Managing Remote Customer Success Managers

By Kristen Hayer

Hiring customer success team members who are not located at headquarters is a growing trend in our field. There can be real advantages to hiring CSMs who are remote, including having them located in key markets or being able to hire more reps in a lower cost location. Whether it is an entire satellite office of CSMs or a single rep working from a home office, managing people who are remote brings a unique set of challenges. Here are some tactics for making sure remote employees perform just as well as your local team.

Hiring

First, make sure you hire CSMs who are going to be successful working remotely. Ask if they have experience working out of a satellite or home office. Design interview questions that uncover whether or not they have personality traits (self-starter, independent worker, proactive) that will make their location an asset instead of a liability. While you’re working on interview questions, make sure you plan to ask a lot of them. You can make up for not being able to read body language by asking questions about the specific experiences that a candidate has had in prior roles. You can also use tools like Skype or Google Hangouts to get a feel for how the person would interact with your customers. Finally, when you’ve narrowed down your pool to the top candidate, it is worth flying them in for a final interview to make sure you’ve identified the right CSM.

Communication

Your goal in communicating with a remote CSM is two-fold: You want them to feel like a part of the team, and you want to make sure they are extra clear on your goals and initiatives. One of the best ways to make them feel connected is to use video conferencing tools for all of your meetings, including one-on-ones. If you have the budget, set up all of your conference rooms with cameras and technology to enable video meetings. Flying in your remote team member on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) or flying out to visit remote offices can help everyone stay up-to-date and feel like a part of the team. Connecting a remote CSM with a mentor who is located at headquarters provides a contact to help them stay engaged with the company. You can also fly them in for company events, or at least help them to feel like a part of those events by creating local versions at satellite offices.

Performance

The first step toward making a remote CSM into a top performer is providing thorough training as a part of their onboarding. They aren’t going to have the advantage of sitting next to people who are doing the job, so their training needs to be comprehensive. They also won’t be exposed to company culture and initiatives all of the time, so it is important to regularly train them on things like product updates, new initiatives, and process changes. Hold remote team members accountable for their time by reviewing their activities, goals and progress in weekly one-on-one meetings. When difficult coaching situations arise, make sure you tackle them quickly, directly, and if they are serious, in person.

Take the time to hire the best remote CSM, get them off on the right foot with effective onboarding, and manage their performance, and you'll see significant advantages for your team and customers. If you do choose to have remote team members make the most of it by leveraging their location to serve customers in person and keep other teams in your organization informed of local issues. Your remote CSMs can be a tremendous asset to your company.

Need help planning the hiring process for your next CSM? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CSM hiring kit, tailored to your company and team. Kits include a model of your ideal CSM, a job description designed to send the right candidates your way, and interview questions to help you find your top candidate. Check out our website for more information and additional services – TheSuccessLeague.io