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Your Starting Lineup: Four Personalities of Great Customer Success Managers

If you’re a SaaS company just starting or looking to scale your Customer Success Department, you know the importance of finding the right candidates to manage, retain, and grow your valuable customers. The right team mix of personalities, talents, and skills will be vital to deliver customer success and fans.

With March Madness starting today, I would like to share four personality traits of great Customer Success managers (the winning lineup). These personality traits help customer success managers and teams deliver success and wins on a daily basis.

The Role of Customer Success Managers

The role of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) has gained significant attention over the last couple of years. Coupled with the rapid growth of subscription-based software companies, financial benefits of retaining customers, and revenue dollar expansion goals, the minute you post a customer success manager job position, you’re likely get an inbox full of resumes, cover letters, and referrals.

But finding the right kind of candidate for the critical Customer Success Manager role can be extremely challenging. While the role does involve some selling, the profile is much different than a sales profile.

Customer Success Team Member Profile

The Customer Success role involves helping the customer solve problems, but the profile is different than a customer support profile. And finally, while the role will involve answering onboarding and training questions, the role is different than the profile of a sales enablement professional or trainer. It can be difficult to find the right personality types to fit your CSM starting lineup. Learn more about hiring the right fit and measuring customer success teams in this ebook. 

Professionals fitting the customer success profile will possess varied skills depending on the responsibilities that a company chooses to attach to the role. The most effective CSM teams combine two or more of the following traits and are driven by collaborative relationships between them.

Four Personality Traits of Great Customer Success Managers

1. Fanatical Drive for Success

In a LinkedIn post, Dmitry Shkliarevsky uses the term “fanatical drive for success” to describe a CSM. He explains: “You need to wake up every day planning on how you will make a difference. It’s not a competition with others as much as with yourself. How do you best solve a problem or make an impactful change? There is no ego involved here just pure ambition to want to make things better than they were yesterday. And the more you can affect others the more they will want to do the same. This is precisely how great companies are built and powerful cultures formed to solve problems in new and interesting ways.”

I could not agree more with Dmitry’s assessment. A CSM that doesn’t wake up with urgency and purpose and a drive for making their customers successful likely doesn’t have what it takes for the long haul and won’t make it out of round 1, let alone the Final Four.

2. Manage & Measure Outcomes

The old adage of “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” applies greatly to the CSM role. However, in the customer success world, it’s imperative to have more than metrics, but rather a strategy of how to avoid problems before they arise. This is why Customer Success Management Platforms have become an important part of a CSMs role as these platforms help your team measure and track the overall health of customers and are a go-to solution to help your team be proactive and anticipate customer needs. Solutions like this can help your team avoid constant fire drills that cause them to be reactive instead of being proactive.

Make sure you have clear Customer Success Department goals and KPIs. These indicators will help you determine if you are winning daily. Whether it’s customer referenceability, renewal rates (logo/dollar), expansion opportunity creation, NPS scores, communication engagement metrics or any number of other metrics, make sure to always set a bar above the trend line. Make sure you can measure your metrics on a daily basis and define what a win looks like. A combination of the right metrics and focus will help your team create the right behavior to make your customers successful. To progress to the Final Four of Customer Success, your Customer Success Team needs to consistently achieve daily metrics that deliver daily customer wins.

3. Empathy & Calmness in the Face of Fire

Customer Success Managers usually need to have a lot of empathy towards their customers in order to be good at their job. Why? It helps them to anticipate how their clients think and behave. Empathy allows CSMs to actively understand how a customer is feeling towards their product and service. Ask one simple question, “Do you love using our product or service?” And make sure you have a way to capture the honest responses and set proper expectations to resolve them. Being empathetic is a personality trait that is needed to be an awesome CSM.

A good CSM understands the importance to keep calm when facing customer challenges. Calmness in the face of fire is another important trait of great customer success managers. Even when they are faced with fires out of their control. They quickly rally around a way to set proper expectations and follow up with a proposed solution. As we know, learning to perform under pressure and under challenging circumstances is where the champions and greatest brands are built. Make sure that you train your team on the best ways to deal with current customer challenges and mishaps. Collaborating on different ways to solve customer problems can help your CSM team prepare for the unexpected and win.

4. Engineer the Customer Experience

Great Customer Success Managers actively use each customer engagement to improve and engineer the customer experience. They understand that customer relationships are built on positive engagements and experiences. They have personality traits that allow them to quickly find ways to uniquely take care of their customers. They also find ways to surprise and delight their customers with awesome service and follow up, thank you notes, and timely proactive engagement.

Make sure to create an environment where your CSMs are empowered to positively impact your customers. You can help empower your CSMs by making sure there is a clearly defined customer journey and budgets to continue to engineer and improve the customer experience.

Exceptional CSMs aren’t born with inherent skills that can’t be taught. In fact, while some may have an aptitude for the “intangibles” mentioned above, many good CSMs become exceptional with time and attention. They seek to model those who are great CSMs and through attention, training, and experience can become exceptional too.

If you’re a Customer Success Leader, look for these personality traits in your CSM starting lineup. And for those who are already CSMs, sharpen your skills by focusing on these traits and work at them until they become second nature.

Here are a few other Customer Success resources to build your company culture around customer success:

eBook:

5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Blog Posts:

The Golden Rule of Customer Success: 8 Guiding Principles

6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong customer success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

Announcing ClientSuccess Goals: Deliver Measurable Results for Your Customers

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