Customer Success Manager vs Customer Service Manager – What’s the Difference?

customer success manager vs customer service manager
customer success manager vs customer service manager

This particular comparison between Customer Success Manager and another similar role is close to my heart. This is because my foray into Customer Success started with me “transitioning” from a Customer/Client Service role into CS. I use big, fat talking marks because I never felt that I transitioned, as I was already working in software, but by title, I certainly did make a jump. Maybe it was more of a skip. 😁

Anywho, there are still some key differences that we’ll go over in this article, but my own story of transitioning from Customer Service to Customer Success is what inspired me to start this blog.

At heart, the focus is the same

Being a role with a soft skill focus, it’s all about the customer and making sure they feel heard, respected and happy. The main difference between Customer Success and Customer Service is the product. With Customer Success, it’s all about helping people use Software as a Service tech more effectively, whereas with Customer Service, it’s more so the delivery of a service that’s the main “product”.

It’s easy to transition because the end result is the same: you’re trying to help the customer go from A to B with the best possible experience.

All Types of Customer Service can apply

“But Johnson,” I hear you say. “Like you said, you started in tech. You barely had to jump. I work as a barista, grocery store clerk, receptionist, shoe salesperson, [insert other customer service job here], I can’t make the leap.”

One important lesson to remember: if it sounds like an excuse, it probably is.

If it sounds like an excuse, it probably is.

Me.

Listen, do you do any of the below:

  • resolve disputes with customers,
  • upsell/cross sell to customers,
  • listen to customers complain over the phone,
  • deal with irate customers and calmly reach a resolution,
  • predict what problems customers have and solve them before the problem occurs,

If you do, then congratulations! You also possess the skillset that good Customer Success Managers have. Simply elevate those critical human skills to the level of working with tech and you’re now a Customer Success Manager. All you have to do is write about it such in your cover letter and resume.

Who earns more?

Across the board, Customer Success Managers tend to earn more than Customer Service Managers. This is mainly due to the nature of their work, dealing with more complexity by having to understand software more, as well as elements of having to expand and grow accounts so that companies are worth more over time.

Customer Success Managers earn anywhere from $60K USD to $120K USD, entry level to mid-senior. Customer Service Managers can actually start lower, $50K USD to $80-90K USD for a team leader/manager.

Customer Success ManagerCustomer Service Manager
Helping people achieve success using softwareHelping people achieve success through the actions of the service provider
You can come from a tech background or customer service backgroundYou can come from a tech background or customer service background
Salary: $60K-$120K USD, $150K+ USD for leadershipSalary: $50K-$80K USD, $90K+ USD for leadership
customer success manager vs customer service manager – table summary

So you see, if you’re willing to learn about software, it’s worth the leap to help you crack six-figures and be paid what you know you’re worth. Good people skills are hard to come by. Combine that with team leadership and you’re a good package any tech company would want to hire.

Being a Customer Success Manager in FinTech

Being a Customer Success Manager in FinTech

Financial Technology, commonly shortened to FinTech, is by far one of the most popular tech growth areas of all industries. In fact, it’s projected to be worth $332.5 billion USD by 2028. Riding this wave of growth, there are numerous opportunities to get your foot in the door at a tech company as a Customer Success Manager.

Part of this has been due to the exponential interest in things like cryptocurrency, blockchain and NFTs, but technology is disrupting many older financial areas as well. Neobanks, where there no branches and the entire customer experience is digital, are breaking new ground left, right and center. Digital wallets that have completely self-contained financial ecosystems embedded inside them are also another area where there is a lot of growth. Let’s explore a short list of Aussie FinTech companies and what they’re trying to do.

List of Australian FinTech Start Ups

  • Coinbase – they tout themselves as one of the easiest places to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
  • SocietyOne – using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending practices, they help people who need to borrow money quickly find people who are willing to lend money out meet each other.
  • Raiz – a platform I also use, Raiz is there to make investing accessible, where you can invest as little as a few dollars into basket ETFs and get a return in the marketplace without the mumbo jumbo.

Industry Considerations

Not all FinTech companies will need CSMs – for the examples of Australian FinTech companies that I listed above, none of them actually require Customer Success Managers. That’s because the customer base is mainly retail and the commercialization model is Business to Consumer, aka B2C. You’ll have a lot more luck with B2B companies, where workflows are a bit more complex and need a human to help with.

There’s A LOT of red tape – like many industries that are in the midst of tech revolutions, finance and the many areas underneath it are wrapped in legality and rules as to how business is conducted. A well known FinTech in Afterpay (similar to Klarna) is in an iffy situation where currently, it’s evading credit and lending policies with its “pay in 4” structure. There are predictions that once Australian legislation catches up, it could severely hinder the saturation Afterpay has in the marketplace.

Having experience working in banking, investments or other finance areas gives you a leg up – this last point is more of a tip than an industry consideration. Being that there are so many FinTech start ups, there’s a good chance that you’ll find one that you can bring your existing experience to. Just keep your eyes peeled, refresh your resume with examples of how you worked on tech projects in your financial area and use it to stand out from the crowd.

The Customers

  • Businesses – you’ll be likely spending the majority of your time speaking with other businesses in trying to use your platform to improve how they conduct their business. Having an understanding of how they transact and where the value flow runs will help you configure the tech SaaS to help them get value.
  • Individuals – It might be tempting to use corporate speak, since you will be dealing with many corporations, but getting to the point and speaking simply will put you in good stead at being successful as a FinTech CSM. There was a role I held once where the main customers weren’t actually huge companies but Mom and Pop type businesses, who were just trying to do the right thing and submit invoices following their customer’s steps. I had to really speak plainly in order to help them achieve this. Don’t forget that behind every business is a real person. Speaking their language is going to help them – and you – achieve success.

Fintech is a promising area with no shortage of opportunities for a budding Customer Success Manager. If you have experience in the financial industry already, great! If not, bringing your enthusiasm and interest into the game is also going to help. The resources you’ll find on this blog should help you get your CV/resume right and also help you get the foot in the door with impactful cover letters. Let me know how you go!

Customer Success Manager vs Project Manager: What’s the Difference?

customer success manager vs project manager
customer success manager vs project manager

You’ve read my previous articles on Customer Success Manager vs. Product Manager and Customer Success Manager vs. Customer Relationship Manager. Today’s one addresses another common comparison, that being with the Project Manager role.

Project Management is going to happen in virtually all organizations, as projects are what drive companies forward. Still, it’s worth asking what the differences are, as you might be not too keen on project work. That’s what we’re going to delve into this blog and the differences between the two roles.

CSMs are “External” Project Managers

When you’re brought in as a Customer Success Manager, you’re there to do a specific job, that is, help your customers get more value quicker from the software that they paid for. This is particularly important in industries where the workflows can be quite complex.

Depending on the type of industry you serve and the solution you offer, you might find yourself dragged into the project work that your clients are trying to achieve. This doesn’t mean that you’re doing the work that they’re meant to do, but in order to present something, complete something or get crucial results, they may need to configure your solution in a certain way to achieve these things. You have to understand their project in order to do this. So while you still work for your tech SaaS company, don’t be surprised if you find yourself quite involved in your customers’ projects, which is what true Project Managers do.

There’s Also “Internal” Project Management Too

In tech companies, everyone works together. Customer Success is particularly embedded in the middle of the organization, where other departments regularly rely on their expertise or their access to customers to achieve things.

This quarter in my organization, I’m helping different departments understand how we might be able to improve the usage of a Learning Management System that we’ve deployed to help onboard more customers remotely. It was completely optional for me to work on this project, but I put my hand up because I found it interesting.

This may or may not be less of the case if you’re a true Project Manager, but the fact of the matter is, it’s not likely to be a big part of a CSMs role internally unless you want it to be.

Who earns more?

This is a tough one. The pay scale of Customer Success Managers is pretty well established ($60K USD to around $120K USD, entry to mid-senior), but Project Managers are a bit harder to pin down. This is because the role has existed for a lot longer and it’s a lot harder to define what a “typical” Project Manager does. Furthermore, there are many industries to consider, each with their own pay scales.

I’ll say that the pay range of Project Managers, while it can vary, will actually fall into a pretty similar range as Customer Success Managers: on the lower end, $50-60K USD, usually for an entry level. At the higher range, it might be a smidge higher, $150K plus for a very experienced Project Manager, perhaps with leadership experience.

Customer Success ManagerProject Manager
You become an “external” project manager as your customers try to use your solution to achieve a resultHelping clients get a specific result is the main focus of their job.
You will have opportunities to do internal projects in your company, which are completely optionalFor the most part, quite siloed in their own departments, but there is scope to help other departments out if needed.
Salary: $60K-$120K USD, $150K+ USD for leadershipSalary: $50K-$120K USD, $150K+ USD for leadership
customer success manager vs. project manager – table summary

Long story short, there is quite a bit of project management work as a Customer Success Manager, but that’s only because of the work that your customers do. If they’re in industries where the work is more complex, getting your assistance for project work is more likely. It’s part and parcel with the job, but won’t necessarily be there for every, single customer.

In my opinion, the internal project opportunities are also important, as they keep you across what other teams are working on in your organization. This helps a lot later for promotion opportunities. Take up the ones that interest you, but remember not to spread yourself too thin.

Customer Success Manager vs. Product Manager: What’s the Difference?

customer success manager vs product manager
customer success manager vs product manager

As you’re thinking of moving into tech, you’re possibly scrolling through SEEK, Monster.com or your preferred job site, wondering at what all these weird and wonderful job titles are. Customer Success Manager, you’re starting to have a better understanding of. This entire blog is all about it and how to get a role in it, so I’ve got you covered here. 😁

A role that you might have seen a bit of is Product Manager. Reading some of the job descriptions, you might have a vague idea what it’s about. It might even seem that there’s a bit of overlap between the two. This blog post is all about the differences between the two and what you should consider based on your interests.

Customer vs. Product

It’s in the title of the blog post, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that the roles are fundamentally different. A Customer Success Manager’s focus is in making sure that customers are as happy as possible using your digital product. A Product Manager’s focus is in making sure that the digital SaaS product is built to solve the problem space in the best way possible.

It’s two sides of the same coin, where the coin is the company that the customer pays money to in the hope that they can make their pain go away.

How do they work together?

Customer Success Managers will always be the custodian of the customer relationship. Typically, Product Managers have to go through the CSM to set up meetings. The meetings that Product Managers set up are to do with:

  • getting customer feedback about prospective new features,
  • observing customers using the product “in the wild” to inform User Experience, and
  • acquiring insights from customers as to which features should take priority in the product backlog.

Customer Success Managers can also approach Product Managers and provide unsolicited feedback from customers on different existing features to see if they can prioritize their development if the customer is specifically asking for them.

Who earns more?

I’ve saved the meatiest til last: salary. Customer Success Managers and Product Managers have different ranges. While neither actually require formal education to do, Product Management is more technical and does require more of an understanding of the development languages that form the foundation of a product. Entry level PM roles can start from as high as $80K USD, whereas entry level CSM roles are a bit lower, at around $60K USD.

From there, a higher end CSM who has more industry and technical expertise might round out at around $130K USD, going as high as $160K+ USD if you become a people manager of Head of Client Success. A Product Manager’s average salary can actually be at around $120-130K USD but the high end can actually be $180-200K USD.

Customer Success ManagerProduct Manager
Focuses more on the customer’s happiness in getting value out of a digital SaaS product,Focuses more on building a digital product to solve the problem in the best way possible
Custodian of the customer relationshipWill work with the CSM to get access to customers in order to get feedback about the product
Salary: $60K-$120K USD, $150K+ USD for leadershipSalary: $80K-$150K USD, $180K+ USD for leadership
customer success manager vs product manager: table summary

So above is a summary of the two roles. One thing I’d like to mention is that you should focus on what you’re more fascinated in: people or product. The salary might be higher at the back end of product management, but if your heart isn’t in it, you won’t get very far.

Being a Customer Success Manager in EdTech – How to Succeed

Customer Success Manager EdTech

One of the industries that’s experiencing a surge in growth is Education Tech, commonly shortened to EdTech. It’s all about using technology and SaaS to improve the results that students can achieve. This is facilitated by helping teachers do more with less resources, helping students engage in novel and innovative ways and better tracking of student success in order to assist students who might be struggling in the classroom.

Like many industries, education is at a crossroads. In Australia and many other parts of the world, education is experiencing a severe staff shortage, not to mention the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and seasonal illnesses. This means that there are fewer teachers being spread throughout the public and private sectors. No matter what happens, the world’s children need educating. This is pushing for the development of tech solutions to solve some of these problems.

List of Australian EdTech Start Ups

As an Aussie, I do like to look at what’s up and coming in my industry. I’d recommend you to Google what’s in your own country or region if you’re curious. A few of the start-ups Down Under that are focusing on EdTech are:

  • Cadmus – transform an educational institution’s practises by streamlining online assessment.
  • 60Seconds.com – focuses on improving impact of teaching through coaching, practice and measurement.
  • Compass Education – A school CRM that helps schools manage communications between teachers, parents and students. I’ve got a soft spot for this one, since we did use it quite a bit during lockdowns here in Victoria through 2020 and 2021. It helped my daughter through home schooling.

Industry Considerations

  • Need to get buy-in from the top – Schools – both public and private – have boards. A lot of these boards also have parents of children who are currently studying in the school on them. One of the hardest parts is getting in the initial buy in from people high up that they would be open to give the tech a shot. This should fall to the BDM, but as a Customer Success Manager, you may also have a role to play in doing demos.
  • Generally quite open to new tech – Unlike other industries, education is generally quite open to tech. Knowing that students of all ages have short attention spans, any way to not only help them stay focused on the topic, but to also improve knowledge retention is welcome. It’s key though that the user experience isn’t buggy so that the emphasis is on the learning material or the quality of the education itself.
  • Privacy is paramount – while privacy is critical for all SaaS, it’s particularly important for minors. Parents will not tolerate any risk that their children’s details are shared or made public. Having a strong privacy policy is a must have and this must be ironclad to not only protect the children, but also yourself in the event that there is a leak (touch wood!).

The Customers

  • Teachers – the teachers are likely to have a part to play in the EdTech that you’re supporting. Obviously they are teaching during the day and it’s likely that the window you can actually talk to them on is quite narrow. It’s likely to be after hours. It’s more likely that you’ll liaise with IT operators who set up the systems for the entire school if things go wrong. Having good online resources will be critical for onboarding and training.
  • Parents – as kids might be quite little, parents are likely to be a customer group that you have to also support. Again, they are going to be hard to reach at the best of times. Having videos and maybe even an online community or forum where parents can ask and answer questions in their own time could be a great way to support them in a low-touch manner.
  • Students – last but not least, the students themselves. Knowing the grades or year levels that you’ll be supporting is paramount, as the UX and UI design should be tailored towards them. For younger audiences, porting over desktop experiences for mobile interfaces like iPad might be a challenge, but critical, as those are likely the mediums they’ll use for use of the EdTech solution.

If you’re inspired by enriching the educational pursuits of future generations, being a Customer Success Manager in EdTech might be right for you. If you’re actually making the transition from being a teaching professional into the world of tech, this could be a perfect opportunity to take a leap of faith and use your existing experience to improve the lives of kids in a different way.

Customer Success Manager vs. Customer Relationship Manager: What’s the Difference?

customer success manager vs customer relationship manager

You’ve been looking into different jobs, trying to find a new direction that might take you further in life. One of the roles you’ve been seeing pop up recently is a Customer Success Manager. You raise your eyebrows as you do research on it: work in tech, no hard skills required, able to transition from other industries. It’s got your attention.

But wait!… you’ve also seen that there are Customer Relationship Manager roles. The two sounds awfully similar. So what gives? What are the main differences between the two? Would you choose one over the other? Let’s dive into it.

In essence, it’s the same, but…

Customer Success Management is about helping a customer achieve success, while Customer Relationship Management is more about managing the relationship with the customer. Fundamentally, both are about being the custodian of the customer relationship, the contact point between your company and the customer’s organization.

The creation of Customer Success came about from the need to help customers become better at using Software as a Service (SaaS) technology to solve their problems. That’s the main product that the customers buy. This may or may not also be the case for Customer Relationship Managers, but the title implies it’s more about the connection and less about the solution.

Both may have strong project management focuses

A lot of SaaS tech is used to solve complex problems. Complex problems are part and parcel of complex projects. Therefore, whether you like it or not, you become a project manager alongside your customer. The project might be their “baby”. Their success with the project (using your SaaS solution) is critical to your success. The better you can help them use your SaaS, the higher the chance that you can help them have a successful project.

Both may be closely aligned to salespeople

The most common way that customers come into the care of Customer Success Managers is from an Account Manager or Business Development Manager. We help the customer get more value quicker, then after a year when it comes time for the customer to renew their contract with your company, you hand them back over to the sales team.

Customer Relationship Management is likely to be the same, but it’s possible that instead of a SaaS product, it’s a service that you’re provide, such as consulting. It’s likely you as the Customer Relationship Manager who provides the service as well. It’s worth noting in both cases that there might not be a hand-off from a sales team. You might also be the salesperson and therefore the one also responsible for renewing the customer too when the time comes around. This is particularly common in smaller organizations.

Customer Success ManagerCustomer Relationship Manager
helping customers achieve success using the SaaS solution your company offers, naturally builds a strong relationship with the customerFocus is on building a strong relationship with the customer only. A tech solution may or may not be part of the offering.
Has a strong project management focusHas a strong project management focus
Is strongly aligned to sales, may/may not be responsible for renewalIs strongly aligned to sales, may/may not be responsible for renewal
customer success manager vs customer relationship manager: table summary

So when it comes to a summary of the two roles, the table above just about covers it. It’s worth mentioning that the payscale of both is likely to range quite a bit (as low as $60K USD – $100K+ USD) depending on experience and the complexity of the product/industry. When it boils down to it, the difference is whether you want to work in tech or not. I know what my choice is… 😉

How to Write a Customer Success Manager Cover Letter Without Experience in Tech – Barista Example

customer success manager cover letter

People are pretty split on whether cover letters work or not. Whether you think they give you the edge or are worthless, some customer success manager job applications will still require them, so it’s a good idea to learn how to write a good one anyway.

I’m specifically writing this article for those who are trying to transition into SaaS Customer Success from a non-traditional role. I believe that most people already have some of the skills from working in different roles and that they are transferable. It’s just a matter of phrasing it in language that shows that you’ll be able to fit in. Let’s get right in.

Structure

I like to keep the structure pretty simple, all up 300-400 words:

  • Intro: should be 2-3 sentences (50-100 words), with a hook,
  • Body: 2-3 dot points (150-250 words), with your strongest example first,
  • Conclusion: 2-3 sentences (50-100 words), with a call to action, inviting the hiring manager to contact you.

That’s it! Let’s further break down each section, using the example of being a Barista at Starbucks.

Intro

  1. Greeting: Hi there, my name is Johnson, I came across your Customer Success Manager role for Google on LinkedIn.
  2. Reason Why: I’d love to be a CSM at Google because I’m fascinated by helping people quickly find information that helps them solve problems, big and small.
  3. Hook: Working in the hospitality industry as a barista for the last four years I’m not your typical candidate, but I think that’s what might actually make me a strong fit for the role.

Body

  1. Customer Experience: Starbucks prides itself on excellent customer service. I’ve not only been through their world class training programs, I’ve also recently been asked to train up new starters and been called up multiple times to give examples of dealing with irate customers, across multiple stores. Not only do I minimize reputational damage to the brand, but I often turn these customers around to become supporters of Starbucks in the form of repeat patronage.
  2. Voice of the Customer: I took the initiative to jump online and run through the new Starbucks online store that launched six months ago. A few customers had mentioned that after ordering online, their orders didn’t come across their store, meaning they had to order again and pay twice. I captured these findings, found the development team in charge and made sure to resolve the issue, finally coordinating the communication after the bug was fixed by offering a free beverage voucher that was found to have a 71% redemption rate.
  3. Cross Functional Collaboration: While I’m at the coalface of my store, I liaise across the Starbucks organization across multiple levels daily. There’s my store team, suppliers who provide us with stuck and more recently, Starbucks corporate. While initially they found the outreach from a store member strange, I was determined to break down silos between stores and the office with the goal of helping management see the small fixes they could make to improve how stores ran. I write more about these in my CV.

Conclusion

  1. Thank you: thanks for your time in reading my cover letter. I hope the potential to hire a non-traditional candidate for the Customer Success Manager role at excites you. I’m certainly excited at the opportunity to work at Google.
  2. Call to Action: My email address and phone number are on my resume. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

What do you think of this example? Can you see how you might repurpose it for your own use? Let me know your thoughts so I can improve this for you.

How Do You Become a Customer Success Manager?

how do you become a customer success manager
how do you become a customer success manager?

Before I started writing this blog today, I felt really tempted to just find that Yoda meme. You know the one where he says:

Here it is!

Anyway, as with any attempts to pivot into a new career path, trying actually is important. If anything, it’s the biggest component. Believing that you are ready to become a Customer Success Manager is a huge part in looking for that breakout role.

But instead of providing philosophical advice, I thought I’d try and provide more concrete steps that will bring you steps closer towards your goal. Even if it is just a few steps, they might feel huge for you. So let’s get right into it.

Think about what you’ve done from the lens of a CSM

I’m assuming that you have some sort of work experience. While it might not be directly involved in customer success, the only thing stopping you from using that experience in CS job applications is yourself.

Here are some skills that CSMs have that you probably also have. It’s just a matter of framing them in the right context. For the sake of this example, let’s say you are a barista at Starbucks. Here’s how you might think of yourself as a CSM:

  • Customer Retention: your friendly and approachable manner, as well as your ability to remember faces pretty well means that you automatically put names down for customers who visit your particular shop. In any given month, you’ve seen 10-12 customers who have appeared for the first time and have come back, who particularly seem to like you.
  • Customer Expansion: seeing that there are a particular subset of customers who come in the morning who are in a hurry, you make sure to draw their attention to the cookies that are delivered before they arrive, emphasizing their freshness and healthy nature, as they contain walnuts. One out of five takes you up on your offer.
  • Dealing with Disgruntled Customers: you’ve stepped in for a team member who is in an escalation with a customer. Under pressure, the first thing you do is de-escalate the situation by making them feel heard and understood, before offering to remake their beverage free of charge.

Use your Industry Experience

There was a lady I used to work with who until that point had spent her career in construction project management. She wanted to move into tech, which was a big change for her. While she lacked the usual skills – she was stumped when initially presented with a MacBook! – she grew into the role as she understood the pain points of the target market for the company I was with, which was in construction.

You might currently be working for a company where you’ve come to be quite proficient at using a particular piece of software, or an app. Keep an eye out on job openings at that company. If they’re looking for Customer Success Managers, I promise you their eyes will light up that there’s a power user who understands the problem space from their customers’ point of view.

Get talking to hiring managers and recruiters

This piece of advice I’ve left til last because in my opinion, it is the most important, if the least sexy. You might be completely uncomfortable with the idea of talking to strangers, but guess what? This is what you’ll be doing as a CSM. You’ll have to get used to it quickly if you truly want to go down this path.

The people who run the companies or fill roles for the companies that you’ll be working for are the best ones to talk to. Get them to look at your resume, ask them about pay scales, what it’s like working in the companies they’re hiring for and what else you should do to be competitive in the role. Because CS is more about soft skills, most should be happy to consider you if you’re at least trying to tailor your resume and experience to the role. The approach itself can be part of the interview, even if you initiate it!

These three tips are good starting points. They might seem basic, but I can assure you that 8 out of 10 people won’t do everything here. One or two maybe, but only those who are serious about making the leap into a customer success manager role will do them all, and keep improving. Which group of people do you fall into?

Being a Customer Success Manager in HealthTech

I aspire to be a Customer Success Manager in HealthTech. I’ve always maintained an interest in this area. In university, I majored in Bioengineering Systems, but never actually got to work in the health tech sector. My university had active involvement in the Cochlear Ear Implant, Spray-On Skin to help burns victims recover quicker and other biotechnology. I hope one day to enter this field.

Fiona Wood, inventor of Spray-On Skin

List of Australian HealthTech Start Ups

Being Aussie, I’m proud of up and coming tech that’s created here, making an impact both locally and internationally. Here’s a few of the players right now making an impact:

  • Harrison.ai – using AI to diagnose illnesses/conditions faster
  • Eucalyptus – a collection of digital healthcare companies, selling prescriptions and breaking down the barriers between customers and medical options,
  • Lumary – Coordinating care management

Industry Considerations

There are a number of considerations to be aware of a Customer Success Manager that directly impact on your role. They are as follows:

  • Compliance: there are fewer industries that have more compliance and red tape than health care. It’s been slow to adopt technology because there doesn’t exist any regulations around how an app for example might be a suitable solution for a customer, vs “traditional” medicine. It’s being written as it goes along.
  • Legal: when it comes to HealthTech, the worst result is of course, death. As a result, the legal ramifications are huge. Knowing what you can and can’t say is critical. You don’t want to be responsible for a decision that a user made that adversely impacted their health. Therefore, being extremely clear on language, to the extent of saying something verbatim as legal states, is key.
  • Ethics: lastly, ethics. Tech can be seen as taking short cuts, which isn’t necessarily a wrong or bad thing in tech. Considering whether the result justifies the means is important, as well as whether the solution is simply being commercialized because it can be, or whether it actually makes sense for the customer to use the solution regularly. Being aware and comfortable with the ethics of the HealthTech solution will make you a better CSM in supporting it.

The Customers

The customers can broadly span two groups:

  • Medical Professionals – the doctors, the nurses, the practice managers. Anyone who’s directly responsible for administering care to patients might be the end user. Everyone always says it, but these people are particularly busy. These brave souls have been on the front line since 2020 when COVID first reared its ugly head – and have stayed there since. Will the tech solution actually help them, or will it get in their way? It’s your job as a CSM to make sure it’s the former, not the latter.
  • Patients – the sick, the elderly, the disabled. Generally anyone who needs care. Is your solution directly helping the people who need the care? Assuming that this is the case, UX has to be slick and the Customer Experience empathetic, warm and welcoming. Your job as CSM is to help people solve sometimes embarrassing problems and never make them feel discriminated against. You might also be working with medical professionals to do this.
  • Both – your solution might be demand and supply side. Working with both will be critical. Understanding the problems on both sides is critical and maintaining empathy of their situations will help you be a better Customer Success Manager.

HealthTech is an up-and-coming field, pursuing the noble area of medicine. Long term, it will enable more patients to be helped with fewer doctors as they leverage technology to assist them. Will you be a part of this movement?

What Hard Skills Should Customer Success Managers Have?

Customer Success Manager hard skills

A question I don’t hear very often – but is still quite valid – is what hard skills should a Customer Success Manager have? It’s generally quite well known that CSMs or CSEs (Customer Success Engineers) have strong soft skills: patience, empathy, emotional intelligence, reading body language, etc. In a way, that means that “anyone” can become a CSM… as long as you can build on these soft skills.

As far as I know, there aren’t any hard skill requirements to being a Customer Success Manager. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific hard skills that would be of value in a tech SaaS. I’ll share a few with you here that I think would be worthwhile upskilling in. Who knows, they very well might be the difference between you and someone else getting a job offer.

Query/Web Languages

Customer Success Managers don’t need to know how to code. That’s definitely in the territory of being a web developer or software engineer. Having said that, there are languages like SQL and HTML that sometimes pop up on job descriptions.

While SQL is not used for writing software, it does serve an important purpose: it’s used to organize and search for data fields and objects. As your tech organization matures, there will be more and more complex data. Some of this data will relate to your SaaS’s usage, or your customers’ behavior. So if you know how to write SQL to query data tables and extract that information out, it’s a useful skill to communicate with higher ups as to the effectiveness of your CS efforts.

Customer Relationship Management (CRMs)

Customer Relationship Management software is used to organize and look after customer information. CRMs often produce the data tables that SQL can be used to extract data from. Often, this isn’t required because CRM companies build User Interfaces (UI) that can allow non-techy people to find the information they need quickly and easily.

This doesn’t mean though that anyone can pick up the navigation of CRMs straight away. They themselves are complex pieces of software and funnily enough, they themselves might also have Customer Success Managers who can help you use their solutions better!

Common CRMs used by tech companies are:

If you can put on your resume that you’ve at least used one of these before, it can give you the edge in a CSM job application.

Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets

We can’t go past good, old spreadsheets. As clunky as they can be, when it comes to cobbling up a solution that organizes data, Excel is the OG. It lets you be as in depth as you want to be, or as simple as you want to be as well.

Of course, true Excel gurus can build complex pivot tables, macros and formulae that talk to one another, as well as to external servers that update the spreadsheet with information every day. In the absence of CRMs, spreadsheets can still present powerful information that informs senior management of usage metrics, customer health and sentiment scores.

If you’re coming from a background like accounting where you might be not half bad at Excel and you want to move into a more people-focused like Customer Success, Excel skills will put you in good stead. Bringing some spreadsheets that you’ve done and repurposing them to show data related to Customer Success might just wow the interviewer.

I’ll repeat: there aren’t any true hard skills that serve as prerequisites for Customer Success Engineers. This doesn’t mean that if you possess skills in using CRMs, writing SQL/HTML or using Excel, that you’ll be a disadvantage. If anything, you’ll be at a huge advantage, as long as you can also prove that you have decent soft skills to complement them. Definitely put them into your resume and even consider having a portfolio showing off what you’ve done for an added edge in the interview.