Much has been written about how Support, aka Customer Success, teams can be critical to the success of your company. A great Customer Success team will delight and help retain your customer base, turning difficult situations into moments of happiness for your customers. They'll improve your bottom line and your brand, all while dealing with a high stress job requiring patience, speed, and high effectiveness.
Given all those benefits, it's easy to miss another great opportunity to improve your business with a great Customer Success team: recruiting. These team members should all be considered potential future employees in other roles in your company. Here's why:
Why Your Customer Success Team is Your Secret Recruiting Weapon
1) They are experts on your product.
After answering support tickets for a few months, a good customer success team member will know your product inside and out. They'll know all the warts and problems as well as the features that delight users. They'll know how users describe issues and confusion they have with your product. They can bring that deep experience to add value all over the company:
- Help the marketing team understand what customers should be educated on that may be a little known feature.
- Help the sales team by knowing exactly what makes a customer close and the specific hurdles to get a lead over.
- Help the product team by knowing where customers get stuck, confused, or miss out on things they would really value.
- Help the ops team by recognizing opportunities for internal tools to make the company operate faster.
Not every Customer Success person will think like all of those, but chances are, each will think like one of those (or another department in your company) because...
2) They come from all walks of life.
People that join Customer Success teams have many different experiences before joining your team. Many have college degrees that didn't have immediate jobs in today's markets. They often join Customer Success teams as a way to break into a new industry.
Varied experiences means that they can bring a lot of unexpected value to your company. Things they've seen and done in past careers, internships, or in what their degree is in, all can make them more valuable than you might expect.
I recently spoke to one Customer Success manager who had a team member who had a political science background. They were able to grow in their success role and eventually transfer to a policy team that they're thriving in and leverages their education as a win for both them and the company.
3) They will burn out in their current role.
It's tough to crank through support tickets day in and day out. After months of doing so, you run out of new things to learn about the product and monotony can set in. This is why a number of managers I've spoken to that lead Customer Success teams have told me that they look for a 12-18 month line for risk of burnout for a Customer Success person; at that point they need to move up or move out.
If they're going to burn out anyways, why lose all that institutional knowledge? It's so much better to acknowledge this is a risk and plan for what to do about it (like Reid Hoffman's Tours of Duty) than pretend it doesn't happen and churn through tons of success team members. The latter is expensive, hurts team morale, and can demotivate members that stick around.
4) It's a huge win for both of you.
Growing your employees into bigger, higher paying roles is a huge win for people on your team for their lives and careers. As a company, getting to try out people on lower risk roles before hiring them into jobs with bigger responsibility is also a big win; you already know they're a cultural fit, see their work ethic, and know they succeeded for you once.
Would you rather replace a customer success role and have a higher role filled internally, or have to hire outside constantly? Especially if you're in a hyper growth mode, it's hard to hire as fast as you need to. This is a shortcut for you and your company as a whole since Customer Success team members can come from so many walks of life and if you do it right, you can develop them into something greater.
5) You set a great example for the rest of the company.
Progress is addictive for employees. The more they feel like they're heading in a desirable direction, the more excited they will be to work for you. Even giving them just a few hours a week in mentorship or other learning can be enough to make them pumped to crank through the other work you have for them.
It's easy to look at someone and only see them for who they are. It's easy to think all they can do is what they currently do, but that's a huge mistake.
You can stand out as a leader and a company if you believe in your team.
Talk about what they want to grow into and tell them you believe in them if you do.
Since Customer Success has some of the lowest compensated members of a company, if you show they can rise in roles, it will signal to everyone in your company they can rise as well. Few things will improve your company retention as well as a feeling that everyone can progress in their careers in ways they hoped.
Not everyone will take you up on the opportunity to grow, but those that do will pay you back for the investment ten fold.
Do you have a story of how someone in customer success grew into a new role in your company?
Share it in the comments.