Want to supercharge your growth? Download our latest Innovation ebook >>

How to become a customer success manager

Customer success is a recent phenomenon in business history.

Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.

Customer success is a quintessential aspect of any sales business today. A relatively recent phenomenon in business history, customer success is the natural successor to the concept of customer service. Despite this evolution being relatively well known however there remains a considerable degree of confusion regarding the two terms.

The key difference between the two is that it is the job of a customer success manager to impart value to their client. This is beyond things like price and discounts, the manager’s job is to ensure a customer receives value from experiencing a company’s products and service. It represents a far more quantitative experience than regular customer service and is commonly encountered in subscription based services.

Customer success involves a variety of tasks including onboarding new customers, customer support, training, education and troubleshooting. It requires ongoing and substantive communication with customers, frequently on a daily basis. This often results in strong bonds being forged between customer and manager.

This makes customer success an attractive position as it can be a rewarding profession. It’s also one packed full of opportunity thanks to the deep connections that are forged between customer and manager, which can lead to new opportunities. As a result, people working in business are now asking themselves ‘how can I get a customer success job?.

The three different customer success manager types

The basic key aspects of what the customer success manager job involves is largely the same at all businesses. However, there are three key forms of customer success management which are equal in efficacy, with each being better suited to different industries. These three forms are the product orientated, process orientated, and sales oriented.

1. Product orientated – The product oriented customer success manager is focused on ensuring the company’s products are fully utilized. They have particular skills in training and technical issues, and frequently set up tutoring sessions with customers. It’s not uncommon for product oriented customer success managers to have a technical background.

2. Process orientated – The process oriented manager looks to secure long-term cooperation with their customers and is focused on the adoption process in particular. They need to consider every possibility that could impact on the customers decision making processes. The consummate problem solver, a process orientated manager can liaise with every relevant department to resolve issues as quickly as possible.

3. Sales orientated – Often favoured in business atmospheres that value directness, the sales oriented customer success manager’s aim is to create such a valuable experience for the customer that they become incentivised to buy more of the company’s products. The sales minded manager needs to think strategically and consider how he can cultivate their relationship with the customer to achieve further sales. This role requires confidence tempered with experience.

Have you got what it takes to be a customer success manager?

Being a customer success manager isn’t easy as you need to be able to juggle a variety of tasks while also maintaining an approachable and professional attitude. You’re very rarely ‘off’ when you work in a customer success job, if your customer has a problem at midnight you’ll likely have to deal with it at the same time. With this in mind, there are several key attributes you need to possess to perform well as a customer success manager;

  • Empathy – Your ability to empathise with a client and understand their emotional impulses will allow you to solve their issue and provide greater value to their customer experience.
  • Resourcefulness – As you will likely be working with a number of clients you need to have excellent organisational skills and be able to find solutions and resources efficiently.
  • Analytical skills – You’ll be swimming in metrics, data, KPIs and statistics so you need to be able to analyse information to a high degree of proficiency.
  • Eloquence – Being eloquent and possessing good communication skills is perhaps the most important attribute you can have. Communication brings all the other aspects together and acts as the cement that binds your relationship with the customer.

If you are possessed of these key personality aspects then congratulations, you’ll likely perform well at the customers success manager job. So how do you actually go about becoming a customer success manager?

How to become a customer success manager

As with most aspects of our lives, starting out as a customer success manager usually begins with social media. Start with Linked In, either set up a profile (better late than never) or tweak your profile to make it attractive to customer success recruiters. Make sure you have a high quality and professional profile picture, and ensure your profile is updated with your professional attributes and work history.

Don’t worry if you haven’t previously worked in a role that isn’t similar or related to customer success management. Just highlight as much customer facing experience that you can, paying particular attention to instances where you were able to achieve a positive result for a customer. This last part is important, and applies to any job application but especially customer success; one should always focus on results you achieved at a job rather than describing the role you performed.

If you apply for customer success manager jobs and you aren’t meeting with much or any success you should consider investing in further education and training. Look to enroll with courses that will improve an aspect of your personality or your technical abilities that may be preventing you from finding your dream customer success jobs. Always ask for feedback from interviewers if you’re unsuccessful to find out why they didn’t choose you too, they’ll often not respond, but if they do the information can be extremely valuable to you.

Finally, if you want a customer success manager job you need to be realistic about the companies you’re approaching. If you have years of experience in the field you can naturally apply to the top ranked companies, whereas if you have limited or no experience you should only focus on smaller companies. It’s especially important if you’re inexperienced to find a role that will allow you to improve professionally in a stable environment.

Begin your journey working in a customer success manager job

When you start your first day as a customer success manager you may feel overwhelmed, you’ll have a lot to manage after all. Take a deep breath, take a step forward, and throw yourself into your new role. As you meet with more customers and establish relationships you’ll begin to wonder why you might have been nervous in the first place.

Going forward you may begin to realise that there are aspects of your work needing improvement. If you need a good database management tool for example we recommend using one with CRM and email integration. This will ensure you never miss important information about your customers.