Questions To Ask A Customer Success Manager

Great teams start with great interviews.

By recording live interviews, our platform harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help teams run a faster, better interview process.

Request a Demo

Questions To Ask A Customer Success Manager

In the late 90s, Vantive Corporation, a pioneer in CRM systems, recognized the need for a new strategy to retain customers. This insight was sparked by two discoveries: first, the failure of CRM systems resulted in significant customer churn, and second, the cost of acquiring new customers to replace those who left was becoming prohibitively expensive. This is where the role of customer success manager was born.

Hiring an effective customer success manager is even more important than it was back in the early 90s. While customers may be a bit more patient with software glitches, the cost to acquire customers has more than 10x'd in that period of time. I saw a chart that showed small business customer acquisition costs (CAC) in SaaS to be around $1,400. In the enterprise world that cost was closer to $14,000- illustrating the importance of getting a customer once and keeping them for life (as the old Salesforce adage goes).

The process of hiring a great Customer Success Manager (CSM) goes much deeper than glancing at a resume or looking at someone's work history. The success of the interview will depend on the interviewer's skill in crafting insightful questions to ask the customer success manager, setting a tone that makes the candidate feel comfortable enough to open up about their experience, and attentively listening to the candidate's answers to understand their thought process.

Customer success management is a specialized role. It requires a higher degree of soft skills than many others to ensure customer satisfaction, and loyalty, and make sure the customer has the right fit for their needs. As such, crafting questions to ask a customer success manager in an interview takes training. Your questions should be open-ended, and structured, and aim to uncover deep insights into how a candidate builds relationships, manages challenges, and sees their contribution to the team. 

Careful selection of the questions you ask when interviewing for a customer success manager will also help you gauge the candidate's level of communication skills, their ability to solve problems, and their approach to maintaining customer health scores.

To help you get started, we have an interview questions generator that you can access by clicking this link. On the page, paste your job description into the text window and we'll email you a personalized interview guide for your next CSM interview. You can also try our interview intelligence software which comes with an interview questions library to speed up interview prep!

Interview Questions To Ask A Customer Service Representative

Like the CSM, the customer service representative (CSR) is a vital part of your customer satisfaction ecosystem. Often the first point of contact for customers when they have issues or concerns, the CSR also needs hard and soft skills, product knowledge, and the ability to build relationships that solve problems and drive customer loyalty.

Problem-solving, creative thinking, and past experience driving customer satisfaction scores and short resolution times- these are the primary things you look for in a customer service rep. Since your customers will probably be meeting CSRs under less-than-ideal circumstances, your goal would be to hire people who can brighten even the worst day for someone in the midst of a crisis.

To assess the quality of your CSR candidate, craft interview questions to a customer service representative in a way that elicits detailed responses through stories, metrics, and examples of how they have handled customer challenges in the past.

One effective approach is to start with the questions to ask in a customer success manager interview and parse out those that are also relevant for CSRs, focusing on situational and behavioral questions. For example, ask the candidate to describe a specific time they faced a difficult customer interaction and how they resolved it. See if they remember details like how long the problem took to resolve that you can verify later in reference checks.

Incorporating questions to ask a customer about their experience may give you both “sides of the story.” A dual perspective will help you uncover a candidate's ability to be present in a service conversation and understand the potential impact they'll have on your customers if hired. You may even want to ask the candidate to describe how they would gather feedback from a customer after a service conversation and how they would use that feedback to improve their interactions- this will show you how willing a candidate is to learn, take initiative, and handle criticism- indicating they have a strong willingness to learn and adapt based on customer needs.

Here are example questions you could ask to assess these things:

  • "Can you share an example of how you've handled a high-pressure situation with a customer and what the outcome was?"

This question probes the candidate's ability to manage stress and use creative solutions under pressure.

  • "Describe a time when you had to think on your feet to solve a customer's issue with no obvious solution available. How did you approach the problem?"

This highlights the candidate’s problem-solving skills and ability to innovate.

  • "Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond for a customer. What was the situation, and what actions did you take?"

This question seeks to uncover the candidate's commitment to customer satisfaction and their willingness to put in extra effort.

  • "Have you ever received negative feedback from a customer? How did you handle it, and what steps did you take to improve the situation?"

Once again, this question goes back to the idea of assessing the candidate’s capacity to accept criticism positively and work on self-improvement.

Getting a clear picture of the candidate's potential contribution to the team isn't easy - but it's definitely worth it. Your brand and customer experience are at stake.

If you'd like to generate questions for your next interview, click here and follow the instructions for a personalized interview guide.

Role Reversal – Questions Interviewees Should Ask

The reverse interview has become a widely adopted concept as candidates have become more selective in the companies they join. This is a smart move on the candidate's part as it gives them the opportunity to flip the traditional interview roles and become the interviewer. A fancy term for asking questions about the company and role, role reversal questions-  this "switch" allows candidates to better understand their potential employer and decide if the company matches their career goals and values.

In the context of role reversal – questions that interviewees should ask showcase their understanding of your company, culture, proactivity, and level of engagement. These questions can be used to assess their personality for a potential fit within the company's ecosystem and operational style. By asking the right questions candidates can assess whether their approach matches your own.

Some of the questions you should be prepared to respond to are:

  • "Can you describe the company's customer success strategy and how it has evolved over time?" This question sheds light on the organization’s commitment to adapt and grow in its customer success efforts, indicating a candidate's interest in client-centric questions for increased customer success.
  • "How does the role of a customer service manager contribute to the overall success of the client experience?" This inquiry, posing questions to ask a customer service manager candidate, helps the interviewee understand the expectations and the impact of this role on customer satisfaction, thereby assessing the position’s influence and alignment with their personal objectives.
  • "What are the key metrics used by the company to measure customer satisfaction, and how regularly are these reviewed?" This question aligns with the need for continuous improvement manager roles, as it highlights the importance of metrics in evaluating and enhancing customer satisfaction over time.
  • "Could you provide an example of a significant change made based on customer feedback?" By asking this, candidates demonstrate a keen interest in how responsive the company is to its customer base and its agility in implementing improvements, an essential aspect for anyone looking to be involved in continuous improvement or customer service management.

In conclusion, these questions can be helpful to you in two ways: you can use them to prepare for interviews, and/or use them as interview questions to ask customer success manager candidates- either way, they should give you a good foundation to build upon. There are literally millions of interview questions floating around online today- our goal is to help you find the ones that yield the best results. 

By taking a strategic approach to crafting these interview questions, you can gather interview insights on candidates who may have slipped through the cracks. Candidates who can now position themselves as thoughtful, analytical, and genuinely interested in contributing positively to your customer experience and company’s objectives.

If you'd like to see how these questions can be used in structured interviews that net better hiring decisions, book a demo of Pillar today. Our team would love to help you discover how interview intelligence can drive meaningful change across your most important hiring metrics.