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What is a Customer Success Manager? Role + Responsibilities

Jan 24, 2024
6 min read

Table of contents

Customer success teams play a critical role in retaining customers and expanding revenue from existing users. In such teams, the most prominent role is that of a customer success manager (CSM). 

A customer success manager is dedicated to ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes and are able to derive maximum value out of a product or service. This article will give an in-depth explanation of the role and responsibilities of a customer success manager. 

By understanding the nuances of this role, businesses can leverage the expertise of a customer success manager to ensure a gratifying and successful journey for their clients.

Table of Contents

What is a Customer Success Manager?

A Customer Success Manager role (CSM) is focused on guiding customers to achieve their goals by using a brand’s products or services. Unlike customer support, which is usually reactive in nature, a customer success manager is more proactive. They work with customers in a collaborative manner to ensure they can effectively use the product or service to its fullest potential. This role is a blend of an advisor, strategist, and advocate, all in one.

For example, in a cloud storage company, a Customer Success Manager might work with a client to optimize their data storage strategy, ensuring they are utilizing the service efficiently and securely. 

Then again, for a digital marketing firm, the CSM could assist clients in understanding analytics and tweaking campaigns for better performance. This directly impacts the client’s marketing success.

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What Does a Customer Success Manager Do On A Daily Basis?

A Customer Success Manager (CSM) plays a multifaceted role in a business. They focus on ensuring that customers (or users) are satisfied and are achieving their desired outcomes with the brand’s products or services. 

A Client Success Manager engages in a variety of daily activities that collectively aim to enhance a customer’s experience with a company’s products or services and gain customer loyalty in the process. Here are some of them:

  • Daily Customer Interactions: CSMs spend a significant part of their day interacting with the business’s accounts/customers. The play a major role in interacting throughout the customer journey. This includes various account management tasks like, responding to emails, and conducting video calls or in-person meetings to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide guidance.
  • Collaborating with Internal Teams: They work closely with sales, marketing, product, and support teams. For example, a CSM might collaborate with the product team to discuss new features that customers are asking for or with the marketing team to develop customer case studies.  To facilitate this level of collaboration, a streamlined communication tool is essential.If you are looking for such a tool to make internal collaboration seamless, you might want to consider Hiver’s Notes feature. Within your Gmail inbox, simply @mention your teammates to get help on customer requests and queries without losing context.

Recommended read: Collaborate effortlessly with Notes and @mentions

  • Data Analysis and Reporting: Analyzing customer data is a daily activity for CSMs. They review metrics such as usage statistics, feature adoption rates, and customer feedback to gauge satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
  • Creating Success Plans: CSMs often develop personalized success plans for key customer accounts. These plans outline the steps and strategies to help the customer achieve their goals with the right usage of the product or service.
  • Problem-Solving and Escalation Management: When customers face challenges or issues, CSMs are usually the first point of contact. They troubleshoot problems and, if necessary, escalate issues to the appropriate teams, e.g., the support team, for effective resolution.
  • Educational Content Creation: CSMs may also create or curate educational content such as tutorials, guides, and webinars to help customers better understand and utilize the product or service.
  • Keeping Abreast of Industry Trends: Staying informed about industry trends and developments is vital for CSMs, as it allows them to provide relevant and timely advice to customers.

What are the key responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager?

Here’s a detailed look at the key responsibilities of a CSM:

  • Customer Onboarding and Training: A primary responsibility for CSMs is to onboard new clients, ensuring they understand how to use the product or service effectively. This includes training sessions, providing educational resources, and setting up initial use cases. For instance, a CSM might guide a new client on how to use a software, highlighting key features and functionalities tailored to their specific business needs.
  • Regular Communication and Relationship Building: CSMs maintain regular contact with clients, offering support and building strong relationships. This could involve periodic check-ins, responding to client queries, and being the go-to person for any issues. For example, a CSM in a B2B business might schedule monthly calls with key accounts to discuss their progress and address any concerns.
  • Monitoring Customer Health: CSMs constantly monitor customer health metrics like product usage, feedback, and renewal rates. They use this data understand the level of customer engagement and identify at-risk accounts and take proactive steps to address potential issues. For instance, in a subscription-based business, a CSM might track usage patterns to identify customers who are not fully utilizing the service and reach out to them with tailored advice or additional resources.
  • Feedback Loop: Customer Success Managers play a crucial role in collecting and channeling customer feedback to relevant departments. Whether it’s a suggestion for a new feature or feedback on current functionalities, CSMs ensure that the voice of customers are included in the product roadmap.
  • Upselling and Cross-Selling: By understanding the customer’s business and needs, CSMs identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling their products or services. They ensure that customers are aware of other products or services that could enhance their experience or results. For example, in a financial services firm, a CSM might suggest a higher-tier service or additional features that align with the client’s expanding business needs.
  • Crisis Management: When issues arise, CSMs are often involved in crisis management, coordinating with various departments to resolve problems quickly and efficiently. They ensure that the customer’s concerns are addressed and that there is minimal disruption to their business operations.
  • Renewal and Retention: A crucial part of the CSM role is ensuring customer renewals and minimizing churn. This involves understanding why customers may leave and proactively executing strategies to prevent churn.

Recommended read: 17 Customer Success Email Templates for Every Use Case

Key skills for a customer success manager

A successful Customer Success Manager (CSM) requires a unique set of skills to effectively manage and nurture client relationships. These skills not only help in addressing the immediate needs of customers but also in foreseeing potential challenges and opportunities for growth. 

Here are some key skills essential for a CSM, along with examples from a business perspective:

  • Strong Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial for CSMs. They must be able to clearly convey ideas, listen to customer feedback, and articulate product value. For instance, in a digital marketing agency, a CSM needs to explain complex campaign strategies in a manner that is easily understandable to clients.
  • Empathy and Customer-Centricity: Understanding and empathizing with customer challenges is vital. This skill helps a CSM build relationships which are strong and trustworthy. For example, in a healthcare software company, a CSM might need to empathize with healthcare providers’ challenges in managing patient data so that they can offer solutions that ease their workload.
  • Strategic Thinking and Problem-Solving: CSMs should possess the ability to think strategically and solve problems effectively to ensure customer satisfaction. For example, in a logistics firm, a CSM might develop a strategic plan to help a client optimize their supply chain using the firm’s logistics software.
  • Analytical Skills: Analyzing customer data to identify trends, usage patterns, and potential issues is a key skill. For example, in a SaaS company, a CSM might analyze user engagement data to identify features that are underutilized so that they can plan to support clients with additional training.
  • Project Management Skills: Managing various customer success initiatives efficiently requires good project management skills. This might involve coordinating with multiple departments to ensure a smooth onboarding process for a new client in a SaaS company.
  • Technical Proficiency: Understanding the company’s products or services in-depth is essential. For example, in a tech company, a CSM needs to have a good grasp of the technical aspects of the product to guide customers effectively.
  • Persuasion and Negotiation Skills: These skills are important, especially in scenarios in customer retention, like contract renewals or upselling. For instance, A CSM in a financial services firm might need to persuade a client to adopt a more comprehensive investment management tool.

What makes a great customer success manager?

A great Customer Success Manager (CSM) stands apart not only through the mastery of certain skills but also through a set of qualities and approaches that enable them to excel in their role. 

These characteristics are what transform a good CSM into a great one, deeply impacting the success of both the customers and the business:

  • Proactive Approach: Great CSMs don’t wait for issues to arise; they anticipate challenges and address them proactively. For instance, in a software company, a proactive CSM might regularly reach out to clients with updates and tips before they encounter problems, ensuring a seamless experience.
  • Excellent Listening Skills: Listening is as important as speaking. A great CSM listens to understand the customer’s needs and concerns, which is essential in providing effective solutions. For instance, in a healthcare tech company, this might involve listening to feedback from medical staff to enhance user experience in patient management systems.
  • Strong Relationship-Building Skills: Building and maintaining strong, trusting relationships with customers is a hallmark of a great CSM. For example, in a financial services firm, this would mean establishing trust with clients, leading to long-term partnerships.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: The ability to adapt to various situations and customer needs is crucial. For example, a CSM in a rapidly changing industry, like SaaS, must be flexible enough to handle the evolving needs of diverse clients.

Wrapping Up

The role of a Customer Success Manager is integral in driving business growth. It bridges the gap between a company’s offerings and the customer’s needs and expectations. Their ability to proactively manage relationships, anticipate customer needs, and provide solutions is crucial to the success of any business.

The effectiveness of a Customer Success Manager is often amplified by the tools they use. Leveraging the right tools can make a significant difference in managing customer relationships efficiently and effectively. These tools help in tracking customer interactions, analyzing feedback, monitoring customer health metrics, and automating routine tasks.

If you are looking for such a tool, Hiver is a good choice. It offers a centralized platform for managing customer interactions, tracking emails, and ensuring that no customer query goes unanswered or delayed. 

With its analytics capabilities, Hiver helps in understanding customer patterns and preferences, enabling CSMs to make data-driven decisions. Hiver’s integration with various project management tools ensures smooth and timely completion of projects. And the best part is you can do all these right from Gmail.

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A B2B marketer, Madhuporna is passionate about breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-digest nuggets with a stroke of her pen (read keyboard). Her expertise lies in crafting research-driven content around customer service, customer experience, IT and HR. When off the clock, you'll find her binge-watching suspense thrillers or basking in nature.

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