Understanding the Customer Success Manager Role
Tips & Insights From Customer Success Veterans at Scout RFP
Not long ago I was chatting with my dad about a dear friend of mine. "What's she do?" he asked. "Customer success," I replied.
"Is that just a fancy name for customer service?"
I laughed because I realized in this moment how I'd seen "customer success managers" crop up all over the place, but I didn't really know what they did. Ironically, my dad's job - based on his descriptions of constant maintenance of client relationships and putting out several customer fires per day - sounded an awful lot like what I knew customer success to be.
And yet his title was, "Account Manager."
The two roles are quite similar, and in fairness to my dad, the concept of a customer success manager is relatively new.
To solve the conundrum, we wanted to get some expert opinions. So we hosted a live chat with Allison Yount, Director of Customer Success at Scout RFP, and Michelle Barberini, Sales Recruiter at Scout RFP, to learn more about how they built their customer success team and what they look for in potential customer success managers.
Want to better understand what the heck it means to be a customer success manager...and how to be a good one? Watch the full video or skim the highlights below!
What's a customer success manager do, anyway? Does it differ from account management, client relationship management, etc.?
Customer Success Managers (or CSMs) work to:
- Set and meet customers' expectations
- Support Sales with contract renewals & upsells
- Onboard/train new customers, share educational resources, and explain product features
- Respond to customer inquiries (put out fires) and aggregate feedback in order to identify meaningful insights for future improvements
- And lots of other things, depending on how the CSM role is defined at a particular organization.
"I think one of the most confusing parts about customer success is that it's still finding its identity. You hear a lot of different names like account manager, customer success manager, client success manager, relationship manager, and it's really important when you're looking for a new role or listing a role in customer success to understand what the job scope is. The term 'client manager' tends to be used a lot more in marketing, PR, and consulting. On the other hand, customer success has a lot to do with tech software, and more B2B type things. A 'relationship manager' tends to be a role that's solely focused on the ongoing success of your customers, while an account manager tends to be really focused on renewals and upsells. But there is a lot of overlap, so you need to understand the role you're applying for."
Pro Tip - Because there's so much variability in customer success manager responsibilities from company to company, Allison and Michelle recommend searching for current customer success managers at the company you're applying for on LinkedIn. See what responsibilities they've included on their profiles, and then tailor your resume to show you're capable of doing that work. (Paying close attention to the job description helps as well!)
What are two traits you need to be successful as a customer success manager?
1) Problem Solving
"We're constantly developing our problem solving. Do I understand what the problem is? Do I know what their desired outcome is? What they're expect expectation for how long it's gonna take for this to get solved or how quickly they need this to be solved as, and have I asked all the right questions to be able to escalate it if I need to or to be able to break it down and deliver back the solution to them."
2) Time & Priority Management
"Everything that comes from customers is 'urgent.' It always requires an immediate response. It's in all caps sometimes, 'THIS MUST BE RESOLVED NOW!' And understanding how to dig through that to figure out what's really urgent, where your time is needed most urgently, and being able to manage all of that is really key."
What's one thing you'd recommend all customer success managers do that they might not be doing already?
"Every customer success manager should be connecting with their customers on LinkedIn. I have found that it's one of the most powerful ways to build - and maintain - relationships."
Learn about the customers you're connecting with and look for common ground:
"Do we have any connections in common? ...Do we both speak French? I'm not sure. But being able to leverage those key commonalities to get someone to let their the guard down can only be done by understanding their background."
What are the customer service values at the core of your customer success team?
"As a company, our number one company value is actually obsess over the customer. And the big three: Engage, educate, and elevate."
"I think that that actually transfers to a lot of different interactions... we constantly want to make sure we're engaging. Building those relationships. As I mentioned, networking, making them feel special, making them feel like we care, keeping them excited on phone calls, making sure that we're having a two-way conversation, educating them, not only about Scout, what we can offer, how we can help them, answering their questions clearly, and then elevating. It's not just about tactical work and interactional or transactional interactions. It's how do we take them to the next level? How do we make them feel like they couldn't do what they're doing with any other company?"
Now that you know what it takes, get ready to tailor your resume and start applying to these open customer success manager roles on PowerToFly!
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
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