Your First Customer Success Hire

If you’re looking to make your first customer success hire, here’s a few thoughts on where to begin.

Kathryn O'Day
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April 29, 2021

Where do you begin?

So you’re looking to make your first customer success hire and wondering where to begin…

At Pardot and Rigor, some of the best customer success hires were top talent early in their careers. They were eager to learn, self-starting, smart, and adaptable. They scaled with the company and we often said, “So glad we got them early!” We prioritized excellent communication skills (especially via writing) and empathy in the candidate search over previous customer success or industry experience. 

Good people skills, clear communication, and adaptability are always relevant -- essential, even -- when your company is growing quickly. 

Who to look for

  • Recent college grads with a track record of success and previous work experience 
  • Fairly recent grads looking to transition from <big company/other career> to startups
  • Great interns make great employees. Make an offer asap to an amazing intern.

What they will do

  • Lots of hands-on customer work!
  • Implement ideas to improve efficiency or customer experience
  • Respond politely while figuring out the answer. Speed and courtesy to start, expertise comes over time.

When to hire

  • Onboarding and support is too much for a founder or engineer to handle themselves
  • Customer follow-up is slipping through the cracks
  • Sales or product development is slowing down because of customer work
  • You’ve won a lot of deals 

Where to post the role

  • Find free startup-specific job boards like Atlanta Tech Village or Hypepotatmus
  • Explore job boards at local universities. They want their graduates to get jobs! 

How to interview

  • Send a short assessment to see how they handle “real” work situations. For example, include a support question, short research question, and customer situation.
  • Look for conscientiousness: are they on-time? Do they follow up? Did they prepare? Conscientiousness is a great indicator of job performance

Why the right customer success hire is key

  • Great customer service can buy you time as you refine the product and experience
  • Proactive outreach prevents churn and provides essential business feedback
  • Save your customer success leaders for later. Doers first, scalers later.

Your early customers will have lots of questions and feedback with limited self-serve or training resources. Ensure their experience is top notch by making a great first hire in customer success.

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