How Do You Know You're Ready for a Customer Success Executive Search?

Many factors contribute to a business's success, from the products or services it sells to the employees on its team. But one element that’s a business’s most essential asset is its customers. 

Customers ensure success, and they can be a make-or-break for fast-growing startups. Customers can take a startup to new heights when they come in droves. But if they start to churn en masse, it can be hazardous for startups that lack the stability and deep pockets of better-established companies.

In order to nurture customers, ensure they accomplish their goals with a business’s service or product, and prevent them from going to competitors, organizations can build out their customer success department.

Today, 72% of businesses say improving customer success is their top priority, while $62 billion is lost every year due to poor experiences. The bottom line is that far too many businesses compete for the same customers for their experience to fall by the wayside. 

Customer success teams are the key to ensuring a positive customer experience. Organizations need to build a robust department and find world-class customer success leaders with the help of a customer success executive search process. 

What Is Customer Success?

What exactly is customer success, and why does it play such an important role in customer outcomes? Customer success teams work proactively to help customers achieve their goals with a business’s product or service. 

They begin to nurture a relationship with customers from the moment of onboarding, helping to understand and establish customer goals and to showcase specific ways buyers can use the product or service. During the customer’s lifecycle with the business, customer success teams develop relationships and take on the role of trusted advisor to help customers maximize how they use the product.

Customer success teams don’t want to be strangers to their buyers. Instead, they work to become reliable guides and confidants so that if issues do arise, they are addressed before they lead to churn. 

How Is It Different From Customer Service/Support?

Customer success is often mistaken for customer service/support, but these two departments have many distinctions and serve vastly different purposes. As we mentioned, customer success teams work proactively to build relationships and solve issues before they occur. 

Their primary goal is to help customers maximize their success with the product or service and to catch any issues as early as possible. On the other hand, customer service/support teams operate reactively and are there to solve real-time problems when they do occur. Both customer success and customer service/support are necessary to ensure a positive and valuable customer experience. 

What Roles Are a Part of Customer Success?

Customer success teams can have many different roles. Here are some of the common ones you might find on a customer success team:

  • Customer success manager: Customer success managers are the on-the-ground team members who manage individual customer relationships. Customer success managers are assigned to different customers and focus on their specific goals and relationships.
  • Customer success analyst: A customer success analyst works to understand customer data to identify how customer success efforts are faring and where there’s room for improvement. 
  • Customer success operations manager: Customer success operations managers work to improve the functionality of the customer success team itself. This might mean improving processes and procedures, identifying ways to make the team more efficient, and measuring data and goals.
  • Vice president of customer success: The vice president of customer success is typically the senior manager in charge of the department. They might focus on the team's overall success, deploying new strategies, and understanding big-picture trends and goals.
  • Chief customer officer: Increasingly, organizations are saving seats at the C-suite table for customer success teams. The CCO strategizes with the CEO and other executives to ensure customer success efforts align with the larger business goals. A chief customer officer, along with the VP of customer success, are two roles that are typically filled through a customer success executive search process.

How Do You Know If Your Organization Needs Customer Success?

In order to understand if your organization needs customer success, you can consider these questions:

  • Do we have someone who is managing customer relationships?

In today’s competitive business landscape, customer relationships must be constantly managed and nurtured to ensure retention. 

  • How are we ensuring a positive customer experience?

It’s not enough to have an excellent sales process: customer experience needs to be prioritized. Keep in mind that 86% of customers say they would pay more money for a better customer experience. 

  • Is our startup vulnerable to churn?

Churn is never great for a business, but fast-growing startups can be particularly vulnerable to churn. 

  • Do we want to boost retention?

One of the primary goals of customer success is to encourage improved retention. Repeat customers equal repeat business.

7 Steps to Building a Customer Success Team

In order to build a successful team, you need the right information. With that in mind, here are 7 steps to building a customer success team.

Identify the Responsibilities and Goals of Customer Success

While the primary function of customer success is similar across organizations, it’s important to identify exactly what customer success will own at your organization and what their goals will look like. Customer success goals can include identifying key metrics and measurements for success, such as reduced churn, better retention, and boosting customer lifetime value.

Gather Customer Insights and Develop Customer Profiles

Each customer will soon be assigned a customer success manager, so to start this process, organizations can gather customer insights and develop profiles. This can include identifying which customers are more likely to churn (and who might need a heavier hand from customer success) and which customers appear to be stable (and understanding what makes them so successful). 

Develop Customer Success Job Details

Before formally building out a customer success team, organizations need to understand what exactly they’re looking for. Some customer success departments start with just a few managers and one leader at the helm, while others might be multi-tiered. 

Hire Customer Success Team Members Who Are Additive to the Organization

Hiring the right team members is critical to building a customer success team. After the responsibilities and goals are established and a basic framework of customer profiles is created, organizations can look for experienced customer success team members who will bring real value to the organization. 

Depending on which team members you’re hiring, they can be found either through an in-house hiring team or a recruiting agency. But typically, when it comes to highly-skilled positions or executive roles, organizations will likely need to execute a customer success executive search process. 

The best executive search firms can help you quickly identify world-class customer success leaders who don’t only “check the boxes” but who are a cultural fit for your organization and who bring powerful value to the table. Here at Will Reed, we specialize in recruiting customer success executives through our founder-approved search method. 

Create Customer Success Workflows

From onboarding processes to customer lifecycle management, customer success managers have different day-to-day responsibilities. It’s vital to have workflows that support their work, not hinder it.

Measure Success and Track Efforts

Customer success efforts should be measured and tracked. This can be done using data and metrics and measuring customer sentiment through surveys. When efforts are tracked, leaders can find areas where the customer success team is achieving its goals and where improvements could be made. 

Scale When Necessary 

Fast-growing startups typically have fast-changing needs. As your organization grows, look for ways to scale customer success in an appropriate way that helps support larger business growth efforts. 

You Don’t Need to Tackle the Customer Success Executive Search Process on Your Own

Customer success teams are integral to customer retention and happiness and vital to preventing churn. While highly-skilled customer success managers make all the difference, they need a powerful leader who will help drive efforts, goals, and achievements. For this, founders and leaders need to conduct a top-tier customer success executive search, which allows organizations to hire the customer success leaders of their dreams.

While this might sound like a big undertaking, you don’t have to tackle it alone: we’re here to help.

Here at Will Reed, we know that great leaders (including customer success leaders) are more discerning than ever before and in high demand. That’s why we do what we do. 

We’re the only go-to-market executive search firm built exclusively for early-stage founders. Our customer success executive search method is designed to match you with a customer success leader who will help you achieve your business goals.

Interested in finding out how we can help you find your next customer success leader?

Contact Us Today


January 23, 2023

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