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Checklist to Simplify Titles: Customer Success

As a recruitment firm that works with tech startups and scale-ups, we are often tasked with recruiting first-time leadership hires and during the process the question inevitably arises, “what should I call them?”

To help CEO/Founders determine which title to choose when hiring for a leadership position, we have created a five-part Checklist to Simplify Titles series. 

In this edition, we will cover the basics to help you determine which title you should choose when hiring a Customer Success leader: 

COO

  • Reports to the Board and/or Founder/CEO 
  • Board involvement
  • Global scope 
  • Often hired to participate in a pivot/reset/turn around or to scale the business to achieve an outcome
  • Champions a philosophy and embodies a way of thinking that spurs others to create raving fans and advocates. They are the VoC for the business, experience PoV, and concerned with loyalty/retention
  • Leads other leaders
  • Functions reporting into this role could include customer success, customer experience, service design, customer support or call centers, and operations
  • Focuses on the business objective and the customer experience across all touchpoints and channels 

 

VP Customer Success 

  • Reports to a CEO/Founder or COO 
  • Participates in company "town halls" as the functional leader
  • They are the highest point of escalation 
  • This person leads a team of individual contributors or Directors who own: customer success and possibly customer support; sometimes growth (upsell/cross-sell) as well
  • Moves across strategy and execution seamlessly and "rolls up their sleeves" when necessary
  • Engages with the market

 

Hiring a Head of Customer Success? Make sure they have these 5 most coveted traits 

Head of Customer Success 

  • Reports to the Founder/CEO 
  • This title typically exists in young modern tech startups
  • Usually the first CS hire and does "everything" post sales: onboarding, ensuring success of the go-live, follow up, account management, possibly growth or identifying growth opportunities for the sales team to run with 
  • Often a scrappy persona as they are hands-on
  • If they lead others, they may be a small number of CS Managers
  • They work cross-functionally with everyone: 
    • sales for opportunities they identify
    • product management as they are the feedback loop
    • technical teams for support issues/problems
  • This title could be applied to attract a senior-level individual contributor or as part of a retention strategy

Looking for Engineering title advice? Stay tuned for the last checklist in this five-part series. 

Or access our Product, Marketing and Sales Checklists.