Customer Success

Customer Success Managers — A No-Nonsense Guide

The sale is only step one. A strong customer success manager must nurture and support your customers. Here's what you need to know.

Introduction

Your work doesn't end after acquiring the first set of customers because it's challenging to win your customers' hearts even after purchasing from you. 

As you've passed the first stage of impressing them—it's crucial to increase the frequency of such efforts to increase the percentage of customer retention.

According to Invesp —The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. And without any efforts to retain them, you'll be spending more on the customer acquisition part.

For example, if you acquire one customer every hour and lose two customers every day, you are still in a stagnant position. In this scenario, you might witness growth in customer acquisition, but you'll also notice an increase in churn rate in the long run.

So after you make a sale, it's crucial to keep reminding the value of your product to the customer. And to drive this campaign, you need a strong customer success manager and team to nurture the customer relationship.

In this blog, we'll cover:

  • What is a customer success manager?
  • What does a customer success manager do?
  • Roles and responsibilities of a customer success manager.
  • Customer success vs. customer support.
  • Customer success software you need.

TL;DR

  • A customer success manager is a role that combines the duties of customer services and sales.
  • As customer success managers, they support the company by building a relationship with the customers and eventually helping them achieve their goals.
  • A CSM is a person that's frequently in contact with the customer. So they know about the features they wish to have in the product. And they can pitch their requests directly to the product team for improvements.
  • Customer success and customer support are two different roles. The duty of customer support is to keep the customer satisfied, but a customer success manager works to maintain that satisfaction.
  • Various customer success tools can help you in achieving your goals. We've talked about eWebinar, Scribe, PlanHat, Salesmachine and Gainsight.

What is a customer success manager?

“Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are truly our customers' advocates and voice back into Tipalti. As trusted advisors, they help our customers achieve their business imperatives while maximizing the value of our platform. Another way to think of the CSMs is as resources wearing our customers badge sitting in Tipalti offices working tirelessly to make them successful”—Logan Bryant, Tipalti

Customer success manager is a unique role in the midst of customer service and sales. They support your customers as they become active users of products. Customer services reps act proactively as problems come up. However, CSMs dedicate their time to fixing any issues before they materialize. They actively assist and suggest new ways to their customers to continuously succeed with the products.

For example, you go to an apparel store but feel overwhelmed with the choices, and you want someone to help you decide the right set. That's how a customer success team works.

What does a customer success manager do?

The client success or customer success manager aims to consolidate your sales and success team. As they're a part of multiple customer relationships, they have a top-level view of the customer lifecycle.

1. Support for the company

As a customer success manager works directly with customers, they primarily influence the customer base. They're responsible for conveying the right message to your customers about why they should choose you to meet their specific needs.

And this positive reputation will help you keep the customers satisfied and encourage them to refer your solution in their inner circle.

2. Follow up for renewals

The prime role of the customer success manager is to create a loyal and repeat customers base instead of one-time users. 

And this is why renewals are a crucial component in this ecosystem. And it's part of CSM's responsibility to keep track of customer product expiration dates—it can be monthly, quarterly, or annually.

You're on the verge of potential churn that impacts your customer retention rates without following up.

3. Promoting upsells and cross-sells

Upselling and cross-selling is another under-rated way to enhance the customer's lifetime value. 

Customer success managers are determined to help customers achieve their goals, and this opens up a door for new opportunities where you can introduce premium products and services.

When a customer is at the right stage for an upgrade, CSMs can chat with them and explain the benefits of this upgrade. 

And as they have a rapport with the customer, they're more likely to trust the team's advice.

Roles and responsibilities of a customer success manager

1. CSMs act as a link between customer support and sales

Customer success managers are a mixture of support and sales professionals. However, the difference between an account manager and a customer success manager is that customer success managers aren't strategizing and focusing on winning the following account.

They're focusing on building a relationship with the customers, increasing customer retention, driving customer satisfaction and solving customer problems.

There are two essential milestones in the customer lifecycle:

  • When customers sign up
  • When they accomplish their first goal

The definition of success will vary for every customer. For instance, sometimes it will be a minor success like your product saves them time. And sometimes it will be a primary goal to increase their customer base by x% in the next quarter.

In any manner, the gap between these milestones is the most usual place for churn. Because once the early excitement wears off — the customer will need to focus on learning the product. 

And without an experienced team in place to guide them through the process, they might face blocks that will frustrate the customers and ultimately churn.

The primary work of a customer success manager begins from the place where sales leave off, and they become your customer's guide. 

The CSM's goal is to get your customers started as soon as possible and monitor their experience as they grow.

2. They help reduce churn

Most people limit their beliefs for a customer success manager till onboarding, but the relationship goes beyond that.

CSMs check in with the customers to ensure they use the product regularly, which is vital because regular product usage is not an organic metric.

As per an Invest study, half of all paying customers log in to their SaaS products once a month or less. And this metric is proof that keeping customers engaged is a challenging affair.

And customer success managers work to keep those advantages on top of your customers' minds.

3. Offer a bird's eye perspective

Customer success managers are involved in multiple customer lifecycle phases, so they've got a unified view of the process. The service team knows customers' most common problems, but they only see the issue from the surface level.

Whereas a customer success manager analyzes each problem that affects multiple customers and forecasts them — and see if those reasons can be a potential reason for future churn.

CSMs have a different view of future product changes and upgrades. They can pitch their customers by connecting their suggestions or wishes to the product team and aligning them with the primary goal.

Say, for instance, a CSM notices that more than 40 percent of your customer base is requesting a specific product feature. They can send the word to the product managers, and users are happy when you introduce that feature.

4. Pays attention to the customer onboarding

One of the major priorities of a customer success manager is onboarding. And a terrible onboarding experience can convince customers to churn. The onboarding process generally focuses on educating the customer about the product's features and operation.And a customer success manager helps them understand the intricacies of your product by assisting them in starting as quickly as they can.

5. Promotes customer loyalty

A customer success manager builds an unbreakable relationship with the customer. As the customer feels comfortable, this opens up a room for conversation, and they can ask any query whenever they want. And fostering a good relationship leads to customer satisfaction along with advocates for your product. Creating a referral system is the ultimate goal for your business, and a customer success manager plays a significant part in it.

Customer success vs. customer support

There is a considerable difference between customer support and customers. And while we're on the topic, let's talk about it a little more.

Time and durability

The time of practice and impact is one of the most practical differences between customer success and customer support.

Customer support focuses on creating a better experience for customers before, during, and sometimes after purchasing the product. In contrast, customer success covers the entire lifecycle of a customer.

So we can conclude that customer support works in a shorter frame of time, but customer success takes the entire frame.

Nature of work

Customer service is for helping a single customer, and a customer success manager is responsible for assisting all customers by eliminating their struggles. 

And while a customer service team waits for any query to appear, a CSM hunts down any potential issues before they come into account.

Objectives and goals

Customer support goals are based on customer satisfaction, and yes, customer satisfaction is the topmost priority but not an easy metric to maintain and is easily disturbed.

And the customer success team is more inclined towards value by assisting your customers and providing them with a long-term deal.

Customer success software you need

eWebinar

eWebinar is an excellent customer success tool that allows SaaS companies to automate the user onboarding experience with webinars.

And with eWebinar, you don't have to be live for the training and presentations. 

So you can record the user onboarding session, upload the recording, and users can watch them according to their convenience.

Pricing

  • 14-day free trial
  • Level 1: $49/month for one published webinar
  • Level 2: $99/month for 2 to 5 published webinars
  • Level 3: $199/month for 6 to 15 published webinars
  • Enterprise: $250/month for 25 published webinars + $10/month for each published webinar

Scribe

Scribe helps you to generate step-by-step guides for any task automatically. 

So your customer success team spends less time explaining an inevitable process and more time executing it. Its smart recording feature captures the entire process while you work.

It helps customer success teams to deliver tailored guidance to all customers. With Scribe, you can improve the documentation and help centers with visual and up-to-date guides.

Pricing

  • Basic: free
  • Pro: $29/ User (month)
  • Enterprise: you need to contact them for a quotation

PlanHat

Various customer success tools have similar features, such as customer monitoring, playbooks, and health scores. While most of the tools excel in one or two features, PlanHat beats everyone in all of them.

It has an all-functioning system that allows teams to have their shared space on the software. It is known as one of the best customer success tools with an easy-to-use model with robust features.

Pricing

  • Startup: $500 per month (plus $1 per customer/ per month)
  • Professional: $1250 per month (plus $1 per customer/ per month)
  • Enterprise: Custom

Salesmachine

Salesmachine is the ultimate tool you'll ever need for your requirements. It is a unified platform for sales, customer success and product teams. Salesmachine helps you to turn your product usage into a revenue machine.

With it, you can automate your customer onboarding process and increase product engagement with feature education email, workflows and playbooks for onboarding sequences.

Pricing

  • Start: $75/month
  • Grow: $150/month

Gainsight

Gainsight is one of the best customer success tools various companies use and recommend. One of the most popular features of the software is customer health scores. 

With usual customer data, the software calculates the customer healthcare score.

And such a feature is helpful for customer success managers to avoid churn. Gainsight also categorizes and predicts customer behavior.

Pricing

  • You need to request the quotations

Wrapping up

A customer success manager handles a crucial part of customer acquisition and retention. And today's customers expect more than just products that solve their issues. 

They need and expect personalized support from professionals who care about customers and not the sales.

And when it comes to customer success and support, always ensure that they don't step on each other's toes. Being from a similar background, they're likely to intervene in each other's work line. So it's your job to set out clear-cut guidelines for each department.