A Day in the Life of 7 SaaS Customer Success Managers

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Note: This post was written by Luiz Centenaro, Head of Sales & Customer Success at my company Mailshake 

I was hired by Experient Engine in 2015 as a “Customer Success Manager.” 

Pop quiz: What exactly is that? 

If you don’t know, you’re not alone. At the time I was living in Medellin, Colombia, and I had to Google “What does a Customer Success Manager do?” to find out. Two weeks later, I moved to Austin, Texas with two suitcases and a mission to help customers succeed using our optimization software. 

Fast forward to 2019, and I’m now leading Customer Success at Mailshake. 

But that still doesn’t answer my question: what does a customer success manager (CSM) do? In short, they do everything necessary to ensure clients are getting full value from a product or service. They bridge the gap between sales and support, and they’re available at every stage of the buyer’s journey. 

Visually, they cover the whole spectrum.

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According to Jonathan Silva, customer success includes:

  • Reducing churn
  • Increasing revenue
  • Promoting advocacy 

Churn, revenue, and advocacy. Those are three – perhaps the three – most important elements for any successful business. And a CSM is involved with all of them.

Customer success managers are hot commodities. A quick look at Google Trends demonstrates just how significantly interest in the role has increased since 2004:

No wonder then that Linkedin identified CSM as the third-fastest-growing role across all industries in 2018.

Interested? Want to hear more about a day in the life of a CSM? I’ve got you covered. I asked seven friends to share more on this new and exciting role, and what a typical day as a CSM looks like for them. 

Qapital is a full-service banking app that puts individual needs front and center. It helps users to create goals, set rules, participate in challenges, save smartly, and invest confidently.  

As the resident CSM, I oversee somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 clients. 

My Typical Day

Qapital is a B2C service, so a lot of my attention goes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and app store reviews. Those are some of the channels our clients use to communicate, ask questions, voice concerns, and provide feedback. 

Email also plays an important role in connecting us with our users, so I next turn my focus to my personal inbox and assist my team in tackling and dealing with what can be a very long email queue each day. 

Through these interactions, I’m able to see what’s working and what’s not from the front lines. Any serious issues brought to my attention that can’t be resolved on my end are escalated to our developer team for the appropriate fix. It’s all about providing the support and education necessary for them to maximize the value of Qapital for them. 

At the end of every week, I provide a product feedback summary to management based on my conversations with our customers. 

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Retention and support satisfaction.

Key Goals: Growth via retention and acquisition, and offering exceptional customer support.

Interdepartmental Communication: I have bi-weekly meetings with sales and marketing personnel in addition to open communication via Slack. My feedback is tremendously beneficial to both of them because I’m working so closely with our end users. 

Impact of Customer Success: A focus on the intricacies of our platform has allowed us to provide consistently exceptional support at every stage of the user experience.

ePayPolicy was designed from the ground up by insurance experts for the insurance industry, allowing them to quickly and securely collect payments from clients.

I was the CSM for a little under two years with a portfolio of 1,400 customers, and I now work as a Product Specialist.    

My Typical Day

I’m a jack-of-all-trades, and I multi-task from the moment I arrive at work. My days include engaging with clients via live chat, answering support tickets and email, onboarding new accounts while providing them with the necessary training, activating, and underwriting, and even handling inbound customer support telephone calls. 

I do it all. If a customer needs something via any of our available channels, I’m at the other end providing it. 

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Mainly quantitative figures like number of telephone calls answered, daily number of live chats and emails handled, and number of account activations within one day of application. 

Key Goals: Fewer missed calls during business hours. A client taking the time to actually call wants the immediacy of speaking to a live human being. 

Interdepartmental Communication: Our departments are all rather small and share a work space, so most of the communication is face-to-face. We also use Slack. 

Impact of Customer Success: Response time has been shortened because of our full-time and knowledgeable support team.

Winner of the 2020 SIIA CODiE award for Best Customer Data Platform, Strikedeck provides a unified record for each individual customer on a single dashboard, complete with real-time updates and alerts. 

Working with several clients, I ensure they hit their business goals by utilizing everything the platform has to offer them. 

My Typical Day

My time is rather evenly split between handling customer email, answering customer support calls, and dealing with customer experience (CX) requests and meetings. That may involve my customers, our internal CX team, and/or executives I’ve worked with in the past.

Understanding and optimizing the customer experience from start to finish is one of the best ways to ensure customer success. It needs to be a priority. 

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Retention, expansion, and churn.

Main Goals: At the risk of repeating myself, retention, expansion, and churn. If something is a key performance indicator, it should be a goal as well. 

Interdepartmental Communication: Our team has the most data points from our direct engagement with clients, so we frequently communicate findings and insights to other departments.

Impact of Customer Success: Ensuring customer success lets us build stronger customer relationships.

The Spendesk mission is to simplify the lives of CFOs and other finance professionals with software and service that makes business spending easy.

I was Head of Customer Success at Spendesk for three-and-a-half years, before becoming Product Marketing Manager in August 2019. During that time, I took the lead with all the teams at Spendesk to deliver our promise.

My Typical Day

It might be a shorter list to discuss the things I didn’t do during a typical day as a CSM. New customer onboarding via calls and face-to-face meetings, following up with existing customers, gathering feedback to deliver to other departments, rolling out new features through collaboration with the product managers, and various long-term customer success projects were just a few of my areas of responsibility.

I communicated with virtually everyone, both within and without the company, on a daily basis.   

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Customer satisfaction and happiness are crucial for a business like ours, so both Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) are important. We also keep a close eye on new MRR from expansion, our churn rate, and our employee penetration rate.   

Key Goals: Our top priority is to help our clients meet their goals, and a byproduct of that is showing them the value they get from our product. We want them to see the positive ROI. On a monthly basis, we’re looking at revenue growth, low churn, and a decreasing deployment time.

Interdepartmental Communication: Bi-weekly meetings with the Heads of Sales, Customer Success, Marketing, and Customer Support, in addition to weekly meetings with the CSM and Account Executives. 

Impact of Customer Success: I was the first employee, so customer success has always been a focus at Spendesk. 

Optimizely is the leading experimentation platform for enterprise-level SaaS companies. With it, businesses can experiment and innovate across product and marketing teams, as well as across websites, mobile apps, and connected devices.   

As the Lead Enterprise Customer Success Manager, I oversee 15 clients with an average MRR of $30,000 (although every book varies at Optimizely). 

My Typical Day

My number one job is to make sure my clients see a positive ROI on their investment with us. Much of my day-to-day revolves around executing joint value statements and success plans that I’ve created with my customers. 

I’ll manage calls on topics ranging from experimentation methodology to organizational change management, take point on business reviews, participate in planning and strategy meetings, connect internal and external teams, share product updates, train new teams or members, and manage escalations when they occur. 

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Adoption and renewal, measured by monthly active users and net retention, respectively.

Key Goals: Provide my customers with everything they need to truly leverage the power of Optimizely, help them mature and scale their efforts, and see my champions get promoted. 

Inter-department Communication: The three pillars of Sales, Success, and Marketing work closely together: I collaborate frequently with Marketing on reports, case studies, events, and more, while I partner with Sales to deliver consistent alignment and value.

Impact of Customer Success: Their success is my success, so it has created trusted advisor partnerships with my clients.

Have you noticed how often retention and churn have been mentioned in this post? These are two big areas of focus for SaaS and subscription companies. In our 2019 Customer Retention Survey, we found out that retention is a top priority for 97%(!!!) of businesses today. At Brightback, we help companies automate retention and reduce voluntary churn for their high-volume customer base. 

In my role as a CSM, I show our customers opportunities to save subscribers at the point of cancel and reduce churn by 15%.

My Typical Day

My work consists of engaging with current customers and creating processes to better serve them. Customer engagement comes in the form of onboarding, account analysis and suggestions, and renewals, and typically takes up 80% of my day. For the other 20%, I’m creating processes like developing our Customer Health Index Score and iterating on our onboarding flow.

As the first customer success hire, I’ve built customer onboarding, engagement, adoption, and renewal processes from the ground up. It’s super-rewarding to watch our customers grow their businesses by retaining their subscriber base, and I love that this growth is a part of every day at Brightback!

At a Glance

Main KPIs: My main goal is helping our customers save 15% or more of their cancellations. Internally, my goals are 100% gross customer retention based on an MRR basis and consistent reporting via our Customer Health Index Score.

Interdepartmental Communication: Brightback is a remote-first company, so strong communication is our key to success. The entire company hears customer feedback every week in a stand-up and Slack channel. But we dive into the details, too. For example, our sales and marketing teams want to know exactly how our customers are using and finding success with Brightback, so we meet formally on a weekly basis.

Impact of Customer Success: Customer success was the first hire for Brightback, so it’s always been a top priority. Retention is at the core product and it’s the core of our business, too. 

Marketing in 2019 and beyond is essentially online marketing. Perhaps not exclusively, but certainly primarily. The CXL Institute offers online courses on growth, analytics, persuasion, digital marketing, and more, all by the top 1% of marketing practitioners. 

I am the resident CSM, and I provide whatever the Institute students need in order to maximize and supercharge their experience with the platform. 

My Typical Day

The Institute is pretty lean, so my responsibilities cover quite a bit of ground on a daily basis. From one day to the next, I cover customer support, sales via live chat with prospects, current user outreach, onboarding, and churn outreach. 

If it has to do with new or existing students, I’m probably involved in some capacity. 

At a Glance

Main KPIs: Churn rate, net promoter score, and the number of lessons completed … as an educational platform, the number of lessons completed is a direct reflection of our engagement.

Key Goals: I’m building a success team from scratch, so my priority is to do just that. I’m continuously aiming to get better, faster, and more efficient in our efforts. 

Interdepartmental Communication: I get together with both Sales and Marketing every week, to say nothing of the quick daily messages and chats we have all the time. Small teams have that luxury.  

Impact of Customer Success: The biggest impact has been identifying what we’re doing well, and what we need to improve. That’s invaluable information. With that kind of insight, we can maximize and increase the value we’re delivering to our students.

Conclusion

With so many options available for almost everything – and the dropping cost of switching from one provider to another – a SaaS company needs to re-earn their business and trust every month or every year.

And that’s where the Customer Success Manager comes in, driving both growth and retention. 

Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue, says customer success is not glorified support. 

It’s a growth engine that drives revenue. 

Are you doing everything you can in that department? 

Share your experience as a CSM in the comments below:

Image: Pixabay





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