When it comes to developing the best customer success model possible, it’s important to start with the best customer success managers. These crucial members of your team are responsible for more than just your company’s relationship with the customer, they set the pace for your overall future with your customer and your future revenue opportunities. The only way to attract and keep great customer success managers is to build a program which promotes healthy competition, rewards top performers and lays a path towards your customer success managers professional and personal fulfillment. While there are 7 different ways to compensate CSMs, The foundations for building such a program can be understood in three basic pillars; Attract, Maintain & Grow.
In order to attract the best customer success professionals, it is important for your company to understand the intangibles that top-notch CSMs look for in a career opportunity. Skilled professionals know how to do their job, and often excel as they make their company successful. In the modern competitive environment, talented professionals have more options and more leverage than ever before. The foundation for an attractive offer starts with competitive salary. A competitive salary shows that you know the value of a professional’s skills, experience and company-fit.
One of the great things about Customer Success Management is that your customer’s success is directly correlated to your company’s success. In order to recognize and foster this, it is important to correlate your CSM compensation strategy. Incentivizing Customer Success Managers to make their customers successful means that they can grow their salary depending on their performance. It creates opportunity for your managers to reap the rewards of successful relationships. Every company will have their own opinion on how to calculate competitive compensation. Some fundamental concepts are monitoring your customer’s health score, their satisfaction score, and usage of your product. For a deep dive into metrics to track CSM performance, check out this post by Lincoln Murphy. The important aspect of competitive compensation is that your managers know there is never a ceiling to their opportunity, success or benefit.
Aside from the fiscal incentives for a prospective CSM, there are several other aspects skilled CSMs will look for in any opportunity. One of the most integral pillars of a successful CSM team is communication. Teams need to be able to communicate openly, clearly and decisively. Your customer’s success is dependant on the speed, efficiency and clarity of your team’s communication. Making sure that you have created a team (and company) culture which fosters such linear conversation and empowerment will ensure prospective candidates feel like they have the environment necessary to thrive. One way to ensure candidates have this is to perform a quarterly survey of your teams for breakdown points in communication, efficiency and coordination in order to work out any kinks.
After you’ve won your prime candidate, the harder work of keeping them as a productive, engaged and successful member of your team, begins. If your managers do not feel like valuable parts of a great movement, then you will have your greatest churn-negators churn on you themselves. Allison Pickens published a great resource to start building a program which recognizes and rewards. A fundamental tool to use to make sure your managers are equipped for personal and professional success are 1 to 1 meetings. Checking in once a month, or week, for 15-30 minutes allows you to make sure your managers are thriving in their day to day, frustrations, resource deficiencies and other problems can be handled in a sustainable and productive cadence. Make sure you listen to what happens in these meetings and coordinate your overall team culture, resources and needs at the individual level.
Another useful tactic is to cultivate a team that takes care of itself. If you empower, enable and support other members of your team to be cross-functional in their problem solving, it fosters the mindset of the individual to know they are not on an island and that the team’s success is related to every team member’s success (not just their own).
Companies change, people change and situations change at an ever-exponential rate. In order to stay competitive with your customers, and your managers, it is important that you provide ample opportunities for your team to grow together and individually. Supporting professional and personal education for your managers allows you to invest in their expertise, capability and future success.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shell out the big bucks for a Harvard MBA, rather you should work with your CSMs to create a professional education program which continually makes them better managers and people. Creating such a program means that you understand your customer’s needs (present and future), your team’s capabilities at the individual and collective levels, and that you make sure their personal development aligns with your company’s culture. It also gives them an important reassurance; regardless of what their future may hold, your company helped them become a better person both professionally and personally. At the end of the day, making sure that you are treating your managers fairly, investing in their success (personally and professionally) and creating opportunity for growth will ensure successful relationship with your managers.