Why is Customer Success Important?

In business, you succeed with your customers. If your customers achieve success through the effective use of your products, they are more likely to buy from you again. If the product fails to solve their problems, they will not buy from you again.

Even if it is a product that a customer does not buy frequently, a customer is more likely to recommend it to others with similar needs if they had a positive experience with it.

For businesses that run on a subscription model, if you serve your customers exceptionally well, they will be loyal to you, guaranteeing repeat sales over the long term. Not only can you guarantee your MRR (monthly recurring revenue), but you also increase the customer lifetime value with successful upsells.

So overall customer success should be the goal of every growth-focused business. Unless your customers thrive, you will be looking for new leads every month, which gets harder with every lost customer and is simply not sustainable.

What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

A customer success manager (CSM) guides and supports customers as they transition from prospects to loyal, long-term customers. They do this by focusing on activities that help customers effectively solve their challenges and achieve success.

Poor companies view the sale as the end goal while successful ones see it as the start of a long journey together with the customer. Right through that journey, the CSM acts as the customer’s mentor. The interest in the customer goes beyond how their product makes life or business better to what generally can help them succeed.

Instead of making customer success the responsibility of everyone in a company, business leaders now see the value in having a dedicated person manage the relationship between the company and its customers.

Customer success manager job description

It is your job as a customer success manager to educate customers on the more salient features of your product so they get maximum value from it – the most bang for their money. A CSM may also be known as:

  • Customer success engineer,
  • Customer experience manager,
  • Chief customer officer,
  • Customer success leader

Unlike a customer service manager that reacts to issues that customers raise, a CSM anticipates issues and solves them before they happen. 

Where customer support specialists deal with individual issues, the client success manager focuses on the entire customer journey, making sure it is as smooth as it can be. They focus on building a long-term relationship with the customer.

Customer success and customer support roles also differ in the language they use and the metrics they track. For example, where customer support may track things like time to response, handle time, and customer satisfaction, customer success will prioritize metrics like expansion rate, churn rate, average MRR, and customer health.

The CSM role is a relatively new position that has grown in importance as more and more companies realize how important customer retention is. That said, there is still some confusion about what a CSM does and how a company should use them. 

Let’s clear that confusion by listing the main customer success manager responsibilities and duties:

  • Manage customer interactions 

To effectively build trust with customers, the business must get on top of every interaction, removing frictional forces as they emerge. At every customer touchpoint throughout the sales process, the CSM must show they are available to respond to the customer’s needs and questions.

This helps to proactively position the company’s product as the best solution available and ensure product uptake and subsequent customer loyalty. If not as the best solution, then certainly as the one that endeavors to be.

  • Onboard new customers

It is your job as the customer success manager to ensure clients’ seamless transition between sales to customer support. Customers need a ‘guided tour’ of your solution and a lot of hand-holding while they learn to use the product.

You must educate new customers on your product’s features and specifically what benefits each feature brings. It is your responsibility to show them where the value is in using your product.

  • Engage and update customers

The CSM has the responsibility to encourage regular product usage. That responsibility can include reminding customers to renew or upgrade their subscriptions, and suggestions for upsells and cross-sells.

  • Promote the customer’s cause

The CSM ensures that the feedback received from customers is acted upon timeously and effectively. In this regard, the customer success lead acts as the customer’s voice/advocate within the company.

A good client success manager is an expert at understanding everything about the client’s business. This includes their model, their goals, their timeline, their IT, and more.

  • Resolve complex customer issues 

Customer support may not have the time and resources to resolve some customer issues. While the customer success position was created to prevent such a scenario, they must rise as the hero and resolve it in such a way that it will not recur.

The CSM is the expert when it comes to how the customer’s needs and the company’s product capabilities intersect and are, thus, expected to assist customers with any challenges and questions they might have.

As a CSM, it is your duty to understand both your customer and your solution. By doing so, you can provide customers with the best possible service, ensuring their continued success.

  • Grow lifetime customer value

It is the customer success function’s role to show clients how your product can increase their revenue and improve their processes. 

Not only should you demonstrate how it will impact their revenues, but you should also look for ways to customize the product to fit their specific needs. 

By doing so, you will increase the chance of long-term client retention as well as individual customers’ long-term value to the business.

The customer success manager also has the duty to develop and manage customer portfolios, handle customer inquiries and communication, analyze customer data to improve the customer experience, evaluate and improve tutorials and other communication infrastructure, and mediate between clients and the organization.

What Makes a Good Customer Success Manager?

As you can tell from customer success manager duties and responsibilities, this job is highly demanding. To succeed in the CSM role, you must possess a specific skill set. Below are some of those skills and attributes:

1 Excellent communication skills

The customer success manager’s job involves clearly explaining to the customer how the company’s problem solves their problem. It entails breaking down a product’s features and highlighting the opportunity for improvement that each one of them offers.

The CSM also is supposed to handle and resolve customer requests and concerns, and suggest new solutions or products that can improve customers’ business, This demands exceptional communication skills.

While the customer success manager role is designed to advocate for the customer’s cause, not all customers view them as such. Many don’t see any differently from sales reps. To get through this barrier, the CSM needs to be a persuasive communicator that can get the customer on their side quickly.

2 Deep industry knowledge

Even with good communication skills, a customer success manager will still struggle if they lack a deep appreciation of the challenges, dynamics, and opportunities that the customer’s industry offer and face at the same time. 

Without industry knowledge, a CSM can’t relate to the customer’s needs and isn’t adequately prepared to advance the client’s business and help them achieve success.

3 Product knowledge

As a CSM you have to be an expert on your product. They must know the ins and outs of it, its weaknesses and strengths, and the full value it provides the customer. Not only that, you have to accurately match the product’s benefits with the customer’s needs.

With this product knowledge, you can competently assume your mentoring role. It allows you to effectively teach users how to get the best out of the product. Only when you can impart that knowledge to the customer and help them achieve success should you consider yourself a capable CSM.

4 Empathy

As with any role that deals with customers, the customer success function requires an individual who is able to view issues from the customer’s perspective. 

They must put themselves in the customer’s shoes to fully appreciate what their product must do to solve the customer’s problem. Their role is to be supportive and helpful and to build long-lasting, successful relationships.. This requires empathetic listening skills.

Without strong listening skills, the communication process could be disrupted, which would impact the client experience negatively. 

5 Problem-solving ability

As their advocate, customers are going to come to you for solutions to the challenges they face while using your products. They expect you to solve those problems decisively and in a timely manner. Have to be able to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions that benefit both the business and the customer.

6 Transparency

Customer success management requires team members that open and transparent with their clients. As the leader, the CSM must be above reproach and act in a manner befitting a customer advocate and trusted advisor.

As the CSM, you should schedule regular meetings with customers to keep them updated on the status of their tickets, project timelines, and any communications that may be necessary.

CSMs’ ability to remain transparent with their customers is crucial to building trust, which is essential for reducing client turnover and keeping clients happy.

7 Strategic thinking

A CSM must be skilled in planning, executing, and leading projects successfully in order to be successful. They must have strong analytical and strategic thinking skills, as they must constantly be thinking ahead about the customer’s success, anticipating and solving customer issues before they happen.

Customer Success Manager Qualifications

To be successful as a CSM, you need a wide variety of skills, personality traits, and educational qualifications. While there is no one-size-fits-all education requirement for this position, the ideal candidate is someone who has a bachelor’s degree in sales, marketing, or communication.

It will boost your application greatly if you can provide evidence that you have worked in a customer-facing role before. Experience in sales and customer support is preferred by most employers when hiring for the customer success manager position.

Of course, you have even better chances of getting the CSM job if you have worked in a similar position before as you will have a good understanding of the responsibilities of the role.

Customer Success Management Tools

Customer success managers need tools to help them track their interactions with customers and ensure that the relationship is strong and healthy. As the customer success manager function evolves, the tools available to customer success managers must also advance. And they have:

Dashboards that track customer health have become increasingly sophisticated, making it easier for CSMs to keep tabs on their clients. This is particularly vital for B2B SaaS companies whose success rests heavily on the strength of their customer relationships

Given the many responsibilities that you have as a CSM, these tools will make your life easier:

  • Salesforce

Salesforce is a customer relationship solution that allows CSMs to monitor client data and build meaningful relationships. Salesforce’s help makes it easy for CSMs to get to know their customers and learn about their customers’ challenges. 

A powerful, all-in-one software solution, Salesforce helps customer success managers to:

  • Track and manage customer information.
  • Connect their entire staff from any device.
  • Capture customer emails intelligently.
  • Reduce repetitive tasks so that they can focus on customers.

Here is another enterprise customer success management tool that is just as powerful:

  • Hubspot

HubSpot’s all-in-one customer satisfaction solution is completely free to use and can scale up to meet the needs of large companies. Hubspot provides tickets to help customers organize and solve their problems. 

The Hubspot CRM also offers a team inbox, where agents and reps can exchange messages and assign tickets. Hubspot can also be used to view customer reviews, conduct surveys, and evaluate feedback and customer satisfaction ratings.

  • Redbooth

Redbooth is a collaboration platform that helps customer success teams keep track of internal initiatives. It streamlines communication and task management to make projects more efficient.

  • Monday.com

Monday.com helps you manage your tasks and projects visually. It allows you to collaborate with your CSM team anywhere and on all devices.

  • SmartSheet

SmartSheet removes the need for unnecessary meetings so that you can concentrate on strategy and being proactive. This SaaS application helps you collaborate and automates your workflow.

FAQs - Customer Success Management

Here are some of the questions that those hoping to transition into customer success management (and hiring managers alike) frequently ask about the CSM role:

What does a customer success manager do?

A CSM is responsible for ensuring that a company’s customers are satisfied with and derive maximum success from its products or services. They work to improve customer loyalty and retention by providing support and guidance to customers. They are responsible for developing and managing relationships to foster loyalty.

Do you need a degree to be a customer success manager?

While that depends on the company concerned, you don’t need a college degree to be hired as a customer success manager. When hiring for the CSM position, companies do tend to favor people with the right product and industry experience. 

So if have SaaS customer support or sales experience, you have a great chance of getting the customer success manager job at a SaaS or tech company. That said, a sales, marketing, or communication degree will give you a great advantage.

Is customer success a stressful job?

Customer success can be a stressful job because you are constantly working to ensure that the customer is happy and satisfied with the product or service, which can mean long hours and difficulty separating family and work time. While this can be challenging at times, it is also very rewarding for a person with the skills and passion for serving customer needs.

What are the qualifications of a customer success manager?

A CSM is responsible for ensuring that a company’s customers are satisfied with its products or services. They work to enhance customer retention and loyalty by providing support and guidance to customers. A CSM typically has a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field. They should also have strong communication and interpersonal skills.

What does a customer success manager do daily?

The customer success manager manages the relationship between the company and the customer to ensure they have what they need to succeed, which fosters loyalty and retention. 

On a given day they could be reminding customers to renew, advising them of new product features and the opportunity they present, onboarding a new client, and solving a customer issue.

Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Good Customer Success Manager?

The customer success manager plays a vital role in ensuring customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat sales You will do well in the CSM position if you genuinely love helping customers succeed, have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to understand consumer needs and solve problems quickly. 

You will excel as a customer success manager if you can help build strong customer relationships and ensure that their experience with your solution is a pleasant one. And now that you understand what a customer success manager does and what they need to succeed, is it a career path you could follow?

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Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.