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What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

A Look At CSMs' Responsibilities at 6 Different Companies

Customer Success is booming. So much so that LinkedIn listed Customer Success Manager as the third most promising job in 2018.


And with a median salary of $82,300, it's no wonder that lots of folks are eager to break into this growing field.

But before you get hired, you need to be able to answer, "What does a customer success manager do?"... And know that the answer will vary depending on who you ask.

A company's size, resources, and growth strategy can all impact how the role is defined. As Customer Success grows, so does the ambiguity around what a Customer Success Manager does.

As Allison Yount, former Director of Customer Success at Scout RFP explains, "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. ...There is a lot of overlap, so you need to understand the role you're applying for."

To identify commonalities as well as differences across companies, we decided to chat with 6 of our partner companies to learn what customer success managers at their organizations do (and what they love about their roles).

In general, CSMs at each of the companies mentioned the following core responsibilities:

  1. Provide onboarding and training to customers
  2. Understand customers' needs & meet them proactively
  3. Act as a customer advocate & maintain the relationship
  4. Understand & explain product features (advocate for best practices)
  5. Grow accounts & prevent churn (supporting Sales with contract renewals & upsells)

But that's not all CSMs do! Read on to learn more about the specifics of being a Customer Success Manager at these SaaS companies, or click ahead to the company you're most interested in:

Gainsight

As the leading Customer Success platform provider, Gainsight empowers hundreds of customer-focused businesses to deliver outcomes and exceptional experiences everyday. They (literally) wrote the book on Customer Success, so who better to help us understand this growing field than Gainsight's own Senior Manager of Customer Success, Carissa Berube?

What are your main responsibilities as a Senior Manager of Customer Success at Gainsight?

  • Optimizing and evolving our CS strategy around processes, people, and technology
  • Ensuring we are delivering a combination of desired outcomes and positive experiences to our customers and determine how to define, drive, and demonstrate the value (ROI) delivered
  • Leading cross-functionally to drive customer success
  • Owning key metrics for my team (Gross Renewal Rate, Net Promoter Score, Adoption, Stakeholder Engagement, Expansion, Advocacy)

What do you love most about your role?

As a manager of CS at Gainsight, I get the unique opportunity to manage a team of highly skilled customer success professionals that share my passion for evangelizing customer success and driving meaningful outcomes for customers. I love how much I learn every day from my interactions with peers, team members, and customers.

Interested in joining their Customer Success Team? They're looking for a Customer Success Operations Intern!

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Scout RFP

Scout provides a new breed of cloud-based strategic e-sourcing solutions that help organizations achieve better outcomes and make a bigger business impact. "Our simple, effective interface enables companies to streamline supplier selection, manage vendors, centralize data, and make more informed purchasing decisions, faster."

We chatted with a four CSMs at this fast-growing startup to better understand what they do.

What are your main responsibilities as a Customer Success Manager at Scout?

  • "Customer onboarding, relationship management, and customer advocacy. From the moment a customer comes on board all the way up to the renewal, it's crucial to build and maintain a trusting relationship with the customer. CSMs have to be able to support the customer, communicate their requests, and be a professional partner, while always promoting Scout in the best light."

- Simone Janssen

  • "Owning customer relationships from on-boarding through the renewal process, understanding customer use cases of our platform and playing a consultative role to help them elevate their experience with the platform, serving as a product expert on all things Scout."

- Stephen Macko

  • "Understand what is important to my customers and help them get the most out of the product so they can achieve their goals. That way it is very easy for them to see the ROI/value that Scout provides."

- Isabel Quintero

  • "Implementing and onboarding new customers, which covers everything from scoping out their current process to configuring their new process in Scout, conducting trainings, advising on best practices and recommendations for use of software based on the vision of the customer, relaying feedback from the product team, renewing and expanding customers as their goals and our platform change."

- Kyla Miller

What do you love most about your role?

  • "My favorite part about being a CSM is the relationships you get to build. In addition, every day you interact with different people and you encounter different obstacles. This makes every day different and challenging."

- Simon Janssen

  • "The team I get to work with. My favorite part about being on the CS team is the team that I have around me, not just on my direct team but also on our Sales, Product and essentially every team in the company. Being a successful CSM is impossible without having a support system around you and I'm lucky to be able to lean on some of the smartest and hardest working people as coworkers."

- Stephen Macko

  • "I love building strong relationships with my clients, to really get to know them and understand their business needs. I enjoy helping them solve their problems as well as making them more successful and efficient in their day to day life. I come to work with a smile on my face and I really enjoy the friendly and passionate group of people I work with. There is no day I don't feel super helpful in the office, both internally and externally, helping our customers. Just the feeling of being needed, and that I can really make an impact makes me feel important."

- Isabel Quintero

  • "Helping. I love that in every aspect of my job I get to help others succeed. Whether it's helping the company bring on/maintain big new logos, helping customers make their ideal process come to life with scout, helping an AE be successful by closing a complex deal, upselling accounts to contribute to our teams success, etc. All of it gives me the opportunity to work with such intelligent successful people that challenge me in new ways everyday."

- Kyla Miller

Interested in joining their Customer Success Team? They're looking for a Strategic Customer Success Manager!

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Autodesk

Autodesk makes software for people who make things. "If you've ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software."

With 100 offices in over 38 countries around the world and more than 9000 employees, you can imagine how many customers their Customer Success team manages. As you'll see in the responses below, CSMs at Autodesk focus heavily on helping customers meet their goals & providing value at every interaction (think more proactivity and less putting out fires).

What are your main responsibilities as a Customer Success Manager at Autodesk?

  • "My main goal as a CSM is to ensure I deliver business values for the initiatives identified in the success plan and ensure our customers meet their business outcomes."

- Deepika Khowal

  • "As a Customer Success Manager, my main role and responsibilities consist in helping our customers achieving their desired business goals using Autodesk Technology, transforming their business through innovation and serving them as the day-to-day single point of contact for services and support. I'm responsible for the definition and execution of the Customer Success Plan, which is a strategic roadmap that helps our customers achieving short, mid and long-terms business outcomes. I also help our customers analyzing usage data to increase and accelerate adoption of Autodesk products in the most efficient and beneficial way, ensuring the best ROI in our solutions."

- Cecilia Fantini

  • "1) Maintaining relationship with customer with the ultimate goal to make them successful/ focus on delivering value. 2) Grow the account and build a strategic partnership. 3) Optimization of software usage (using the right tool for the desired outcome). 4) Make sure the customer utilizes the entitlements that they have paid for."

- Maria Lehmann

  • "Understanding our customers business, goals and desired outcomes so we can provide services and support that help achieve those outcomes. I ensure we are capturing the progress and value of our software and services and evangelizing this to key stakeholders across the customer's organization so they are aware of the return on their investment and benefits of their partnership with Autodesk."

- Coreda Ehrhart

What do you love most about your role?

  • "I really enjoy working with our customers , helping them be successful in their business and making them look like a Rockstar."

- Deepika Khowal

  • "I like working as a CSM because this role gives me the opportunity to work very closely with our customers and effectively helping them becoming more successful and standing out against their competitors. I like the very strong relationship that I establish with them, which allows me becoming a trusted advisor and part of their extended teams.And I love the feeling that I'm actively contributing to the success of Autodesk, by earning our customer's loyalty and trust."

- Cecilia Fantini

  • "The variety of tasks that I am involved in & ensuring that these teams add value to my customers (support, consulting, account management, PDG, live events), relationship building across various teams, freedom to explore & find new ways of creating customer value, and working internationally."

- Maria Lehmann

  • "More than anything, I love helping customers solve problems. I love to hear them talk about what they do and what they are working on and finding way to accomplish it. When they continue to ask for more and more from us, then I know we are really helping, and they see us as a trusted advisor."

- Coreda Ehrhart

Interested in joining their team? See their open roles here.

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PagerDuty

PagerDuty's platform "acts as the central nervous system for the digital enterprise, analyzing billions of signals across virtually any data source, streamlining workflows, and empowering your team to respond and resolve quickly."

We chatted with three members of their Customer Success team to learn more about their roles at this 500+ person (and growing) cloud computing company.

What are your main responsibilities as a Customer Success Manager at PagerDuty?

  • "As the Manager of North American Success I am responsible for hiring, retention and overall customer retention and satisfaction. I run regular one-to-ones and career development meetings with all of my direct reports. I meet regularly with our sales and services leadership team to align on strategic customers and company goals. Also, I manage and implement tools to help our team succeed and scale, scale, scale! I'm a "Looker Lady" managing our data tooling and reporting."

- Alisa Melville, Manager, North American Customer Success

  • "The main responsibility of a Customer Success Manager at PagerDuty is to help make customers wildly successful in the work they do by leveraging the PagerDuty platform. We build relationships with our customers, meeting them wherever they are on their journeys towards operational maturity. We support customers as they adopt use of PagerDuty, then later assist to optimize and advocate, helping each customer deliver perfect, real-time experiences for their own customers, every time."

- Margie Verdon, Senior Customer Success Manager

  • "I get to identify the customer's business and operational goals and translate those into collaborative customer-vendor projects. I project manage and ensure that shared goals and project timelines are met, celebrating wins and identifying new opportunities along the way."

- Anonymous

What do you love about your role?

  • "I love the incredible collaboration across our teams and the fact that I am always learning."

- Alisa Melville, Manager, North American Customer Success

  • "I love my team! Each member of PagerDuty's Customer Success team is brilliant in their own way. Our team is highly collaborative - challenges are discussed openly, and members are encouraged to share unique perspectives when brainstorming how to solve problems. Successes are recognized and celebrated!"

- Margie Verdon, Senior Customer Success Manager

  • "It's a dynamic, challenging, and energizing role. We have the autonomy to becomes better customer success managers and a better team. Being given the space to self-improve acts as a compelling mechanism to challenge ourselves and think of innovative ways to solve complex problems. Another highlight for me is the collaboration. When collaboration works well, unique B2B partnerships are developed and we achieve shared goals across companies. Being part of that collaborative process is extremely rewarding."

- Anonymous

Interested in joining their team? Check out Manager, Customer Success

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YouCanBook.me

YouCanBook.me is one of the fastest-growing scheduling tools in the world. Customer Success is key at this 100% remote company, given that their tool is used by hundreds of thousands of users and customers... so we chatted with Anna Jacobsen, Head of Customer Success and Onboarding to learn more!

What are your main responsibilities as a Customer Success Manager at YouCanBook.me?

  • "YouCanBook.me users rely on us for support (we support our users through email), but the heart of our job as customer success managers at YouCanBook.me is solving our users' issues before they even happen. This includes analyzing cohorts of successful users, identifying what common actions they take, and using those success templates to create more successful users through education and coaching."

What do you love most about your role?

  • "I love helping users do their job better than before they came to us. It's exciting to think of this role as a consultant might serve a client: as the experts in online scheduling, we can help our users uncover the hidden work of hiring the best candidate before someone else does, closing a big deal, or building their own customer success meeting strategy. The best part of this job is thinking about customers as clients that deserve our attention not just in solving their issues in support, but making them exceptional at their job do be done."

Interested in joining their team? Follow YouCanBook.me here to learn about new openings!

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Relativity

Relativity makes software to "help users organize data, discover the truth, and act on it." With over 180,000 users in 40+ countries, including more than 70 Fortune 100 companies, you can bet their Customer Success Team has a lot on their plate. We chatted with two of their CSMs to get an inside look.

What are your main responsibilities as a customer success leader at Relativity?

  • "I work with a team of Customer Success Managers (CSMs) to drive customer value from our product and increase the subscription renewal as well as growth. Relativity is a highly customizable expert platform, so driving value for customers requires a proactive approach to understanding their specific use cases, training stakeholders, and helping them navigate technical or business roadblocks. Day to day, this means my time is spent split between working with my team on approaches for specific customers and collaborating with internal teams like project managers to address customer feedback and continuously improve user experience."

- Brianna Bogan, Senior Manager, Customer Success Management

  • "I am responsible for customer adoption and utilization of Relativity. Ultimately my job is to work cross-departmentally to advocate for our customers, address their challenges, and foster a company-wide culture of customer success."

- Kyra Saley, Customer Success Manager

What do you love most about your role?

  • "I love that Customer Success straddles the technical and commercial aspects of our software. It requires both a knowledge of the customers' business and expertise in the product to be able to identify and drive the value proposition. I get to work with a smart team who is passionate about helping their customers and also nerdy about the complex data problems Relativity is solving."

- Brianna Bogan, Senior Manager, Customer Success Management

  • "I love the team that I work with and the customers I work on behalf of. Not only is the work interesting and challenging, but it enables me to interact with a diverse set of organizations and learn about new and interesting trends in the industry."

- Kyra Saley, Customer Success Manager

Interested in joining their team? Check out Senior Customer Success Manager & Customer Success Manager

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In Person Events

Audible Wants You to Join Their Team!

Network with Audible's thought-leaders and connect on #PowerToFly.

Audible believes that companies can have hearts and souls and missions that transcend financial success — what a company means vs. what a company does.

If you're interested in joining their team, check out this video from our recent event in Newark, NJ, and visit Audible's page on PowerToFly to learn more about the company and their open roles.

Here's what one attendee had to say about the event: "Had an amazing time. Very informative and very impressed with the Audible footprint in Newark!"

Whether you're interested in building consumer facing software that's in the hands of millions of listeners globally or building behind the scenes systems that power what we do, Audible has an opportunity for you. Join a community that's growing at the speed of the spoken word.

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