Customer success and account management often have overlapping responsibilities but they are not the same. They both tend to manage a customer and their needs and serve them to get the most from the product. Yet, account management is more inclined towards sales through expansion and renewal. Hence, account management software is designed with those perspectives in mind.
Account managers keep a reactive approach towards customers while CSMs are more deeply integrated with the customer’s day-to-day work life. CSMs monitor the customer behaviour more closely and keep the customer health score always in check. That’s why customer experience, satisfaction, net promoter score and retention rate are always higher through a customer success solution.
How Customer Success is different from Account Management?
Account management is more relevant when a customer is in need of a solution to any issue they are facing while using the product. That is why they have a reactive approach towards serving the customer. Whereas the Customer Success team is more inclined towards achieving the customer’s business goals through the product. Their key responsibility lies in ensuring that their product is adding enough value to the customer.
CSMs need to keep the customers engaged to the product by monitoring their daily activity. Hence, the customer experience is greater through customer success because the CSMs almost become a part of the customer’s team. Where customers see account management as only an outsider, a customer success function is more like a partner of the customer that works together with them towards their goal.
With the varying degree of personalizations for each customer, where customer success stands at the highest level, CRM comes at a lower position. CRM mostly contains the data for every possible customer and hence is more useful for converting leads into sales. Account management is more focused towards selective customers and hence provides a more personalized service to the customers. CRM helps you to improve sales strategy towards existing customers as well as new ones.
Difference between CS software and CRM
Companies use CRM systems best as a relational information system. These systems do not involve analytics much. They mostly rely on the sales reps to enter data about the customer along with any manual activities that account managers can take for those accounts. CRM systems are best used for giving a uniform experience to the buyers. They are most useful along the sales pipeline to manage the different stages of a purchasing journey.
The point in the customer’s journey where customer success solution comes into picture is much later than a CRM. CS solution comes into play only after the initial purchase and when the customer has started using the product. These software are more relevant for driving and monitoring the customer engagement as they proceed in their usage of the product.
They not only present you with the data about the customer usage, but also give you the analytics behind those through which you can glean insightful information for further usage. CSMs use these insights for taking proactive steps towards driving further engagement and enhancing the customer’s product experience.
In simple words, CRM are mostly capable of handling customers during the initial stage of customer journey, mostly near the purchasing point. Whereas CS solution is more capable of helping you form a long-term relationship with your customer. Through CS platforms, you can engage with customers more deeply and add continuous value to their business. Hence, it becomes immensely beneficial for any subscription based business.
Why CRM cannot be used as an Account Management Software?
Every tool that companies use in their different functions are purpose built. CRM is much different than account management as we have seen above. Hence, it won’t be wise to use the single software for both the purposes. Your key account management strategies cannot rely on a CRM system to give you key insights, information, metrics and actionable steps towards managing your key clients.
CRM systems are designed keeping the sales process in mind. Hence, it is exceptionally good to collect all the data of the customer at one central place so that every employee in the sales department can access it.
But account management is much more than just sales. It involves customer engagement, customer retention, product adoption and many other nuances of customer success for nurturing a long-term relationship with the customer.
Account management requires you to collect, save and analyze much detailed information of your key customer accounts than what CRM can provide. You need to keep a check on the health score of the customer accounts you are managing. That health score, in any customer success solution, takes into account many key parameters of the customer’s usage of the product. That spans from the behavioral analysis of the customer to the spread of features they are using and much more. Based on this, a Customer success solution calculates a collective score, which is called a health score. That is like a north star metric for the account manager which only a CS software can show you.
Retention of clients
The upsells and cross-sells which CSMs or account managers make to the customers are just the fruits of their long-term strategies. They need a constant view of the customer’s usage of the product and for that they use different metrics. There are many engagement metrics which account managers can use to see in what ways their customers are using the product. These metrics are an integral part of a CS software. Only through these metrics they would know in advance which customers are healthy and which are most likely to churn. Then, they can take proactive measures to prevent churn and retain them for long-term.
Using a right CS tool would not guarantee your success as an Account Manager. You need many other management skills like giving a personalized service to the customers. But these tools would surely enhance your experience and make you more equipped in making wiser decisions. Account management is slowly getting transformed into Customer Success in the budding SaaS organizations.
Customers have become more demanding now than ever in a subscription based economy. Hence, you need to provide more value to the customers now than what they expected before. But you have to do it without the least distraction at their end. You need to gel amazingly well with the client’s business ecosystem and the CS software is something that can help you achieve exactly that in a seamless manner.