Customer Success in one sentence A Customer Success manager is responsible for ensuring that customers are receiving value from a company’s products and services.
Who do they work with? Customer Success works closely with Sales and Product Management teams.
Customer Success is the company's secret weapon
Customers have never had more options than they do today, and that is especially true when it comes to software options. Business software used to require significant upfront investment for infrastructure and complicated implementation. Now that nearly all business software has moved to the cloud, businesses no longer need to be locked into long-term contracts and are free to change software providers at a whim.
"When it becomes more expensive to acquire customers and easier for them to leave, something inevitable happens — businesses start paying a whole lot more attention to keeping existing customers very, very happy." - Eva Klein, VP of Customer Success at Hubspot
This shift gave birth to a new organizational necessity, customer success. The customer success team is responsible for ensuring that customers are satisfied with a company’s products and services.
Here's a more in-depth look at the role with a customer success manager at User Testing.
Not just a rebranded Customer Support A lot of people assume that customer support and customer success are synonymous, but they are fundamentally different. Customer support is reactive, meant to solve customer problems after they arise. Customer success is proactive, meant to improve the customer experience on their journey post-sale to successful implementation and return on investment.
Career trajectory Customer Success is one of the fastest growing areas for employment in tech startups and can lead to a very lucrative career. The career trajectory in Customer Success varies depending on the company but the general path starts from the very entry level, reactive Customer Service roles all the way to Director level and above roles. Note that there are both an individual contributor and a managerial route to the higher levels of the organization.
Learn from the pros
Jonathan Kim Customer Success Manager Procore Technologies (NY)
Jon Kim has over 5 years of experience in Customer Success and currently works at Procore Technologies, a construction project management software company founded in 2003. Their software allows large teams of construction companies, property owners, project managers, contractors, and partners to collaborate on large-scale construction projects and share access to documents, planning systems and data.
On the role
"As a CSM, you’ll primarily be responsible for successful client onboarding, promoting product adoption, and preventing customer churn. It’s all about being understanding of where clients are in the customer lifecycle and being proactive."
At Procore, Customer Success Manager (CSM) responsibilities all fall somewhere along the customer lifecycle. Here's an example diagram of what a customer lifecycle might look like.
The CSM's relationship with a client begins once the sale is complete, then there is usually an onboarding period where the software is implemented and stakeholders are trained on how to use the software. After the initial onboarding, a CSM will need to follow up at some cadence and ensure that their clients are getting the value they expect out of the software (usually in a quarterly business review). Once a customer is successfully using the software, the CSM looks for opportunities to expand the customer's usage and/or spend on additional software features.
"By conducting trainings and quarterly business reviews I ensure that my clients are getting the ROI they expect from our product. I am also constantly looking for opportunities where I can sell customers on additional features that will improve their productivity. "
Tips for would-be CSMs
“Customer Success requires really tight time management and organizational skills. You may have 60-70 clients to manage and you’ll need to focus on helping the right customers at the right time to make sure they’re getting true value from the product. ”