For customer success managers, each interaction, decision and strategy carries the weight of shaping a client’s experience with a product or service, blending strategy, empathy and technical acumen to ensure their advancement is in tandem with one’s own.

This role transcends traditional customer service — building relationships and proactively advocating for both the customer and the company. As customers increasingly prioritize quality service, CSMs have become critical in a company’s growth and success.

In December, the number of customer success job listings rose to 3,749, marking a nine percent increase from November, according to SuccessCoaching data. Although the overall job market is mixed, this steady increase in opportunities is a positive sign for those looking for jobs in the field.

For those hoping to break into a CSM role, the multifaceted nature of its functions might not be immediately apparent. Is it defined by technical expertise, attentive communication or the skill to navigate intricate customer journeys? 

Seasoned CSMs’ insights and experiences reveal this role’s diverse — and fulfilling — nature, along with strategies for aspirants to carve out careers in the expanding field.

CSMs from Toast, findhelp, and CreatorIQ shared insights on what it takes to excel in their role, discussing day-to-day responsibilities, essential skills and customer satisfaction.

 

Team members from Toast pose for a group photo in matching company t-shirts. 
Toast

 

Chanel Morrow
Customer Care Manager II • Toast

Toast provides a multifunctional SaaS platform for restaurants, combining point of sale, payment processing and digital ordering to streamline operations and enhance customer experiences.

 

In your own words, what does a customer success manager do? Is there anything unique to being a CSM at your company?

Simply put, customer success managers, or customer care managers as we call them, build relationships. At Toast, this is done both internally with other teams and externally with the restaurant community. We understand the importance of a collaborative approach to advocate for our customers’ needs. 

As a customer care manager, you actively manage a team of agents for a specific segment of the Toast product. You are responsible for the productivity and well-being of the members of the customer care team and act as a subject matter expert for operations. This is an exciting opportunity to set others up for success while refining your technical knowledge and management skills.

Something special at Toast is our holistic approach to being customer champions. I love how my work allows me to interact with other Toasters, addressing and solving customer needs across every step of their journey. In my role, I oversee the customer journey throughout the care experience while working with cross-functional internal teams such as restaurant success, sales and onboarding to create process and support guidelines.

 

What are some skills every good customer success manager must have?

A good customer care manager should possess a customer-first mindset, have great communication skills and be empathetic to the customer voice. To thrive as a customer care manager at Toast, you must be resilient, motivated to coach a team on delivering high-quality customer interactions and excel in ambiguous environments.  

These skills are important because they help to provide a better customer experience. Companies would not grow and thrive without their customers, and at Toast, we’re extremely passionate about empowering the restaurant community. By providing top-tier support, we are able to solve problems efficiently and let restaurants get back to doing what they love most: delighting their guests and providing exceptional dining experiences.

 

“Companies would not grow and thrive without their customers, and at Toast, we’re extremely passionate about empowering the restaurant community.”

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced when breaking into this role? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge breaking into this role is that I knew nothing about the technology industry or SaaS before joining Toast. I overcame this obstacle by learning more about the restaurant industry and understanding that opening and operating a restaurant is someone’s dream. Our customers rely on the success of this dream not only for their livelihoods but also for the livelihoods of their employees. Therefore, it’s our duty as customer care managers to ensure we do everything we can to support them.

In addition to learning more about our customers and their needs, Toast also set me up for success in my professional development. Toast offers an array of managerial training programs and ongoing learning opportunities for employees at all stages of their careers. This helps me be the best manager I can be for my team, and allows me to help them discover new growth opportunities. 

My experience has been top-tier and unmatched by any employer I have ever worked for. I have been fortunate enough to have a leadership team that listens and is invested in my professional growth just as much as I am.

 

 

Geoff Gamm
Director, Customer & Community Success • findhelp

findhelp is a platform connecting individuals to a nationwide network of over half a million social care programs, focusing on food, health, housing and employment resources.

 

In your own words, what does a customer success manager do? Is there anything unique to being a CSM at your company?

A CSM is exactly what it sounds like; they are accountable for making sure our customers are successful. At a high level, that means setting clear expectations, aligning on project vision and values, building shared roadmaps to get to that future vision, managing contracting and scope changes, supporting data-informed decision-making and more. 

“The more” can be the most important part. At findhelp, like at many organizations, a CSM should thrive in navigating ambiguity and prioritizing effectively. Each day will be different from the last, and while that can be challenging, it’s also exciting. CSMs are uniquely positioned to build extensive relationships and see the direct business impact of their work — for both the customer and findhelp.

 

“CSMs are uniquely positioned to build extensive relationships and see the direct business impact of their work.”

 

What are some skills every good customer success manager must have?

Account management: CSMs should continuously align with customers and their goals. This is accomplished through project management and relationship building across diverse stakeholders such as leadership, project managers, IT, trainers, operations, internal teams and so on. When a CSM manages relationships effectively, stakeholders will identify the project as a success.

Technical stakeholder: CSMs should feel comfortable rolling up their sleeves and getting into the weeds. That can mean troubleshooting a technical issue, speaking knowledgeably about a potential enhancement and communicating effectively with internal technical stakeholders.

Strategic thought partner: This is an important attribute, especially at a rapidly evolving company where we support a new and dynamic social care technology industry. At its core, do you know why your customers are on this journey with you? As you build project plans, meet with executives and investigate technical challenges, can you step back and bring all the puzzle pieces together? Maximizing your impact this way not only improves the success of your customers but can shape the future of the industry as a whole.

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced when breaking into this role? How did you overcome it?

I came from a software implementation background, which has many shared attributes with being a CSM. As a CSM, I am responsible for scoping that project, managing executive relationships and ensuring the project vision evolves to meet the customers’ needs. I realized that in a newer industry, like social care software, it’s not enough to just “do the job” with your customers. We are on the frontline of defining our own value proposition and navigating shifts in the industry on behalf of our customers. 

It’s not always clear what that will look like day to day, so I learned to embrace the gray. For example, when federal and state agencies began introducing new regulations for our industry, we had to educate our customers. I partnered with our new government relations team to support meetings with legislators and governors, with the goal of increasing the visibility of our customers’ work, which led to legislation that supports the privacy rights of the population needing help in their most vulnerable moments. Nowhere did I have “meet with the governor” on my CSM task list, but it was by far the biggest impact I could have had on my customers and all people in need.

 

 

Raphael Vizcarra
Manager, Customer Success • CreatorIQ

CreatorIQ is a cloud-based platform offering advanced solutions to manage and optimize influencer campaigns, featuring intelligent creator discovery, streamlined workflows, brand safety and impactful measurement.

 

In your own words, what does a customer success manager do? Is there anything unique to being a CSM at your company?

The primary responsibility of a CSM is to ensure that customers perceive value and achieve success in both the product and service and the broader partnership they share. People often mistake this for a customer service role, but they’re very different. This role requires a mixture of strategic thinking, relationship-building and a deep understanding of the product, service and industry. As a CSM, you essentially function as a consultant, a strategic partner and an advocate for your customers. 

 

“As a CSM, you essentially function as a consultant, a strategic partner and an advocate for your customers.”

 

Being a customer success manager at CreatorIQ requires a genuine passion for this space. That’s what separates good work from great work. 

 

What are some skills every good customer success manager must have?

Great verbal and written communication skills; a good CSM knows how to articulate complex ideas clearly and concisely to both the customer and internal teams. Considering your audience, which can often be C-Suite, it’s important to communicate with brevity and intent. 

Strategic and creative thinking; CSMs are in long-term partnerships with their customers, serving them as strategic partners and extensions of their teams. This demands the ability to develop long-term strategic plans that map back to the customers’ overarching goals and to identify creative solutions.

Time management; CSMs often manage multiple customers simultaneously, each with unique expectations, goals and strategies. Prioritizing tasks effectively ensures each customer gets adequate attention and support. 

 

What was the biggest challenge you faced when breaking into this role? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me was learning all the different nuances of the role, on top of becoming a product and industry expert. I started with zero experience in customer success, SaaS, and influencer marketing and had to learn everything from scratch, which was challenging and gratifying. 

When I didn’t know something, I sought the answers. I built strong internal relationships with my colleagues, educated myself on the industry in my free time and sought constructive feedback. That was almost six years ago, and now I manage a team of rockstar CSMs.

 

 

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