3 Ways CSMs Can’t Be CSMs

I’m concerned when I see Customer Success Managers (CSMs) being focused on what I consider to be non-core functions. It could be:

  • Sales. I see CSMs that carry quotas (for net-new sales, not renewals) and, as a result, marshal their time and energy towards selling rather than adoption or retention. Of course CSMs can and should identify customer needs for additional purchases as part of their overall job, but if they are really salespeople (farmer types), let’s call them that and not pretend that they are busy building relationships. With a quota, they will always go towards the dollar signs — and customers won’t be fooled by their CSM titles.
  • Technical Support. CSMs who are responsible for support tend to spend all their time on reactive issues, either as a value-free “frontline” begging technically-knowledgeable colleagues for help, or as full-time techies that don’t really have the skills to build relationships with customers, and little inclination to do so in any case. Better to have a dedicated support team, parallel to the customer success team, so that CSMs can focus on strategic relationship building.
  • Escalation Management. CSMs need to be involved in escalation management to some degree, often coordinating communication for severe issues and following up on strategic enhancement requests, but if that’s all they do, again there’s no chance for them to get ahead of current problems. Escalation management is a part of CSMs’ duties, but should be a relatively small part.

If your CSMs have become salespeople, support engineers, or escalation managers, it’s time to realign: either pull them back into a true Customer Success role, or restructure the team.

What is the focus for your CSMs? Please share

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