What Does a Customer Success Manager Do? Your Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Customer success managers support customers from prospects to active users with a focus on generating customer loyalty. Learn more about this key business career.

[Featured image] A customer success manager meets with a client in an office setting.

As a customer success manager, sometimes called a client success manager, customer service manager, or CSM for short, you’re tasked with building customer loyalty and fostering long-term customer relationships by ensuring that customers have a positive experience. You’ll address customer concerns and provide customer support. 

While working in this managerial position, you may be responsible for ensuring a positive relationship with customers, managing customer satisfaction, and using customer service data to set and enforce customer service goals for the company. Important tasks might include:

  • Managing interactions between customers and the company

  • Acting as a sales guide for customer-facing employees

  • Guiding new and existing customers through the sales funnel

  • Fostering customer retention by ensuring a smooth customer journey

  • Training employees on how to provide customer assistance

  • Managing a sales or customer support team

  • Collecting and analyzing data to improve customer service health

Learn more about the everyday tasks of a CSM from industry leaders at Salesforce:

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What does the average work day look like for a customer success manager or CSM?

Customer success manager skills 

The most effective managers have the ability to employ certain technical and people skills every day. These critical skills can be helpful to anyone working in this role: 

Technical skills

  • Project management 

  • Onboarding 

  • Data analysis 

  • Customer service 

  • Product or service support 

  • Budget management 

  • Record keeping 

  • Customer service goal creation 

  • Financial goal setting 

Workplace skills 

  • Leadership 

  • Patience  

  • Teamwork 

  • Communication 

  • Problem-solving 

  • Sound judgment 

  • Confidence 

  • Adaptability 

  • Positivity 

Customer success manager salary

A customer success manager's salary varies by location, company, and years of experience. The average salary for a customer success manager in the United States ranges is $86,634 a year, according to Glassdoor (March 2022) [1]. 

Because many customer success managers work on commission in addition to a base salary, the types of goods or services sold can greatly affect their income.  

How to become a customer success manager

You don’t necessarily need a college degree to become a customer success manager, so experience in leadership and management can give you a competitive edge. Because traditional career paths for customer success managers involve managing people, moving into a leadership position will give you that experience. 

Focus on what type of customer success manager job you’d like to have. Narrow down the industry and look for industry-specific requirements beyond customer service and management skills. Some companies prefer candidates who are proficient in their industry. For example, a tech company may seek out an individual with experience in product management or product training for a tech company similar to theirs. 

Depending on the company, you may find yourself following a sales pathway, while in other companies you may follow a marketing pathway. 

Becoming a customer success manager may involve these steps: 

  1. Hold an entry-level position as a customer service representative

  2. Transition into a team leadership role overseeing a small group of employees. 

  3. Move into a managerial role.

  4. Work towards a specialization, such as product development or maximizing profit growth rate.  

  5. Seek out a customer success manager position within your company, or apply to similar companies if yours does not have openings in this position. 

Customer success manager career path 

This position straddles several departments which allows for a good amount of mobility. It’s an evolving and relatively new position. As a customer success manager, you may choose to move into other management roles or change departments.

Most customer success managers follow the sales or marketing pathway within a company. This means that a customer success manager may step into the role of manager of other customer success managers, account executive/account manager, product sales/marketing manager, product management, or enterprise customer success manager. 

You may find yourself on the pathway to positions like vice president of sales or chief customer officer (CCO) if you stay with a company for a while and gain success and experience in your roles. 

Get started with Coursera

Take the next step toward a career as a customer success manager by building your customer service and leadership skills now. Gain job-ready skills in sales operations with the Salesforce Sales Operations Professional Certificate, or develop your management skills with the Leading People and Teams Specialization from the University of Michigan.

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Article sources

1. Glassdoor. "Glassdoor Customer Success Manager Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Glassdoor-Customer-Success-Manager-Salaries-E100431_D_KO10,34.htm." Accessed March 29, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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