Although you won’t be able to obtain direct experience as a CSM, you can obtain a lot of experience in customer service by getting a job at a restaurant, drug store, grocery store, or other business that involves direct interaction with customers. You can also help friends and family members install new software to get an idea of the challenges that CSMs face on the job each day.
Participate in job shadowing experiences and information interviews with customer success managers. Ask your career counselor to help set up an opportunity, or use LinkedIn to contact CSMs directly.
The Customer Success Association offers a free associate membership category that allows members access to many sections of the association’s Customer Success Library and receive notifications of new events and content.
Customer success managers typically begin their work after a customer has purchased a SaaS product. Examples of SaaS products include customer relationship management, project management, accounting, billing and invoicing, collaboration, e-mail marketing, web hosting, and human resources software.
The customer success manager has many responsibilities that begin the moment the customer purchases the software. The CSM begins the process by working with his or her company’s account management team to ensure that each customer is onboarded and using the product correctly. They meet digitally and/or in-person with the client and listen closely to what their business wants to accomplish by using the software, and then explains how they can use the software to meet these goals. A good CSM may not be an expert in the software, but he or she has a good working knowledge of its features and, most importantly, knows whom to bring into the discussion if they can’t answer a question posed by the customer. Customer success managers should also have an understanding of their client’s business and customers in order to suggest new ways that the company can use the software, software add-ons, or other products marketed by the company in order to help the client reach its goals.
Customer success managers are good problem-solvers. If employees of the company that purchased the software are having trouble using the software, the CSM will schedule educational sessions led by a trainer or user support team. If some sort of glitch happens with the software, the CSM will promptly schedule online or in-person support from their company’s technical support team. They will also alert the information technology department regarding any issues so that they can be fixed.
Once the customer is onboarded, the CSM regularly checks in periodically with the client to see if any issues need to be addressed and if the software is meeting the customer’s expectations. They collect and analyze data on key performance indicators and other metrics generated by the users to ensure that the software is being utilized correctly.
The CSM maintains a close and supportive relationship with the client throughout the business relationship that seeks to walk a fine line between two goals: helping the client to be successful and helping his or her company retain the client over the long term and encourage them to purchase add-on services for the software, more user licenses (if the product is structured in this manner), and additional products.