Job Hunter’s Field Guide to Customer Success
What is customer success
Customer success is a business function that has emerged over the past few years to become one of the fastest growing jobs in many types of industries including technology, manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality. The role of customer success is to ensure a company builds and nurtures great relationships with its customers. This includes understanding customer needs, making sure the company’s products and services are solving for those needs, helping troubleshoot and solve problems as they arise and making sure customers are happy and will remain as customers for a long time. Customer success employees are involved in building relationships with customers in every phase of the relationship. This includes before a sale occurs, during the sale, during the onboarding process or the first customer experience and during the ongoing use of that product or service.
What types of companies hire in customer success
Customer success jobs exist across many types of industries although the job titles may be different. In technology companies, popular customer success jobs are Customer Success Specialists or Customer Success Managers. In healthcare, jobs in customer success may be Hospitality Aides and Patient Experience at a facility such as a hospital or nursing home. In hospitality, jobs in customer success may be referred to as Guest Services Managers.
What do people in customer success do
People in customer success ensure customers are happy and successful in using a company’s products or services. People in customer success are frequently the person that a customer is in direct contact with first to resolve dissatisfaction, frustration, or a feeling of negativity with their experience using a product or service when it has escalated beyond a single support issue. A helpful way to think about customer success is being able to triage a problem, troubleshoot and enlist the resources needed to get to a satisfactory resolution so the customer feels positively about the product or service they are receiving. Some jobs at or above the manager level may also involve a sales component, where the customer success manager is responsible for contract renewals and they must bring in a certain amount of money in sales every month.
Customer success job skills
There are a variety of roles in customer success that may be slightly different based on the industry you are considering. There are some job skills that are common across many of the types of customer success jobs and those are the skills we’re going to cover here. Customer success job skills that are universal include:
a key role of customer success is listening to customers and being able to understand and determine where their experience is going really well and where their experience is not going well. This requires someone who is comfortable listening for an extended period of time, is able to hear or understand the details surrounding the problem and can ask good questions to get to the root cause of any problem that needs to be solved. Customers should feel like they are being heard and are going to be helped in some way. Being a great listener is an important customer success skill.
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus observed:
We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.
any job that touches customers directly such as customer success requires empathy as a skill. Empathy goes a step further than listening, and is the ability to understand a problem from the customer’s point of view and have compassion for that customer and a desire to find a solution for that problem. Customers need to feel that they are not being given lip service, that the customer success employee is truly going to work to find a reasonable solution, or at the very least explain with clarity and compassion why a problem can’t be solved or needs to be solved in a new or different way.
companies have all types of customers with a variety of problems that are in varying degrees of severity. People who are good at customer success become masters at prioritizing. This involves understanding a range of problems, from small to big, and being able to prioritize what is most important to solve, how to solve it, what resources to enlist to help and a relative idea of the timeframe needed to solve the problem to satisfaction. For example, some problems need to be solved immediately because they are mission critical and some problems can be solved with satisfaction over weeks. For example, billing not working for a company is mission critical and a life-threatening issue with a patient such a not receiving medication on time is clinical critical. Customer success workers need to listen for the nature of problems, understand their importance and prioritize accordingly.
people in customer success have to be willing to help in solving problems. If a problem is simple and they have the skills to solve it, they can. If a problem is more complex and they need other people to help solve it, they need to be able to enlist those people to solve the problem. This process, of determining what is needed to solve a problem and then getting the appropriate people to help, is its own type of problem solving and this is important in customer success. In customer success jobs, you may not have to solve problems on your own, however you will need to understand the process of solving problems at your company and who to enlist for help.
Using customer support as a stepping stone to customer success
Customer support is a job most of us are familiar with and it’s related to customer success. Customer support teams typically are the first responders to customer questions, which could range from billing and payment questions to technical questions because a product or service is not working as expected. People in customer support are the people who respond to chat questions from a website and the people you would talk to on the phone when you call a company to get help with something. People in customer support are on the front lines dealing with customer issues every day.
Customer support is a job that is a great stepping stone to customer success. With customer support experience, you can move into customer success where your job is expanded from answering support questions, and will include things like hosting weekly and monthly check-ins with your customers, learning and understanding key customer priorities, long-term relationship building and organizing and communication workflow so that customers continue to be highly engaged and satisfied with your company.
How to get started in customer success
Any job that offers experience working with customers on a regular basis can provide the customer experience you need to transition into customer success. Jobs that qualify include retail jobs, restaurant jobs like being a waiter or host, entry level sales jobs like being a sales development representative and customer service and support related jobs. Customer success also offers entry level jobs such as being a customer success specialist.
Get your first customer success job as a customer success manager
A customer success manager works day in and day out with a small group of customers to ensure they are very engaged and satisfied with the product or service your company offers. This includes all forms of communication with the customer - phone calls, email exchanges and meeting in person. The customer success specialist will listen and understand a customer’s priorities and concerns and then enlist the right people internally to help solve any issues. On average, customer success managers make $67,000 a year and this job is a great step towards jobs with increasing responsibility and pay within the customer success function. If you ask Ox, we can work with you to connect you to the hiring team for this job. Send us a message with the job you are interested in here.
Here’s a good example of a Customer Success Manager job at Keep Truckin (Nashville, TN)
Get started in customer success as a Patient Experience Specialist
The healthcare industry is full of customer success jobs that are labeled as patient experience jobs. Patient experience jobs can be found in different types of healthcare settings, from hospitals to nursing homes to physical therapy groups and other types of medical offices. Specialist roles often do not require specific degrees or certificates to get started. By working with Ox, we can learn more about your experience and connect you to entry level patient experience jobs like this. Just send us a message with the job you are interested in here or through the chat on our homepage.
Here’s a good example of a Patient Experience Specialist at Select Medical (Long Beach, CA with other jobs across the U.S.)
How Ox can help you land a job in customer success
Customer success is a great job path because customers are the lifeblood of any business. There are jobs in this field in many different industries. There are also many ways to start down this job path and many ways to grow job skills and income over time. Ox guides have years of customer success experience across many of the types of jobs that are covered here. Ox guides can help you think through the types of industries and jobs where you could get started and grow in customer success. In addition to helping with specific companies and jobs that are of interest near you, Ox guides can also share statistics and job trends for your area. Get started today by asking Ox a job related question or by joining the community to meet your guide.
Consider small and large businesses and remote work
Consider including a mix of small and large businesses in your list. Sometimes people prefer smaller or larger companies and each has distinct benefits that might be valuable to you. Finally, consider companies that hire remote workers. You may have friends or family members that work for a company remotely and that might be a good option for you too.
Find companies that are hiring near you
Do some basic research to find companies that are hiring near you. There are a few ways to do this. Let’s say live near Sacramento, California and you are looking for jobs in that area. A few Google searches that would be useful in looking for jobs in Sacramento are “largest employers in Sacramento” and “best employers in Sacramento”. Sometimes these searches will return articles from local publications that have the inside track on cool places to work, like this article from the Sacramento Bee. Forbes publishes a ranking of the best large employers and the best midsize employers and you can type your city, like Sacramento, into the search bar to narrow the results to your area.
Consider apprenticeship opportunities
Another option to consider when looking for a job is finding an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships enable you to learn skills on the job while being paid and preparing you to take on that kind of job full time. This is a good option for many people, especially when you need an income immediately. Apprenticeships are also a good way to start in a skilled trade such as construction. Skilled trades pay well and there is a shortage of skilled trade workers in the U.S. making this a job path that has many available jobs. OJT.com is a resource you can use to find industries and companies that offer apprenticeships and other on-the-job training programs.
Prioritize the companies on your list
Rank the companies on your list from most to least interesting to you. You may apply to jobs at all the companies on your list. By ranking them, you can look at the reasons that put companies at the top of your list. Over the coming weeks, spend the majority of your time getting connected to the companies that are most interesting to you. We’ll share some tips on how to do that.
If you find that the companies you are most interested in don’t have a job posting today with the exact role you are looking for, don’t let that stop you from putting those companies on your list and getting connected to people at those companies. It’s very possible you could meet someone who knows of a job that will be posted soon and by getting to know that person now, they may reach out to you once the job becomes available.
Meet employees to get introductions & referrals to jobs
When you ask people how they found the job they have today, many times they say they learned about the job through someone they already knew or someone they just met. People you know or that your friends and family know, could be the fastest way into a job that’s a good fit. When you ask people around you for an introduction or referral to a job, you are more likely to have your application considered for a job at that company.
Review your list of companies. Do you know anyone at those companies or anyone who knows someone who works or previously worked at those companies? A neighbor, a friend, someone you used to work with? Look for contacts everywhere you can think of - through people you went to school with, through any of your social groups or activities and through people you are connected to on Facebook and Instagram. Add to your list all of the people you know that are connected to the companies on your list in some way. Then reach out to each person letting them know you are looking for a specific type of job. Ask them if they will talk with you or meet with you or introduce you to someone who can help you get your application to the recruiter or hiring manager.
Ox guides help you find good jobs near you
If you don’t know anyone who is connected to the companies on your list, that’s ok too. Apply on their website and keep working through the people you know to find an introduction. You can also reach out and connect with an Ox Guide to help provide more personalized guidance to get connected to the companies you are interested in. To get an Ox Guide, start a chat from our homepage at ox.work. We’ll ask you to share a little bit about yourself, like the type of job you have now and the type of job you’re looking for in the future, so that we can connect you with an Ox Guide that will be a good match.