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.

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