It is general knowledge that every business needs an efficient sales and marketing team to be successful. But in a world where customers have multiple options to choose from, sales and marketing teams are no longer enough to maintain growth. Businesses can no longer rely on annual contracts to get customers. They must engage customers at every chance they get. Now, they look towards a customer success specialist. Read on to learn about Customer Success and how to become an expert in the field.
What is Customer Success?
Customer success involves predicting customer challenges or questions and proactively finding solutions to those problems and answers to those questions before they arise. It is a long-term professional and step by step strategy for maximizing customer values.
It also refers to the methods/tools a business uses to ensure that customers achieve their goals while using their product or service. Customer success includes activities such as Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Training and Support, as well as using proactive Public Relations tools to establish and maintain a positive relationship between a business and its customers.
Through Customer success practices, a business increases customer happiness and retention. It equally generates revenue and boosts customer loyalty. (you can begin to imagine how crucial this can be to the goals of any organization).
This is why the profession requires an in-depth knowledge of customers, product/goods, and target market.
Who is A Customer Success Specialist?
A Customer Success Specialist is sometimes named as a Customer Success Manager or a Client Advocate. However, it is all about increasing and maintaining customer relationship. Since the most effective way to keep customers is to make them as successful as possible in using a product or service, every organization needs a Customer Success Specialist.
A Customer Success Specialist follows customers through the sales process, down to the support phase. Rather than functioning as a customer support agent, Customer Success Specialists form a direct/interpersonal relationship with customers and provide them with timely valuable propositions. This allows the customers to grow and achieve goals while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with the business.
Customer Success Specialists serve as mentors for clients. They explain the sales process and ensure everything runs seamlessly before/after purchase. If customers have a question, they can directly inquire from the Customer Success Specialist and work with them to resolve pressing issues. Below are some key responsibilities for experts in the field.
What Does A Customer Success Specialist Do?
Being a Customer Success Specialist you will be responsible for building, managing, and growing the relationships that businesses have with their customers. In other words, you will engage customers to ensure they are receiving the tools and support they need. An instance of this is helping them achieve the goals they set before purchasing your products or services.
Your responsibilities will include:
This is arguably the most important role of Customer Success Specialists. You will interact with customers from the beginning of interaction and attempt to increase your business’s chance of retaining them. Customer Success Specialists can help customers begin their relationship with the business confidently; that is from a position of feeling confident about buying whatever the business is offering.
Holding webinars and demos is one effective way to get new customers to learn about whatever product is being sold or service is being rendered. This way, they can get up to speed and closer to achieving their goals.
As a Customer Success Specialist, your job is to make it easy for the customers to efficiently use your business’ product or service. You will do this by scheduling visitations and conference calls with customers so they have interpersonal training on how to use the product or service.
This training could also mean making sure that the customers are aware of all the materials available for gaining information about a business’ product or service, and the advantages they bring to the table.
A Customer Success Specialist’s responsibility is not just to tell customers about a business and its product or service, it is also about engaging the customers in dialogues. To gather feedback, it is important to interact with customers on how well the product or service is meeting their needs. Then, you can use the feedback to improve relationships as well as the business.
Managing communication infrastructure
Your responsibilities equally extend to reviewing and improving the communication infrastructure of businesses. That is, you will help companies determine the ideal mode and tone of communication between them and customers. Feedback from customers is key when delivering this role.
Account management is particularly important in establishing and maintaining relationships with those whose accounts are responsible for propelling a company’s sales. Making sure these individuals are happy will keep the business thriving.
In establishing and maintaining good relationships with customers, keeping them posted on updates to products/services is quite crucial. As a Customer Success Specialist, you will keep customers in tune with changes such as new features, and new products that are complementary to the one they already use.
Announcing updates will help customers see how their requests are addressed. Generally, customer success will be guaranteed when customers feel they have an effective line of communication with a business.
Working with customers requires an individual with a certain temperament. However, there are also specific skills Customer Success Specialists must develop to be successful.
What Skills Do Customer Success Specialists Possess?
To deliver the best customer experience possible, you should develop the following critical skills:
- Conflict Resolution: The result of this skill is trust and customer growth. It is a skill that tests your ability to find out the primary issues customers have.
- Foresight and Expectations Management: This is especially useful when other departments in a business do not set reasonable expectations beforehand. Customers are unpredictable.
- Listening and Understanding: A Customer Success Specialist needs to listen and understand. Since your main role is to manage customers and provide solutions to problems, sometimes before they even arise, listening is key.
- Efficient Use of IT tools: Sound knowledge in data software applications and implementing sales strategies will help you carry out assigned tasks effectively.
Tenacity: Customer Success Specialists must show strength, willingness and be ready to handle customer complaints as well as the responsibilities that follow. This is a winning attitude toward customer management.
Some other skills that are important in dispensing your duties are
- Data Integration
Before now, no one goes to school (primary and secondary) to become a Customer Success Specialist. However, to pursue a career in the field, your pre-varsity educational background has to be in either Art or Business. You will also need to pay attention and have a genuine interest in subjects that emphasize on customer satisfaction as well as interpersonal relationships.
University education is necessary for you to become a Customer Success Specialist. As you will discover below, a good number of tertiary institutions have begun to offer Bachelors and Masters Degree programs in Customer Success. Earning these degrees will quickly put you in a leading position during your quest for employment.
Many employers that require a Customer Success Specialist typically ask for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in either Customer Success, Peace and Conflict Studies, Business Administration, Public Relations, Information Systems Management, or Information Technology.
Career Progress for a Customer Success Specialist
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Job Outlook of Customer Success Specialists (2016-2026) is about 8%. This means that the need for Customer Success Specialists will continue to grow exponentially, as the world moves deeper into using certain software models. Pursuing a career in this field will see your value increase enormously and rapidly.
As the number of Customer Success Specialists grow, businesses will begin to consider appointing or hiring an expert who can also manage other specialists in their team. This need will then create new job descriptions such as; Directors of Customer Success Team Lead – Customer Success and so on. As in any field, the higher you go in the chain, the broader your expertise.
One great thing is that a great Customer Success Specialist will certainly understand the business so well that they can qualify as candidates for Managing Director roles.
A career in Customer Success will offer opportunities for growth. This career path might as well lead to becoming a CEO.
As a Customer Success Specialist, you do not have to be a tech guru, even though the rise in demand for Customer Service Managers is as a result of developments in the tech sector.
It is more important to have a customer service background and selling skills than to have a technology background.
Customer Factor in Customer Success
The development of interest in customer satisfaction has no doubt, contributed to the importance of Customer Success Specialists in businesses. These days, customers are in charge of the choice of companies they interact with. Many often opt for businesses that respect them and place their interests above other business gains.
Differences and Similarities between Customer Success and Other Related Careers
Although job descriptions like Account Executive, Sales Representative, Account Manager, and Customer Service Representative might seem similar to Customer Success Specialist, they are different in many ways.
Consider the instances here:
- Customer service focuses on solving problems that customers already have with a product or service, while Customer Success focuses on making sure a customer achieves their goals while using the product or service.
- Again, Customer Service has a short-term goal of solving problems, while Customer Success is concerned with the long-term goal of maintaining a positive relationship between a business and its customers.
- Customer Service is reactive while Customer Success is proactive.
Also, a Customer Success Specialist role differs from that of an Account Manager because:
- A Customer Success Specialist will help a client map out their goals for a product or service. Whereas, an Account Manager will introduce clients to products or services that will help them achieve desired results.
- A Customer Success Specialist is responsible for the onboarding and training of new clients while an Account Manager manages sales and leads.
- A Customer Success Specialist leads meeting between clients and IT professionals. They assist in the design of products and services that will best serve a client’s needs. An Account Manager works on selling the client new products or services that are complementary to the ones they already use.
Thinking about other related career? Check out How to Become a Certified Actuary
The income of Customer Success Specialists
The employment opportunities for Customer Success Specialists are endless because every business needs their expertise to grow their selling strength.
The annual income in the field ranges from $24,000 to $102,000 with an average of $78,818. It equally has a very high career advancement score according to researches.
Average Income by Countries:
- United States of America: $48,705 annually.
- United Kingdom: £38,226 per year.
- Nigeria: ₦248,000 per month.
Want to learn about another interesting Business Career? Glance through our post on Market research Analyst.
Finding the career talk interesting? Well, there are some professional courses lined up for you, should you decide to pursue a career in Customer Success. Although these certifications do not have the same curriculum as what you will find in Universities, they are quite important in shaping your knowledge, as well as chances of securing a good job. Below are a few.
- Customer Success Manager (CSM) Certification Program by The Success League. The program costs $1,595. You can register online. New sessions are based on schedules.
- Customer Success Online Training Course by Adopttec. This program is conducted entirely online and consists of 10 modules. The total cost of the program is $490, making it one of the more affordable options that still provide comprehensive overviews of everything on Customer Success.
- Customer Success Manager Specialist certification, Cisco. Apart from the comprehensive lessons you’ll learn in the course, Cisco is a popular firm. Its certification puts you In a comfortable position when searching for jobs.
Universities offering courses tailored to Customer Success
Being a new career path, not so many institutions offer direct degree programs in Customer Success. However, some ideal courses you should consider are Public Relations, Business Administration, etc. Bagging degrees in these fields will help you remain on the right career path. Below are some of the best institutions you can study the courses.
- Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdoms
- Dublin Business School in Ireland
- Washington State University in the United States of America
Don’t forget, if you need further guidance on how to kick-start your career in Customer Success, send me an email, let’s discuss.