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, 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.

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