How many CSM do you need

What are the responsibilities of Customer Success Manager (CSM)? How many do you need?

The Customer Success Manager has an integral role in ensuring healthy Customer relationships by evaluating and analysing the customer needs and acting as a customer advocate to promote customer loyalty. While these major responsibilities require a wide range of tasks to be addressed, onboarding tops the list which is then followed by checking on product adoption. With that said, let’s look at the answer to the most fundamental question, as to how many Success managers should a SaaS company really need? And to understand how to enhance Customer Success Management, check out this article on 5 Best Practices to Enhance your Customer Success Management

Essential Responsibilities of Customer Success Managers

Onboarding Customers

Onboarding is the number one responsibility for a Customer Success manager as that’s the lowest hanging fruit out there, which a customer success manager should absolutely commit to. Because unless the customer is onboarded right, they’re most likely to never use the product again. The first use case needs to be addressed so that the customer achieves early value and boosts his/her confidence in your product. If the customer is unable to get the right value in the shortest possible time, the renewal might have a longer cycle.

Onboarding Guide

Checking Product Adoption

The number two goal has to be product adoption. The partial product adoption does happen during onboarding but  the larger part of  product adoption happens over, a longer period of time. Thus Product adoption has to be the number two goal and responsibility of the customer success manager. And once you’ve nailed the first two, the renewals start happening a lot more easily, a lot more naturally. And that is the good time to actually start measuring CSM’s success on renewals and retention rates.
The other responsibilities of a CSM includes- i) Account escalation ii)Periodic health check iii) customer advocacy iv) Renewals and upsells. Most of these responsibilities are taken care of, if you get the first two right. To know more details about other key responsibilities of CSM, check out this blog – 6 Key Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager in a SaaS Company

Bonus tip: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success Manager

How many Success Managers does your SaaS company need? What is the Ideal Number to start with?

When you are just starting out with your customer success journey by adding customer success to your support function and you think you have  a sufficient Paid customer base then an easy answer to it would be to start with two Customer Success Managers. Now, the reason for this is that  it becomes easier for you to compare the performances. Otherwise, a data point of one comes with tons of restrictions, which I think will be very applicable for any new thing that you’re just starting up.

Now, there comes a fundamental question as How many accounts to be assigned per success manager? So even if you’re starting with two Success managers then how many should you assign each one of them?

Well, that depends on two key aspects. One of the key aspects is a completely functional aspect, which includes things like –

  • How complex is your product?
  • How much hand-holding is really needed?
  • How tech-friendly,  how tech-savvy are your customers?
  • Are you selling into an industry where technology is not commonly used or are you selling into developers themselves?
  • And how wide is your product, is it just a point solution or a complete platform addressing multiple use cases?

And all these factors will actually define the amount of handholding, the amount of continuous engagement the Customer Success Managers need to have with your customers.

The second key aspect that will influence your decision on assigning the number of accounts per Success manager should be around the financial metrics.
Say for example, if I pull up about 100 accounts having $10,000 ARPA .It’s going to give a portfolio of about a million dollars. Also then, depending on which part of the world you are operating out of and the cost of hiring a Customer Success Manager there will help you decide the minimum portfolio value to justify financially the cost of success managers. The other thing that you need to take into consideration is, how are you delivering success.? Is it virtual or Face to Face? Do you expect your CSM to be present in customer premises for meetings and trainings? Or are they delivering success remotely over phone calls and video meets? Well, with Covid 19 pandemic being reality, most companies have been forced to move to delivering customer success remotely.

Another important factor that you need to consider is the degree of automation that you have already built into your platform and how your customers are responding to it. Just by having automation doesn’t mean delivering customer success. To know more on platform that delivers that right amount of automation with inbuilt ability for human intervention, check this- Automated Customer Success Journeys

Customer Retention

So with keeping all these factors into account you can safely determine how many accounts to be assigned to each CSM. And to get a guide on hiring the best Customer Success Manager for your SaaS company, check out – These Ten Interview Questions to hire the best Customer Success Manager (CSM)

 

Puneet leads CustomerSuccessBox. He is deeply passionate about the three product joys - the joy of producing, the joy of selling, and the joy of ownership. His inspirations come from family, friends, mentors, people he works with and from free thinkers like Eric Ries (The Lean Startup), Tim Brown (Change by Design: Design thinking) and many more.