What Is a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?

May 15, 2023

6 min read

Customer success manager

If you’re the type of person who loves supporting customers, a customer success manager (CSM) might be the job for you. 

Learn what a customer success manager is, including what they do, the skills they need, their day-to-day responsibilities, and how to become one in this informative guide. 

What Is a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?

A customer success manager (CSM) is someone who works to improve and maintain customer loyalty while also acting as a support to both current customers and potential prospects.

You might also hear this position referred to as a “client success manager” but they’re the same role. It’s a managerial position. 

What does a customer success manager do?

A customer success manager is completely focused on the client base. Usually, this type of manager works in a sales or marketing position. There, they focus on crafting meaningful and long-term relationships with customers while also guiding potential prospects to active clients.

In fact, once a client success manager works with certain clientele, they usually maintain those relationships (with the same customers). 

Customer success manager responsibilities 

A customer success manager can have a plethora of responsibilities. For example, some of these responsibilities include: 

  • Tackle any customer problems that might arise
  • Act as an advocate for any clients they’re responsible for
  • Forge strong relationships with customers
  • Make sure the process of purchasing a good or service happens in a timely manner
  • Build a work environment that leans on clientele as a focal point
  • Find engaging ways to connect with customers 
  • Act as a liaison between the customer support team and the sales team

However, these responsibilities can vary a bit based on the company and the company’s mission and purpose. 

Customer success manager salary

Although a customer success manager salary can vary based on your location and company, generally people in this position earn around $75,000 to $90,000.

Here are some more location-specific estimates for a customer manager salary: 

  • Atlanta, Georgia: $77,864
  • Austin, Texas: $74,380
  • New York City, New York: $84,109
  • San Francisco, California: $75,952 
  • Seattle, Washington: $92,671
  • Chicago, Illinois: $84,206
  • Denver, Colorado: $72,868
  • Boston, Massachusetts: $78,914
  • Portland, Oregon: $73,706
  • Los Angeles, California: $80,229

Keep in mind that customer success managers sometimes also get additional pay which comes out to an average of around $40,000. This could include:

  • Commimission 
  • Tips
  • Stock
  • Profit sharing
  • Bonuses

Customer Success Manager (CSM) Skills

There are lots of skills that you need as a customer success manager. Here’s our list of the most important customer success manager skills you need to ensure you’re prepared to interview and snag a job in this industry: 

  • Industry-specific or technical skills
  • Ability to thrive in a team setting
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Empathy
  • Successful persuasion skills
  • Customer relations management
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to step up to the plate and take initiative
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Decisiveness (ability to make decisions)
  • Interpersonal skills

What makes a great customer success manager?

Having the above skills is one way to be a great customer success manager. But what makes a good CSM isn’t simply skills. You need to be a competent employee dedicated to improving the company, primarily through customer base interaction. 

To be a great customer success manager, you need to be comfortable communicating with people — specifically clients or customers — in a respectful, meaningful way that leads to client satisfaction and loyalty. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d like, this might not be the position for you. 

What’s the difference between a customer success manager and an account manager?

A customer success manager position and an account manager role are very similar. Still, they’re not the same. While account managers help increase sales from the company’s respective accounts, a customer success manager focuses on cultivating strong relationships with the company’s client base (or potential customers). 

Account managers also aren’t responsible for customer satisfaction; usually, that falls on the customer success team. 

How to Become a Customer Success Manager (CSM)

One way to improve your interviewing skills is by using Yoodli. Yoodli is an AI-powered interview coach that helps you improve your interviewing skills in a judgment-free environment. 

You’ll also have to practice for a client success manager interview. Check out these customer success manager interview questions here. 

Do you need a college degree to be a customer success manager?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a college degree to be a customer success manager. That being said, if you’d like to earn a degree before becoming a client success manager, it’s not a bad idea.

The best, most relevant degrees for this position in particular include: 

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Psychology
  • Political science

The top colleges to earn these degrees or to study to become a customer success manager include:

  1. University of Pennsylvania 
  2. Northwestern University
  3. University of Minnesota
  4. Stanford University

Still, don’t let a lack of a college degree stop you from pursuing your dream of becoming a client success manager. Here are the top four steps to becoming a CSM.

The first step is to start your job search for a customer success manager position. Doing this isn’t very difficult. 

There are tons of job boards all over the internet. For example, you’ll probably have luck with sites like: 

Just make sure your resume is up-to-date and presents your educational background and work history in a clear, easy-to-read way.

2. Apply for a job (or more). 

Next, apply for the client success manager jobs you’re interested in. Again, triple-check your resume and include a cover letter with your application, even if it’s optional. 

You really want to sell yourself for the role, so review the job listing’s requirements and tailor your resume to each respective position you apply for. 

2. Practice interviewing.

Before you even get a scheduled interview invitation, practice interviewing for this job. Though you can always practice answering questions with a mirror, the best way to practice interviewing is through an AI speech coach like Yoodli.

Yoodli is a speech coach and interview simulator that evaluates your speech using AI technology. It can analyze your speaking pace, word choice, and body language. It even provides actionable feedback and tips for how you can improve. 

Using Yoodli can help you become the best customer success manager you can be.

Believe it or not, Yoodli can also coach you during your actual customer success manager interview by giving you tips and ensuring you hit all your talking points. The interview won’t be able to see Yoodli’s suggestions, either — it’s totally private. Learn more about it in our simple explainer video: 

Check out how you can use Yoodli to improve your speech and interviewing skills.

Plus, unlike other speech coaches, Yoodli is completely free. 

3. Pick out professional attire.

Before your interview, pick out something professional to wear (even if it’s a virtual interview). It totally depends on your preference, but you can always wear things like:

  • A button-down shirt
  • A blouse
  • A suit and tie
  • A tailored dress
  • Closed-toed shoes (e.g., oxfords, flats, heels, etc.)

When in doubt, you can always reach out to the recruiter for information about dress code. 

4. Complete a successful interview (or more).

All that’s left is to complete a successful interview. Remember to keep your cool and focus on how much you’ve prepared for this moment. 

If you start having anxious thoughts revolving around the interview, reframe those thoughts and pivot your anxiety to excitement. So for example, instead of thinking, “I’m so nervous for this interview,” you can think, “I’m so excited for this interview.” 

Why Be a Customer Success Manager (CSM)?

A customer success manager can be an extremely rewarding job. If you love interacting with people, making meaningful connections, and have an interest in sales, business, or marketing, this might be the perfect position for you. 

In general, it pays well, can be a remote position, and allows you to secure a solid position without necessarily needing a college degree. 

The Bottom Line

A customer success manager is a very important position for nearly any company. Maintaining a clientele base and cultivating customer loyalty is critical for the success of businesses. 

If you’re looking to become or transfer to a customer success manager position, just remember to practice for those upcoming interviews using Yoodli and do your best. 


Start practicing with Yoodli.

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