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Unveiling the Hidden Struggles of Customer Success Managers

Hidden Struggles of Customer Success Managers

Hidden Struggles of Customer Success Managers

As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Seriesa collection of contributed articles written by our enterprise tech thought leader communityJamie Davidson, CEO and co-founder of Vitally, explains how technology can help companies resolve the struggles many customer success managers experience.

B2B businesses, particularly those in the SaaS sector, are currently facing economic turmoil following a brief pandemic-induced boom. Acquiring new customers is now an uphill battle, making the roles of Customer Success Managers (CSMs)—who are responsible for preventing churn and maximizing the value of existing accounts—even more critical. 

Yet, recent research found that almost half (47 percent) of CSMs report experiencing burnout at their job. Market challenges, high expectations, and unrealistic quotas have created a recipe for burnout that CSMs are experiencing in high numbers. The biggest CX mistake is not properly caring for the well-being of the team responsible for nurturing and retaining your customers. Of note, 46 percent of CSMs report their job has negatively impacted their sleep, and 39 percent say their job has negatively affected their mental health within the past six months. 

It’s become increasingly apparent that the CSM role is crucial to business success—especially in the current economic climate. Businesses that cannot remedy the issues that CSMs face run the risk of losing a significant segment of their revenue-generating workforce. How can companies solve these challenges and avoid devastating losses (both to personnel and revenue)? Let’s dive in:  

Automate, Automate, Automate 

With time at such a premium for CSMs, eliminating low-impact tasks can significantly impact productivity. The main benefit of automation is that it frees up CSMs to focus on more impactful work, such as client engagement, which 63 percent of CSMs reportedly wish they had more time to dedicate to. The saved time allows CSMs to focus more on strategic work with clients and prevent burnout by helping them get all their work done during the workday.  

A great example comes from using automated alerts to monitor churn risk. Keeping tabs on customers to make sure they’re finding success is one of the core responsibilities of a Customer Success team. However, with a growing book of business, keeping track of every customer can become challenging, and someone will inevitably slip through the cracks. Even more, with leading indicators coming from places outside customer interactions, it can be nearly impossible to detect signs of churn before it’s too late. 

To avoid this pitfall and always stay on top of customer health, CSMs must have the capability to create automated alerts for when a customer is at risk. With these notifications, teams know exactly when and how to follow the necessary protocols to prevent losing the customer, and cut out the stressful busywork of monitoring them!  

Enable Data Visibility to Help Meet Quotas 

Every day, CSMs face pressures to perform, often in the form of meeting quotas. According to the data, 65 percent of CSMs carry a quota of some kind, whether revenue-based or activity-based. Of the CSMs who have quotas to meet, 61 percent consider the pressure to achieve these quotas to be a significant source of stress in their role. And it’s all made even more stressful when CSMs don’t have visibility into their customer data. 

Too often, organizations cut headcounts or shuffle accounts around in a way that leaves internal teammates feeling frazzled, which usually results in poor customer experiences. B2B customers want to work with vendors that have their act together—ones that “don’t fix, but rather collaborate” and “connect intelligently,” according to this recent study published by the Harvard Business Review. This can’t happen when CSMs don’t even know what’s going on. 

However, when businesses equip CSMs with a platform that surfaces past and real-time data, alerts, and reporting on all customer interactions across your tech stack, they have a holistic picture of what’s happening (and what has happened) in an account. This leads to more insightful customer conversations, a strengthened partnership, and less stress around meeting quotas. 

Adhere to Organizational Swim Lanes 

It’s no secret: CSMs love working with their customers, though 63 percent report wishing they had more time to dedicate to client engagement. While automation (which we covered above) is a huge piece of the puzzle, another critical component is ensuring that CSMs feel empowered to stick to their organizational swim lane – and not take on additional responsibilities outside their purview.  

Take technical troubleshooting questions from a client, for example. This is not within the CSM’s job function to address these questions directly. Instead, companies likely have a dedicated team equipped to handle such issues. Similarly, when faced with contractual inquiries, CSMs must feel empowered and supported to redirect those questions to the renewal team to ensure that the right experts address these matters promptly. 

By adhering to these organizational swimlanes, CSMs can establish a clear division of responsibilities while relieving themselves of unnecessary work pressure and distractions. This realization not only lowers stress levels but also acts as a protective measure against burnout.  

All this to say, customer success managers are driven by passion and a genuine desire to help their clients. However, the combination of a down market for SaaS companies and the around-the-clock demands brought on by remote work and global customer bases have increased the stress load for CSMs to the point where their mental and physical health is being negatively impacted. To support and retain these revenue-generating leaders, businesses must act now by providing the tools, technology, and resources required to alleviate the load—and let them sleep.

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