What is a Customer Success Manager?

Andy Cook
October 12, 2022
What is a Customer Success Manager?

Customer success is a critical part of any business. It boosts customer satisfaction and improves the buying experience, while maximizing the chances for customer retention and brand loyalty.

To undertake a customer success strategy, however, one needs to have a customer success manager.

In this article, we explore what a customer success manager is, what skills are needed for the role, and how it benefits a business over time.

What is Customer Success?

Customer success is a business strategy that aims to ensure customers get their desired outcome when using a brand’s products or services. 

For the customer, the goal is to increase their satisfaction, while for the business, the objective is to improve the customer experience, increase customer retention, and hopefully build long-term brand loyalty.

⭐️ Read more on how to onboard a customer service manager.

How is Customer Success Different from Customer Support?

Let’s discuss what customer support is first. Customer support is reactive: it means handling issues the customer may have when they reach out to you, via phone, email or live chat. 

On the other hand, customer success is proactive – it aims to work with the customer throughout the whole customer shopping experience, not just during the aftersales part. 

What is a Customer Success Manager?

Just like you have a customer support manager to manage your CS team, there is a customer success manager to oversee the strategy for customer success, which can be an entirely separate concern.

The customer success manager is in charge of the customer success management strategy. He or she handles the customer success plan, and oversees the team tasked with implementing it. While Customer Support handles aftersales issues and concerns, the Customer Success Manager and team work to fix issues before they occur, and find new ways to improve the entire customer experience.

Depending on the size of the organization, the customer success manager may be a combined role with the Customer Support Manager, or a separate position with its own team and hierarchy detached from the CS team.

What Does A Customer Success Manager Do?

The CSM role can be summarized in four distinct points, covering different stakeholders:

Customer success manager stakeholders

1. New customers

  • Foster a healthy client relationship
  • Speed up product set-up
  • Develop avenues for customer feedback

2. Existing customers

  • Build brand loyalty
  • Act as a customer advocate
  • Increase renewals or upselling prospects

3. Customer support team

  • Help improve CS processes
  • Reduce issues and negative feedback
  • Act as an extra set of CS hands during peak season demand

4. The organization as a whole

  • Improve customer retention rates
  • Build a better brand perception
  • Enhance bottomline by reducing churn and new customer expenses

Customer Success Manager Responsibilities

The key responsibilities of a CSM include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and implementing a customer success management program that will improve the customer buying experience, from brand discovery to aftersales support
  • Hiring, training and leading customer success associates to carry out the customer success strategy
  • Working with the customer support team to improve CS processes
  • Increase customer satisfaction, help develop customer retention strategies, and reduce churn
  • Coordinate with other departments like marketing and sales to improve brand loyalty and customer reward programs, if applicable
  • Develop customer feedback channels and analyze performance and repeat business rates

What Qualifications and Skills Are Needed To Be A Customer Success Manager?

The role of a customer success manager can be a demanding one. On the one hand, you need to emphasize the client’s satisfaction and create a loyal customer base. On the other hand, it needs to be balanced with the company’s existing product or service line, its capabilities and limitations, and corporate budget.

To succeed, the ideal CSM should have the following qualities:

Good project management skills 

Customer success involves the implementation of multiple projects in order to upgrade the customer experience and service quality. The CS M should be well versed with project management and have ample experience overseeing inter-team or interdepartmental projects


The very nature of customer success demands a proactive approach: instead of reacting to feedback from customer support, the CSM team should be proactively taking steps to improve the CX and thus decrease the number of issues faced by the customer support team. This calls for a manager with a proactive, hands-on personality that takes charge of client success and builds the processes, strategy and KPIs through which success can be measured.

High Emotional Intelligence

Customer success deals with people – the clients that are the lifeblood of the business, as well as the teams that handle customers, such as CS and AE. As such, the CSM is expected to have high EQ and empathy that underpins the spirit of customer success and client-business relationships.

How is a Customer Success Manager Different from an Account Manager?

An account manager handles specific client accounts, whereas the customer success manager oversees all customer accounts.

The account manager concentrates on the client-business relationship for the accounts assigned specifically to him or her. On the other hand, the customer success manager is responsible for the whole customer relationship and experience process, from initial brand discovery to after sales support.

In short, rather than focusing on specific customers, the CSM takes a holistic view of the entire customer base, and takes proactive steps to improve and grow the organization’s clientele.

Applying For The Customer Success Manager Role 

If you’re interested in becoming a customer success manager, or you have experience in the customer success field, here’s the condensed profile of the ideal customer success manager:

  • At least 5 years of experience in a customer-facing role
  • For the manager position, you should have at least 2 years of experience handling CS team leader or associate manager duties
  • You have good leadership and project management skills as demonstrated by leading team projects to fruition
  • You have high emotional intelligence, tact and diplomacy
  • You are proactive, an innovator, and troubleshooter

If you have these qualities, you may be interested to apply for a customer success manager role with Tettra.