BLUF: What, if anything, should I be on-the-look-out for when interviewing for a "customer relationship manager" position versus the traditional "employee relationship manager" type of position?

For those of you up-to-speed already, I apologize.  Just a quick overview of where I am and how I ended up at this spot.

At this time last year, I officially became a manager of a team of 7 folks doing front-line work with our customers.  In late July, through a staff reduction and corporate restructuring, I was one of the two managers in our group that got "demoted" back to where we were beforehand - as front-line contributors ourselves.

I haven't been thrilled with this as a concept because I'm much more interested in the long-term relationship building and managing a specific team was right up my alley.  I'm good at the front-line work but I loathe it. (Luckily the customers don't see it because I go on auto-pilot and smile when I talk but overall I'm miserable in this front-line role.)

When the reorganization was announced, I applied for this "customer relationship manager" position but at the time, the internal application process was like rats scurrying around on a sinking ship (imagine the visual.)  I didn't get past the initial recruiter person.  Not a big surprise but I was still interested in the job.

A month ago, the job was posted again and I applied.  This time I made it past the recruiter girl and I'm scheduled to meet with the Executive that the position reports to on Weds.  The gig is mostly just being the "go to person" for a specific group of customers throughout the life of their time with our company.  The position acts in a consultative role, makes presentations, helps brainstorm and strategically plan with the customers to make sure they're getting the most bang for their bucks with our company.  While it's not the "true manager" job I would love to have again, I would be MUCH happier in the role than I am now and I would have a lot more to contribute to the company as a whole.

That said, moving from the Setup group to the Support group is the first "hurdle" (having had no employee experience in the Support area) but I'd also like some feedback from you wise folks who've been around a while as to what things I should be aware of, look out for, proactively address, etc. in terms of managing (the relationships with our) customers and my past experiences in managing true employees.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Known pitfalls?  Any and all input gratefully accepted, as always!

asteriskrntt1's picture

Well done Ash...

I have had a couple of roles where I was doing both internal and external support.  Internally, I was often in a first responder kind of role.  If something was brought to my attention, I responded somehow.  For the external clients, I was doing a lot more competitive intelligence, reading the market and being proactive instead of reactive.  You might want to consider if you have any accomplishments that address how you were proactive in solving problems or offered creative alternatives before anyone realized they were needed.

Good luck.  Hope you smoke the interview!



ashdenver's picture

*RNTT, you rock - but you knew that - though it never hurts to be said again and again!  You're right - more about the proactive instead of reactive.  The recruiter used the word "consultative" so I should spend the next hour (pre-interview) combing through my history for anecdotes that punctuate that frame of mind.

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5

12string's picture
Training Badge

 How did the interview go?


ashdenver's picture

I've had better interviews, that's for sure.  I think I had good energy and I definitely had experience that he was looking for in terms of training, working with project plans and coordinating resources from multiple groups however I seemed to be too focused on the tactical aspects and he made a point of stressing strategic planning as a higher priority.  

It's possible that I just don't know what strategy actually is in his book.  I would have thought that looking at ways to design the system to increase data flow & availability would have been strategic but it was too tactical in his eyes.  He mentioned that the role would involve the second phase things like new job descriptions so when I asked "are those things already on file or would I work with the client to get to know what their goals & plans are to make sure the descriptions are aligned" he again 'chastised' me saying that the Document Analysts handle that because it's tactical.  Uhm, okay then.  Apparently the job is more of "Hey, you - do this. You over there, do that. You on the phone, get this other thing done!"  Which I could totally do - in my sleep, blindfolded, with my hands tied behind my back.  But in terms of the interview itself, I really think he saw me as too small-potatoes for the role.

Oh well.  If it's meant to be, it will be.

Meanwhile, I'm about to send a note to my HR Director expressing interest in the other two "true managerial" positions she broached with me yesterday about 30 mins before that possibly-tanked-interview!  (Yeah, I know - when it rains, it pours. There are worse fates I could have than too many jobs from which to choose but just because the three jobs exist doesn't mean I have an offer on ANY of them. Many, many steps between here and there.)

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5

asteriskrntt1's picture

Ash, sounds like you had an interesting interview.  It probably went better than you think it did.  I think if a recruiter is not interested in you, they generally shut down and stop giving you feedback, for lack of a better term, and just blow through the questions.  Good luck on all the opportunities and have a great weekend.