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5 ways to be on top of the game as a customer success manager

Customer Success Manager & CSM responsibilities

When you look at a masterpiece, it’s not only the painting that gives you pleasure—it’s also the brushstrokes you see only when you stand up close. Yes, the quote is cheesy. But when you, as a Customer Success Manager, have to excel in your role, there are several small steps you need to take to be on top of your game. After all, all the little things that we do in our day-to-day work culminate to create that winning stroke.

Here are the 5 things that can help you to scale up in your role

#1: Have an Engagement Strategy

As the Customer Success domain evolves, the role of CSMs continues to focus beyond creating a meaningful relationship, and creating value with every conversation is the need of the hour. For a CSM handling multiple customers at a time, the most crucial thing is to have an engagement strategy.

The key is to have an engagement calendar that can cover multiple topics encompassing all aspects – product updates, best practices, new ideas to use the products/other use cases that are relevant for the customers and can be implemented easily, newsletters, industry news, webinars, round tables, etc. The communication channel and sponsor engagement also play a big role here – have relevant content for champions, sponsors, tech teams, users, etc. 

Monitor usage surges or drops, or any new/unusual behavior in terms of product usage. 

All of these things helped me create a two-way communication system with my customers and helped me stay in constant touch with them.

#2: Be Data-Driven and Articulate

Numbers talk with the loudest voice! Remember – you are a trusted advisor for the customer. If the numbers (in terms of usage, users using/getting benefited from the product/services you are offering) are in your favor, then you are in luck. If otherwise, then you have to don your consultant’s hat and brainstorm with the customer on how to make things work. Historically, I have made it a practice to share a few reports with my customers which help us stay on top of the implementation and demonstrate commitment to incrementally improve. These reports could be:

Data Driven CSM responsibilities
  • Progress Charts- a summary of what has been done so far, and what’s planned with tentative timelines/due dates – typically, success milestones.
  • Issue Status – open tickets and their resolution status.
  • Value Reports – ideally, this should be discussed during business reviews. But in the case of low-touch / low-ticket value customers, this can be shared periodically. What kind of value our product/services can generate for the customer – in terms of savings (money/ time/ effort) or increasing revenue? In simple words – how we are making the customer’s life easier and how we are helping them achieve their goals.

I want to emphasize the last point again – it’s imperative for CSMs to start thinking about the impact of their product in terms of savings or revenues for customers, and articulate the value of their product in the language of their customers.

#3: Be a Subject Matter Expert

Keep up with industry trends. Connect with industry experts. Learn as much as you can about the industry that your product/service is in. More importantly, try to keep up with the latest trends in your customer’s industry and their line of business.

    • There is nothing that can help you gain your customer’s confidence more than your knowledge. To get started on product knowledge – talk to the product team, other CSMs, the support team, the tech team, and engineering. Understand from the Marketing team what features and use cases they are promoting.
    • Understand the product completely from the user’s perspective – understand who your target audience is and how they will be using your product, what kind of problems they face, and how your product is going to resolve it. This is the most critical part of your job – you have to understand the gap/problem that your customer is facing before suggesting any solution.
    • Talk to industry experts to stay on top of industry trends. Read their articles/blogs. The more you know about the industry, the better you can talk to executives.
    • Know about the customer’s competitors, and what kind of strategies they use. If something can be implemented at your customer’s end as well.

    #4: Focus on Product Adoption

    CSMs have many responsibilities – onboarding and training new customers, implementing solutions, project management, creating reports, EBRs, working with marketing for case studies, testimonials, managing renewals, upgrades, and so on… At the top of that list should always be Product Adoption. Once the product (that you are offering) is adopted at the customer’s end, it’s going to be easier for you to focus on the bigger picture like renewals, upgrades, referrals, and so on. The motto should be “Add Value, Don’t Sell”.

    #5: Organize Your Day/Week

    CSMs have a busy life that is jam-packed with tons of tasks, meetings, and operational work. Organizing your time in the best possible way to ensure you are getting the best out of your time is the key. The first thing I like to do as soon as I reach the office is open my email and check what is sitting in my inbox. Next is the calendar. When I know what I have to deal with that day, I jot down everything priority-wise in my notebook (yes, I am an old school that way). With CSMs involved in “n” number of teams, customers, groups, tickets – externally and internally, it’s easy to lose sight and get lost in the middle. I consider myself fairly organized, but still, I get overwhelmed at times.

    You can use any tool which is available online or use Google Tasks, or just a pen and paper would work.

    Read about the Eisenhower matrix; the key here is to know what needs your attention immediately and what can be pushed.

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      Picture of Kritika Kishor

      Kritika Kishor

      Customer Success Strategist | I help SaaS companies achieve exceptional customer satisfaction, customer retention and growth through strategic customer success initiatives.

      What is AppEQ? 


      AppEQ is a lightweight customer data activation plugin that brings customer data like product usage data/trends right at CSM’s fingertips , on their existing applications like Inbox/CRM /CSP /HelpDesk. We integrate data directly from product analytics like Pendo, Mixpanel, Amplitude and CRM like Salesforce, Hubspot etc. 

      Our capability to bring this within your existing applications through our in-app widgets  leads to much higher adoption  and implementation time of 1 week or less

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