Curiosity about the Most High-Effort Tasks of a Customer Success Manager

rahul_choudhary Member Posts: 10 Navigator
First Comment Name Dropper
edited August 2023 in CS Conversations

📣 Hey folks,

I hope you're all doing fantastic today!

I've got a burning question that's been on my mind, and I could really use your valuable input. 🤔

When it comes to being a Customer Success Manager: What do you consider as the most high-effort activities for a Customer Success Manager?

Whether you've had firsthand experience in this role or you're an eager observer, I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts. 🚀 



  • rdesmarais
    rdesmarais Member Posts: 14 Navigator
    First Comment 5 Insightfuls Photogenic

    Two things come to mind: 1) renewals and 2) escalations

    Renewals take effort because of the ongoing conversations with your customer as you work towards reviewing and verifying their desired outcomes; escalating questions internally to get the answers you don't have; leaning on the sales team for assistance in crunching the proposals for the renewal, many of which you'll need to get sign off, if you can at all. You also prepare the deck for the renewal meeting and coordinate meeting essentials such as ensuring the right people will be on your call, avoiding any surprises, and much more.

    But the effort which is less glamorous is when a CSM needs to fight for their customer and escalate an issue. It could be a bug or a feature request that has dragged on for too long on the product roadmap. And the CSM often needs to confirm assistance from the Product or Engineering in the form of information or even meeting attendance and engagement with the customer. At times, the CSM needs to be pulled into support ticket issues because they are getting out of control or the trending is poor and requires another set of eyes and the customer insists on having their CSM get more involved (even though I feel the Support team management should be in discussions with the customer when things get heated so as to not leave the CSM looking like the 'bad cop'. Some customer escalations are so diverse and broad in scope since so many issues are in play, the CSM needs to create and manage an escalation document such as Excel or Google Sheets to help track what the issues are, their status, their ETA, the person assigned to owning it, etc., etc.

  • Nbaxby
    Nbaxby Member Posts: 5 Navigator
    Name Dropper First Comment Photogenic

    100% agree. There is so much data in all different systems that has to be extracted and analyzed in order to really understand the health of the customer and then present it in a meaningful way. Even with templated presentation, it just isn't scalable. Looking forward to implementing a CS tool. Just trying to make sure we choose correctly.

  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 205 Expert
    First Anniversary Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Comment

    This is what I have spent the most time on too. Even with automated tools, calling out what matters can vary from org to org and pulling that out can be very time consuming.

  • Sruthi Ramachandran
    Sruthi Ramachandran Member Posts: 4 Navigator
    First Anniversary First Comment

    I concur with the above comments especially escalations (it's good to always be paranoid) and would also like to add one more important activity which is identifying the core business priorities and success metrics for a customer that can make or break a renewal. This is a painful activity since priorities are always changing in this market condition.

  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 75 Expert
    5 Insightfuls First Anniversary Name Dropper
    To me, Escalations are the heaviest lift. We have to analyze, guess, think, ask, stress, prepare, develop options, work cross-functionally, have calls with various parties, explain, share data, review history, develop a plan, forecast, etc...all for something that may result in a churn in the end - then review what happened. It's A LOT. 

    I'm curious too...what is the genesis of the question? Is there something you'd be doing with this information? 

  • chrisdishman
    chrisdishman Member Posts: 9 Navigator
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Comment Name Dropper

    +1 on escalations. And agree on understanding and visualizing customer data to showcase in a way that makes sense and tells a story. I have seen this take a LOT of time when you are dealing with Higher Touch Clients and customized business review decks, or meetings.

    A CSP with the right data can for sure help with this. Just has to be well implemented and be able to showcase your trends, utilization on key elements that matter, value realization, etc. (happy to discuss if you would like) ;-)

    While I have not had renewals as a drag on the team, I have seen issues with customer training and/or ticket follow through. (which could be lumped into escalations). Good KB, LMS and a strong support process can help those, but the CSM is typically the one chasing resolution which can take cycles.

  • rahul_choudhary
    rahul_choudhary Member Posts: 10 Navigator
    First Comment Name Dropper

    @Brian Hansen I am working to write a blog article underlining various high effort responsibilities a CSM perform and how they deal with them.

    Since this community consists of experts in the CSM field, I thought I can get real answers rather than generic ones I found on google.

  • Dayna Trautwein
    Dayna Trautwein Member Posts: 7 Contributor
    First Comment First Anniversary

    +1 on the data piece as it relates to storytelling, both internal and external. I've worked at both mature orgs with a TON of organized data (and teams to support pulling it) and very early stage start-ups (where there is chaos in terms of data organization and how to get it...if you even can) and sharing the right information at the right time, to the appropriate audience takes a lot of time, effort, and skill.

    How a CSM can tell a story with data is something that I've personally seen separate good/okay CSMs from great CSMs. Great, you got a 50-slide deck with data points all over it, but what does it even mean? Who are you presenting it to? Would they be able to re-tell the story you presented them afterwards? Finding the right metrics to share with your audience and tailoring it to them is a critical skill - but dang, it can take a lot of time!

  • JohnGieschen
    JohnGieschen Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    Name Dropper First Comment Photogenic

    I think @Dayna Trautwein really nails it :

    "How a CSM can tell a story with data is something that I've personally seen separate good/okay CSMs from great CSMs."

    Developing your teams creative abilities, the skills to tease stories out of the data and the holistic view of the account, may not feel like a high effort activity because it is born of the creative mind which requires quiet and mental space and is not something you can put the shoulder to the wheel like other activities, however it is this ability to foster and develop creativity that can really make them highly effective and show your org that CS is able to surface, nurture and develop value in areas that were previously hidden from sight.

  • josephloria
    josephloria Member Posts: 3 Navigator
    Name Dropper First Comment Photogenic

    Interesting question. I'd argue it might help to qualify this as high effort + high value, as my guess is that many spend lots of effort on lower-value activities. But if you think toward the realm of high effort stuff that is also high value, I'd say the hardest thing is to really execute on a success plan inside of a customer org. Finding true and tangible business objectives, locating the true stakeholders, getting their buy-in, solidifying the business case and making sure the customer "buys" it is all pretty taxing, and pretty high value to boot.