For any SaaS business, its growth  and success relies heavily on the recurring business of the current customer base. Traditionally we have relied on a great product and a highly responsive support team. The SaaS businesses always get last minute surprises like churn, downgrades or licenses contractions inspite of having the best product and support team,

Despite best efforts, surprises came in pretty late in the cycle when the moment of turning around the affected customers was long gone. This led to missing revenue targets and lower than planned growth.

Role of Customer Success manager

Customer success teams were originally set up with a single goal of retaining customers.  The customer success manager role started on a simple promise of transforming customer engagement from a traditional ‘reactive’ to a ‘proactive’ mindset.

Over time the Customer Success Manager role has expanded, to things such as proactively onboarding customers.

Today a Customer Success Manager’s core responsibilities include:

  1. To make sure that the customer is getting the “Desired Outcome” by using the product.
  2. To ensure customers have a great experience with the product and at every touch point. with the company.
  3. Calculating periodic account health of (at least) key accounts.
  4. Converting customer relationship and value into real advocacy. It could come in the form of an internal NPS survey, external reviews, a case study or the good old referral.
  5. To interact with customers and figuring out what features do they require. Thereafter, in the product roadmap, the features can  be added . This way the focus will always be on making a product which the customers actually want.
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The goal is to drive recurring revenue and growth, by renewals, upsells, upgrades and expansions. Customer success is responsible for increasing the profit for the company.

As cliched as it may sound, in today’s world, the customer is the king. Keeping the customer in mind, the problem should be tackled.

Once the customer signs up , the customer success manager handles the customer. Traditionally we have seen account managers and relationship managers play these roles as well. But the skills, tasks and objectives differed.  The main difference is that for a customer success manager the only focus is to make your customers successful which will eventually lead to financial growth of the company.

So how does a CSM foresee an upcoming problem?

SaaS companies wanted CSMs to not only identify those issues early, but early enough to be fixed before the customer churned out.

One of the major problems of CSM is identifying which customers are having problems and are likely to churn out. It is difficult to guess who might be having problems. This is where the Customer Success Platforms come into play. A Customer Success Software continuously monitors every SaaS account for its product usage, product stickiness and calculates an Account Health Score. It’s this score that works as a single best parameter for CSMs to identify any problems with the account.  The work of a CSM becomes much easier, once the problem is identified. S/he can then focus on making sure that the problem is solved as soon as possible.

A CSM should be both responsible and accountable. S/he should be giving decision making powers because success or failure is also dependent on their effectiveness.

Normally a company is sales focussed. But for a SaaS company, majority of the revenue comes from renewals and upgrades. Hence, customer success in a SaaS company should be as important as sales, if not more. Otherwise it will be like filling a leaky bucket. Customer churn will be high, leading to wastage of time and several other resources. Thus, an effective Customer Success Manager is a must for any SaaS company which wants to be successful.

By dom