A Walk in the Role of a CSM

In short, the job of a CSM is to help customers achieve success. This calls for constant interaction with customers to help them throughout their lifecycle. Their duties can range from welcoming new customers onboard, to understanding and making success plans to reach their goals, to training new users and teaching them how to use new features when they are introduced. In doing so, a great portion of a CSM’s time is spent interacting with customers directly, either in attending scheduled calls, responding to questions over email, or more so in raising tickets and getting them resolved.

When their job involves facing clients, CSMs have to be prepared before every call, as they have to pick up the conversation from where they left it last time, and cover the fulfillment of previous requests. The challenging part of a CSM’s role is to face disappointed customers. It’s a real test of a CSM’s patience and people skills to get issues fixed on time, or explain the need for extra time.

CSM Responsibilities

CSMs are required to possess domain expertise, emotional intelligence, and great communication skills. In being proactive with clients, they often need help from Product, Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service. Some products or services are very technical and it’s not possible for a CSM to know every detail of the product. In this situation, they have to work with a technical support team or product manager to get the work done per the customer’s need.

CSMs may also be considered responsible for identifying opportunities to cross-sell or upsell other products or services. In some companies, CSMs are required to collaborate with Sales and Account Executives to bring in additional revenue. They are also expected to negotiate contract terms and renewals.

CSMs use dedicated platforms and tools to track metrics and inform different departments to resolve issues. CSMs drive increases in product utilization, monitor customer accounts and customer health, to increase retention and decrease churn.

Different CSMs Per Segment

Looking at these never ending responsibilities in a CSMs plate, it appears to be a wise decision to have different CSMs based on customer segmentation. Once the number of customers start increasing, it’s worth considering appointing different CSM for high-touch and low-touch clients. If a company has enough funds, then the decision to hire an additional CSM will aid quick functioning.

The high-touch model requires multiple interactions between customers and CSM. In contrast, the low-touch model requires no human interaction and clients are given tools to sort things out for themselves.

Understanding the Requirements

Let’s think again, “why” do we need CSMs based on touch level? Is it to reduce the burden on your CSM or is it a way of serving depending on the revenue you derive from clients? Whatever be the answer; the prime focus is to provide a more valuable service to clients by converging technology with a range of different services for both high and low touch.

The whole process is focused towards strengthening customer relationships. It’s crucial to keep the interaction personal, informative, and engaging with both these touch models. The two main phases that require a lot of connectivity are: onboarding and product usage.

Onboarding is the stage in which a customer is being trained to become self-sufficient in using the product to achieve his desired goal. In the next phase, it’s to help customers extract benefits from your product so that they continue using it. This process is same for both high and low-touch, all that is different is the human interaction in one and the complete automation in the other. By assigning different CSMs, it helps in monitoring and measuring usage pattern, customer health, possible churn, and even retention rate more closely.

Customer Success, as we all know, is proactive. As a result, we need to inculcate a service culture wherein, during a client meeting, CSMs can come up with plans to cover customer requirements, rather than them asking for it. For this, CSMs should have a better understanding of the clients’ desired business outcomes and their present condition.

An Answer to the Question

To conclude, the answer to the question posed in the title of this post depends on your organization’s annual sales price. Depending on the annual sales price, an appropriate customer interaction model can be strategically deployed for various segments.

When the goal of a CS team is customer happiness, the key factor they need to focus on is the appropriate engagement model that doesn’t cost them heavily and helps them monitor customer journey by interacting at appropriate touch points. In the end, it’s not so much about the high or low-touch, but about being proactive and consistent in the quality of service that a CS team puts in to solve a customer’s problems.

In most organizations, a single large client is equal to multiple small clients. High-touch customers expect white glove treatment; they demand quick fixes of issues and rapid addition of features. In an attempt to keep high-touch customers happy, CSMs can barely find time to monitor low-touch clients. As a result, lower-revenue customers tend to churn at a higher rate. Therefore, it’s important to assign a separate CSM to serve low-touch customers. Since the requirement is limited interaction, the same CSM can work with multiple low-touch customers at scale.

Shreesha Ramdas

CEO & Co-Founder, Strikedeck