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The Rise of the Customer Success Manager

By / May 19, 2015 / , , , / 0 Comments


Mad Men was one of the best shows on TV. Sadly, it recently ended after 92 episodes spanning 7 seasons. However, what I particularly loved about Mad Men is the way the writers have portrayed the dynamic Client/Account Manager relationship: they share everything from strip clubs, prostitution, car theft, bribery, adultery… the list just goes on and on! And it’s all in a day’s work for poor Account Manager Kenny.

Even though we all know its fiction, I am grateful for the fact that Account Management has evolved since the 1960s.

The past few years has seen the emergence of Customer Success Managers, particularly in the SaaS B2B industry. In such a competitive space, the Account Manager role – whilst absolutely still relevant – needed to be shaken up a bit.

Traditionally, Account Managers only really react when there is a customer crisis or when usage is low; they would even wine and dine customers around renewal dates. But this no longer cuts the mustard for customers – and fair enough.


“Traditionally, Account Managers only really react when there is a customer crisis or when usage is low”


Customer Success Managers wear many hats. They play an integral marketing role through customer stories and referrals, and they need to have a technical background so that they can thrash out support issues (rather than handball queries to the help desk to deal with – I’m not saying take over from tech-heads, but work side by side). A successful CSM has more than just a support role, i.e. responding to tickets; they also  possess a deep consultative skill set.

Being able to ensure tickets don’t arise in the first place, not just putting out spot-fires is key to being a great CSM.

A CSM also needs to have a thorough understanding of their customers’ industry and where they are positioned amongst the competition, whilst ensuring they have a birds-eye view on the customer base as a whole. Furthermore, a CSM should also be able to identify where their product fits in line with their customer’s entire ecosystem, being able to address process issues further upstream/downstream.

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What to expect from your Customer Success Manager as a customer

When using HR Tech, the CSM is your link to the vendor.

The best Customer Success Managers maintain and grow their relationship with customers, meaning businesses don’t have to start from scratch to re-build the relationship for every project.

They should be focused on developing an ongoing, lasting relationship with you, not just up-selling and upgrading. And as a customer, you need a relationship that enables the CSM to focus on more than just mere support tickets and actually find ways to add value to your business.

Above all, you should expect the CSM to take you on a successful and seamless journey, understanding your goals and objectives and helping you achieve them.

If you’re not getting that sort of love from your CSM – find yourself a better one!