Customer success team structures can vary wildly from organization to organization depending on products, client base, and overall revenues.
In today’s highly competitive environment, successful organizations have dedicated teams focused on customers. These teams build relationships, add value, increase satisfaction, serve as internal client advocates and ultimately help their clients reach successful business outcomes.
At BizLibrary, we’ve worked hard to build a proactive, highly supportive client success model, and we want to share what we’ve learned in key areas of team structure, creating job descriptions, recruiting candidates, interviewing processes, and what to look for with onboarding and training.
In the past, we’ve experimented with a variety of team structures. Our first few tries weren’t quite right, but since we value the freedom to fail here, we allowed those stumbles to lead us toward better options. You may have to try a few things before you get things right for your team, but here’s how we got to our current structure, which is working very well.
The two key business challenges facing our team are the need for mastery of diverse skills necessary to work with the client, and scalability.
Every client at BizLibrary has two dedicated team members – a manager and a consultant. The manager is responsible for strategic implementation, establishing high-level strategy, and all revenue-related activities. The consultants are responsible for all day-to-day interaction and executing on the strategy that the manager worked with the client to develop.
Other vital parts of the team structure are Implementation and Client Support. Everyone interacting with the client contributes to their success, whether it’s developing an overall strategy for using a product or service, proactively checking in with customers on a regular basis, or being available for technical support at their moment of need.
Once the team structure is in place, you need to write job descriptions. There are many ways to approach job descriptions, but we choose to be specific and elaborate within descriptions as a way to establish clear expectations.
When writing a job description for recruiting purposes, we convert the job description and requirements to include “scientific statements” – meaning that the candidate can prove what I am asking of them. For example, a recruiting statement might be, “has effectively managed 50+ accounts with monthly contact.”
When recruiting candidates, we promote from within the company through an active development program. We also target existing customers for referrals, and we source from vendors, direct or indirect competition. But no matter the source, the candidate must have a record of success in previous customer facing roles.
We also look for individuals that have a strong online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter, and other outlets. This gives us a chance to view how they work, what they take pride in, and what they view as success. We don’t consider any candidates that do not have a social media presence.
We currently use a 7-part interview process. Our interviewing didn’t start this way, but through a process of trial and error, we’ve made a series of continuing improvements to reach the current approach:
- Short phone screen to gauge interest and cultural fit
- Face to face interview to validate resume, previous work history, and skills match
- Phone interview covering behavioral and scenario based questions
- Online assessments covering IQ and 360 competency evaluation
- Panel interview following top grading processes
- 90 minute live shadowing to allow for full exposure to position and live call monitoring
- Final face to face interview to address final concerns and candidate questions
Skills to Look for
There are key traits and skills we typically look for and seek validation of during the recruiting and interviewing process.
- Strong personality: an optimistic and positive attitude is everything
- Passionate about customer success: we need to hear that candidates are motivated by the success of others
- Curiosity: must have someone that is naturally curious and willing to learn
- Strong organizational skills: must be displayed and tested
- Farmer mentality: clearly understand how relationships are built and a willingness to be an advocate for their customers
- Metric driven: need someone that is goal-oriented and focused
Our formal onboarding process applies to all Client Success team members, regardless of role, for the first 30 days. The extensive process covers products, processes, and people.
- Products: what do we offer and how does it impact and help customers?
- Processes: what do we follow internally, how do we work, and what makes us unique?
- People: this covers all roles and departments in the company – how do we all work together to ensure customer success?
Once those three areas are mastered, onboarding shifts to understanding the customers they will be working with directly.
Once the onboarding process is complete, training will still continue – it’s constant and present on a daily basis. Each employee should have an individual development plan to further their skills and work on any gaps. The teams work on a weekly basis on a training activity or development item.
Training is supported in our organization from the top down. We’ve adopted a mentality of “Smarter Every Day,” and often share with each other different things we’ve learned on our internal social platform. This helps with the growth and progression of the team as a whole.
Building a Customer Success team starts with organizational commitment. Once that commitment is in place, it’s really about taking time to evaluate the roles and the skills needed to be successful. Being able to shift and be agile in processes is critical to your success. Learning from past mistakes will only make you stronger.