The question about Account Managers (AM) and Customer Success Managers (CSM) is something that recruiters come up against a lot, not just from a candidates perspective but also clients too.
Every business out there will have employees that carry out these duties and it is more of the newer industries who are growing and developing fully fledged departments in both. Account Management is a role that has been around for years, companies have known the importance in an account manager role as they focus on renewing, upselling and cross selling the products of the business. Customer Success is much newer and has mainly been driven for the SaaS industry and the noticeable success which CSMs have on a SaaS lifecycle. Although both roles are different, they carry the same end goal which is to keep up the revenue of the company and ensure customers are fully satisfied.
Both roles are extra additions of the sales team and therefore are both targets driven however how targets are measured are very different. When it comes to account managers, they are usually targeted on the number of renewals and upsells they achieve and is focused more on KPIs. CSMs on the other hand have targets which are usually measured on an ROI basis and customer’s lifetime value which therefore shows customer loyalty and a positive general experience.
Another main difference within these roles is down to the proactiveness and reactiveness. CSMs have to ensure that they are working closely with the customer to ensure they gain a strong understanding of the customers issues, needs and wants so they can proactively reach out and ensure everything runs smoothly before any hiccups occur. However, when you look at the role of an account manager, they are much more reactive, they usually respond to requests and queries which the customer has when renewing their subscription/software/product.
When looking at day to day duties they carry out a lot of similarities however a CSM gets involved with more technical activities than an account manager in terms of they do implementation and onboarding processes themselves. This means because of the deeper understanding of the product they work with a smaller client pool. Whereas with account managers they are up to speed with everything however they are more sales focused and hitting targets is a huge responsibility of theirs.
Taking a step back and looking over both roles they complement one another, and a successful business needs to ensure they have both roles within their establishment. A CSM takes on more of a consultancy role and takes care of the longest customer life cycle. Whereas on the other hand an account manager ensures there is a continual transaction happening through upselling and cross selling which is important for company revenue and gets involved with customers for the short term.
By Georgia Willaims - Consultant-PropTech