In 2017, Forbes named Customer Success Managers one of the top 25 best jobs in America. The overview of the position read:
“Once a technology sales team lands a new client, they hand the relationship over to the customer success manager, who will manage the relationship going forward. These managers train the client on new products and serve as the point of contact for any problems that arise.”
The job sounded like a good fit for someone with technical expertise and training capabilities. The median pay was listed around $96K, and the future looked bright for CSMs.
Two years later, the job outlook for CSMs is increasingly promising, with an average salary closer to $110K and over 17,000 current job postings for CSMs. With a clear growth trend, it’s an exciting time to start and build a career in Customer Success.
So, what’s expected of CSMs today? How has the job evolved, and what will it take for CSMs to succeed in 2019?
Job responsibilities for CSMs
Let’s take a look at some of the responsibilities cited in job postings for CSMs:
- “Perform all duties required in working with customers to ensure their needs are met”
- “Provide proactive assistance and creative solutions that help customers to get the necessary service”
- “As the customer advocate within the business, consistently works to exceed the expectations of our customers, while balancing the company’s best interest”
- “Understand your clients’ unique business needs and develop creative solutions that leverage the existing platform”
- “Gather product feedback, write business requirements and act as an internal advocate for your client-base”
- “You’re a troubleshooter and a liaison between our clients, our sales and product teams”
- “Drive usage growth”
- “Represent the Voice of the Customer”
- “Provide a concierge experience for all … customers”
It’s evident that the job of a Customer Success Manager has evolved from implementation specialists. CSMs are now expected to perform “all duties required” and serve as a “concierge” to their customers. The job has grown from focusing on training and problem-solving to becoming the “customer advocate” responsible for the customer’s entire experience with your organization.
Customer “Experience” Management
As B2B companies continue to define what they need from their Customer Success Managers, it’s evident that the role involves more than just onboarding and implementation. CSMs are essentially called to be customer experience managers. Getting customers trained to successfully use their technology is now table stakes. As “point person” for the customer, CSMs often handle support issues and even serve as “liaisons” to product development and billing departments. They are basically in charge of ensuring that the customer’s entire experience with the organization is delightful.
While most CSMs are evaluated based upon retention, renewal and expansion metrics, executives know that these goals aren’t met by simply getting customers to use your solution proficiently. In other words, customer success is not enough. With much more involved in getting customers to become loyal, CSMs really do have more and varied work on their plates. A typical day may include tasks that range from product training to listening sessions about desired outcomes to business reviews to internal conversations about product improvements–all with different customers! Their workload is varied, and their workflows can be complex. For CSMs to succeed, they must not only “provide creative solutions” and “troubleshoot”, they must also be excellent multi-taskers and efficient, effective managers of their own work.
What does it take for a CSM to succeed in 2019?
As the role continues to evolve, and growth-minded B2B organizations aim to find the best way to charter and finance the function, CSMs who are at the helm of ensuring customer loyalty have to be great at ensuring a wholly delightful experience for their customers. This is extremely difficult if you aren’t also great at managing complex and hectic workstreams. Doing the right work at the right time is key to success for CSMs – and their customers.