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Demystifying the Role of a CSM - Here's What You Need to Know

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The CSM, or Customer Success Manager, is a relatively new role in the business space with fluid yet crucial responsibilities. They play a significant part in the success of their business and their customers, yet their actions often remain a mystery to some.. 

In this blog post, we will demystify the role of a CSM and discuss everything you need to know about what a CSM does and why they are important for a company's growth and success. Who knows, you might even be inspired to join the ever-growing ranks of CSMs yourself.

So, let's dive in and learn more about the world of Customer Success.

What is a Customer Success Manager?

As the ultimate champion of the customer, a CSM's primary goal is to build and maintain strong relationships with customers, guiding and supporting them throughout their journey. 

A CSM acts as a trusted advisor, understanding the unique needs and goals of each customer and tailoring solutions to help them achieve their desired outcomes. They provide guidance, training, and support, ensuring that customers have a positive experience with the company's product or service. 

Proactively identifying and addressing potential challenges, a CSM ensures that problems are resolved quickly and efficiently. They also collaborate with other departments within the company, acting as a liaison to ensure customer needs are met.

Overall, a Customer Success Manager is an essential asset to any business. Their focus on customer satisfaction, relationship-building, and problem-solving contributes to the growth and success of the company. With their expertise, CSMs drive customer success, retention, and ultimately, the overall success of the business. They are also in charge of driving adoption and value, proactively ensuring retention, and creating conditions to generate company growth.

What do Customer Success Managers Do?

A CSM's main goal is to build and maintain strong relationships with customers, guiding and supporting them throughout their journey.

Their key responsibilities include:

1. Building Relationships: CSMs act as trusted advisors, establishing strong connections with customers and understanding their unique needs and goals.

2. Guidance and Support: CSMs provide guidance, training, and support to customers, helping them navigate the product or service and achieve their desired outcomes.

3. Issue Resolution: CSMs proactively identify and address potential challenges that could impact a customer's success, ensuring problems are resolved quickly.

4. Liaison with other departments: CSMs collaborate with other departments, such as sales or product development, to ensure customer needs are met.

They also need to have skills such as:

1. Excellent communication: CSMs need strong interpersonal and communication skills to effectively build relationships with customers and convey information.

2. Product and industry knowledge: CSMs must have a deep understanding of the product or service they support, as well as the industry in which they operate so that they can proactively attend to the unique needs of their customers.

3. Problem-solving: CSMs should be proactive in identifying and addressing customer challenges, finding solutions to ensure customer success.

4. Data analysis: CSMs use data and metrics to track customer success, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to enhance the customer experience.

A day in the life of a CSM:

A day in the life of a CSM is dynamic, engaging, and laser-focused on driving customer success.

A typical day for a CSM involves a combination of customer interactions, data analysis, and internal collaboration. They may start their day by checking in with their portfolio of customers, addressing any immediate needs and strategically planning the next steps in the customer’s journey to their desired outcomes. Throughout the day, CSMs engage in meetings and calls, providing guidance and support to customers. They also analyse customer data to track success and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, CSMs collaborate with other departments, sharing customer feedback and insights to ensure customer needs are met.

Why Businesses Need a Customer Success Manager

Businesses need a Customer Success Manager (CSM) for several key reasons:

1. Customer Retention: A CSM plays a crucial role in ensuring customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. By proactively addressing challenges, providing guidance, and offering personalised support, a CSM helps customers achieve their desired outcomes and reduces the risk of churn.

2. Delivering on Customer Outcomes: A CSM's main goal is to drive customer success. By understanding the unique needs and goals of each customer, a CSM can tailor solutions and strategies to help them achieve their desired outcomes. This leads to a positive customer experience and strengthens the customer's perception of value.

3. Business Growth: Happy and successful customers are more likely to renew their contracts, refer others to the business, and even upgrade or purchase additional products or services. By focusing on customer success and satisfaction, a CSM contributes to the growth and revenue of the company.

4. Proactive Problem Solving: A CSM's role is not just about solving problems; it's about identifying and addressing potential challenges before they even arise. By proactively monitoring customer health, analysing data, and staying in constant communication with customers, a CSM can identify and mitigate any issues that may hinder customer success.

5. Customer Advocacy: A CSM serves as the voice of the customer within the company. By building strong relationships and understanding the needs and pain points of customers, a CSM can advocate for customer-centric changes and improvements, ensuring that the company continuously delivers value to its customers.

Customer Success Manager vs Account Manager vs Customer Support

Customer Success Managers, Account Managers, and Customer Support all play important roles in the success of a business, but they have distinct responsibilities and focus areas. Let's take a closer look at each role to understand the differences.

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are primarily focused on ensuring the success and satisfaction of customers. They act as trusted advisors, building strong relationships with customers and providing guidance, training, and support throughout their journey. CSMs work proactively to identify potential issues and find solutions before they impact the customer's success. Their goal is to ensure that customers achieve their desired outcomes and have a positive experience with the company's product or service.

Account Managers, on the other hand, are responsible for managing and nurturing relationships with existing customers. They focus on growing and retaining accounts, identifying upsell or cross-sell opportunities, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Account Managers work closely with customers to understand their needs, develop account plans, and coordinate with internal teams to deliver value.

Customer Support teams are responsible for providing technical assistance and resolving customer issues. They handle customer enquiries, troubleshoot problems, and provide solutions. Customer Support teams are often the first point of contact for customers, and their main goal is to address immediate concerns and ensure a smooth customer experience.

In summary, while there may be some overlap in responsibilities, Customer Success Managers focus on long-term customer success and relationship-building, Account Managers concentrate on growing accounts and maximising value, and Customer Support teams provide immediate assistance and problem-solving. All three roles are essential for a company's success and work together to ensure customer satisfaction and drive business growth.

How to become a Customer Success Manager

If you're intrigued by the role of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) and think it could be the perfect fit for you, you may be wondering how to become one. The good news is that there are various paths you can take to enter this exciting field.

Firstly, it's important to gain a solid understanding of the skills and knowledge required for the role. Customer Success Managers need excellent communication and interpersonal skills to build strong relationships with customers. They also need a deep understanding of the product or service they are supporting, as well as the industry in which they operate. 

To acquire these skills, consider pursuing a relevant degree such as business, marketing, or a field related to the industry you're interested in. Whilst a degree is not always a requirement, it can give you a solid foundation and help you stand out from the competition. 

In addition to formal education, gaining practical experience is key. Look for opportunities to work in customer-facing roles, such as sales or customer support, to develop your customer service skills and learn about the challenges and needs of customers. 

Networking is also crucial in the journey to becoming a CSM. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with others in the field to expand your professional network. This can lead to valuable mentorship opportunities and potential job leads. 

Once you have gained the necessary skills and experience, start applying for entry-level CSM positions. Consider reaching out to companies directly, even if they don't have any job postings, as they may be willing to create a role for the right candidate.

Customer Success Manager career progression and salary

If you're considering a career as a Customer Success Manager, you may be wondering about the potential for career progression and salary expectations. The good news is that the field of customer success offers plenty of opportunities for growth and development.

As a CSM, your career progression will depend on various factors, including the size and structure of the company you work for, as well as your own skills and expertise. In smaller companies, you may have the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and move into a senior or leadership role as the team grows. In larger organisations, there may be more defined career paths with opportunities to specialise in a particular industry or product.

In terms of salary, the earning potential for CSMs can be quite lucrative. According to Glassdoor, entry-level positions may have a starting salary in the range of £36,000 to £60,000 per year in Europe and $76,000 to $120,000 in the US. As you gain experience and expertise in the field, you can expect to see your salary increase significantly. Senior CSMs with several years of experience can earn upwards of £70,000 per year, and those in leadership positions can earn well into six figures.

It's important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as location, industry, and company size. Additionally, many companies offer additional incentives such as bonuses or commission structures based on customer retention and success metrics, which can further increase earning potential.

Overall, a career as a CSM offers the opportunity for growth, development, and competitive compensation. With the demand for customer success professionals on the rise, now is a great time to consider a career in this field. So, if you have a passion for customer satisfaction and a desire to drive business success, a career as a CSM could be the perfect fit for you.

Customer Success Manager tools

Being a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is no easy task, but fortunately there are numerous tools available to help CSMs effectively manage their responsibilities and ensure customer success. These tools streamline processes, enhance communication, and provide valuable insights. Here are some essential tools that every CSM should have in their toolkit:

1. Customer Success Platforms (CSPs): CSPs like Velaris offer a comprehensive suite of tools designed specifically for CSMs. They provide features like customer health scores, task management, and automated workflows, allowing CSMs to efficiently monitor and manage customer relationships. Most often, using a CSP means you can cut down on your tech stack since you’ll be getting an all-in-one platform that replaces multiple tools like CRM and analytics tools.

2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: A CRM system is the backbone of a CSM's operations. It helps manage customer data, track interactions, and provide a central hub for all customer-related information.

3. Customer Feedback and Survey Tools: Gathering feedback is essential for understanding customer needs and measuring satisfaction. Tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys or customer feedback forms help CSMs collect valuable insights and identify areas for improvement.

4. Analytics and Reporting Tools: Data-driven insights are crucial for measuring customer success. Analytics and reporting tools help CSMs track key metrics, monitor customer health, and identify trends or patterns that can inform decision-making.

5. Collaboration and Communication Tools: Effective communication is vital for CSMs to build strong relationships with customers and internal stakeholders. Tools like project management platforms, messaging apps, and video conferencing tools facilitate seamless collaboration and communication.

6. Onboarding and Training Tools: Smooth onboarding and training are critical for customer success. CSMs can leverage onboarding and training platforms to provide interactive resources, tutorials, and knowledge bases that help customers get up to speed quickly.

In summary, Customer Success Manager tools are essential for managing customer relationships, collecting feedback, analysing data, and facilitating effective communication. By leveraging these tools, CSMs can enhance their productivity, drive customer success, and contribute to the growth of their companies.


In this blog post, we've demystified the role of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) and explored everything you need to know about what a CSM does and why they are important for a company's growth and success. We've discussed the key responsibilities and skills of a CSM, as well as the reasons why businesses need a CSM to drive customer satisfaction and business growth. We've also compared the roles of a CSM, Account Manager, and Customer Support, highlighting their distinct responsibilities. Additionally, we've provided insights on how to become a CSM, career progression, salary expectations, and the essential tools that CSMs should have in their toolkit. Armed with this knowledge, you're now ready to dive into the world of Customer Success Managers and make a significant impact on your company's success.

Velaris is the hub where Customer Success Managers do their best work. See all your customer data in one intuitive dashboard, automate pesky admin tasks (or even entire workflows!) and keep track of every project with our Customer Success Platform. Book a demo to see it in action.

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