Customer Success Leadership Community

How do you assess the quality of your team?

  • 1.  How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-03-2020 17:30
    Hi! Late night question about people management: How do you assess the quality of the work your CSMs do?

    Meaning, when managing a support team, we can periodically select some tickets and see how they approached certain questions or complaints. This is not only useful to coach our teams, but also to see the really good examples and coach others that might not be performing so well.

    With CSMs, where most of the work is done on calls, how do you overcome this? Do you shadow some meetings from time to time? Ask them to record the sessions to watch later?

    Thanks in advance!


  • 2.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-03-2020 22:00
    Hi @Angela Guedes

    This is a fascinating question. It's also one that CEO's and owners will ask if they don't understand CS or retention.

    As you mention above, CS is not like support where you can look at how many calls they've taken and the time-to-close ratios. ​
    I always try to explain that good CS work can't be judged on "tasks". If your CSMs have to make 20 phone calls to customers a week, great but what does that achieve? Are they making calls for the sake of making calls? I am a big advocate for taking action to achieve an outcome. You can call 20 customers but it doesn't mean you're adding value to those customers. But you look busy in the data.

    Yes, there are certain tasks (we call them Playbooks) a CSM will have to complete but you can assess the quality of your team by the success of the customers they own. 

    Based on the statement above you can give some thought to what success looks like for your customers and then work backwards from there. Each company/CS department will work differently. Below are a few key points I use.

    • Onboarding time - we generally know how long it takes to onboard a customer to get them to a certain point. You can then look at the average onboarding time for customers within a CSMs portfolio to assess their training knowledge and efficiency.
    • Customer progression - Similar to the above, our customers have lifecycles and we want them to progress through those lifecycles. If customers are getting stuck and those customers seem to consistently below to the same CSM/s you may have a problem.
    • Onboarding Surveys - not NPS! When customers complete their training or onboarding, send them a survey and ask direct questions about the CSM who trained them, I've found this extremely informative and it also shows you care about your customers' opinions.
    • OKRs or KPIs - set some team goals which will roll down into individual goals and you'll quickly spot those not pulling their weight.

    One last thought, if you assess your CSMs on tasks they will become robots. In my opinion, I would like my CSMs to think freely to solve problems and help their customers achieve success. 

    I hope this was helpful


    Jarren Pinchuck
    Global Head of CS and Operations

  • 3.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-04-2020 20:28
    Tracking the quality of CS engagement is tough. I'm not sure if there's a scientific or systematic way of doing this, but we've tried a few things. Jumping on calls is definitely useful, but it will always put the CSM on edge and customers may respond differently when there is an exec on the line. For example, I've had customers be furious with a CSM because of a functional limitation, but if an exec, director, or product person is on the call the mood shifts as the customer feels that they may be getting special attention. As a result, I've found that jumping on calls is good for coaching/course redirection with newer CSMs. 

    Surveys and reviews may also be useful. One thing that we've been exceptionally proud of is that in our online reviews, customers will often mention a CS team member by name as having been very helpful or supportive. Of course, people will be much less inclined to call out someone by name for doing something poorly. Inevitably there will need to be some interpretation of the data to find areas of improvement. Surveys/CSAT/NPS scores might be useful, but none of those are designed to measure what you have in mind. 

    One simple solution would be to ask your customers directly. While this is hard to scale, this is arguably the most effective way to get honest feedback. If a CSM has not been responsive or struggles to understand a customer's goals, then this will come out pretty quickly in conversation. If a customer loves his/her CSM, then they'll be very quick to say so. You may also want to ask other departments in your organization that the CSMs work with regularly, such as sales, onboarding, etc. Again this might be better as a conversation.

    While this is hard to measure qualitative elements like these, it is useful and should be taken with the KPIs and metrics mentioned earlier in the thread. 

    Ashton L

  • 4.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-05-2020 07:23

    A simple formula Ax Q = O: Activity x Quality = Outcome is a way to think about this.  If CSMs are doing enough of the right things (A) well (Q) then, ceteris paribus, they should generate the right results (O).  Identify the data points for each category and build the CSM dashboard around them.  

    Activity is typically around interventions of different types, these can easily be tracked in any decent CS/CRM system.  

    Q is a bit harder as you have to dig into the interventions.  I have used both manual and automated approaches.  These include call monitoring using a small specialist team who scored each call against a template developed by the CSMs.  This latter point is key if you are to avoid the 'big brother' concern.  We also put a very high emphasis on using coaching to improve call quality.  Peer coaching (CSMs that are recognised by their colleagues at being good at certain tasks) works very well: it is accepted better than manager only coaching and develops the leadership skills of those doing the coaching.  Automated tools like Gong and Chorus are ok but can miss some more nuanced aspects of a call.  

    I think of outcomes in two buckets: the value the customer receives and the financial performance the CSM contributes to.

    For me, A x Q = O brings together personal development, performance management and business management. 



    David Jackson
    CEO - TheCustomer.Co
    Founder CS Leaders Institute
    Top 25 Customer Success Influencer 2020

  • 5.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-07-2020 15:48
    What are the outcomes that CSMs fully own and can be directly responsible for?  Since it takes a whole company (product, support, best practices, sales, etc) to create a customer that achieves the expected results (success!), one set of things that a CSM can certainly do are
    1. Ensure the company always knows who the "right" contacts are (people change jobs all the time!)
    2. To grow relationships with them such that they aren't "ghosting" your company, and 
    3. Collect actionable feedback about what they perceive to be working well and what needs improvement.

    These 3 outcomes can be measured with effective process-metrics that you can hold your CSMs accountable to. Here's an article that describes more:


    Steve Bernstein
    Head of Voice-Of-Customer Programs at Waypoint Research Group

  • 6.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-09-2020 13:59
    @Angela Guedes, for me, the first indicator is the value the CSM is bringing to their customers. While I love outcomes, outcomes alone are not a good measure unless the CSM is solely responsible for creating the outcome. Once other departments affect the ultimate outcome, you can no longer judge the CSM on those criteria. But you can look at impact-to-outcomes (see below).

    I look at 'relative value' and 'comparative value' against a standard. Some people compare the value a CSM delivers compared to their peers. HR departments are notorious for using this technique to make sure there's a nice bell curve for employee rankings for annual reviews (IE: not all employees can be superior). I think comparing CSMs against each other (and not a standard) is dangerous. If none of your CSMs are performing well but their all performing equally, what help is that?

    Create a standard for the value and impact-to-outcomes you expect from your CSMs. Then, measure them against the standard. The standard should include survey metrics on the value their customers say they receive. Impact-to-outcomes is a bit more subjective as customers may not know what impact their CSM has had on achieving (or not achieving) their desired outcomes. A CSM can fight for something all day long but if the responsible department doesn't follow through...the outcome never happens despite the CSMs work.

    BTW, Ashton's comment about asking the customer directly is spot on. Just balance the response to how fair the CSM is being to your company. Customers may love their CSM and rave about their value because their CSM gives away the farm. That's not what I'd consider great success. To Dave's point, financial outcomes must be considered as well.


    David Ellin 2020 Top Customer Success Strategist; Consultant
    Chief Customer Officer (consultant)

  • 7.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-04-2020 01:09
    Hi Jarren! Thanks for your comments. I probably wasn't clear. My question was not to ask how measure the quantity of the work my team does, but the quality, mainly when they go on calls.

    To your point, we do have some playbooks in place and they have the freedom to make adjustments to meet customers needs. When this happens, I would like to assess what they did differently to reach that outcome.

    For example, I know some Sales and CSM teams use Gong to record calls. Among other benefits, it allows managers can coach their teams. 

    Back to my question: what strategies have you used to understand how your team works with clients and how do you coach them to improve that work?

  • 8.  RE: How do you assess the quality of your team?

    Posted 12-10-2020 03:28
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, @Ashton Liu @David Jackson @Steve Bernstein @David Ellin​​​​

    Angela Guedes
    Head of Customer Engagement