Are you looking to hire an empathetic and resourceful Customer Success Manager (CSM) to lead your Customer Success team but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place.
These Customer Success Manager interview questions will help you identify a shortlist of CSM candidates that will add to your company culture. Use them to help you suss out if your candidate can provide friendly support to customers while also coming up with creative, timely solutions to their problems.
Read on to see the Customer Success skill set you should be on the lookout for and a list of unique Customer Success Manager interview questions to help you screen candidates (plus answers to listen for!).
Before we get into the best interview questions for Customer Success Managers, let’s take a look at the top candidate skills you should be screening for during the interview process:
Keep these skills in mind while you screen candidates and conduct interviews. Listen out for signs that they have these skills and examples of how they’ve put them to use in previous roles.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">💡 Remember: Your candidate is also interviewing you about what it is like to work at your company. They need to feel confident in their decision to join your team as your Customer Success Manager. Be ready to answer candidate questions and share information that’d get them excited about accepting an offer.</p></div>
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Beyond what’s written on the CV or job application, you’ll want to hear more from your candidate about their background as a Customer Success Manager. How did they get to where they are now? Have they always worked on Customer Success (CS) teams?
Listen for: An easy-to-follow story of how they landed a career in Customer Success. You’re not looking for a linear career path — it’s okay (and welcome!) if your candidate has taken an unconventional career route.
This interview question is the ideal way to get your candidate talking about your industry or niche, and lets them show off their knowledge about either one. Industry and niche knowledge can be learned and acquired over time, but it’s also helpful to hear about a candidate’s existing knowledge and experience.
Listen for: How they demonstrate insights about your industry's challenges. A strong candidate will do their research before the interview, so anyone who is entirely unfamiliar might not be the right choice for you.
This question can help you gauge whether their career aspirations align with your needs as an employer. It will also help you gain a deeper understanding of their motivators—a key part of keeping team members happy, productive and loyal.
Listen for: Identifiers as to what makes this person tick when it comes to their work life and what will keep them around for the long haul. That could be money, growth opportunities or a passion for their craft. Whatever it might be, it’s important to truly listen to your candidate’s answer without judgment.
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Customer-facing roles require a particular personality. They should be people-focused and genuinely interested in helping customers succeed. Ask this interview question to understand what your candidate really loves about Customer Support work.
Listen for: Passion, enthusiasm and a willingness to go the extra mile to achieve customer satisfaction.
Not all candidates will have management experience. However, they may have shown initiative and leadership in more junior roles that demonstrate their capabilities.
Listen for: Signs of their leadership skills that will help them lead employees in their roles and help them in meeting their short-term and long-term career goals at your company. This applies to any junior or senior roles they may have held.
This question is a great way to see if your software stack is compatible. You’ll get an idea of how comfortable your candidate will be with using these products.
Listen for: How tech-savvy they are and if they will be able to help you improve your current workflow.
This question gets to the heart of how patient, empathetic and communicative your candidate is when having to explain foreign concepts to unfamiliar customers.
Listen for: Answers that show technical acumen and strong communication skills. Their response should be centered on being helpful to customers, not patronizing.
A good Customer Success Manager will be able to break down complex or technical concepts into a language that anyone can understand.
Listen for: Answers that show patience and the ability to translate challenging ideas into plain language. No techie jargon here.
This type of question can give you an idea of your candidate's technical knowledge and familiarity with different monitoring tools, KPIs and metrics that are most important for Customer Success teams. (Data has revolutionized Customer Success.) Another way to phrase this Customer Success interview question would be: “How do you measure success as a Customer Success Manager?”
Listen for: Answers that demonstrate a modern, data-driven approach to keeping customers engaged and happy. You’ll want a candidate who is motivated to achieve Customer Success goals, but also is laser-focused on your business goals as a whole.
Your candidate can refer to a hypothetical scenario for this question or they may be able to call up a specific time when they did this in a previous role. CS processes is all about reiterating and improving—a great Customer Success Manager will see the value in improving processes as the product and the team grows.
Listen for: The use of tools, saved replies (macros) and systems. The candidate should talk about the importance of optimizing processes, particularly as your product or tool gets more robust.
Questions like this allow your candidate to show how they can be valuable to your business. It also gives them an opportunity to show that they’ve really done their research on your product/service and your company as a whole.
Listen for: Solid reasoning, innovative ideas and an overall understanding of what breeds customer loyalty for a company like yours.
One aspect of a Customer Success Manager role is liaising with the Development team. Customer Success staff are an excellent source of feedback and sentiment about the product, so look for someone who can communicate what needs to be improved.
Listen for: An understanding of your product, your target customers and your industry as a whole. The most important thing to listen for is how much importance your candidate puts on listening to customers needs in their role and relaying that information to your Development team.
Like in any role, a strong applicant for your Customer Success Manager should see this position as an opportunity to help your business and grow in their skillset. They should be interested in continuously learning and adapting as a manager and CS professional.
Listen for: Candidates that have a passion for personal development and see the value in improving their soft and hard skills. Learning is a lifelong process and there is always more we can get better at. If a candidate isn’t able to add much to this interview question, it may point to their inability to see room for improvement in their work.
There are several different approaches to Customer Success management. Some styles produce better results than others, and some styles may be more in line with what your Customer Success team needs. Additionally, this Customer Success Manager interview question is an opportunity to see if the candidate will be a value fit for your growing company.
Listen for: Mention of being supportive, collaborative, motivational, progress-focused and highly communicative with their teammates.
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Understanding and preventing customer churn is a big part of being a Customer Success Manager. You’ll want to ask this interview question to get an idea of what your applicant knows about mitigating churn, the importance of monitoring this as a CS Manager and how they might approach customer retention in your business. This question can also be asked from a situational perspective, focusing on how they’ve prevented churn in the past or how can you reduce churn at your business.
Listen for: How the candidate builds and maintains their customer relationships. Make sure they talk about how to anticipate customer needs and problems, and how they deal with them in a professional way. You’ll also want a candidate who mentions following up with customers and the importance on trust and loyalty.
Your existing customers can be an excellent additional revenue stream and upselling (or expanding customer accounts) is a key part of a Customer Success Manager’s role. At the same time, a CSM has to be able to upsell and cross sell tactically and empathetically — they should know how to read the situation with a customer and assess what they really need. There’s almost nothing more off-putting than a pushy Customer Success person!
Listen for: Answers that show an ability to generate extra income without harming the customer relationship, which is the number one priority.
Questions like this will tell you a lot about a candidate's approach to Customer Success and how they build relationships with customers.
Listen for: The right answer depends on your business. If you have high-ticket customers, it makes sense to be in touch more. If your model caters more to small clients, a less intrusive approach can be better.
Customer Success can be a stressful job. Between balancing user needs with business needs and navigating tricky customer conversations, there’s a lot for a manager to, well, manage. You’ll need to suss out how a candidate deals with this inevitable struggle.
Listen for: Signs of healthy processes for dealing with stress, importance placed on work-life balance and an ability to set healthy boundaries so that they can switch off at the end of the work day. It’s important that your candidate understands that burnout is a threat when they push themselves too hard.
Conflict is bound to arise in a customer-facing role such as Customer Success and customers often do think they’re right. When a Customer Success Manager encounters this, it’s important that they’re able to diffuse the situation, and help the customer solve the issue, all the while contributing to a positive customer experience.
Listen for: An ability to be respectful while diffusing a tense situation. Taking the wrong approach can lead to customer churn and a bad reputation.
Interview questions like this help you evaluate your candidate's ability to stay organized and prioritize problems. Knowing which issues to deal with first is an essential Customer Success management quality.
Listen for: How your candidate explains their prioritization process and the importance of organizing their workload. No one is able to do everything at once, so it’s important that your potential CSM has the skills and awareness to tackle competing priorities.
Workplace conflicts are inevitable, but you can’t let them simmer and affect productivity and morale. How does the candidate encourage and enable resolution?
Listen for: How your candidate displays their leadership, conflict resolution, fairness and people management skills in their response. It can be hypothetical or a real-life scenario.
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Questions of this nature will tell you a lot about your Customer Success Manager's ability to deal with people without sacrificing their relationships.
Listen for: How they would correct the rep and give them the time and resources to get on track. Additionally, they should show a willingness to take responsibility and correct the issue with the customer.
Going the extra mile for customers helps turn them into fans and decreases the risk of customer churn. It’s all about surprising and delighting!
Listen for: Signs that the candidate demonstrates a commitment to customer success and relationship building, as well as creativity to find ways to put smiles on a customers’ faces. These are excellent qualities you’ll want your new manager to possess.
For a CSM, communication is everything. If something’s broken or not quite right, it’s a Customer Success Manager’s job to inform their product team and anyone else that needs to know so that a solution can be found.
Listen for: The candidate’s ability to be the voice of the customer in your team. They should have the ability to advocate for the features that customers request.
Ask a question like this to understand how strong your candidate is at customer relationship management. They should be able to provide a real-life example of an extremely challenging problem they managed to solve.
Listen for: How they demonstrate problem-solving, stress management and an ability to rise above pressure.
A good Customer Success Manager will be able to make adjustments to their way of working to meet the customer’s needs while recognizing that every customer has different wants and needs.
Listen for: Answers that demonstrate their flexibility and adaptability. Not everything is going to be black and white in a Customer Success Manager’s role and it’s important that your candidate can roll with the punches.
Disasters happen — often. You need a Customer Success Manager who is able to firefight when things go wrong while staying cool, calm and collected so that they can continue to lead the team.
Listen for: Anything that identifies that they have the ability to solve problems and manage customer expectations.
Nobody has all the answers, not even your Customer Success team! The right Customer Success Manager will be humble and transparent in a situation like this.
Listen for: A sense of humility and signs of their strong communication skills. They should mention how they’ll first tell the customer they're unsure of the answer. From there, they’ll seek out the right information from the rest of the team, keep the customer updated on their progress and then get back to them when they’ve found what they need.
We all have blocks from time to time. How a candidate deals with these issues is important to your Customer Success team’s success.
Listen for: A willingness to ask for help or the ability to find an approach that dealt with the issue. They may mention what they learned from the situation and how that helped them in the future.
If a customer has gone quiet or has stopped using your product/service entirely, it may be time for some re-engagement from the Customer Success Manager. Ask this interview question to see how your candidate approaches this kind of work.
Listen for: A real-life situation where they display their people skills alongside innovative approaches to retaining or reacquiring customers.
Now that you’ve armed yourself with the top interview questions for a Customer Success Manager, it’s time to set yourself up for success with an outstanding hiring tool. 🎉
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