What Is A Customer Success Manager? (Roles, KPIs, & Skills)

What is a customer success manager?

A customer success manager is responsible for ensuring that a company's customers are satisfied with the products or services they have purchased.

They offer proactive support, acting like a mentor for customers to help them succeed and get value from your product.

Customer success managers are particularly common in industries like SaaS, where products  can be complex and sometimes require significant assistance.

What does a customer success manager do?

The responsibilities will vary depending on the organization and industry. Generally, a customer success manager is responsible for ensuring that customers are retained & satisfied. This may involve:

  • Monitoring customer satisfaction levels and identifying areas for improvement
  • Working with other teams, such as sales and product, to ensure customer needs are met
  • Maintaining relationships with customers, and serving as a point of contact
  • Developing strategies to reduce customer churn
  • Developing strategies to increase expansion revenue

The KPIs & metrics typically assigned to a customer success manager include:

  • Reducing churn
  • Increasing expansion revenue
  • Increasing feature adoption rate
  • Increasing customer health scores

Skills required to be a customer success manager

Being a customer success manager requires a combination of product expertise, problem-solving skills, and strong communication and interpersonal skills. They need to:

  • Be able to answer product & somewhat technical questions, helping customers to implement & maximize the solution
  • Build personal relationships, so customers feel able to give & receive feedback
  • Identify sales opportunities, and negotiate upsells & cross-sells
  • Be able to prioritize. Out of the hundreds of customers you have, where do you focus?
  • Communicate with other teams. Working with Product, Support, Marketing & others

How much can a customer success manager earn?

The exact salary of a customer success manager varies. The most influential factors are:

  • The organization they work for
  • Their level of experience
  • Their location

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a customer success manager in the United States is $70,487 per year. However, salaries can range from $49,000 to $101,000 per year, and may be higher in some industries or locations.

In addition to base salary, customer success managers may also be eligible for bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation.

For example, if a customer success manager achieves significant revenue impact either from improving retention, or increasing expansion revenue, they may be rewarded.

Customer success manager FAQs

1. What’s the difference between a customer success manager and a customer service role?

Customer service roles are typically reactive. The answer customer support tickets & calls,  addressing any immediate concerns or questions. Customer success managers are more proactive, and have a more strategic focus. They ensure that customers achieve their desired outcomes, and continue to use the product(s).

2. How do you choose a customer success platform?

It varies case by case. Generally, think about: integrating with your existing tech stack, scalability (how many CSMs will you add next year?), strategy (high or low touch?), average revenue per customer, and other goals.

3. How much does a customer success platform cost?

This varies drastically. Some (e.g. Totango) have limited free options available. Thereafter, most will require an annual contract. Anecdotally, the average spend is likely somewhere in the $15-30k range annually, but can easily become 6 figures for larger teams. Starting prices are lower, around the $3-5k per year range.