How to Become a Customer Success Manager
Customer success manager jobs are an evolutionary step forward from classic sales or account manager roles for digital companies. It’s a well-paid profession with strong future growth, making it a great career move for people who have existing sales experience and love working with people.
Many of us have had the experience of being courted by companies offering great deals to bring you on as a customer, only to be let down later by more inferior quality customer service once you’re signed up. A customer success manager knows that customer care doesn’t end at the point of sale – the brand’s customer relationship needs to be positive throughout the customer lifecycle to get the best outcomes for everybody.
Customer success managers (or CSMs) provide customers with the best possible experience, ensuring their satisfaction, retention, and valuable referrals for attracting new customers.
What is a Customer Success Manager?
A customer success manager is a senior, non-technical role in the technology sector. They work primarily with Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, which are subscription-based, centrally-hosted software such as cloud-based software, and digital infrastructure.
Customer success managers make sure that customers get excellent support, aiming to keep them happy. Finding new customers is a cost-intensive process involving marketing and sales work. In contrast, investing in current customers increases profitability, maintaining existing business and expanding organically through referrals.
Getting new customers settled in and making sure they know how to use all the relevant features of the software.
Making sure customer problems are addressed quickly and answering any questions they might have. Ideally, the customer will have a good relationship with the tech support team, and the customer success manager may help facilitate that relationship. The customer should always have a person they can call when they need, and that will include the customer success manager.
Ensuring that when accounts are due for renewal, customers are keen to keep their subscription and that they can do so seamlessly. Renewals are one of the most critical parts of the role because keeping customers is much cheaper and more efficient than acquiring new ones. It’s also a good indicator that your product is helping customers achieve their goals.
Upselling and cross-selling products
If you think customers would benefit from the company’s expanded offerings, you can engage in conversations about getting the right package and pricing for them. This is much easier when the customer success manager already has a rapport with the customer and understands what they need.
Checking in with your customer base
Customer success managers don’t wait until something has gone wrong before talking to an existing customer. They proactively manage the relationship by monitoring metrics like usage and number of open/resolved tech support cases. They even get in touch if they think they have something more to offer the customer to help them fulfil their business needs.
Responding to customer feedback and advocating for customers
Customer success managers are all about customer satisfaction. They are uniquely placed to understand what the customer needs and wants, and where existing products might fall short for serving the customer’s businesses. They can consult with their company to enhance their offerings, and funnel customer feedback to relevant product design, customer success teams, and support teams. The ultimate goal is to increase the lifetime value of the product for the customer. This role is a mix between sales and consulting – customer success managers want to sell their products, but they are also well-positioned to improve them.
Advocating for the business
The customer success manager knows their company and product inside-out so that when they’re listening to customers, they know exactly what products and packages would be best-placed to help them achieve their goals. They’re enthusiastic about their company and what it offers and committed to putting the company’s best foot forward as a key representative.
Customer Success Manager Salary and Job Growth
Being a customer success manager allows you to connect with customers – a great profession if you’re a people person. Customer Success Manager is also among the top 7 jobs of the future in Australia. In 2019, a survey conducted by ZS found that 40% of tech companies have customer success professionals, and this number is growing. Full-time customer success manager salaries are typically high throughout Australia.
Average Salary by City across Australia
Customer Success Manager vs Account Manager
Customer success managers are similar to account managers in that both offer professional services to attract customers and keep them. In practice, the roles have subtle differences, influenced by different ways of thinking about the relationships between customers and the brand.
|Account Manager||Customer Success Manager|
|Key Goal||Onboarding new customers and keeping them on by working with them on any concerns they have.||Primarily, customer retention by helping them achieve their business goals.|
|Background||This role has been around for a long time and is present across a wide range of businesses, including manufacturing, advertising, and consultancy.||This role was pretty much unheard of a decade ago, but its presence is growing strongly. The role mainly applies to SaaS companies.|
|Relationship to Customer||Involved in building relationships and bringing in new business, but once the relationship is established, they have a more reactive relationship – they try to solve problems that could affect retention. Still, they are not as involved in pre-empting these problems.||They’re also close to the customer – their KPIs might be tied directly to whether the customer’s business KPIs have been achieved.|
|Fit in the Company||A key representative involved predominantly with sales.||Also a key sales representative, but involved with customer service and product development.|
Customer success managers and account managers can often work together and are responsible for different kinds of business growth and retention.
Account managers bring on new clients and avoid losing them, while customer success managers make sure that the customer’s everyday experience is the best it can be. They both have similar key skills: excellent communication skills, problem-solving skills, building and maintaining relationships, and exceptional knowledge of the company and its products.
How to Become a Customer Success Manager
Customer success managers usually have bachelor’s degree qualifications in business, computer science, or engineering.
If you have a tech background, and you want to move into this role, you will need to demonstrate customer relationship skills.
If you have a business background, you will need to gain familiarity with tech products (though customer success manager is not primarily a technical role).
Customer success manager is a senior role, which would require at least a few years of experience in related areas. These could include:
Whether you have skills in sales or tech skills, you may find training can bridge the gap between what you’ve built so far, and where you’d like to go. Tech-savvy professionals may find sales short courses suitable for them. People with significant experience working with business customers, on the other hand, may find it helpful to enrol in cloud computing courses, or courses in customer experience strategy and design.
The technology sector has an increasing number of well-paid but competitive jobs. There are roles to suit people with a range of professional and educational backgrounds.
The role of customer success manager is made for people who are willing to work hard to build fruitful relationships between their brand and customers, enabling the tech sector to meet their customers’ goals.