Congrats! You applied for a customer success position and are now preparing for your first interview. Whether this is your first time interviewing for customer success, or you are an old pro, there are a few things that you should do to prep yourself for success.
Ultimately, what you are trying to solve in an interview is whether there is a mutual fit for you and the company. To have the best possible experience, be sure to do your due diligence in advance.
There are aspects of the job that you should assess during the interview, such as company culture, working relationships with potential co-workers and manager, and overall core values. This article will focus on what you should do before you even get to that interview.
Step 1: Research the Product and the Company
One of the most important steps is researching the product and the company. Technically, you should do some of this before applying for the position and then in greater detail once you make it to the next phase.
Customer Success Managers have many responsibilities, and most of them are heavily focused on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes, change management, and driving the product’s adoption. You’ll want to demonstrate your abilities to the hiring manager. Give them a small snapshot of what the customer experience would be like with you at the helm.
A few things to think through are:
- Is this product something that you can see yourself supporting, advocating for, and working with on a day-to-day basis? You should know this before your interview.
- Many SaaS tools have a free trial. If you are interviewing for a company that has a free trial, but you have not used it, that sends a bad message. As a hiring manager, I am always impressed when a candidate comes in and tells me all of the amazing things they could do with my product. If a free trial is not available, research as much as you can about the product. Most companies have help centers, demo videos, and marketing collateral floating around on their website. Acquaint yourself with this content.
- You will be representing this company, what they stand for, and what value they bring daily. Do you believe in what they are solving for as an organization? Are you aligned with their mission? Look at review sites such as Glassdoor and G2Crowd. What are employees and customers saying?
- Most companies will ask you “why us”. Do not just give a generic answer. Instead, hone in on the use case that stands out the most to you and be specific. If you are struggling to answer the “why us” in a passionate way, this may not be the right fit for you.
Step 2: Do Research on Who You Are Interviewing With
Do a quick search on everyone that you are interviewing with. Check out LinkedIn, Google, and all of the regular spots.
Always know who the customer is, and during the interview, the individuals you are interviewing with are technically your customers (as you are theirs). Doing your due diligence on who they are and what functions they own will help you tailor your questions to be relevant.
This is your opportunity to do a thorough assessment of who you will be working with and how you can mutually benefit each other in the organization. Not sure who you are interviewing with? Ask your recruiting contact for a list of individuals and what functions they own.
Step 3: Build Rapport Quickly
One of the more important things in Customer Success is one’s ability to establish rapport. Build relationships, understand what motivates people, and offer your help accordingly.
Don’t be fake by any means, but build rapport quickly. You generally have 30-60 minutes with each person, which is not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, so make sure you focus on the value you both may obtain through this mutual relationship.
Step 4: Customer Success, Customer Support, and Account Management
There is still confusion everywhere on the differences between Customer Support, Customer Success, and Account Management. Understand the industry-standard outcomes that each of these roles drives and how the company that you are interviewing with has aligned them.
How the company aligns these roles will directly impact your day-to-day responsibilities and possibly your happiness.
Step 5: Examples of Success
The company is looking for a new member of the Customer Success team. Are you the one? Make this assessment easier by bringing examples of your success in Customer Success.
A few things that I like to see are:
- Proven churn reduction techniques – Did you reduce churn by 5% on your previous portfolio? Great. Show them how.
- Stories of driving ROI – How did you partner with your customers and help them achieve a return on their investment?
- Process you built to improve onboarding experiences – How have you improved your customer onboarding experience? How did you increase adoption and renewal rates? Come with stories and examples.
- Examples of bad fit customers and how those relationships were turned around and/or separated – Yep, it happens to all of us. No matter how hard you try, some customers will never be a good fit. How did you approach that? What did you do with those learnings to help avoid similar situations in the future?
- Upsell and renewal strategy – Did you own upsells and/or renewals? What approach did you incorporate to help usher your customer base across the finish line?
Step 6: Come with Questions
Last but certainly not least, come with questions. Lots of smart questions. I touched upon this a little bit above, but this is worth reiterating.
Tailor your questions to whom you are meeting with, asking irrelevant questions is just as bad as asking no questions.
Even if you interview with six different people, make sure you have at least three questions for each interviewer. It’s okay to repeat questions if you are looking for different perspectives on the same topic.
As always, this is not all-encompassing but should give you a great starting point on preparing for your upcoming interview. The key is to do your homework and prepare for your interviews as you would for a customer meeting.