Every member of your customer success team should prioritize the customer's needs and goals. That's why a customer first strategy is essential for businesses, regardless of the industry they belong to.
However, how do your employees know what customers want and need? Especially when only a few of them get the chance to directly interact with customers. Even frontline workers, like customer service agents, only interact with customers who are focused on individual, short-term needs.
In many cases, it's necessary to hire someone whose job is to understand your customer base and focus on solving their long-term needs. For most businesses, this person is called the customer success manager, or CSM.
In this post, we'll discuss what a customer success manager is, then explain how they benefit your business.
Customer Success Manager
A customer success manager guides customers through the sales process into the support phase. Rather than functioning as a customer support agent, CSMs form a direct relationship with customers and provide them with timely value propositions. This helps customers grow and achieve goals while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with the business.
Think of the CSM as a mentor for your customers. They explain the sales process and ensure everything runs smoothly after a purchase. If customers have a question, they can directly ping their CSM and work with them to resolve any pressing issues.
While the main job of a CSM is to build relationships, this involves performing a variety of tasks for your customer success team. In the next section, we'll list a few of those functions, as well as provide a standard starting salary for this role.
What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?
The main responsibilities of a CSM are covered in the job description below.
Customer Success Manager Job Description
A customer success manager works with customers to ensure they're receiving the tools and support needed to achieve their goals. This includes advising them on buying decisions and onboarding new users after purchase. CSMs have an in-depth understanding of the customer's needs and are responsible for communicating common customer behaviors to the sales, marketing, and product teams.
From pre-sales to post-purchase, CSMs complete a variety of tasks and create a mutually-beneficial relationship with your customers. Take a look at a few of those responsibilities in the section below.
6 Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager
1. Advocate for the company.
Since a CSM works one-on-one with customers, they have an opportunity to significantly influence your customer base. They should act as personal cheerleaders for your business explaining to customers why you can meet their specific needs. This positive reputation will not only keep your customers satisfied, but it will also encourage them to refer their friends.
2. Onboard new customers.
Onboarding is one of the biggest priorities for CSMs. That's because it's extremely important to educate customers on how to use your product. Onboarding should focus on features they need to learn, based on the projects they aim to complete. This way, they can get up to speed as fast as possible and be one step closer to achieving their goals.
3. Follow up on renewals.
The job of the CSM is to create loyal, repeat customers instead of one time users. This is why renewals are key for this position. CSMs should keep track of customer product expiration dates -- whether they be monthly, quarterly, or annually -- and follow up with customers to renew their contracts. Without following up, you risk potential churn which impacts your customer retention rates.
4. Encourage upsells and cross-sells.
Another way to increase a customer's lifetime value is through upselling and cross-selling. CSMs are dedicated to fulfilling customer goals, which creates an opportunity to introduce premium products and services. When customers are ideal for an upgrade, CSMs can meet with them to explain why the additional purchase will be helpful. Since your CSM will have a rapport with the customer, they'll be more likely to trust your team's advice.
5. Build relationships between customers and the support team.
There are some questions customers will have that aren't the responsibility of the CSM. Technical issues, minor product problems, and basic business questions should be geared towards your customer support team. CSMs should foster a relationship between customers and support, making it easier for users to solve small or short-term problems.
6. Be the voice of the customer.
As someone who works directly with customers, a CSM should feel responsible for advocating their needs. They need to have a in-depth understanding of customers likes and dislikes about your products, which can be discovered through surveys, reviews, referrals, and more. CSMs should organize, analyze, and share this information with other departments to ensure your company's decisions always consider the voice of the customer.
If you're considering a career as a customer success manager, or thinking of hiring one for your business, take a look below to see what the average salary is for this position.
Customer Success Manager Salary
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a customer success manager in the United States is $81,414. This salary can range from about $55,000 on the low end to about $126,000 on the high end.