The rise of the Customer Success Manager
With an ever-increasing focus on customer centricity and customer success, the demand for customer success managers has spiked in the past few years. According to a study by LinkedIn, customer success is one of the fastest-growing professions. The job postings for customer success managers grew by a whopping 84% (YoY) in the US and the increase is 1000% in wellness, fitness, and travel industries.
Having a customer success manager is essential to understand your customers, provide them value, have their queries solved, and build a powerful relationship with them. There are tons of ways a customer success manager can help your business. But what exactly is a customer success manager and why you should hire one for your company.
Let’s figure out.
What is a Customer Success Manager?
A customer success manager (CSM) is a representative of your company who is the primary contact for your customers. The CSM provides exceptional customer experience to boost loyalty by making customers happy. The core responsibility of a CSM is to develop and promote customer relationships that eventually lead to customer retention and loyalty.
In simple form, CSM is someone who ensures customer success that refers to anticipating customer challenges and solving them prior to them reaching out to you. The problems need to be identified and proactively solved before it is reported. This makes customers happy and loyal. It is the job of the customer success manager to ensure customer success at every touchpoint.
Customer success isn’t customer support, don’t confuse both. Customer support is reactive wherein you respond to customer problem after it has been reported. Customer success, on the other hand, is proactive where your manager tries to solve the problem before it is reported.
Here is how customer success compares to customer support:
Having a customer support team isn’t enough and it is no replacement of a customer success manager. Addressing customer concerns proactively is the need of the time. Rapidly growing companies are found to be 21% more likely to give importance to customer success than their counterparts. This shows how crucial customer success (and customer success manager) is for business growth.
What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?
A customer success manager performs a wide range of pre and post-sales tasks that are aimed at building and nurturing relationships with customers. The actual tasks, however, vary from company to company. Here is a list of major tasks that a CSM performs:
1. Customer Onboarding
One of the primary tasks of a customer success manager is to onboard new customers and ensure they achieve first success with your company quickly. Onboarding is essential for customer retention especially for SaaS and B2B companies. According to Groove, customers abandon your product because they don’t know to use it, how to get value from it, what it does, or they simply get lost.
This is where a CSM can help customers understand your product, get value from it, and ensure that customers get first success as quickly as possible. Why?
Because first success leads to customer retention.
The onboarding process isn’t just enough. In most cases, customers need to interact with a human who could guide them in the right direction. Not only a CSM can help customers with onboarding but he can help you identify issues in the onboarding process that create friction.
2. Build a Relationship
The CSM acts as a bridge between your customers and employees. He can proactively highlight customer issues to the support team. Your company’s concerns and updates can be communicated swiftly by the customer success manager to relevant customers.
CSM controls the flow of information and data. Your support, sales, and technical teams can get tons of useful data from the CSM and use it for decision-making at all levels.
Eventually, a CSM will build a relationship between your company and customers that will go a long way. It isn’t just about the CSM-customer relationship rather its is more about the company-customer relationship.
3. Advocate for Your Business
It often gets challenging for businesses to communicate effectively with their customers. Your customers aren’t interested in reading news and updates from your company, however, if a person from your company tells the same story, everyone listens. That’s how a customer success manager can advocate for your business. He can explain the latest happenings, events, and news effectively.
A great benefit of having a CSM is that you can effectively share positive and negative news with your customers.
4. Contribute to Sales
Research shows that it is up to 70% easier to sell to your existing customers as compared to new customers. A customer success manager contributes to sales by helping customers get value from your product. When your customers understand the value your product offers, it gets easier to pitch them cross-sells and up-sells.
Additionally, CSM can guide customers and help them choose the right up-sell or cross-sell. CSM can talk to customers and guide them on why upgrading to a specific product might solve their problem better and what product suits their needs. Personalized help and product recommendations are always appreciated by customers.
5. Customer Voice
A customer success manager isn’t just the advocate for your business, but he also represents customer concerns. As someone who interacts with customers all the time, a CSM understands your customers better than anyone else in your company. He is also responsible for ensuring customer’s feedback and issues reach top management and are addressed appropriately.
Customer Success Manager Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a customer success manager vary greatly. In most organizations, CSM ends up answering support tickets. This happens when you don’t have a customer success strategy. With a robust customer success strategy, you must engage your manager in strategic tasks that are focused on customer retention and loyalty.
Here is a list of most common CSM responsibilities:
- Develop a customer success strategy with clear goals
- Ensure customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty by developing a complete action plan
- Development of training, resources, guides, and help material for customers
- Contribute to revenue via sales, upsells, and cross-sells
- Analysis and reporting of customer feedback
- Sharing weekly reports with the customer support team and other internal teams
- Interacting with customers through email, social media, phone, messages, and other channels
- Collecting and sharing customer feedback with relevant teams
- Developing and managing customer loyalty program
According to Jason Lemkin, the managing director of Storm Ventures:
“Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is.”
You don’t just need a customer success manager, but you need a robust customer success strategy. Having a customer success manager isn’t enough. It is the beginning – the first step. He is a part of your overall customer success strategy who will help you achieve goals.
If your company has no customer success manager, hire one today. If you don’t have a customer success strategy, create one today. You can’t compete with mediocre customer experience anymore. Its time to up your customer success game.