Customer Success is the buzzword in the modern SaaS companies. There are many meanings attached to it but what does it mean to you? Is it a philosophy, a function in the organization, a mindset? Well, it can be all of it. It is a broad term to define the company’s approach towards retaining its customers and expanding their business with them. When it is understood as an integral part of the organizational structure, there are many customer success titles that encompass it.
Customer success as a philosophy challenges you to think beyond your own interest as a company. You must expand your perspectives to include that of your buyers and customers. Every department can operate through this philosophy as the end goal of all of them is to make customers happy. The very reason each department exists in an organization is that customers are buying their product and keeping the business running.
Customer success is a relatively new department. Hence companies are still discovering the most ideal customer success team structure. There are many roles they need to think of introducing in this department and hiring the right candidate. In this blog, we are going to see various customer success team roles along with their titles that companies are employing in this department.
Chief Customer Officer
Chief Customer Officer (CCO) is one of the emerging customer success titles in modern SaaS companies. This is typically the highest position in the customer success department. A CCO serves alongside the executive board, the CEO, CPO, CFO, etc., to lead the initiatives aimed towards improving the customer experience. They can introduce many programs that include the training of the employees for giving better customer experience.
They usually take care of entire relationship management with the customer including all the stages a customer interacts with the company. These stages are marketing, sales, product adoption, retention, business expansion and brand advocacy.
Responsibilities of a CCO
These are the broad responsibilities of a CCO in an organization.
- Make customers happy: A CCO must have a customer-centric mindset to begin with. They should have a clear understanding of how their target customers think. Based on that, they must know what solutions to give to different kinds of customers.
- Collaborate with C-suite. Although a CCO is a relatively new position in C-suite, they must assert themselves as equal. They must bring alignment of customer-centric mindset with every other executive board member.
- Consider customer feedback to create strategies. They need to take into account both positive and negative feedback.
- Educating and motivating your customer success team. Your subordinates are the ones who would be directly handling the customer accounts. A CCO must work together and give them proper training when needed.
According to statistics on payscale, the average salary for a CCO across the United States is $164,384 annually.
For a comprehensive list of questions you would be asked for a CCO position, you must go through this list.
VP Customer Success
A Vice President of Customer success is the second in the hierarchy of customer success titles. They are responsible for all the functions that come post sales in a business. They mostly report to the Chief Customer Officer. If that role doesn’t exist in a company, then they report to the CMO or CEO.
Responsibilities of VP Customer Success
The main responsibilities of VP customer success include the following points.
- Driving customer success goals that include increasing renewal rates, reducing churn, boosting cross-selling and upselling.
- Raising the lifetime value of the customers and encouraging brand advocacy
- Creating customer journey map
- Designing touchpoints framework for each milestone reached by the customer.
- Managing customer success activities like onboarding, training, customer support etc.
- Measuring effectiveness of customer success through right metrics.
The average salary of VP customer success in India as mentioned in Glassdoor is $65,000/year.
For a list of interview questions, you must have a look at the Saastr website.
Customer Success Manager
This is one of the most common customer success titles you would ever come across. A CSM is a direct customer facing role and they guide customers through various stages in their journey. They nurture relationships with your customers and provide timely value to their business.
Responsibilities of a CSM
CSM is one of those customer success roles that involves direct interaction with the clients. They can be considered as the face of the organization to the customers. At the same time, they are the customer’s voice to their own organizations as well. Their responsibilities include:
- They are the brand representative to the customers. They must advocate why choosing your business is most valuable to the customer needs.
- A CSM is also responsible for onboarding the new customers.
- They need to follow up on the subscription renewals when a customer reaches their due time.
- CSMs need to approach customers for upselling and cross-selling.
- Building relationships between the support team and customers is also a responsibility of a CSM.
As mentioned in LinkedIn, an average CSM makes around $80,000 per year. To know more about this topic, you may consider reading this blog.
CSM Interview Questions
A CSM, when appearing for an interview, must do a thorough research on the company’s profile to understand their domain. The technical knowledge of the product is an added advantage. Consider visiting this blog for a complete list of most common CSM interview questions.
Customer Success Implementation Manager
A Customer Success Implementation Manager (CSIM) is responsible for the overall success of the customer while using the product. They ensure that the product is well integrated with the client’s technical environment and the client can use it seamlessly. A CSIM plays a crucial part in the product adoption stage of the customer journey.
Responsibilities of a CSIM
CSIM is one of the customer success titles that is more oriented towards technical aspects of customer success. Their main responsibilities include:
- Primary point of contact for the enterprise customers and operations team
- Conduct regular review meetings with all the stakeholders of the client’s business, project team and sponsors.
- Manage and monitor the project’s finance, schedule and scope. And make sure that the project is on track and following deadlines to deliver solutions.
- Facilitating change management and training internal staff to cope with the customer’s technical operations.
- Designing and implementing the company’s product and enabling the proper integration with the customer’s technical system.
- Collaborating with sales team in identifying new solutions to sell to the customers that the company can provide
There is not much information available on the salary of this role. A rough estimate according to salary.com would be somewhere between $60k to $77k per year.
CSIM Interview Questions
Most of the interviews for these customer success jobs are much similar to the questions in the CSM section above. But when you apply for a SaaS product company, then be prepared for more technical rounds.
These are the most common customer success titles that I have mentioned in this blog. There are many more titles that are specific to different companies. These companies have many contextual needs of their own for which they need more customer success roles. They can be, for example, onboarding managers, renewal managers, support agents and so on. But in most of the other companies these roles are commonly fulfilled by a CSM. 21
No matter what role you are aiming at in a customer success team, you must understand the customer success philosophy deeply. Simply put, it is the business strategy where companies make sure their customers achieve their goals by using the product. But it is easier said than done. You need to understand all the intricacies of this objective to help your organization achieve it through whatever role you take in a customer success team.
Stanley Deepak is an accomplished sales and marketing professional with 15+ years of experience. He loves tech products and book reading. He writes on philosophy and culture on LinkedIn.
Published July 30, 2020, Updated December 15, 2021