Customer Success Manager Vs Account Manager

Customer Success Manager vs Account Manager – What is the difference between them?

Although these two key roles sound similar, some strict lines differentiate between an Account Manager (AM) and a Customer Success Manager (CSM). To an untrained eye, they may look like competing roles. However, both are essential and it’s important to appreciate the nuances first. Let’s try and understand the difference between a customer success manager vs account manager. 

Who is an Account Manager?

An account manager is, usually, the single point of contact between the company and the customer. The role of an Account Manager is to identify what their clients need and then pitch products that will satisfy those needs. Also, they are responsible to ensure that the customers renew their contracts, upsells, and cross-sells for the company. Hence, responsible for ensuring consistent revenue for the company. Account managers are relationship managers who take care of all the business responsibilities. They do not involve themselves in a client’s day-to-day operations.

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What is the difference between a customer success manager vs account manager?

Both of these are vital roles that a SaaS firm cannot do without. Some of the key distinctions are the following:

  • Goal– An AM’s goal (as mentioned above) is to ensure that the customer renews at the end of the subscription period. They are often responsible for getting as many upsells and renewals as possible. Whereas, a CSM’s goal is to help the clients achieve their business goals using customer success tools!
  • Reactive vs Proactive– Typically, the account managers are reactive. Customers reach out to their AMs when they feel they’re stuck somewhere. Generally, they take action in response to client requests. In contrast, success managers are proactive which means that they would be there to help customers at every stage of their business lifecycle.
  • Collaboration timeline– AMs, generally, interact and involve with the clients at the end of the customer lifecycle when it’s the time to renew and upgrade. A CSM, on the other hand, interacts with the customers from day one.  Handholding them, and ensuring that they understand the product and use it optimally are/her responsibilities. 
  • Diverse skills– Both of them bring a different set of skills to the table. AMs have comprehensive knowledge about the company and its products but know little about specific customers. They’re the relationship managers who help clients solve their issues. Whereas, the customer success managers are thoroughly aware of the firm and about customers. They understand customers’ business objectives that enable them to help clients with a Customer Success Platform.

Now, we know the key distinctions between key account management vs customer success or customer success manager vs account managers. Sometimes, the account manager is also referred to as a technical account manager (TAM). Sometimes people confuse between technical account manager vs customer success manager. Many firms embrace TAMs as a key component of the company-wide customer success strategy. TAM focuses on technical support and the CSM focuses on the client’s business goals and strategies.

Customer Success vs Account Management 

Customer success is increasingly gathering attention owing to the recent popularity of the SaaS industry. It is a tenet that the entire company follows. All teams including marketing, product development, sales, etc work closely to support the business growth. They work together to follow Customer Success as a strategy. The principles of Customer Success, usually, govern Account management that helps in increasing the CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value).

Hopefully, this clears a bit of confusion between an account manager vs customer success!
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Role of a Customer success operations manager (CS ops)

New roles are coming up in Customer Success as it is evolving as an area of specialization. One such role is CS ops. The operations department, in any organization, is the one that keeps the daily operations under control. Similarly, CS ops is the department responsible for executing the customer success strategies to their optimal potential.  CS ops managers provide prudent support to the CS team by-

  1. Understanding the data points with key metrics.
  2. Allocating accounts and current customer base to allot the workload effectively among CSMs.
  3. Improving the efficacy of CS workflows by automating them or building custom dashboards.

Customer Success Operations Manager, in short, helps CSMs improve their KPIs by presenting accurate information in the presentable form to make high-value decisions with clarity. 

Sometimes, the role of the Customer Success Manager is often confused with a Customer Success project manager. However, both are different. A  Customer Success project manager is required to carry out more advanced technical tasks. S/he possesses an exhaustive analysis of risk assessments and project plans. More on the difference between CSM and Customer Success Project manager can be found 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do customer success managers or account managers make more money?
Although pay varies by industry, location, and firm, account managers are paid more than customer success managers simply because they work in sales and are rewarded for success.

Should account management be a part of customer success?
The motives of customer success and account management are very different from each other, so it would harm the results achieved by these departments if they merge. Instead, they should coexist in a company.

Which is more popular: customer success manager or account manager?
Because customer success is not a common practice, account managers, who are today’s salesmen, maybe more popular in specific scenarios.


Customer success managers vs account managers end up fulfilling the same purpose. That might lead to some overlapping of responsibilities. Yet, they’re distinct in their approaches and responsibilities which is why they should be kept separate. A SaaS firm needs both, account managers and customer success managers, to maximize its business potential. The two roles entwine and complement each other to keep up the clients and the firm successful and profitable. 

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Content marketer at CustomerSuccessBox | An avid reader, a passionate writer and a life long learner | Writer @ Hacker Noon | B2B SaaS & Customer Success enthusiast |