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How to Kick off your Customer Success Efforts

Congratulations! You have customers, and your company is growing. Now it’s time to put processes in place to make sure those hard-earned customers are happy and to keep growing.

Here’s my secret get-started tip: You will keep your current customers, whom you worked so hard to win, and assure they are the foundation for even more growth if you hire the right Customer Success Manager (CSM).

About this Important Hire

The size of your company determines the best way to fill this critical position.

If you are a medium-size to a larger company, consider hiring a CSM expert who doesn’t mind getting his/her hands dirty but can also lead a multifunctional team. This Customer Success (CS) expert may initially have to cover everything to understand which customer success flavor combinations your company needs. S/he should be a combined problem solver and strategic builder who approaches problems from both inside-out and outside-in thinking.


Inside-out analysis identifies potential strategic gaps in market alignment and the company’s objectives. It also reveals new business or growth opportunities generated by the customer success department.


Under outside-in scrutiny, the CSM should be able to translate customers’ needs and requirements into care initiatives and processes and keep a keen eye on share of wallet (SOW). The combined responsibility of customer care and revenue enhancement is not for everyone. It will distinguish a good fit from a perfect fit for your company.

Experience Matters

If you are a small company, you need a more modest strategy. You need someone who gets the job done like a swiss army knife – someone with skills and tools for most situations. Look for the person who can handle both customer care and incremental sales. For this new hire, prioritize the expertise your company needs most.

A CSM with less experience will be able to cover both responsibilities, but will most likely be stronger in one skill. For this reason, it is worth it to hire as much experience as your budget can handle. Depending on your business, 5+ years of experience could be necessary. It is also essential to hire someone who can see one or two steps beyond your current market position and maturity level so you won’t have to go through the hiring process again.

Overcome Budget Constraints

Sometimes reality gets in the way of perfection, and you can’t afford to hire that ideal CSM right off the bat. In this case, you can still get an expert’s guidance by using a service such as The FreeAgent to get a quick assessment of your needs and help to find the perfect CSM for your firm when you are ready. You can also hire the consultants at The FreeAgent to map out a three-to-five-year customer success strategy with different growth scenarios, and provide continued support to your team.

For any company,  the skills of your next hire should complement those of your first. As your team grows, the individuals on the team will change from jacks-of-all-trades to highly skilled specialists.

No matter how many CSM specialists you hire, one thing won’t change: Your entire company must have the customer success mindset! Read more about what that means here.

About Maurice: Maurice Hofmann is a serial entrepreneur, marketing and customer success specialist, who is known for his innovative drive as well as his ability to lead cross functional teams to achieve the highest level of success. In his 25-year-spanning career, he has experienced all aspects of marketing, working in various global roles spread across TV production, Army ‘Psychological Operations, owner of a Brand Experience agency, or as a leader of marketing departments for several software companies, start-ups, and as a M&A consultant.

Maurice is the Global Vice President of Customer Success at Open-Xchange, Inc., responsible to guide OX’s customers like GoDaddy, Altice, Orange or TalkTalk towards the highest level of sustainable success at marketing the various products of the Open-Xchange Group. He holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Liverpool, UK.

He is currently finalizing his book “Roadmap to Marketing Success for start-ups, product launches or career changers”, which will be released at the midpoint of 2020. Follow Maurice on Twitter as @moreeze.

About the Free Agent:  Are you an executive leader looking to expand your reach?  The Free Agent works with executive-level Subject Matter Experts on an interim, fractional, or full-time basis.  Our number one priority is to be the connective-tissue between high-value executives and the companies that need them most.  Please reach out should you be interested in learning more about how we can help you.


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