What skills a customer success manager needs to succeed?
It is a billion-dollar question that is asked a lot. As businesses are giving more importance to customer success, customer experience, and customer services than ever, a lot of customer success positions have emerged recently. Candidates are interested in acquiring skills that will make them successful customer success managers.
There isn’t any set of fixed customer success manager skills that all the companies need. However, the top skills that every customer success manager must have are covered below that will give you a good idea of what courses, training, and certifications to take.
Communication is one of the core skills that a customer success manager cannot go without. If you don’t know how to communicate effectively, you can’t become a decent manager. Period.
So, what’s special about communication skill?
Communication skill involves the transmission of information from one place (or person) to another. It involves a sender, recipient, and message. It is a two-way process that involves sending and receiving. A customer success manager has to be good at both sending and receiving (and decoding) necessary information.
A customer success manager (CSM) has to communicate and interact with customers. You must be exceptional at both sending and receiving information. And you should master all the communication channels (e.g. writing, email, phone, text, oral, non-verbal, etc.). Besides, your grammar, word selection, and language should be impeccable.
This is what makes a great CSM with powerful communication skills.
Empathy is one of the most important skills that we need during communication and human interaction. A customer success manager without empathy isn’t of much use. Empathy refers to understanding other people’s feelings as if you are having them yourself. A CSM must have this skill to understand and feel what customers feel. It is one of the core skills that lets you better connect and interact with your customers.
Your customers want to be heard and felt. An empathetic CSM can feel the pain and communicate the same to the customers. That’s how customer success works – by validating their pain.
Sympathy is another related skill that customer success managers should have. Sympathy refers to taking part in someone else’s feelings by being sorrowful. Empathy and sympathy are related but different skills and you must have both.
You have to be empathetic and sympathetic to your customers when they share an issue with you. That’s how you’ll realize them that you understand and share their feelings.
A customer success manager has to be sociable which means he should enjoy the company of people. Sociability refers to being fond of people’s company. Sociable individuals enjoy social relationships and that’s something a CSM has in his personality.
If you get irritated by people and don’t like spending time with people, you aren’t sociable, and it could have a negative impact on your career. A CSM faces all types of customers (both happy and angry) and if he doesn’t enjoy spending time with all types of people, things will become hard.
Sociability is more of a personality trait, but it can be learned, improved, and enhanced.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is one of the most researched skills that play a significant role in a manager’s growth and career development. It refers to an individual’s ability to understand and manage own and other people’s emotions. According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence has 12 skills that are categorized into 4 domains:
It isn’t necessary to have all these skills to be an effective customer success manager but yes, the more you have, the better. If you can control your emotions and you can judge other people’s emotions, you are emotionally intelligent.
Interacting with customers (employees, peers, etc.) can be tricky if you can’t understand their emotions. When a customer is happy, when he is angry, when he is irritated, when he is satisfied, etc. The customer success manager should understand these emotions and feelings and respond accordingly.
6. Time Management
A customer success manager should know how to manage time and must be organized. When you are dealing with multiple customers via different channels, you have to be smart and must know how to manage your time to avoid missing deadlines. Time management skill helps you plan and control time spent on different activities. It saves you from backlogs that are suicidal for any business.
Time management can be learned. You can use time management and project management apps to be more productive (e.g. Todoist and Rescue Time). You can manage tasks, organize your work, and manage time easily with apps.
This one is obvious. You can’t go without patience. It is one of the basic abilities that employers look for in customer success managers. It is the ability to be calm and to wait in difficult situations. The idea is to stay calm in all kinds of situations.
You can hone your patience with these techniques:
- Make yourself wait
- Don’t overthink
- Keep yourself busy with other things that make you happy and avoid thinking about what makes you impatient
- Take deep breaths
- Try meditation
Patience is a skill that you can learn. If you want to be a customer success manager, you should work on your patience.
Customer success is all about being proactive. It is about anticipating customer problems. A CSM should be proactive to be effective. The approach of the customer success manager should be proactive. What does that mean?
It refers to acting in advance to a future situation.
Proactivity needs a lot of hard work because you have to anticipate and prepare yourself for the unseen. Proactivity can be learned, and it represents a whole mindset and not just a skill. Here are a few practical methods to boost proactivity:
- Think about the future
- Be organized
- Stay in touch with customers
- Listen to what customers have to say
This is a must-have skill for every customer success manager. If you can’t solve new and complex problems quickly, don’t consider yourself a good CSM. You just don’t have to solve problems rather you have to anticipate them and solve most of them before they happen.
You have to solve both customer problems and organizational problems smartly. You can improve your problem-solving skill if you stick with the following problem-solving process:
- Identify and define the problem
- Collect data
- Identify solutions
- Compare solutions
- Implement the solution
It isn’t always this simple to define your problems. Most customer and business problems are alien with no background, and you don’t have any knowledge, experience, or data to come up with a solution. This is where proactivity skill will help you see what’s coming.
10. Product Knowledge
Someone who has to spend most of the time with customers, a CSM should have a solid grip on the product and the entire business model. Product knowledge of the customer success manager should be immaculate. You know your entire product line, internal processes, supply chain, and business partners.
You never know your customers can ask anything on any given day. It gives a bad impression if you don’t know about the company you are working with.
These 10 customer success management skills will give you an idea of what to expect at this position. There are, of course, other skills too such as networking, negotiation, energetic, confidence, responsibility, decision-making, etc. but the ones covered above are must-have.
If you are looking for a customer success job, focus on improving these 10 skills. Get training and certifications to show your employer what you are capable of. This will increase the chances of getting interviewed and hired.