5 Steps to Building an Effective Customer Success Team

customer support team

While most businesses place a high priority on acquiring new customers and increasing revenue, many frequently overlook the fact that maintaining existing clients is just as vital, if not more so, than acquiring new ones.

When you consider that existing clients have had time and resources dedicated to them, in addition to the strong benefit of history, they should always be weighted as more valuable than a new, unknown client.

As more businesses have become aware of the fact that RETENTION should always be the number one goal for any successful company, the call for Customer Success Managers has gone through the roof!

Customer engagement teams are focused on making sure that customers have a positive experience in all aspects of the buying process. Their primary goal is to ensure that existing customers stay happy, engaged, and upsell whenever possible.

  1. Skilled Customer Success Managers will consistently check in with customers to find out what, if anything, they would suggest to make things even better.
  2. Getting customer feedback and implementing ways to address that feedback often generates priceless information that skilled CSM’s will deliver to leadership.
  3. A proficient Customer Success Manager will substantially increase the value of their organization in the eyes of consumers by providing helpful materials and consistent, dependable assistance.
  4. Skilled Client Success teams will establish and foster a productive, positive relationship between their company and the customers with whom they serve.
  5. Many organizations have started investing in this dedicated customer retention role and are creating entire teams dedicated to preserving existing clients.

5 Tips on Creating the Most Effective Customer Success Teams

1. Know the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Success!

Customer Service is responsible for addressing immediate concerns. Customer Service should always be a top priority for a company.

A relatively new trend is to also have dedicated team members focusing specifically on RETAINING CUSTOMERS. Acknowledging the value of current customers compared to going after new ones, there is no question that retaining current customers is the best move.

With that in mind, smart companies are now assigning positions where the entire focus lies within customer retention.

To have an effective Customer Success focus, be sure to clearly delineate the difference between goals and duties between your Customer Service and Customer Retention teams. Many a company has dealt with confusion over duties and responsibilities between these two important, yet distinctly different roles.
Sometimes it’s about resolving the user’s urgent technical concerns. Sometimes it’s about going above and beyond to make sure they’re happy with the services and are ready to expand with you in the future. An effective customer success team should be proud of their contribution to the company and their influence on your business and clients.

2. Effective Recruitment

Not surprising, strategic recruitment is an essential step in building an effective Customer Success team. Hiring managers will want to target candidates who have a proven track history of successfully managing a variety of user experiences while creating the Customer Success team.

Stellar Customer Success professionals all have one thing in common… a passion for excellence!

In addition to the obvious candidates with Customer Servicing experience, you may also want to consider former project executives as potential matches; specifically, those who have previously managed a large number of users and are ready to shift into a service-oriented position.

Utilizing situational interviewing techniques will provide invaluable information regarding how your candidate will react in various scenarios. Because the role of a Customer Success Manager is highly fluid and intangible, situational interviewing will be the best interview technique to gain information on the validity of their candidacy.

Have them ‘show’ you how they would react in various situations and then determine who best matches your company culture. And in the spirit of fair play, along with a desire to have someone that you can hire to fill a role, keep in mind that they do not have to be mind-readers, to be a good match.

There are as many different company policies as there are companies, and it is only fair to tell your applicant PRIOR to asking them to demonstrate how they resolve various issues, the company policy as it related to resolving issues. Is the customer always right? Are there certain ‘lines in the sand’ that you will not accommodate, regardless of any extenuating circumstances?

One of the easiest jobs in the world is a Customer Success Manager who works for a company that never tells a customer ‘no’. Far more realistic is the Customer Retention Manager that is constantly juggling profit margins and company policies in conjunction with maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

Be as clear as possible when sharing what you want your Customer Success person to do, and then you can create a few scenarios during a situational interview format that will tell you whether your candidate is intuitively a great fit, able to take direction, and be trainable, or simply not a match.

Essentially, look for people who know how to speak to customers the way that you want your customers to be treated.

It should be noted that there is historically on-going friction between a company’s Customer Success Director, and the Director of Finance, for obvious reasons. Successful Customer Success pros understand that keeping healthy profit margins are ultimately what will keep the ship afloat and smoothly sailing, so they need to be conscientious about any additional costs that they want to incur when retaining customers.

The fact is that the average customer experience should be positive enough to have them continue to sign up for additional services or goods. If it is not, that should be addressed well before adding additional cost to retention.

3. Assigning Roles to Your Team

Providing consistently dependable Customer Service for immediate concerns should be the foundation of a company’s retention plan.

In addition, a secondary, dedicated role should have a Customer Retention focus. The most common titles for these roles are Customer Success Managers, Client Success Managers, Director of Customer Experience, and VP of Client Success.

Ownership and Accountability will be your friends when inspecting what you expect.

Customer Success experts should cultivate strong connections with customers via frequent contact and potential upselling when appropriate, promoting an on-going positive business arrangement, as well as increasing brand engagement.

4. Consistently Measure Your Performance

Measuring your customer retention numbers is of profound importance as you evaluate your retention efforts.

  1. Track retention numbers at a minimum of monthly, but ideally weekly to have a solid understanding of exactly what the current trend is.
  2. Consider creating a customer feedback form to gain insights into what they like and dislike.
  3. Understanding the motivators for existing customers that causes them to disengage is quite literally priceless information.
  4. Consider offering some type of incentive, such as adding their name into a drawing for a nice meal or a gift card, in exchange of having them complete a 5-minute survey.


5. Build an Effective Customer Success Team with ISC

The demand for top-notch Customer Success professionals is at an all-time high. When your company is ready to focus on retention, give International Search Consultants a call to give yourself the opportunity to interview the best of the best professionals within this rapidly growing discipline.

In addition to working with recruiters who have been focusing on Customer Success Managers roles, as well as Customer Service Managers, we can also provide talent for many other roles, including banking and finance, human resources, and sales management.

Contact us today to learn more about our executive recruitment services!

As the #1 most recommended recruiting agency in the entire US based on LinkedIn recommendations, International Search Consultants offers expert executive recruiting services to ensure your team is equipped with highly skilled and experienced professionals. By strategically targeting the top talent that matches your requirements, we will find the perfect fit for your company.

Find out more about our proven track record to get started! You can follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Kara Onorato is Director of ISC’s award winning team of Executive Recruiters. You can reach Kara at 877-316-6249 or .

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. You can reach Ann at 888-866-7276 or .