Is product management the new “it” job? It’s starting to look that way. More and more business students are considering it as a dream job. And I can understand why. Product management offers the opportunity to build something meaningful. But I can think of another meaningful dream job for product managers — Customer Success. Before you conjure up images of phone banks and call scripts, keep reading.
I am not referring to old-school customer service reps. When I talk about “Customer Success” I am referring to a team that supports the entire customer experience, helping to increase the happy use of a product or service. To do that you need to be a product expert and it really helps if you had the same job that your customer now has.
Solving complex problems, working with interesting people, and using hard-earned skills to make a difference… Sounds like a dream for a product manager who really likes to work with customers and solve problems, right?
I know that it is for me. And I appreciate that the Customer Success team at Aha! does things differently. For one thing, every member of the team is a former product manager. This is important because we serve product managers — Aha! is roadmapping software for product managers who want to build products that people love and be happy doing it.
Since we only hire former product managers, our team understands what it is like to be responsible for setting the course of a product and working with a diverse team to follow it.
And another way we are different — we genuinely care about helping people. And it’s not just helping with the simple questions, such as where to go to find a specific setting. (Which of course we are happy to do.) We also love showing customers how to apply product management best practices when using Aha! so they do not have to learn things the hard way.
We are always looking for like-minded people who want to join us in this pursuit. (And yes, product management experience is required.) Being able to relate to our customers is important, but it is not the only reason we love to hire former product managers.
Here are four more reasons product managers make the best Customer Success leaders:
Product managers are curious
You cannot solve a customer problem unless you know the right questions to ask. And asking questions is second nature to most product managers. The job tends to attract naturally curious people who will keep digging into an issue until the right solution appears.
Product managers understand urgency
When a customer needs help, they need it right away — while the issue is still fresh. Product managers know that feeling well. You understand the pressure of an urgent request and why every hour (and minute) matters. That is why you will never sit on a customer request.
Product managers wear many hats
With dozens of support emails pouring in at a time, Customer Success requires people who can do some fast task-switching without dropping anything. Sounds a lot like product managers, right? It is the ability to execute on many facets of the role, while still delivering the highest-quality service.
Product managers earn love
Love should be at the heart of any business-customer relationship. We even have a term for this at Aha! — lovability. It is the ability to earn genuine, heartfelt love and loyalty from customers. And product managers are better at it than everyone. The best ones know how to empathize, navigate different personalities, and deliver the most effective solution.
Curiosity, responsiveness, flexibility, empathy — all are vital to serving customers. It keeps us focused on our ultimate goal of making product managers’ lives easier.
Does that sound like the kind of job you’ve been looking for? I realize that it might not be for everyone. But for product managers who prefer working with people to writing user stories, it might be just the right fit.
What qualities do you think are most important for customer-facing teams?