- Customer Value Led Growth
- How to excel as a Customer Success Manager
How to excel as a Customer Success Manager
The years to come will be challenging for customer success managers.
Because customer expectations have reached an all-time high.
The companies who make their customers most successful will come for the customers of those who don’t.
Companies need to enable customer success excellence but it also requires CSMs to upgrade their game.
1. Change of mindset
This is the most important thing. If you don’t bring the right mindset, you are doomed to fail in the new reality.
It’s no longer enough to be a product expert. Because the technology is not your customers’ bottleneck but their skills and knowledge.
Customer success is also no longer about monitoring customers and reaching out if you anticipate a roadblock. It’s about leading customers to their desired outcomes - intentionally, accurately, and repeatedly.
The technology has to follow the strategy and not the other way around. And the strategy follows the customers’ needs. You have to prioritize customer needs over convenience and scalability.
If you want to help your customers solve their business problems you need to build subject expertise. Start by studying content in your space.
An effective way for some products is to follow thought leaders with relevance for your market space (especially in marketing and sales).
It’s also legit to learn from your customers. Identify the most successful ones that rarely, if ever, require your help. Ask them to share how they’ve solved their problems and turned them into outcomes.
The best problem solvers will see the highest demand for their services. Because that’s how you generate renewals and drive expansions, upsells, and referrals. How do you become a top-notch problem solver? Thinking deeply about solutions, creating frameworks, and running experiments.
Active listening is possibly the most underrated skill in customer success. But understanding your customers’ problems is essential for success. If you are guessing and assuming you are setting yourself up for failure.
I keep saying that teachers, coaches, and consultants make great customer success managers. Why? Because their success depends on their ability to transfer knowledge. How do you master that skill? A lot of practice and customer feedback.
You’ve got a lot of different customers in your portfolio. It’s only natural that you want to take all of your customers to the top. But some are simply not meant to be. Because they don’t have the abilities, mindset, etc. it takes to succeed. Focus on the customers with the highest success potential.
Likewise, you need to understand what works and what does not. There are so many CSMs that never measure the effectiveness of what they do. It does not matter how many customers watch tutorials or open your E-mails if they are not able to transform their learnings into progress.
Focus is also essential for your personal growth. Pick one skill or thing you want to improve every month, not all at the same time.
5. Changing your environment
Lack of leadership buy-in is a problem that many, if not most CSMs, experience at least once in their career. They have to work with small budgets and limited possibilities. There’s only one way out: showcasing the impact you make over and over in the language your leadership gets - “revenue-ish”.
Customer success managers depend on the product and the customers they get to work with. And that’s not always working out as hoped. It’s up to you to initiate cross-functional collaboration and create a win-win situation. Help your sales colleagues with verified ideal customer profiles from your existing customer base to focus on the right leads and opportunities. Qualify feature requests for the product team to improve the roadmap.
This list is far from complete but it would be too overwhelming.
It’s already a lot of information to digest in this relatively short format.
Improve your mindset, knowledge, and skills one by one.
Sharpen your focus and grow your influence over time.
Become the customer success manager you’ve always wanted to be.