Decreasing Scope of CSMs

Larry Barker
Larry Barker Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited August 2023 in CS Org Conversations

Hi Folks,

I'm considering some changes to how our CSMs operate and would love some feedback. I've tried to summarize things succinctly below, but if anything is unclear please just ask!

I'm new to my company. We've had CSMs for a couple years, but from what I've learned their roles were never particularly well-defined and I think we've struggled to figure out how to get them to proactively drive success for customers. Instead, I think they've often functioned more as a support escalation role (certain topics will get punted from support to the account's CSM, such as a customer who wants to cancel).

Current State
We have two main products: a marketplace (connecting patients to dentists; ~600 dental practices) and an insurance verification service product (brand new, ~15 practices). COVID has made growth on our marketplace challenging, so I'm not expecting much growth there in the next six months. I also don't think we'll be able to help most practices because patient volume is low (and if a practice isn't getting patients, we're not solving the core problem we're supposed to solve).

Rather than divvying up the 600 accounts between our two CSMs, I'm considering pivoting them to only work with customers of our new product (insurance verification). We're anticipating significant growth (10-20x) this year, and I see onboarding and adoption for this product as our biggest opportunity. This would mean a change for customers of our other product; rather than having a CSM to reach out to at-will, they'd only get inbound support.


Has anyone significantly changed the scope of their CSMs? Any tips or suggestions on how to navigate this decision well, or on what's worked well to communicate changes like this to customers?

Thanks much!


  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    edited January 2021
    I've dealt with this problem several times, and I like your thinking, @Larry Barker. When things are broken upstream, Customer Success falls into a Customer Support role, reacting to problems instead of preventing them from happening in the first place.

    Sometimes making clean break to fix problems upstream (what manufacturing calls stopping the line) is the best course of action. In Customer Success, that usually means starting with better onboarding. When it's done correctly, in my experience, downstream churn improves by at least 30% and CSMs are more proactive and preventative vs. being reactive. 

    In your case, it sounds like you must do things at scale, so your processes and technologies must change in addition to your CSM's roles and goals. And as you point out, you'll need to manage change internally and with your customers along the way. 

    This is a complex problem that doesn't lend itself to simple answers. If you want to talk through it further, send me an email: and we can set up a time. 
  • Christopher Simpson
    Christopher Simpson Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    edited January 2021

    I am dealing with a very similar situation.  In my case, two of my CSMs were in Support roles in the past and so the rest of the org sees them in that capacity.  I am working hard to redefine their roles within the org but running into resistance in the Support area where the resource challenge is.

    I am finding the best approach is to drive the change within my team by setting clear expectations while also being sympathetic to Support's needs.  At the end of the day though, we need to pull the band aid off if we are going to scale.  It's a challenge, however.


  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited January 2021
    For us, when we were making changes with our success/support, it all came down to top-down buy-in and the business case we presented. When revenue can be gained and costs reduced, the data speaks for itself. Additionally, we had some major customer feedback issues, and I had those business owners join the calls so they could hear directly from customers. I also created a time and benefit analysis of CSM activity to influence the decision. 

    I made the business case for reduced SMB and Mid-Market support and got sign-off from Sales (As Ed says upstream support), BD and CC Support. I also worked with CC to ensure there was an agreement of what support meant going forward and made sure any additional training was covered. Then we also worked with marketing and GTM to ensure our communications were clear on what was happening next and how they'd continue to receive support. 

    Change in roles and ownership is not easy, and I'd say that this was months in the making. It took time to gather the data and create a compelling reason to at. Additionally, I needed champions to support this effort. 
  • Christopher Simpson
    Christopher Simpson Member Posts: 9 Seeker
    edited January 2021

    I can't agree more.  Leadership and stakeholder buy in on the new model is critical to driving it successfully.