genuine desire to help people, rather than the need to meet a quota. Ultimately, this person is a soother of feelings, so empathy is an important attribute.

3. A Problem Solver - People can tell you they are a problem solver, but in my interviews, they need to show me. I ask questions like “Tell me a time you jumped through hoops for a customer.” What I like to hear is that a customer didn’t necessarily ask for something, but the candidate knew there was a need and acted.

4. Authoritative - With empathy, a candidate must show that he or she has authority. I want to know that he or she is authoritative enough to get people to take action and to trust them. “Can you motivate someone to do something, even if you’re not his/her boss?” I’ll ask for a concrete example in a time when the candidate has displayed this characteristic.

5. Can Prioritize - How insightful is this person? A great candidate has the ability to prioritize. They can take a step back from the minutia and see the big picture in order to know how to approach it and adjust.

6. Ability To Manage Expectations - We are the customers’ guide on this Greenhouse journey, so it's important that we let them know what's coming and when. That way, everyone is happy!

Similarly, this person has to be able to say ‘no.’ There are sometimes people who want to please the customer so much that they never say no, even if what the customer is asking is really something we’d never do. That's bad for us, and bad for the customer, because they'll think they're waiting for the day that we finally come around.

7. Confident - A great customer success candidate will speak up when they think something can be improved or if they see a broken process. They will actively communicate with other members of the team or the organization like marketing, product, or sales, when they see an opportunity to add value. Afterall, we often know the ins-and-outs of the product and have good insight to provide.

8. A Teacher - A lot of what we do in customer success is teach the customer how to use our product in the ways that will help them meet their goals. Being able to explain things clearly, and with patience, is important. Often I will ask a candidate, “What are you an expert in?” and have them tell me about it.

9. Flexible - Some customers can be difficult! This candidate needs to show that he or she has the ability to work with challenging customers. I will ask, “How do you work with someone who thinks they are the only customer?” This can happen, and it’s an important skill for a top-performing customer success hire.

10. A Brand Ambassador - Of course, we make sure we evaluate the candidate’s cultural fit. We work closely with customers every day, so this person is the representation of our company and our values. They have to be enthusiastic about our product and our mission - customers can tell when that is, or isn’t, the case!

Image courtesy of Huffingtonpost.com

Hiring customer success reps at your company? Add these 10 attributes to your candidate scorecard to make sure interviewers are assessing the right traits. Get a free, interactive template below!

Interview Scorecard

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Candidate Sourcing