The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success Manager traits and skills
So you're looking to hire a new Customer Success Manager (CSM), whether it be your first or the next in a large team but you're wondering what qualities a strong and successful Customer Success Manager should have.
Customer Success is about working with your clients to understand their needs and requirements and to build a strong and lasting relationship. The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success gives you more details. In building these strong relationships, you gain loyal clients who are willing to speak positively about your product or service. You remove the pressure of renewal conversations because your clients are happy to renew. If not, as a Customer Success Manager you will have had that conversation with your client prior to renewal which should then give you enough time to turn things around.
The Customer Success Manager has a big part to play in your business. They are the people that keep your clients. They are the people that have to work with all levels of the business, from the day to day user right up to the key senior stakeholders making the financial decisions.
In order to build these relationships and become a trusted advisor for your client, as well as be the face of your business since the Customer Success Manager is usually the main point of contact, there are a number of traits and skills that a Customer Success Manager should possess.
This is a big one for a Customer Success Manager. As I said previously, the Customer Success Manager must understand the clients needs and therefore, they must step into the shoes of the client to really understand what they are looking for.
Understanding the clients needs means that the Customer Success Manager is then able to support the client and be more prepared to observe issues prior to them arising.
The tricky part and other side to this, for the Customer Success Manager, is remembering that although they need to be empathetic to the client and understand what the client is looking for, the Customer Success Manager also needs to remember the values and the needs of the business they work for.
By this, I mean if a client is requesting a new feature, of course the Customer Success Manager must understand the requirements and empathise that this feature does not already exist. However, if the feature is only going to be relevant to a small number of clients, from a business perspective it is not advisable to spend time and money working on this feature.
The Customer Success Manager therefore has to relay this information back to the client in an empathetic way. In a way that they really do understand the clients request but to also explain why it won't be added to the roadmap.
Clients will respect this honesty. Clients respect knowing up front that their request is unlikely to happen, rather than the client adding it to the backlog and believing that one day it will become a useable feature.
This is how the relationship is built and how the Customer Success Manager earns the clients trust.
The situation above, also relates and interlinks to communication...
The Customer Success Manager will be communicating verbally as well as written work. They maybe communicating with many different people within the clients business and they will definitely be communicating with the different departments of your business while they get answers to their clients needs.
The Customer Success Manager may also write best practices, customer guides and many, many thought pieces for example.
The Customer Success Manager will need to deal with many different situations; some positive, some not so positive. The Customer Success Manager therefore needs to be able to communicate in a way that is clear, articulate and to the point, ensuring reasons are given whilst also reading their audience. Different clients will handle situations in different ways and therefore where one client might want detail, the next just wants the answer.
As we have discussed, the Customer Success Manager needs to understand their clients needs and requirements. Once they understand these needs and requirements their role is to work with the client, add value and support the client to receive the most from the product or service.
The Customer Success Manager will be asked many questions in which they will need to solve the clients request in order for the client to move forwards. This maybe digging deep and testing the product or service themselves. It maybe working with internal departments to get the answers required. In doing so, the Customer Success Manager must understand the requirement, as well as who does what for each internal department in order to know who to reach out to help solve the problem.
The client is always looking to reduce costs and save time so the Customer Success Manager needs to see things from the clients perspective and be one step ahead in order to preempt hurdles and resolve them before an issue occurs.
The Customer Success Manager must be organised and able to manage their time accordingly. The Customer Success Manager has a number of different responsibilities such as renewals, services requests, client 'how do I' questions, internal projects etc....and then the dreaded escalation that comes in and throws out your day!
The Customer Success Manager must therefore know how to prioritise each area to ensure deadlines are met on time.
Customer Success is an area that has grown considerably in the last few years. Therefore there isn't as big a pool of Customer Success Managers to hire from as other roles.
To add to this, the Customer Success Manager may have many traits and skills as an Account Manager so a lot of Account Managers (Account Management and Customer Success are not quite the same model so not all are suited) have made the move to Customer Success.
Firslty, understand what you would like your Customer Success Manager to do. What their role is. What their KPIs are.
Think outside of the box because from experience, industry knowledge and Customer Success may not be the experience needed to ensure your clients receive the best possible service.