How To Become A Customer Success Manager (With Skills)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A customer success manager (CSM) is responsible for developing customer loyalty and building long-term relationships with clients of a business. These professionals offer customer complaint resolutions and function to facilitate an organisation’s customer retention and sales. Exploring the skill set of these professionals and reviewing their educational requirements and responsibilities can help you decide if you want to pursue this career path. In this article, we define the role of a CMS, outline some steps to become one and discuss the skills necessary to succeed in this position.

What Is A Customer Success Manager?

Customer success manager is a customer-facing role where the professional works with customers to offer them what they require to accomplish their goals. This role involves developing close and long-term customer relationships. These professionals comprehend the goals and requirements of customers and offer tools to help them achieve their varied business targets. By building congenial relationships with customers, a CMS fosters customer loyalty. An efficient CSM also realises the importance of understanding the target market of a customer's company.

A CSM remains in contact with their customers throughout the sales process and continually offers post-purchase support. One of the integral parts of their job is to strengthen the relationship between their company and its customers to ensure customer retention. To succeed in this role and generate revenue for a business, they may require in-depth knowledge of their customer’s desires and interests. These professionals can find jobs in many industries, including information technology (IT) and corporate marketing.

Related: What Is Customer Service? Definition And Career Advice

How To Become A CSM?

Here are some steps you can follow to secure a job as a CSM:

1. Acquire experience working in customer-facing positions

Having worked in a customer-facing role gives you the experience to perform well in the CSM position. It equips you with the knowledge of how to interact with customers. Such opportunities may also allow you to develop your soft skills and technical abilities, like sociability and organisation. Working in customer service roles can help you gain and improve communication skills crucial to addressing customer grievances. When a candidate has many such roles on their resume, it may make them suitable for the CSM position in an organisation.

2. Familiarise yourself with customer success tools

A CSM uses a variety of tools to complete their daily tasks. Learning how to use them in advance may help you excel in a CSM role relatively fast. Familiarising yourself with these tools before applying for a CSM job can help you impress recruiters by showing your commitment to your career goals and eagerness to learn more about the position. Consider subscribing to magazines and following the latest industry trends to keep yourself updated with new software tools. After reading about them, you may utilise free trials of the programs to explore their features.

Related: Customer Service Soft Skills: Definition And Examples

3. Apply for CSM jobs

After working in customer-facing roles and building a robust portfolio, you may start applying for CSM positions. Visit job search websites or other online portals to look for a role that suits your preferences. If you wish to work with a specific company, you can visit its website and explore its vacancies. Assess the job requirements to determine if your credentials align with the position’s responsibilities. When preparing a resume or cover letter, highlight your skills and achievements to prove that you are a suitable candidate for the job.

4. Build lasting relationships with stakeholders

Getting a job is one of the first steps to becoming a CSM. After securing a job, you may start working towards building genial and lasting relationships with stakeholders. This can involve internal partners and customers. Mastering this skill can be your next step to becoming a proficient CSM. Developing and maintaining productive relationships is a core responsibility associated with this position and allows a professional to advance in their career and find more senior roles.

Related: 8 Customer Support Skills (Advantages And Ways To Improve)

Qualifications For A CSM

The qualifications for this role can vary, as CSMs may have varied backgrounds. Many organisations typically prefer a candidate with an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience. Before applying for a CSM role, consider checking if the hiring organisation desires an undergraduate degree and analysing other essential requirements.

Hiring managers often value a professional's skills and experience over their educational qualifications for this role, but many CSMs prefer to pursue an undergraduate degree in business or technology. Along with gaining and improving their skills, they may also enroll in varied certificate courses to learn more about this profession’s nuances and improve their job prospects. With certifications or specialisations, these professionals wish to possess expertise in this field.

Related: How To Manage Customer Relationships: A Complete Guide

Key Responsibilities Of A CSM

Below are some important responsibilities that a CSM may fulfil daily:

  • Growing the business by addressing customer complaints and building relationships with them

  • Conducting meetings with product and sales team to continually improve product offerings

  • Expanding the company's portfolio by cross-selling and upselling improved products to clients

  • Remaining aware of subscription services renewal dates and encouraging customers to renew them

  • Offering upgrades and additional product features to customers to help them achieve their goals

  • Asking for customer feedback to support the development team and help them improve its processes

  • Collecting and analysing data to devise ways to help customers achieve their targets by making data-driven decisions

  • Outlining and implementing compliance to various contract management policies

  • Determining the risks associated with the delivery of services

  • Maintaining the logs of contracts and preparing reports to highlight strengths and areas of improvement

  • Developing and executing a customer success plan to facilitate post-deployment adoption

  • Managing the customer onboarding strategy and becoming their voice to fulfil their requirements

Related: Guide: What Does A Customer Service Representative Do?

Skills For A CSM

Below are some skills that can help you perform your duties well as a CSM:

Technical skills

The technical skills of a CSM include the ability to use computing devices and software tools efficiently. With the help of these skills, they may use relationship management programs effortlessly. Hiring organisations also prefer candidates who possess proficiency in basic IT applications. These professionals also communicate via digital channels like email or text messages.

Relationship-building skills

A customer success process is profitable when a CSM builds and maintains strong relationships with stakeholders. When a CSM has good relationships with internal stakeholders, they may enable efficient functioning within and across teams. A CSM remains willing to acknowledge and respect individual differences to enhance these skills. These skills also help a CSM manage conflicts genially and impartially.

Related: Relationship-Building Skills (With Definition And Examples)

Communication skills

CSMs apply their communication skills to comprehend customer requirements. With these skills, they can convey their messages better and listen to stakeholders actively. These skills help a CSM to express themselves articulately, allowing them to explain products and services coherently. A CSM can also use their communications skills during sales and onboarding operations to provide information and educate customers.

Interpersonal skills

The ability to work cordially with others defines interpersonal skills. With these skills, a CSM can build close relationships with stakeholders. These skills are integral to emotional intelligence, as they help a CSM understand others’ motivations. When a CSM possesses strong interpersonal skills, they foster trust and loyalty among their company and customers, along with seamless collaboration.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

Attention to detail

These professionals may often work with data to analyse crucial business information. With their attention to detail, they can better identify information that may provide solutions to their customers. To enhance their performance, these professionals seek customer feedback continually. CSMs apply these skills to assess the feedback and determine areas for improvement. When CSMs employ these skills, they are able to complete tasks with accuracy and deliver consistency in their work.

Problem-solving skills

A CSM routinely encounters complex customer problems, team issues and other challenges. By applying their problem-solving skills, these professionals determine the root cause of a problem and devise a solution accordingly. Efficient problem solvers may also be adept at formulating creative solutions instantaneously. They are also familiar with problem-solving tools, like strategy maps, causal diagrams and flowcharts.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Organisational skills

A CSM may maintain several customer accounts simultaneously, each with distinct requirements and goals. A good organisation pay attention to customer issues to offer a personalised customer success experience. It also highlights the initiative of a CSM, including timely follow-ups and routine feedback. When a CSM knows how to prioritise well, they can better complete tasks within deadlines, helping them improve customer satisfaction and increase business revenue.

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