Customer Success Manager Vs Account Manager: Key Roles and Skills

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Keeping customers happy is the ultimate goal of a company. If the customer is satisfied, it will bring revenue. Unhappy customers are never good for any business as they can cause losses.  

Similarly, SaaS organizations that provide tools and services need to have different customer service professionals to improve the customer experience and boost sales. A customer service team includes customer success managers and account managers with many unique duties and roles. 

Both managers work in unison to prioritize customer happiness and improve the experience. This shows why looking at customer service manager vs account manager is not as beneficial as analyzing both roles separately and seeing where they are different and where they overlap.  

In this blog post, we discuss the differences and similarities between customer success managers and account managers, including the focus on their duties, goals, and salaries. 

Let’s get started with understanding what exactly a customer success manager does. 

What Does a Customer Success Manager Do?

The primary role of a customer success manager (CSM) is to work for ensuring the satisfaction and success of the customer. They typically work for companies that offer tools or services to consumers and their foremost duty is to help optimize the use of those tools and services. 

These managers are assigned the role of communicating with customers and guiding them through the entire sales process. More importantly, it’s the customer success manager who has the responsibility to ensure that a tool or service helps customers achieve their goals.  

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Many industry experts liken the role of a CSM to a mentor to the customers as they need to be present throughout the customer lifecycle and contribute to tasks such as onboarding and implementation. 

Most importantly, the main focus of a customer success manager is to solve issues and problems before they arise and contribute to building long-term relationships with customers.

Since a CSM needs to be involved in multiple phases of the customer journey, they often have the best understanding of customer issues and therefore play a big role in keeping customers happy.  

Key Skills of a Customer Success Manager 

The main responsibility of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) is to make sure that customers have an overall positive experience with a company’s product or service. After all, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people.

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To achieve the goals of customer success, these managers need to possess a range of skills, including – 

  • A CSM should possess excellent communication skills with the ability to interact with customers, listen actively and help them clearly.    
  • A customer success manager is required to think critically and find solutions to problems that customers face. 
  • These managers are required to have a customer-first mindset where they need to put the customer’s needs first and empathize with the situation. 
  • Prioritizing tasks and meeting deadlines is one of the key skills of a CSM as it helps them serve customers in the best and most timely manner.  
  • A customer success manager must have the complete product knowledge to better explains to customers the features and benefits.  
  • Building relationships and establishing trust with both customers and internal teams is an essential skill that a CSM must possess. 
  • A good customer success manager should be a team player with the ability to work collaboratively toward achieving common goals for the company. 

What Does an Account Manager Do?

An Account Manager (AM) has a big role to play in managing the relationship between a company and its customers/clients. These managers are considered the first point of contact for clients and therefore their main responsibility is to ensure that client’s needs are met. 

While the primary role of an AM is to ensure a positive experience for customers with the company’s products and tools, their duties go well beyond that. They also need to develop strategies that help customers meet their goals and needs with the business.   

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It’s the Account Manager who has to manage the accounts of clients, understand their objectives, and take steps to help clients realize their goals. In addition, an AM is also tasked to identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling products or services to clients. 

Apart from that, Account Managers are also entrusted with the duty of providing updates to clients on the status of projects and ensuring all information is available to the client. Further, an AM needs to work closely with sales and marketing teams so that clients get a seamless and positive experience.

Key Skills of an Account Manager

A company needs to develop and maintain relationships with existing clients. For this role, they need someone who knows the art of communicating with clients and building relationships. An account manager often does this job. This job is important because 86% of customers with an emotional connection with a brand are more likely to return in the future. 

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The key skills required for this role may be wide-ranging and include – 

  • An account manager should not only possess the skills to effectively communicate with clients but also understand their expectations and needs. 
  • It’s the duty of an AM to build and manage strong relationships with clients together with identifying opportunities for growth and offering solutions where needed. 
  • A good account manager must understand the sales inside-out so that he/she can upsell, and cross-sell products and services at an opportune time.  
  • Negotiating pricing and contract terms with clients is also among the key roles of AMs and they need the skills for the same as this enhances service experience.  
  • Project management is a key skill of account managers as they are often required to oversee multiple projects simultaneously and showcase strong organizational skills. 
  • Companies hire account managers based on their ability to think strategically to ensure value to clients, resulting in opportunities for growth and expansion.
  • A good AM should possess analytical skills as their job entails a lot of analysis of data and metrics to track and measure project success.   
  • These managers should have a problem-solving mindset so that they can address the concerns of clients with everything be it tools and services, or terms or contracts.  

Customer Success Vs Account Management – The Similarities 

Customer Success Management and Account Management are both important roles for businesses that are concerned with ensuring great experiences for customers. Since both are customer-facing roles, there are bound to be several similarities, including – 

 

Customer Relationships 

Both focus on building and maintaining strong relationships with customers. The purpose is to make sure that customers are happy with the company’s products and services. The focus of both departments is to elevate customers’ experiences with every aspect of the business and ensure value throughout their journey with the brand. From interactions to engagement to support, every possible measure is taken to ensure the desired level of experience for customers. 

Need Analysis 

Meeting the specific requirements of customers is something that most businesses strive but not all succeed. For that to happen, it’s important to first analyze the customer’s needs and goals and then tailor the services. This is where both the customer success manager and account manager have a key role to play as they are tasked to understand the customer’s pain points and provide the best solution. These managers also work with the internal team in devising the right solution for customers.   

Engagement

Engaged customers are likely to stick with the business for longer, resulting in more repeat purchases and better customer lifetime value (CLV). When customers are engaged, this also has a positive impact on retention. Both roles are key for contributing to customer engagement and retention.

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Whether a CSM or AM, their duty is to communicate with customers, engage them and make sure they are happy with the product and service. Resolving issues and addressing concerns together with providing support is what both roles do for engagement.  

Cross-selling and upselling 

When customers are engaged and happy with the product and service, they will stick for longer and purchase more. This can contribute to generating revenue growth. Similarly, both CSMs and AMs have the duty to identify opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell to customers. They are required to leverage their skills and expertise in identifying potential for sales. Such opportunities are important for a business that looks for increased revenue and improved customer loyalty.    

Data Analysis 

The role of data is big in measuring customer success and identifying areas of improvement. When customer data is analyzed, it gives out trends about the level of customer experience. More so, the data gives an insight into customers’ level of happiness with products or services. Both roles require analysis of customer data, and collaboration with internal teams to make changes for enhancing customer experience.  

Customer Success Vs Account Management – The Differences  

Account Management and Customer Success Management are both vital functions in business. While both are similar in many ways, there exist some marked differences between the two. 

Here are some of the differences – 

  • Customer Success Management involves a range of activities including onboarding, training, support, and advocacy. On the other hand, the main focus areas of Account Management are managing the customer account and working for revenue growth.  
  • Account Management is concerned with managing and growing the customer account while the focus of Customer Success Management is to help customers leverage their association with the organization.  
  • A CSM focuses on understanding the needs of customers and building long-term relationships whereas an AM not only builds relationships but also identifies opportunities for growth. 
  • Revenue growth is the main aim of Account Management whereas customer success and customer satisfaction is the major focus area of Customer Success Management.  
  • An Account Manager will always work on increasing the lifetime value of the customer whereas a CSM needs to work on elevating the customer’s overall experience with the brand. 
  • Account Manegement is driven by a reactive approach where response and solutions are offered whenever needed whereas Customer Success Management is a proactive approach with a focus on constantly helping customers achieve their goals.   
  • While AM is focused on specific events with less frequent engagement with customers, a CSM needs to engage more with customers on a regular basis and offer ongoing support to meet their needs.  
  • The key metrics to measure and work for Customer Success Management include customer satisfaction and retention whereas, for AM, they are revenue growth, profit, and account growth.  
  • The main skills needed in CSM include relationship-building and problem-solving whereas in AM, the skills needed are sales, negotiation, and strategic planning. 
  • The role of Customer Success Management continues throughout the customer journey while for AM, it starts after the sale and continues with account management.   

Achieve Customer Success with REVE’s Top Engagement Tools 

Customers feel happy only when they get great experiences with a brand. They also do repeat purchases when they are happy with the services provided to them. Naturally, it’s the quality of service that determines customer success. 

Your business can thus use REVE Chat’s top engagement tools and take a solid step towards boosting customer success with the brand. You can use AI-powered chatbots to automate various support tasks and improve the level of service for customers. 

In addition, using our video chat software and co-browsing tool can help your business engage customers better and provide help as and where needed. These tools can add a touch of personalization to support. 

Furthermore, the live chat software we offer can be added to the chatbot to offer hybrid support. This kind of support ensures human intervention for complex issues while automation for routine tasks. 

Conclusion 

Customer success and account managers are vital for the growth of a business. If they work efficiently, chances are your customers will be happy. However, these managers are only as efficient as the type of tools they have at their disposal. So, a business should provide CSMs and AMs with the best possible tools and techniques for success. 

With REVE Chat, you can sign up and find the top-class range of customer service tools. 

Our tools are best-in-class and you can check them and see how they could add value to your support operations.

Start Using REVE Chat Now!

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Praveen Singh
Author’s Bio

Praveen Singh is a content marketer, blogger, and professional with 15 years of passion for ideas, stats, and insights into customers. An MBA Graduate in marketing and a researcher by disposition, he has a knack for everything related to customer engagement and customer happiness.

As a writer and analyst, he pours the heart out on a blog that is informative, detailed, and often digs deep into the heart of customer psychology. He’s written extensively on a range of topics including, marketing, AI chatbots, omnichannel messaging platforms, and many more.

Mr. Singh also has a passion for subjects that excite new-age customers, be it social media engagement, artificial intelligence, machine learning. He takes great pride in his learning-filled journey of adding value to the industry through consistent research, analysis, and sharing of customer-driven ideas.

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