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The Key to a Customer Obsessed Team? Passion
Intel® Services understands that its people are its biggest asset, and that’s particularly true for the company’s Customer Success function. In this post, Intel® Services’ VP of Customer Success, Boaz Maor, reveals the one quality he looks for in new recruits.
Here at Intel® Services, when we kick off a search to add new employees to our growing Customer Success team, we typically receive and review resumes from people with a variety of backgrounds. Some have worked in sales, marketing, IT, and/or product management. Others have a more direct history in customer service, professional services or support services.
However, as the VP of Customer Success, I don’t really care too much about where an applicant comes from, or which roles they’ve previously held. Instead, I look for one very simple characteristic: a clear passion for making customers successful.
At Intel® Services, that’s what matters most.
Our Customer Program Success Management (CPSM) team comes from all sorts of backgrounds in sales, account management, product management, professional services and marketing; but, the common thread among those team members who are ultra successful is that they’re driven by an intense desire to help customers achieve or exceed their goals. The goal of this team is to help Intel’s clients achieve success with their API program, so passion is something that has to jump out to me as a clear, key success factor for people in such a role.
What Customer Success Looks Like
Many of our customers are using our solutions as disruptive forces to change trajectories in their markets, and sometimes within their internal businesses. Doing that is hard from both a business and technology perspective. It requires lots of change management and adaptation. As such, our engagement with customers has to be flexible and evolve over time as our customers encounter new challenges and find more opportunities on an on-going basis.
Additionally, every situation has multiple implications on our business: feedback for product enhancement opportunities, technical hurdles to overcome, commercial up-sell opportunities, resource allocation challenges, and more. Each of these impacts the customer’s ability to gain value from our solutions and their engagement with us.
By putting the customer’s ability to maximize value from our solutions first, we set simple and clear guideline for our teams in making decisions on the competing vectors for each decision. The most successful CPSMs are those who internalize that notion of customer success and use it as their guiding principle.
The reason is twofold: first, they are consistent in their decision making process, and therefore, are producing higher-quality decisions on an ongoing basis. Second, their customer-oriented guiding principle is very visible to the customer and that, in turn, strengthens the relationship between the customers and our team.
Measuring the Immeasurable
Now, I admit that “passion” isn’t exactly a quantifiable or easily identifiable characteristic, but Intel® Services holds the characteristic in high regard. In order to make sure its CPSM’s are up for the job, we conduct our recruiting process with a good dose of rigor.
For instance, candidates might be asked questions like:
- What keeps you up at night or gets your engine running?
- What types of problems are you most eager to solve?
- If we did not offer you this job, which other jobs are you interested in/applying for?
- Regardless of our job description, what is the best job definition for you?
The goal is to get to the heart of what really drives candidates, since their success will be based on their ability to drive our customers.
We actually spend a lot of time observing body language and overall energy. It’s completely non-scientific. However, our approach is critical to moving past a lot of the typical interview rhetoric, so we can truly understand whether or not someone shares our love of creating successful customers.
To Hire or Not to Hire?
After each round of interviews is complete, the interviewers swap notes and evaluate candidates using all perspectives of feedback, based on a set of key criteria. Ultimately, the decision to hire someone must be unanimous.
If just one interviewer has doubts about a candidate’s passion for customer success, we won’t move forward with that person. For our team to function at a high level, we need to share the same level of passion and be driven by the same goal. If there’s any doubt about that, then we won’t hire that person. It is a strategy that’s helped us build a highly cohesive team that’s truly energized by the same things. More importantly, it’s a strategy that has led to a lot of successful customers.