Bottom line: all business relies on customers. For technology companies that offer complicated solutions as a service, keeping customers happy and engaged is increasingly becoming the number one priority. The up and coming way to achieve this is by investing in the customers’ success, based on the solution offered. Who better to manage this than a customer success manager?
What is a Customer Success Manager?
With different terminology and various titles, it can be difficult to fully understand exactly what a customer success manager does. Simply put, the role as described by the Customer Success Association involves finding the most effective way to help your customers become successful using your products or services. The end goal is to provide value to the customer through regular interaction that ensures a seamless liaison between them and your company.
Most commonly employed in the world of software and SaaS (software as a service), the customer success managers provide a method to support customers typically using a service on a subscription basis. As these clients pay monthly for the service, it becomes increasingly important to ensure they use it effectively and see it as the best solution to their needs. In this way, they will continue to see the value of the service and will continue their subscription.
Don’t confuse success and service; according to blogger Clarify there’s a distinct difference – customer service is based on solving issues, whereas customer success management has to do with proactively engaging and building a long-term relationship with a customer.
How does it differ from other roles?
Often confused with account managers and client relationship managers, CSMs have a distinctive and unique role. Unlike account managers, they should not have a quota of sales to meet (although increasing revenue is an aspect of the role); instead, they are concerned with the value that is offered to the customer by the company. Account managers are considered to be reactive, dealing with accounts on a case-by-case interaction, whereas according to CRM giant SalesForce, a customer success manager is more proactive, with a more holistic viewpoint.
The skill-set required by a customer success manager is also different. They need to fully appreciate the significance of the service in the customer’s company while having a thorough understanding of the service itself and the industry in general. Providing technical support as well as troubleshooting is also a big part of the role. All these responsibilities require people and soft skills to a high degree, even if much of the contact is online or via the telephone.
Because a lot of the work has to do with helping customers achieve the best results possible, there is potentially a high level of job satisfaction linked to high-performance in this role.
A typical day
Each customer success manager will have their own unique way of working, but they will have some common ground to adhere to. Although there is probably no such thing as a typical day, every CSM will have certain tasks to do within their day. These include:
- Letting customers know the CSM is available
- Providing value and attention to customers
- Monitoring and analyzing customer behavior with the product or service
- Setting processes and goals for individual customers
- Helping customers transition from onboarding to functional user
- Strategizing on how to use the product or service better
- Providing resources and support to the customer
- Sharing trends within the industry with customers
- Building trust between brand and user
- Providing a link to the company, and sharing concerns and needs of the customer.
Customer success managers are often the face of the company that the customer becomes familiar with, and are the link that makes the company a trusted brand.
Why customer success matters
According to Vala Afshar writing for Huffington Post, 91% of non-engaged customers leave a company dissatisfied with its services. Having an integrated system in place that maps out the customers’ touch-points allows for better metrics, allowing the company to offer a better service to their clients. Engaged clients that build a relationship with a company keep interacting with that company for far longer. CSM’s are an integral part of this relationship.
It’s also reported in Forbes that customer success relates to 90% of the revenue, leading to the difference between failure or massive growth. Often the greatest share of income comes from post-initial-sale, realized by helping the customer achieve their goal with the original service. Such customers will stay longer, and pay more while building a loyalty to particular brands.
Jonathan Araya, global lead on customer success management services, said “customer success is growing in leaps and bounds. Not only are salaries increasing, standalone customer success teams (that report directly to the CEO) are reported to be on the rise too. This reflects the importance companies are assigning to the role.”
A final thought
The name itself describes the focus of this role – the success of customers. However, some companies focus more on getting more income out of their clients. Technically, there is nothing wrong with this concept, but by focusing first and foremost on your customer, you will ensure your client is happy, successful and aim to have a long-lasting relationship. The by-product is a healthy relationship that continues, benefitting both company and client.
So – the moral of the story? Concentrate first on your client, and the riches will come to you. With this model in mind, customer success management looks set to stay.
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