The role of customer success manager is one that is difficult to define. Have you ever tried to explain customer success to people outside of the software industry? It’s not easy.

Perhaps, this situation is best shown in Luke Martin’s Success or Bust comic series.

Success or Bust Job Description

Luke is a friend of Trustfuel and a Senior Customer Success Manager at Mediafly. You can see more of his work at Luke Martin Cartoons.

It’s not easy, because the field is still in it’s infancy. Customer success emerged from the rise of software as a service and subscription-based businesses.

In other business models, revenue occurred at the point of sale. With subscription businesses, little revenue occurs upfront. Most of it occurs as subscriptions renew in the following months or years.

This shift from sales to post-sales required a different type of business function. This is where customer success began to appear.

Traits of a Customer Success Manager

A good CSM is empathetic. Perhaps, no skill is more important for customer success managers than empathy. Without a solid understanding of needs and goals of customers, every renewal is being left up to chance.7

A good CSM is a communicator. Verbal, written — the CSM must be able to communicate clearly with clients. Poor communication will lead to confused and frustrated clients.

Customer communication is important, but CSMs also sit at the cross-section of several functions. Does the product team know where the product is falling short of customer expectations? Does the support team know that there are outstanding issues to be solved?

Customer success is closer to the customer than any organization in the company. When there are warning signs, they need to be communicated to other teams.

A Good CSM is a teacher. How can customers get the most value out of your product? The customer success manager should be able to provide training and resources to make sure they achieve their goals.

Customer Plus Product

Samuel Hulick, who is one of the foremost experts in user onboarding, says that you should focus on what customers can do with your product. Think of the customer as Mario and your product is the flower. When combined they become a better version of themselves — in Mario’s case gaining the ability to shoot fireballs.

A Good CSM is proactive. Perhaps, the primary difference between customer success and support is the proactive nature of customer success. By proactively reaching out and doing check-ins with customers, CSMs should be able to spot trouble from a ways away.

Traits we missed?

Are there other options we overlooked or missed? If you think so, get in touch. We’re on Twitter @Trustfuel.