What Does A Customer Success Manager Actually Do?

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What does a Customer Success Manager Do?

So… you’ve been scrolling through LinkedIn or Seek, thinking what life might be like doing something that actually makes you want to get up in the morning. You stumble upon a few roles for “Customer Success Managers” and see that they’re mostly associated with tech companies. Cool! You’ve always wanted to get into tech.

You tap into a few of the jobs, have a scroll through the JD. Your interest is piqued. It seems a lot of the actual day-to-day isn’t too technical. Maybe you could use your existing skillset to show that you have what it takes to make the jump across.

If that’s what you’re thinking, welcome to this blog. That’s why it exists and what I’m here to help you achieve.

Let’s dive a bit into what a Customer Success Manager actually does. It’s my day job, after all. I’m going to talk about it in plain speak and cut out the CS mumbo-jumbo for the time being. We’ll dive into resumes/CVs and what not in future blogs.

People Skills FTW

If there was one key skill that sets customer success apart from other roles in tech, it’s how well you work with people. For the time being, I’m going to focus on dealing with external stakeholders (customers), a big piece of it is also dealing with internal stakeholders (your colleagues) but I’ll leave that for a future article.

The next time someone asks you, “what does a customer success manager do?”, you tell them, “I help customers get good at using my software.” That’s it. The role exists because the problems that the software solves might be complex and as a result, needs a customer success manager (CSM for short) to hold their hand, at least in the early days, until they become pros at using it themselves.

If you’ve ever been the one in the family who helps everyone with their tech problems, this is great experience to talk about.

So How Techy Do You Have To Be?

There are definitely more technical CSM roles out there, but in the great tech companies I’ve seen, they embrace the varied experience of their CSMs.

Here’s what CSMs don’t need:

  • coding experience,
  • app/website design experience,
  • sales experience.

Don’t get me wrong, those things will help but 9 times out of 10, they aren’t a prerequisite for the role. Or if they are, it would mention that in the job description.

While you might not be “traditionally” technical, i.e. computer smart, you might possess technical knowledge that comes with being in an industry for a long time. That is priceless and arguably harder to find than someone who possesses experience as a CSM. That’s because there is no substitute for living and breathing the problems that your key customers face. That empathy is gold.

So Now For Some Day-To-Day

OK let’s cut the crap and get to some dot points on what a typical day looks like:

  • start the day by checking missed calls from anxious customers who need you to show them how to do the thing that you’ve already shown them a few times (patience is a virtue!),
  • check emails from customers who might ask whether something is possible while using your software,
  • using the insights from that email, write a feature request and send to the product team so they can add it to their backlog of things to work on,
  • jump on a CS team stand-up. It’s called a stand-up because it’s meant to be done literally standing up, but COVID might have changed how things are done. It’s meant to be a short meeting talking about what everyone’s got on for the day,
  • Plan your day around customers at different stages of their onboarding, be a bit reactive but also proactive as you get calls and emails through the day.
  • Help other people from the company who need insights from someone who works most intimately with customers (that’s you!… or will be, soon. 😉)

And… that’s pretty much a standard day. Doesn’t sound like much, but it goes by. So hopefully that’s helped you understand what a customer success manager does. It’s a lot of fun, keeps you on your toes and best of all, you’re helping people solve real problems.

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