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A Customer Success Manager’s Role in SaaS & Why It’s Important

A Customer Success Manager’s Role in SaaS & Why It’s Important
Allie Smith
July 16, 2020

It is said that without the customer’s success, there is no success for your business. That's why the most astute B2B companies have dedicated SaaS Customer Success Manager(s) that focus on helping customers achieve their goals. These companies have moved out of the traditional reactive mindset and into a smarter, more proactive one.

Working towards your customers’ success and your company’s success requires a fearless leader, and that leader is the SaaS Customer Success Manager (CSM). Customer Success Management is a rapidly growing community dedicated to maximizing profitable customer relationships by reducing churn and growing recurring revenue.

A recent LinkedIn survey named the role of SaaS Customer Success Manager as one of the top ten most promising jobs in the United States, with a median base salary of $88,500 and a Career Advancement Score of 9 out of 10. Interested in learning more? Read on.

What does a SaaS customer success manager do?

A SaaS Customer Success Manager supervises a cross-functional team dedicated to Customer Success. They work directly with customers to ensure they are getting the most out of a product or service.

Furthermore, a Customer Success Manager acts as a liaison between service and sales, incorporating product expertise and customer feedback. In order to succeed in this role, this person needs:

what you need to succeed in customer success
  • In-depth knowledge of the product or service
  • Understanding of the customer and their needs
  • Skills to proactively orchestrate the customer’s journey towards their goals

Essentially, the SaaS Customer Success Manager analyzes the goals of the customer and their own company, maps out the steps to achieve these goals, and then takes action to ensure they are met. Performance and success in this role are based on:

Key functions and responsibilities of a SaaS customer success manager

SaaS Customer Success Managers create policies and procedures that optimize the customer experience. Depending on the size of the company, this person may work alone or manage a team that works directly with customers. Either way, the SaaS Customer Success Manager ensures the following are carried out:

  • Customer onboarding, training, and support
  • Making customers aware of resources such as knowledgebase articles, tutorials, how-to videos, and webinars
  • Gathering customer feedback and sharing it internally to improve the product and/or establish better Customer Support practices
  • Analyzing customer data and helping them discover aspects of the product that are most beneficial to them
  • Carrying out periodic health checks to avoid churn
  • Firefighting during account escalations
  • Account management and renewals
  • Keeping customers updated on changes to the product they’re using, new features, and new products they might find useful
  • Encouraging customer advocacy through internal NPS surveys, external reviews, case studies, testimonials, and referrals
  • Upselling and cross-selling through review of customers’ progress‍
A day in the life of Carlos: Customer Success Manager at Demodesk

A day in the life of Carlos: SaaS Customer Success Manager at Demodesk

  1. Prepares “bad-ass” Event Types and Playbooks with self-updating templates for Key Accounts
  2. Facilitates check-in, support, and (re)onboarding calls with customers, utilizing:
    - Transferring information to and from Salesforce using custom tokens
    - Sharing the web app and virtual screen-sharing functionality to understand customer challenges
  3. Create follow-up tasks for internal and external purposes
  4. Distribute help center articles and give support with technical issues or feature requests
Demodesk sales meeting software (playbooks)

In general, Carlos makes sure he has regular check-ins with current customers and schedules customized onboarding sessions with new customers. This also includes scheduling and facilitating Demodesk best practice calls and real-time support through Intercom.

Example job posting for a Demodesk CS manager

As a SaaS Customer Success team member, you will guide & advise a wide variety of customers, ensure they launch Demodesk successfully, and are continually driving business value from Demodesk. You'll work closely with customers to discover their business needs and challenges. This also includes coaching them on the best ways to use Demodesk to solve their main pain points.

Working closely with Demodesk’s Sales and Product Team, you'll provide input into strategic customer plans to help identify areas where existing customers could improve their use of Demodesk. From time to time you may also work with Account Executives to advise prospective customers on the best ways to launch Demodesk within their company.

Demodesk product demo guide

As a Demodesk SaaS Customer Success Manager, you are continually focused on helping our customers improve their sales demos and onboarding processes with Demodesk.

Your Profile:

  • Multiple years of experience in customer-facing customer success, account management, or strategic consulting organization (experience in B2B SaaS is a plus.)
  • Self-motivated, proactive team player with innovative ideas to inspire customer loyalty and adoption.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Experience building strong internal and external relationships.
  • Consistent track record of highly professional customer service in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.
  • Presents diplomacy, tact, and poise under pressure when working through customer issues. What Does a SaaS Customer Success Team Look Like?
The Customer Success Team and it's structure

As said before, a SaaS Customer Success Manager’s role is not one size fits all. The position will vary based on the size of the company and the intricacy of the product. That being said, the SaaS Customer Success Manager oversees customer satisfaction and retention and works proactively to prevent churn. Here are five typical positions in a SaaS Customer Success Team that helps support the SaaS Customer Success efforts.

Onboarding specialist

This is your product expert and the first contact a customer has after signing on. This person oversees the training and configuration of the software for the client and makes them aware of resources for self-education.

Support agent

This is another name for a Customer Support rep who manages tickets and incoming requests from clients. The difference here is that the support agent who reports to the SaaS Customer Success team is more technical than the typical support agent and can help customers navigate software issues.

establish trust and increase customer retention with interactive screen sharing

Growth Hacker

A growth hacker designs programs to increase user engagement and finds pivotal upsell opportunities. These are the best ways to increase the lifetime value of a customer. This is a team player who must align communications across all departments including Marketing, Product, Customer Service, Customer Experience (CX), and User Experience (UX).

Growth Executive

This product specialist is introduced to clients whose businesses have been properly reviewed and are deemed promising to present new features and/or products to. This is the person in the team responsible for executing up-sales and cross-sales.

Renewal Manager

Just as crucial to the core of a business, is a renewal manager who oversees and manages contract renewals. Furthermore, this role is particularly important in SaaS companies that have a high volume of renewals which may or may not be automated.

The SaaS Customer Success team works together to develop a long-term, meaningful, data-driven relationship with the customer. Training, support, technology, sales, marketing, and outstanding customer service is integrated into planning to build up each customer relationship.

What helps Customer Success have great customer relationships

CS Managers are here to stay

Although the role of a SaaS Customer Success Manager is relatively new, their contributions are proving to be vital. In a 2019 survey of high-tech companies, over 40% of the 109 respondents reported having Customer Success Managers.

SaaS Customer Success Managers do much more than simply ensure customer satisfaction. They are a powerful growth engine for the company. They are the ones who provide a return on investment by developing and implementing strategic plans for success.

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