LinkedIn ranked customer success as one of the fastest-growing fields back in 2020 and its momentum has only grown since. The demand for customer success has increased as more and more companies realize how essential the function is to achieve their growth aspirations.
But…finding strong customer success candidates isn’t easy. When hiring a customer success manager, making a poor choice is especially damaging. This position is critical for maintaining and nurturing long-term customer relationships, so if you choose someone who is a poor fit, you’re likely to see lower retention rates. In the long run, that means less revenue.
This is why it’s imperative to bring the best customer success employees into your organization, and it all starts with the questions you ask them in an interview. Check out our 10 favorite customer success interview questions you should be asking every candidate to determine whether they’re a good fit for the position and your company…
1.) What is your definition of customer success?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it will provide insight into your candidate's thinking process. Strong customer success managers are counted on for building relationships and retention, which involves strategy, processes, people, and technology. If your candidate touches on these themes, they could be the right fit.
2.) Describe a time you felt you went above and beyond for a crucial customer.
Top customer success managers are driven to serve and please. They have an innate capacity to support others, which is a uniquely different skill set than you might find in a salesperson or marketing specialist. A great candidate will have numerous examples to share.
3.) How do you incorporate upsells into your customer success work?
Customer success managers aren’t sales reps, but they should be on the lookout for account upgrade opportunities. Check candidates’ answers to see if they can find growth opportunities while still maintaining client relationships.
4.) What do you think is the key to developing long-term customer relationships?
You’re not looking for a candidate who puts out fires (that’s typically a customer service rep). Instead, seek out applicants who use long-term tactics—like regularly checking in—to build familiarity and trust with customers over time.
5.) Describe your experience in past jobs working with multiple departments. Was it a positive or negative experience, and why?
Success managers must easily flow between marketing, sales, and support teams and work well with all three. Use this question to gauge whether candidates are energized or frustrated when working on multi-disciplinary teams.
6.) If a customer is demanding a solution you can’t offer (like a refund), how would you respond?
You can’t always give your customer exactly what they ask for. It’s not a comfortable situation, but it’s important that your customer success manager can handle the dilemma. Seek out candidates who remain cool-headed in these situations and offer the customer alternative solutions.
7.) How do you measure customer satisfaction?
Intuition and gut feelings aren’t enough, especially if you want to scale your product. Your customer success program needs to take a data-focused, analytical view of behavior and sentiment. A good customer success manager will prefer to use a numerical system like a Net Promoter Score or a more granular customer health score to gauge satisfaction. He or she will also likely use surveys and predictive analytics to read customers.
8.) What’s your process for creating quarterly business reviews?
The quarterly business review is a critical piece of a customer success program. Even if you’re a low-touch SaaS with a lot of customers, there are always some accounts that could use a review (usually the biggest) to keep them on board. A good customer success manager will have a clear process in place to gather QBR data, create the presentation, and deliver it.
9.) Describe a time you lost a customer. How did it happen, and what did you do?
There are bound to be a few mishaps on the road to success—whether or not these stem directly from actions taken by your candidate. In those situations, you want a customer success manager who takes responsibility and looks forward, rather than making excuses, blaming others, or dwelling unnecessarily over what happened. Great candidates will focus on what they learned, and how they used that knowledge to move forward in a productive manner.
10.) Tell me about a time when the demands of a customer project changed significantly. How did you adapt?
Adaptability is key to successful customer relationships. Whether they're dealing with budget cuts, employee turnover, or pulling a product from the market, your candidate should be able to roll with the changes and pivot to drive the project to success. Customer success managers must be willing to adjust their strategy as needed.
BONUS: What questions do you have for me?
The best customer success candidates — and strong candidates in general — have questions for the interviewer(s). After all, this is the company where they’ll invest their time and energy, possibly for years to come. Remember to allot time to open the floor for questions. Keep in mind that it’s definitely a red flag if they don’t have any questions as this is a general sign of disinterest and that they’re likely not serious about the role.
We hope these questions are helpful as you build a rockstar customer success team that will ensure customers get their desired outcome when using your product.
Check out the other posts in our “The 10 Most Important Questions” series here: