skip to Main Content

The Ultimate Guide to Being a Customer success
manager

Introduction

Timothy Ferris says that “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do”. This statement is imperative when viewed from a customer success perspective, especially, in the B2B SaaS industry.

Losing customers isn’t an event that a company can afford to witness again and again, and that too unpredictably. Hence, that is exactly (avoiding the loss of customers) what the firm should focus upon.

How do companies do that? Why is “customer success” or even a “customer success manager” required for a company? Let’s try to understand the concept of customer success first.

What is Customer Success?

According to The Customer Success Association, customer success (CS) is, “a long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed business strategy for maximizing customer and company sustainable proven profitability”.

In simple words, customer success is the process by which you ensure that your customers are successful while using your product/service. This way you’ll be able to retain them, and thus avoid their churn.

What is a Customer Success Manager?

Customer Success Manager (CSM) is a customer-facing role whose goal is to ensure value delivery to their customersCSMs guide their customers to the desired outcomes and maximize derived value from the purchased product or service. They act as catalyst for customer retention. 

Who is a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?

Now, let’s understand who is a customer success manager. A CSM is someone responsible for ensuring that customers achieve their “desired outcomes” while using your product/service.

In a subscription economy, companies usually face the issue of losing customers unexpectedly. More often than not, it is because the existing teams/managers are not able to focus on the customers’ goals and objectives. This is where a customer success manager comes into the picture.

Pro tip: Know more about the importance of a customer success manager.

What role does a good Customer Success Manager play in your organization?

The customer success manager role started on a simple promise of transforming customer engagement from a traditional ‘reactive’ to a ‘proactive’ mindset. The Customer Success Manager (CSM) is, ideally, a bridge that closes the gap between sales and support. The following are the roles/responsibilities which a CSM carries out and proudly form one of the main pillars of ‘growth’ within a SaaS organization.

  • * To make sure that the customer is getting the “Desired Outcome” by using the product.
  • * To evaluate and analyze customer requirements.
  • * To ensure customers have a great experience with the product and at every touchpoint with the company.
  • * Calculating periodic account health of (at least) key accounts.
  • * Converting customer relationships and value into real advocacy. It could come in the form of an internal NPS survey, external reviews, a case study, or the good old referral.
  • * To interact with customers and figuring out what features do they require. These features can then be added to the product roadmap. This way the focus will always be on making a product that the customers want.
  • * To promote the respective product and/or brand.
  • * To build a long-term relationship with the customer.

Know more about the responsibilities of customer success managers and how many would you need for your organization here!

Customer Success Manager Skills/Qualifications

Now that you have understood why SaaS companies require a customer success manager, it’s vital to understand the characteristics which create the difference between a good and a great CSM.

Success managers play different roles at different places. Nevertheless, there are some key traits that they need to master!

  • * Strategic thinking and Problem-solving mindset.
  • * In-depth knowledge of Industry and domain.
  • * A proactive approach to customer issues.
  • * Emotional intelligence and Empathy.
  • * Strong Organizational and Analytical skills.
  • * Leadership skills

Career path for a customer success manager

A few examples of different fields that a CSM can grow in the future are as follows:

  • * Sr. Customer Success Manager- This is the path that most CSMs prefer. It would involve diving deeper into the customer success manager role. It starts from being an individual contributor to higher leadership positions. If you’re passionate enough about your CS work and desire to adding depth to your CS knowledge, then this is the natural continuation in your path as a CSM.
    VP or Director of Customer Success.- This role requires you to be more accountable from a business standpoint. A VP or a director needs to have strategic thinking and should fill the qualitative breaches as and when needed. You can check here to know more about the responsibilities if you’re the director of customer success.
  • * Enterprise Customer Success Manager- Most fitting option if you’d want to grow while remaining an individual contributor. Some of the qualities essential to this job would be in-depth knowledge, specialized skills, patience, etc.
    Customer marketing- Since, as a customer success manager, you know what your customers want it becomes easy for you to transition into this role. You would be creating content like webinars, campaigns, etc. for marketing purposes. The account-oriented/customer-centric content will prove beneficial rather than general marketing.
  • * Sales Engineering (SE)- You’ll prefer this one if you have a technical bent and are attracted to the product side of the business. You can make a great SE as you know exactly what the customer needs and can act as a connector between the sales and service teams.
  • * Product Marketing- This is a much expansive option than the customer marketing role, stated above. In this role, you’d ensure that the right products are marketed to the right customers and listen to their needs, feedback, etc. over the lifecycle of the product. It involves a good amount of cross-functional skills from fields like product marketing, sales, customer success, and market research.
  • * Renewals Management- It’s a function that includes the processing, negotiating, and closing of customer renewals. If you’re a CSM who likes the renewal negotiation process, and you’d like to have a very quantifiable role, then Renewals Management could be for you. CSMs that are intent on participating in the commercial aspect of the customer relationship, can find this function to be a starting point. Renewals and retention go hand-in-hand. Focusing on retention will naturally lead to renewals. Check out SaaS customer retention best practices to maximize renewals for more info.

Salary for Customer Success Managers

The average base salary of a customer success manager, in the US, is around $69,685/year. The pay scale may vary depending on the location, company, experience, and skills of a particular individual.

Tip: You can compare the customer success manager salary details based on location, experience, etc., and determine what skills you need to possess to be a successful CSM.

The skills that get paid for are: Salary may increase by approximately:
Account management 4%
Customer relations 4%
Strategic sales 8%
Customer service metrics 8%
People Management 31%
SaaS (Software as a Service) 12%
Sales 39%
Enterprise Solutions 79%

How to hire the best Customer Success Manager?

Customer Success is where the battle for growth is being fought for every SaaS company and Customer Success Manager or CSM is the foundation for any successful customer success team.

You can check out this write-up if you’re confused as to where you should be looking to find CSM.

Different roles succeed as customer success managers. You should actively lookout for these and check out if people from these backgrounds fit your requirements of a CSM.

Bonus tip: If you’re planning to hire a new CSM for your company, then check out the ten interview questions to hire the best customer success manager.

Organizing your day as a Customer Success Manager

The life of a Customer Success Manager is loaded with responsibilities. Customer renewal, onboarding, expansions and upselling, advocacy, building relationships, and nurturing champions are some of the items competing for bandwidth. To have better control of your planning, you need to bifurcate your tasks into scheduled and unscheduled work. Start your day by looking at all the unscheduled items and start scheduling them.

To know more : How to organize and plan your day as a Customer Success manager

Conclusion

In a nutshell, customer success managers are responsible for customer retention and reducing customer churn. They do whatever they can to ensure that a company’s customers achieve their desired outcomes and are happy using your product/services. SaaS companies need to be customer-focused (instead of sales as is the case generally in other industries and firms) because the majority of the revenue comes from renewals and upgrades. Thus customer success managers and teams have a vital role to play in their respective profiles. The Customer Success Managers need to use CSM software to be effective as it helps them to grow a multi-million dollar portfolio with hundreds of accounts efficiently..

Deliver world class customer success at Scale

SPEAK TO CUSTOMER SUCCESS EXPERT
Back To Top