3 Principles I Learned in My First Six Months as a Customer Success Manager

January 7, 2016

Sam Feil

Customer Success Manager

I had the opportunity to join ClientSuccess as an intern. Our company, ClientSuccess, is customer success software that is revolutionizing the way SaaS companies manage, retain, and grow their existing customer base. I found myself challenged in the first few days as I began my role in the world of customer success and was lucky enough to be mentored by customer success great, Dave Blake. I learned a ton in my first six months as a customer success manager.

Here are 3 principles I learned in my first six months as a customer success manager:

1. Customer Success Starts and Ends with the Relationship

I distinctly remember a feeling of uncertainty on my part during those first few days; after all, ClientSuccess was my first exposure to working in SaaS as a customer success manager. It has been awesome to watch the discipline of customer success grow over a few short years. Customer success has gone from a new and trendy title, to essential and mainstream for successful SaaS companies. In fact, it’s now one of the hottest titles in tech.

As a previous marketing professional, my role was to discover the public’s needs and position a product solution to satisfy them. I’ve found my new role much like marketing, where I’m currently focused on discovering customer needs and helping them use our software to satisfy them. I’ve learned the importance of the building authentic relationships. Building relationships of trust is huge in my role as a customer success manager. So much so that I’ve learned that customer success starts and ends with the relationship.

2. Customer Success Managers are the Quarterback of the Relationship

While I initially thought customer success was simply a synonym for customer support, I’ve learned that’s not the case..

While customer support is often a part of customer success, it’s a function of its own. Customer support seeks to solve individual product issues and is reactive in nature as customers report problems as they occur.

Customer success managers, on the other hand, ensure that their clients are fully engaged and move quickly through the customer success lifecycle. The goal of the customer success lifecycle is to maximize customer value, build authentic relationships, and work together to drive positive organization impact.

It’s also important for me to understand customer’s goals and provide streamlined solutions to their challenges. During this process, I become the quarterback of the relationship. Working closely with other departments in our organize to ensure my customers are happy and on the path to retention.

3. Customer Success is Never Stagnant

As a customer success manager my goal is to be proactive and resourceful. I’ve learned that I have the freedom to create urgency for success throughout the lifecycle in whichever way best helps the customer succeed.

I’m nowhere near a perfect customer success manager and there is still much I need to learn, but this freedom to create urgency has taught me that success is never stagnant. We need to be creative and seek inspiration as we form customer success best practices, and understand that it’s alright to be imperfect. In fact, some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far have been from mistakes. According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, “the successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way”.

As I continue to progress in my customer success career, I am grateful for the principles I’ve learned and how they have shaped my focus as a customer success manager.


Check out our eBooks below for more customer success best practices and advice:

5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Blog Posts:

The Golden Rule of Customer Success: 8 Guiding Principles

6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

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