Written by Erika Villarreal - Contributor for CS Insider
Interviewing for a Customer Success role is a two-way street.
The company is evaluating you, but you should be evaluating the company too.
This is a critical part of finding your dream job. So, how do you make sure you’re not getting into your worst nightmare?
When I was looking for my dream job, these were the things that were important to me.
The Customer Success role varies from company to company depending on the maturity of the company. So understanding your responsibilities is very important to your success. There are also different types of customers: low-touch, low Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), and high-touch, high ARR.
Reviewing the job description and types of customers the role interacts with is the first step. But sometimes there are questions left unanswered. Make sure you come prepared to ask questions during the interview process.
Here are some questions that I’ve asked before:
The SaaS industry is huge. There are many different solutions out there including cybersecurity, cloud services, sales, marketing, customer service, customer relationship management, communication, human resources, ERPs, project management. The list goes on.
I remember browsing through LinkedIn looking for jobs, reading through the job descriptions and doing research to understand if I felt passionate about the product. The only way to deliver value to your customers is to believe in the product itself.
You want to join a company that has a strong product that customers love. Customer Success is already a tough job. You don’t want your product to make it even tougher. You want a product that works, free of bugs, so you can focus on customer outcomes rather than pursuing escalations to fix product issues.
So how do you make sure you have a strong product? Here are some tips to learn more about the product:
The more you can learn about the product, the better you will understand how you’re helping customers achieve their desired outcomes.
By the end of your research, you should be able to answer the following questions:
If you’re joining a startup that doesn’t have much information on their website, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer for a product demo. When I joined SmartMoving Software, this is something I asked for before making my decision to join their company. Without the product demo, it was going to be hard to make my decision.
SaaS companies will vary significantly depending on how long they have been around, so it’s important to understand how mature the organization is. Startups are normally companies that are just starting to build their processes, and sometimes this means there are many changes occurring . Some people are not so comfortable with this type of environment and prefer a place where everything is already built and ready to go.
Personally, I like these types of environments, as it allows me to help build and shape processes, improve the customer journey and make a real impact in the organization. Others prefer a place where playbooks are already established. If you’re not careful and don’t ask questions, you’ll end up being surprised.
This is your opportunity to find out more about the company’s processes during the interview.
Here are some questions you can ask:
Jay Nathan said it best: “Life is too short to work for a company that does not get Customer Success”. Truly successful companies are those that use customer success best practices across the entire organization because the entire organization is impacted by retention. This includes marketing, sales, customer support, finance, and product. Everyone is responsible for the success of their customers.
During the interview process it's key to learn more about how the company operates. You don’t want to join a company where customer success takes the blame for every customer that churns. You want to join a team that works together to improve the customer’s experience and where the customer comes first (ALWAYS).
Here are some questions you can ask the interviewer to make sure you’re joining the right company culture:
Wayne McCulloch, author of The Seven Pillars of Customer Success, mentions in his book and I quote: “If you are approached by an executive recruiter about a Head of Customer Success position, simply ask whom the position reports to. If it’s not the CEO (or CCO), politely decline and move on”.
We can translate this into a CSM role too. You want to make sure you work for a company that gets Customer Success.
One of the big things for me is working for a leader that I can learn from. A great leader will bring the best abilities out of their team and will motivate you to improve on your own skills. They will give you the opportunity to level up and grow your career within the company.
Ask about the leadership team. Who will be managing the team? How much experience does this person have managing teams? What has this person accomplished in the past? If possible, ask for the name so you can look them up on LinkedIn.
Research the leader and review their experience. You want to make sure you choose a company and a leader that will value your work, that offers career advancement opportunities and a place where you will learn new things.
Here are some questions you can ask when it's time to interview with the team manager.
Do research before the interview and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Interviews are a two-way street and it is the perfect time to ask as many questions as needed. You should expect every interview to end with some time for your questions. If the interviewer does not give time for your questions, that is a red flag.
Come prepared and make sure the questions are in line with the interviewer’s role. Some companies like to add multiple interviews with people with different roles. Make sure you understand who you will be talking to and bring the questions in advance. I’ve failed to do this before, and it didn’t go well.
And remember, we spend more than 1/3 of our time at work. Choose a company where you will feel inspired every day to be a better CSM.
I wanted to make the transition from a CSM role to a manager for a long time. But how did I get there? Through many mistakes, one thing stood out above all: I had to be a CSM to myself. To treat my career the same way I treated customers. Here’s what that looked like.
As a leader, you’re never 100% sure what your reports think of you. But knowing who you should be towards them is of utmost importance. Here are three key things you should be as a leader in Customer Success.
Having domain experience can help you stand out when applying for your first Customer Success role. This could be expertise in retail, education, hospitality, accounting, etc. Here are some things to do and avoid when targeting a CS role in your domain.