One spring my father got a jump start on his lawn care. He went to the store and got a jug of weed killer to take on those pesky dandelions. In a few days, dead spots formed all over his lawn. Bewildered, he investigated what might have caused such a tragedy to befall what he had worked so diligently to maintain. In his investigation, he found that the weed killer he used was a concentrate and he neglected to dilute the mixture.
The very next spring my father found some dandelions sprouting out of his lawn and went to work. To his horror, within a few days he started to see those dead spots all over his lawn once again. He was struck with the fact that he again made the same mistake of using the undiluted substance.
You can imagine the frustration. A growing business isn’t unlike those dandelions. A growing business makes plenty of mistakes. Recording all efforts and results is an important fundamental of scaling a customer success team to ensure the same mistakes aren’t repeated The data collected and the lessons learned become the secret recipe of your business’ successful growth. It is important that your customer success team is involved in the iteration and feedback of both recording and innovating your processes as a team. That means having a setting where your team feels comfortable giving advice, taking risks, and being independent contributors.
Bring team each team member in individually and ask them what is working, what could be improved, and what they would do about ‘X’ if they were in your position. As their leader, try not to be critical of ideas out of the gate. Ask them questions that will allow them to elaborate on their ideas. And remember to tell them if you end up sharing or using one of their suggestions.
Give your team autonomy. When talking with them, have your customer success managers tell you about a time they did something out of the normal procedure. By fostering feelings of trust, security, and safety in simple ways, you are inviting your team to grow together. On the flip side, if you punish team members for taking risks that failed, you crush their confidence in working out of the box.
The combination of your team’s constant iterations and record keeping gives you the data you need to scale your customer success.
Plan for the Long Term
In business, we often have the pressure to produce immediately. Our superiors want immediate feedback, results, or actions, perhaps because of an upcoming merger or acquisition or another big company initiative. Cutting corners to keep others happy can be tempting at times. Keep others’ requests in mind, but do what is best for your business long term.
Your customer success team may be small, but you can help it by setting up a prototype of its future self. If your team is small, you may not need a morning meeting to collaborate. If you envision your scaled team needing a morning meeting: start now. Work gets busy when you are scaling, so take preemptive action and implement structure early. This will keep your customer success team running smoothly. By not cutting corners early, you allow the team to do their jobs efficiently during growth rather than deal with the pains of an outdated infrastructure.
Hire the Right People
Like when you were a kid and called your friend over to help with your $5 car wash business. Hiring is usually fun and enjoyable. At least in the beginning. You hire people you like and who hold views similar to your own. You worry less about qualifications and focus more on their attitude knowing you can spend time teaching the needed skills.
As you grow, though, you will need to hire more frequently. You are looking for more specific skills that will fill specialized roles. During company growth, one bad hire will set you back in time and money. It is estimated by the Labor Department and the Society for Human Resources Management that replacing a bad hire can cost from one third to three times the employee’s annual salary.
There are no ‘secret formulas’ or ‘magical questions’ you ask in getting the right hire. You have to know what you need. When interviewing, look for proof. You want proof that these candidates have the skills, attitude, behavior, and ethics you need.
It could mean having the candidate take a test, asking them industry related questions, or doing a role play with them. Ask yourself, “What will determine if this person has what it takes to succeed in the position?” Overly general interview questions are archaic. You are looking for the best person for the position and not just someone who can interview well.
You want your customer success team to have the qualities needed to scale your team. Founder and CEO of Human Workplace, Liz Ryan, suggests what she calls, “interviewing with a human voice.” She recommends asking first what questions they have. Get away from the rigid Question and Answer format of interviewing into a more relaxed dialog. You will still ask your questions that help you know if they are the right fit, but you will mix these questions in with telling them about your company goals and vision. Your percentage of good hires will grow if you avoid walking in the door with a clipboard and asking, “What is your greatest weakness?”
Want to learn more about how to scale a successful customer success team? Download the free resource, “8 Ways to Ensure That Your Startup is Customer Success Focused”.