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.


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.

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