Can you Become a Customer Success Manager in the APAC Region?

customer success manager apac
customer success manager APAC region – Japan

Wherever there are complex problems, there are also likely to be people trying to solve them. It’s possible that they would use software to solve these problems too. While the United States has the largest number of SaaS companies, there are regions that growing. In today’s blog post, I want to cover the region that I operate in: the Asia Pacific.

At the time of writing this blog post, I’m a Customer Success Engineer for a scale-up based out of Sydney, Australia. Most of my customers are based in Australia, but I have a sprinkling in New Zealand and some in the Philippines as well. The Asia Pacific – also known as the APAC – is a strategic business segment that tends to work well with Australia. A key reason for this is that the time zones work out quite well. Australian Eastern Standard Time, which encompasses the Eastern seaboard is usually two hours ahead of the Philippines, Japan and South-east Asia.

What sort of start-ups operate in the APAC region?

Let’s go traveling a little bit and explore different start ups and tech companies through the Asia Pacific and see what opportunities might come up for Customer Success Managers:

  • (Japan) Aidemy – This company provides an online education platform to help developers upskill in the complex world of programming artificial intelligence.
  • (Australia) CultureAmp – This is an employee experience platform that my company currently uses as well. At its core, it allows companies to send out surveys to its employees. It goes a step further, building insights and reports from the surveys that can help People & Culture make the right decisions to improve employee satisfaction and happiness.
  • (New Zealand) GeoOp – This company manages a suite of tools that help business manage different aspects of running their operations.
  • (Singapore) Apex Peak – Apex Peak is a P2P micro lending platform which helps ease cashflow for SMEs and multinationals beyond the traditional banking system. Borrowers receive money faster; 80% of the invoice is paid out immediately, with the remaining balance paid out within 120 days.
  • (Malaysia) Naluri Life – Naluri is a platform that helps organisations manage their employees’ wellbeing. Naluri improves employees’ health while managing the organisation’s healthcare costs.
  • (Philippines) Inteluck – Inteluck provides web-based software solutions for the logistics industry. Within its solution range, it has fleet tracking, vehicle management, and ePOD systems.

Final notes

Not all start ups in the APAC region will need Customer Success Managers, so it’s best to go through job boards and see what roles are being sought after. It’s also more likely that there are companies who are headquartered outside of the APAC region that are expanding into the area who need people based there (or within that time zone) to support their customers. Furthermore, there is a high chance that these roles are remote, since the main thing is that you operate within the time zone, while physical locality isn’t as important. What do you think of working in this region?

Are you already based in the APAC region, or someone who’s reading this from North America, Europe, or somewhere else entirely looking to make a big change? I’d love to hear your story and where you’re trying to go. 😃

15 Customer Success Manager Questions to ask Interviewer

customer success manager questions to ask interviewer
customer success manager questions to ask interviewer

“Have you got any questions for me?”

You’ve come to the end of your customer success manager interview. For the most part, you think you’ve done OK. But the damned interviewer has asked that innocent question. You freeze… then relax. Because you will have read this blog post (maybe even printed it off!) and have no shortage of questions to ask them.

I intend for this post to be one that gets added to overtime, as I think of more questions or hear good ones that I’ll add. I’ll also try and organize it based on theme, but for the time being, it’ll be a splurge of a whole bunch of questions for you to pick and choose from.

How many you ask depends on how much time the interviewer has left you. I’d say at least one, to maybe three. So you’ve got to make the opportunity count (if they don’t leave you any time for questions, could be a red flag. They care more about finding someone who can do the job, rather than who you are as a person).

Anyway, let’s get into it!

Miscellaneous

  • “I can see that you’ve been here for [X years]. What about [company name] has taken you by surprise?”
  • “My intention is to grow in a company that nurtures its employees. What career advancement structures does [company name] have in place?”
  • “I don’t want to assume that I know everything about a role, it’s important for me to be aware of my blindspots. If I was to do one thing that would make me fail in this role, what would it be?”
  • “Why did the last person leave this position?”
  • “What is [the company’s] attitude towards working with other teams outside of formal projects, for the purposes of professional development?”

Regarding Customer Success

  • What sorts of current CRMs are currently in use to manage Customer Success Operations?
  • How much collaboration is there with other teams? e.g. do product teams often tag along for demos for the purposes of collecting research, or do they work separately?
  • Is the sales team a separate department, or does the CSM also own responsibilities for account management?
  • Is there a technical support team to deal with smaller issues, or is it in the CSM’s remit to also take care of these as well?
  • How big is the Customer Success team? In what ways can the team democratize information such that we are all aware of any advanced workflows/scenarios that can help us perform our roles better?

Regarding the Customers/Product

  • Have you achieved product-market fit yet? What’s the approach towards validating whether you’re moving towards or away from this?
  • Have you got a strong definition of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) yet? What industries are they in?
  • How often are Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys performed? How does [company name] compare with the industry benchmark?
  • How much custom work is performed that’s separate from the main product?
  • What secondary products are in development to give opportunities to expand accounts?

Some of these questions might draw blank looks from your interviewers, so make sure to ask appropriate questions to the panel, i.e. ask customer/product questions to a CEO (if you get the chance to speak with them).

I’ll look to add to this over time, so make sure to check back later. Let me know how you go with these and whether it impresses your interviewers. Asking good questions can be the difference between getting an offer and not!

What’s the Role of a Customer Success Manager?

role of customer success manager
role of customer success manager

A Customer Success Manager plays an integral role, particular in technology companies. While the role itself only started coming into its own in the last 20 to 25 years, there’s always been a need for Customer Success Management where Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is the main product sold. In this blog, we’ll see why it’s such an important role.

Where it all began

In the book, Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue, widely agreed as the “Bible” of Customer Success, the author, talks about how the need for Customer Success came about. At a celebration of yet another record-breaking quarter, he very quickly brought a halt to celebrations when he showed that while sales were on the rise, the number of accounts that were churning were at an unsustainable rate, so much so that the business would cease to be if they continued at that current rate.

That was the genesis of Customer Success. From that point, they began to define what it meant for a customer to succeed, be healthy and how to add value every additional year.

Stopping Churn, Growth Accounts

The primary goals of a CSM are then two fold:

  • to do everything possible to stop customers from… stopping being customers (that sounded a lot better in my head), and
  • to grow the accounts, year after year, by showing how the company can add value, and/or by getting the SaaS product into an increasing proportion of the business.

While there are elements of sales in the role, the KPIs of Customer Success should be focused partly on growth and also on usage as well. As the health of a customer can be determined by how often they’re using the solution and the nature of their use. For example, if a customer is doing the bare minimum and just logging in every week but not using a broader set of features, they would probably be considered not that healthy.

Make the entire Org care about CS

Then there are the broader roles of customer success managers. Occasionally, companies will put them in their JDs, but more often than not, it’s assumed that CSMs will do this work as part of their day to day job.

The best tech companies I’ve known and been a part of have CS being a responsibility of the entire organization. This isn’t to say that you have developers doing the work that CSMs do, but more so asking questions to clarify what the customer is actually trying to achieve with a specific feature they’re writing the code for.

It’s telling the data analysts to inform you through their reporting if they notice that particular new reports are being downloaded and shared more often, which means the customer is happier. It’s giving finance the heads up to send you an email if customers aren’t paying their bills, which might be caused by a poor customer experience. Because sometimes, Customer Success has nothing to do with the product itself, but a different part of the business.

CS plays an important role in tech SaaS organizations. If you are thinking of becoming a CSM, know that your role will only continue to grow in esteem and value, and be sought after in companies big and small all around the world.

Customer Success Manager – 30-60-90 Day Plan Template

Today, I’ll share with you a useful document that I’ve created in the past to help me get to the next stage of Customer Success Manager interviews. Some comments I’ve received about this document are:

  • “Color me impressed!” – a recruiter hiring for a marketing AI tech platform
  • “I haven’t had a CSM candidate go to this level of effort before.” – Head of Customer Success, for a second stage interview at a construction tech company

So what is this magical document that makes hiring managers sit up and pay attention?

The document is called a 30-60-90 Day Plan. As the name suggests, it’s a plan that outlines what you will intend to do in the first 30, 60 and 90 days in your role as a CSM.

Unless you’re looking to get started in quite a junior role, a 30-60-90 shows how you will apply your expertise in the early days of your role, essentially detailing the impact that you will have in the company. This document details a few things:

  • Initiative: in the interviews that I’ve done, no one’s asked me to do this yet. The great thing is that it’s not that difficult to do (especially with this blog that you can basically swipe). So if you stand up and decide to do this yourself, you will automatically stand out from the crowd.
  • Hit the Ground Running: tech environments can be demanding. You should get a good onboarding experience, but giving your future manager and your team that peace of mind that you can just slot in and get to work right away is going to put you in good stead.
  • Understanding the business: you would have at this stage learnt more about the business, at least from reading the job description. With a 30-60-90, you’ll be able to show how you’ll begin to solve your prospective company’s problems that are specific to them in the context of your experience as a CSM.

How to Design the 30-60-90

The screenshots you see above are from an actual 30-60-90 that I used in an interview, which got me to the next round speaking with the co-founders of a company. I’ve changed my name and the company’s for privacy, but you can swipe that. I built it in Canva, but if you’re not design-inclined, Google Docs has an increasing number of nice design templates you can use. All you have to do is rename, customize and slot text in and images in.

Google Doc Templates

30-60-90 Examples

I like having three, clear sections that shows the focus for every month. Generally, it will be around:

  • 1st month – Orientation
    • Understand Tech Group’s purpose and how they help their clients succeed,
    • Meet the Tech Group team and get to know their challenges,
    • Be introduced to current clients,
    • Get to know Tech Group platform in demo environment,
    • Shadow client support calls.
  • 2nd month – First Steps
    • Start taking support calls under supervision,
    • Document end-to-end client support process into service blueprint,
    • Give first sales presentation (web/offline),
    • Assess CRM and support ticket management improvements,
    • Propose KPIs to track customer success.
  • 3rd month – Getting Going
    • Take support calls without supervision.
    • Confirm customer success KPIs with management and start tracking against them,
    • Establish Customer Lifecycles for different segments (hi, med, low-touch)
    • Build agile process with product team to improve platform,
    • Create a case study to use as collateral.

Obviously, you can customize this to your own needs. I’d recommend not swiping and using as it is. I’d love to see the 30-60-90 day plans that you put together. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for ways to woo and wow your potential employers.

Day-to-day in A Customer Success Manager’s Life

customer success manager day to day
customer success manager day to day

You’re looking to get out of your current job and want to try moving into tech. Customer Success Management is a role that allows you to carry your existing soft skills (and any tech related hard skills) across to support businesses trying to build a Software-as-a-Service. You’ve ready plenty of PDs or JDs and are pretty confident that you’ll be able to do the job. It’s now a question of whether you would like it or not.

To help you decide, I wrote this blog to detail a day in the life of a Customer Success Manager. It will be variations of this, but I’ll try and cover the main things you do so you have a good understanding of what to expect.

8am

Work has not officially started for the day. I’m up for the day already though. I’m making my kid her school lunch. Meanwhile, I’m checking Slack to see what’s come in overnight (we have offices in the US, while we’re headquartered in Sydney), as well as any emails.

9am

Work has started for me. I flick myself on to “online” in Slack. I work remotely, but I prepare to jump online for our CS team stand up. I check emails on my MacBook and jump onto Slack again (there might have been things that are easier to view on a desktop than mobile).

10am

I’m responding to a group channel in Slack, containing members from different teams on a cross-functional project. This involves using emojis to express my feelings and acknowledge updates, as well as commenting my thoughts on the new developments.

11am

I have a kick off call with a customer. They’re based out in South East Asia and we do the call through Google Meets. A new member of my team is shadowing on the call, so I introduce her. Meanwhile, I’m making notes as my customer tells me what’s important to them, regarding their timeline for delivery.

12pm

My team’s been chattering away on our CS channel. It’s lunchtime there. They’ve gone into the office today. I’m making an update on Gainsight, the Customer Success CRM. Meanwhile, someone from the product team pings me on Slack for some insight into a new feature that’s being built.

1pm

It’s now actually my lunchtime. I change the status of my emoji to something food-related, trying to find something that resembles my actual lunch. If I can’t find it, I go for the good, old 🍔. Calls come in, but I make sure to let them go to voicemail, so I actually get a break.

2pm

Back to work. I’ve had half a dozen missed calls from different customers. It’s end of month, which is a busy time in my industry. A few of them, I respond by email, while the few that are quite technical, so I need to ping my team to double check some details before I call the customer back to walk through the workflow for the issue they’re dealing with.

3pm

It’s my turn for kid duty. I whiz out at 3:30 to pick her up from school. I come back and then commence my outbound outreach for customers I haven’t spoken to in a while. I make sure to dig into their account and use a specific topic to begin conversation with them, instead of just saying, “hi, how’s it going?”

4pm

Final hour of the day. I spend some time looking into the SaaS that I’m supporting. The customer who asked the technical question got me thinking about the workflow. Could it be standardized in anyway? Was there documentation around it? I make a mental note that this development of internal resources is something I can add to my resume as a way of demonstrating initiative in building the value for a company.

5pm

It’s home time!… and I’m already home. I work a bit longer, maybe 10-15 minutes more. I try not to work longer than that. It can be hard to set boundaries. I say bye to my team through Slack, close the lid on my MacBook, step away from my desk and then start thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner that night.

Aaaand that’s it. That’s my standard day. Note that it’s pretty heavily skewed towards remote working. Your day might look different, or it might be quite similar. Industry and company type also have an impact. Do you think this is something you could get used to? Keen to hearing your thoughts below!

Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager

responsibilities of customer success manager
responsibilities of customer success manager

You’ve been looking to get out of your dead-end job and into a path with a bit more promise. One of those possibilities that’s within reach is as a Customer Success Manager in SaaS tech. Maybe you’ve looked at a few job ads, opened up a few position descriptions and can see a few similarities amongst them. But is there a definitive answer to what the responsibilities of a CSM actually are? That’s what I’m going to put together in this blog post, drawing on my own experience.

The following list isn’t exhaustive, but the main responsibilities I think a CSM in a tech company should be responsible for. It may be more than this, depending on the size of the company. Here it goes!

Account Growth

Growing your book of accounts is the main reason for the existence of a Customer Success Manager. Your book of accounts is the list of customers you look after. Ideally, what you should see is that every year, the average value of your customers goes up.

This might be from them buying more licenses, upgrading the purchase, or expanding the use of your product within their organization, say interstate or internationally.

Customer Health/Churn Management

On the flip side of the coin, there’s looking at the “bad side”, that is churn. Closely linked to this is customer health. If customers are unhealthy, that is, they aren’t using your digital SaaS regularly, key stakeholders leave, the accounts shrink instead of grow, then you have to kick into action churn management procedures.

No one likes doing it, but good CSMs are able to turn bad into good, maybe even turning customers who had once churned, bringing them back in as customer and helping them grow.

Building Advocates

Customers are the best testimonial when it comes to referral business and word of mouth. Customers should be willing to provide unsolicited praise and comments about your company, which only comes about from a complete, positive experience that’s capped off by comprehensive customer success experience.

Along with the unsolicited praise, being able to call on them to act as product advocates, say at expos, trade shows, conventions and the like is also a key goal of being a CSM.

Product Training/Demos

It’s crucial that you know your product inside out. Maybe not to the extent of knowing the code that builds it, but definitely knowing how it might be configured to help different customers achieve success. It might work out of the box and help most customers this way, but being able to show its different modes and formats is where you shine as a Customer Success Manager.

You may be called upon to do a demo with the sales team. It then becomes a skill set that you don’t show off the whole kit and kaboodle, but the main features that will seal the deal. Sometimes, less is more.

Product Improvement

Lastly, helping improve and keep your product competitive in the marketplace is key. As the custodian of the customer relationship, you hold the keys to critical customer feedback that can take your product in the right direction, or mire it deeper into tech debt and endless bug fixes that will only slow your company down.

To do this well, raising feature requests and documenting the frequency of bug fixes, as well as instances where a specific workflow is occurring more and more often is how you excel in this area.

These five areas: account growth, customer health management, building advocates, product demos and product improvement are the core five responsibilities of a CSM. Is there anything else that I’ve missed? Or do you disagree with any of them? Let me know in the comments below…

Challenges of a Customer Success Manager

challenges of customer success manager
challenges of customer success manager

I talk a lot about becoming a Customer Success Manager in this blog. However, this doesn’t mean that the role is without its challenges. There are definitely hard days, maybe even days where you might question whether it’s the right role for you. I thought that in this week’s article, I might share some common challenges you will face. The main question you should be asking yourself is: “what challenges am I willing to tolerate to continue in this role?”

What challenges am I willing to tolerate to continue in this role?

Johnson K.

Working hours

I’ll tell you right off the bat that the working hours of a Customer Success Manager are very fair. Unlike a lot of other roles where overtime is expected, this is not the case as a CSM. Having said that, it’s strongly determined to the hours that your customers work and/or the hours that your team operates in.

I’ll use my own current role as an example. My SaaS solution supports the construction industry. A lot of the contractors and operators in construction send me emails prior to 7am. They tend to start early and finish early. I don’t go replying to emails at 7am, but sometimes I might if the issue is urgent.

We’re headquartered in Sydney, Australia, but we have offices in the Philippines, Denver, Colorado and Europe. We try our best to accommodate all time zones, but this means that we need to be available for meetings a bit earlier than usual (8-8:30am) during the Australian Winter months.

I don’t see it necessarily as a bad thing. If your company is able to have offices in different countries, it’s a sign of growth. But just know that this might be the norm if you want to work in a big tech company.

Responsibility of account expansion/contraction

This is another key responsibility of Customer Success Managers. The success of the role is determined not only your ability to maintain customer health, but to also expand these accounts, i.e. make them pay more to you each year, every year. Depending on a whole host of factors, e.g. industry, economy, competition, product, this may or may not be that easy.

On the flip side, there’s contractor or the dreaded five-letter word: churn. When customers churn, they stop being customers and stop paying your company. Typically, an investigation goes into this account that you were looking after to see if this churn could have been avoided or not. The worst thing is when a customer is seemingly healthy, then churns out of nowhere. It’s like a slap in the face… and a real challenge that CSMs have to deal with.

Start-up volatility

This last one is definitely worth mentioning, as people don’t often talk about it, even though it’s a very real problem. It’s not uncommon that if you’re a CSM, you’re doing so for a younger, tech company. You might be the only CSM there. That might have been the appeal to you in the first place, the fact that you can work for a small, agile, trailblazer actually trying to make a dent in the world.

As we’ve seen throughout 2022, when the economy turned and public markets dried up, the effect of this was a wide loss of jobs in the tech industry. This was on the back of a market not six months prior where a talent shortage meant that tech workers could jump roles and command increases of up to 20-30% more. You might find yourself on the wrong side of this.

Then there are the internal challenges, such as:

  • Product direction,
  • becoming someone who wears many hats,
  • not having a clear career path,
  • not having a stable manager as people change roles frequently and
  • quickly changing minds of management as they decide the “experiment” didn’t work, making people suddenly redundant…

These are all real challenges that I’ve experienced as a CSM. While you won’t see this in all instances of working in tech, don’t be surprised if you see at least one of these happen while you work.

Hopefully from reading these challenges, you aren’t turned off from becoming a Customer Success Manager. It’s still an immensely rewarding role. You do need a bit of luck but if you do find the right company, you can go far and deliver the impact that truly makes a difference in the lives of many.

Customer Success Manager vs. Technical Account Manager – What’s the Difference?

customer success manager vs technical account manager
customer success manager vs technical account manager

I’ve done quite a few comparison posts, looking at Customer Success Manager vs. other seemingly similar positions; this might be the last one for a while. On your job search, you might have seen a few roles that have asked for Technical Account Managers and clicked into them. The JDs had quite a bit of overlap with that of a typical CSM, but the salary guide might have varied quite a bit. In this blog, we’re going to look at what the differences are.

Hard Skills + CSM = Technical Account Manager

The equation above is the simplest way to understand what a Technical Account Manager is. A lot of what they do is the same, I’d say up to 80%. The remaining 20% is where the technical part comes in. What makes companies look for a TAM specifically is their domain knowledge in areas that have a lot of depth. Examples are:

  • network security,
  • cloud platforms,
  • programming languages,
  • data analytics,
  • change management,

These are areas that you can pick up by working in the industry, but it’s far more likely that you learn them via a certification or by working a role that primarily operates in the field. For example, you might be a Network Security Engineer who decides to transition to a Technical Account Manager, or a Ruby on Rails Developer who decides that you want to try a role that’s more human oriented, while still working in your area of expertise.

What if you’re missing the technical skills?

There are Technical Account Manager roles that are within the same salary bracket as Customer Success Manager roles. Their technical requirements are still there, but perhaps they don’t need you to have 5+ years of experience in the field. If you possess some working knowledge of the area and have quite strong soft skills, it’s possible the employer might actually take you on and upskill you.

This is where good, old initiative can make the difference. Say you’re lacking in technical expertise in cloud platforms, but you can demonstrate in contrarian ways that you’ve upskilled yourself over time, e.g. running a blog, newsletter or community that looks at developments in the area, that can work well in your favour.

Who earns more?

So in the previous paragraph, you saw that I mentioned that TAMs and CSMs can be in the same salary bracket. In terms of USD, this can be $60-120K. However, you’re less likely to find Technical Account Manager roles being advertised in this bracket, simply because those who are entering the industry are less likely to possess that technical knowledge.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Some Technical Account Management roles can pay quite well, simply because there’s more of a sales and expansion focus. You take your technical knowledge, combine it with your people and stakeholder management skills and drive adoption and/or change in an organization. Just check out this job listing from five days ago here in Australia.

Customer Success ManagerTechnical Account Manager
Works with people, focus more on soft skillsWorks with people, employed because they possess hard skills in specific domains
Your title might be CSM, but you can actually be quite technical if the industry you’re in requires it. Can allow transition to TAM in the future. You can also get in with initiative and very strong soft skills.Domain knowledge is a prerequisite. Often, people transition from roles whose responsibilities are primarily in the field into a TAM to get a more balanced skill set.
Salary: $60K-$120K USD, $150K+ USD for leadershipSalary: $80-$120K USD, $180K+ USD for very senior/leadership
customer success manager vs technical account manager – table summary

So there you have it. Technical account managers are essentially CSMs with more of a technical, hard skill focus. If you’re trying to transition into a Customer Success role, maybe it makes more sense to transition into Technical Accounts Management if you’re more technical to begin with. What are your thoughts? Keen to hear what role you’re working in now and why you’re moving into Customer Success.

What Should a Customer Success Manager Put on a Resume?

what should a customer success manager put on a resume
What should a customer success manager put on a resume?

Are you about to apply for Customer Success Manager jobs for the first time and not really sure what to put in there? Or maybe you actually already are a CSM, but you haven’t updated your resume recently and want to know just how you can articulate your value on your CV? This blog is going to talk through some potential things you can write down.

Make it focused on skill set keywords

Recruiters and hiring managers alike often don’t have much time to read through an entire resume. While it feels unfair, it’s unfortunately the way it goes. This means that you have a limited window of time to get their attention. It’s more so in the region of seconds, not minutes. This means that you have to optimize your resume for “scanability”, where keywords will jump out at them. If you pique their interest, they might slow down and read the detail.

Below is a list of skill sets that CSMs should possess. While they might not all apply to you, I’d encourage you to try and make your experience fit the keyword, rather than the other way around. Don’t lie, but really think about your experience and how you might translate your actions and results into “CSM speak”:

  • Churn reduction/management
  • Account expansion
  • Account retention
  • Customer Health improvement
  • Customer Health Risk Management
  • Product Demos
  • Product Feature Improvements
  • Cross Collaboration

I’ll write more about the above points and how you might translate your current experience, no matter your background, into experience that looks appealing to CSM hirers.

Soft Skills

Most of the value that a Customer Success Manager brings comes in the form of soft skills. Soft skills are essentially skills that are people centric. Typically, soft skills aren’t taught in a formal way, but are gained from experience by talking with real people – a lot. It might seem simple, but it’s not easy for everyone to exercise and master their soft skills.

So how do you put soft skills into your CSM resume? You retell particular stories that allowed you to demonstrate some of the keyword skills in the first section above, following a tried and true model that demonstrates your proficiency in said skill. This model is STAR, or Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Here’s an example. Say you wanted to talk through Customer Health Risk Management. Your previous skills come from being a Customer Service Manager. Your bullet point in your resume could look like this:

Customer Health Risk Management: (Situation) I field and triage anywhere from 250-300 inbound calls a day, diverting calls that need escalation, but striving to resolve as many myself as possible. (Task) I set myself a personal goal of only escalating 1 in 10 calls. (Action) I built upon the playbook that we received in training, adding an additional layer of detail that addressed the most common topics that would typically be escalated. After trialing it myself and improving my escalation rate from 1 in 5 to 1 in 10, I shared it with a colleague, who also reported that it improved her conversion as well. (Result) Now, it is used across our team of 30 consultants and I am approached regularly by management on CX inputs.

This is a touch longer than I would like, but hopefully this makes sense how the structure works.

Hard Skills

There aren’t a whole lot of hard skills that CSMs can put in, but anything that you do know which is related to tech is worth putting down this can be:

  • Document management software – Microsoft Office, Google Docs, etc
  • CRMs – Hubspot, Gainsight, Salesforce, Oracle, Spreadsheets
  • Web development – languages (Java, HTML, CSS)

Hope this article has been handy, I’d be glad to have a look over your resume if you want a second pair of eyes to inspect it.

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.