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Customer success manager: What I do and how much I make

Nick Donovan, a Customer Success Manager at User Testing, ensures customer satisfaction with the platform. His role involves regular check-ins, partnership reviews, and renewal discussions. He manages about 60 customers, strategizing for their long-term success. His salary, around $80,000, reflects his effectiveness in customer retention.

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Video transcript

My name is Nick Donovan. I'm 28 years old and I'm a customer success manager at User Testing. I make $80K a year. User testing is a company that specializes in providing qualitative user feedback for companies with apps and websites. So that's a little bit complicated, but essentially what we do is we allow big companies to understand what users experiences are like when they try using their apps and websites. So for example, when you go to Amazon to buy something, maybe there's a step in the process that's really confusing, and so you decide not to buy it. Amazon wants that not to be the case, so they purchase a subscription with User Testing which allows them to see what their users are experiencing and improve those processes. So User Testing has a panel of testers that exists all over the globe, and in order to get feedback what we do is we have each of those testers take what we call sessions. And those are done using a screen recorder on either their desktop computer or their mobile device which will record what they're doing on their device, as well as their thoughts that they're speaking aloud during the session. So that way we're getting feedback on not only what it looks like when they're trying to click on things, but also if they're running into an issue they didn't know they were going to have, they can speak their thoughts aloud and say, "Oh this isn't what I expected," to make those pain points really clear. Essentially User Testing is here in order to provide companies with those insights into those users. So as a customer success manager, I'm here for a couple different reasons, that our main focus here is to make sure that our customers are always really happy with the platform and the product and subscriptions that they've purchased with us. If they're really happy with us, then it means that they're really sticky and we're doing great work for them in providing them valuable research. And that means that they're going to come back again next year and purchase again. So really when it all boils down, I'm here to help ensure that customers are renewing with us and spending money that way. My major responsibilities, as I'd said previously, is essentially to ensure that my customers are always healthy which means that they're utilizing the product. They are finding value in it. That's really kind of what matters. So in order to do that, I'll do partnership reviews which is times when I'll go in and try to meet with the executive stakeholders at my customers' companies, and ensure that they're seeing the great value that they're getting. Beyond that we'll also be having regular email correspondence, monthly check-ins in order to make sure that they're doing well, phone calls. I'll go visit them in person sometimes, that's some of my favorite stuff to do on my job is actually going and visiting really cool companies. And then beyond that, I'm also responsible for all renewal discussions. So once a customer is done with their first year with us, I'm responsible for talking with them about their upcoming year subscription and making sure they still want to stay on. So projects for my role are a little varied. Sometimes a project could be onboarding a new customer and that would mean that I am working with our professional services team or researchers and project managers who want to make sure that all our customers understand fully how to utilize the platform. So sometimes I'm focusing really on that with newer customers. Other times I'm putting out fires, if there's a customer who had a really poor experience for one reason or another, I want to make sure that they understand that that's not how we do business, the usual typical experience and helping them kind of reconnect and regroup, so that we can do great stuff going forward. Other times it's renewal discussions, so figuring out what number is really going to work for that customer and what actual package is going to get them what they really need in order to get those insights that they're looking for. I make $80,000 a year, Now that number is a little bit variable, it tends shift based on a few different factors. The main thing that I'm kind of graded on and that can impact that is whether or not my customers renew, which is a great sign of a good customer success manager. If I'm doing my job, they want to continue with us. So customer success managers tend to make around $80,000-ish. It varies quite a bit just because custom success managers and customer success as a field, tends to be a newer field that's just kind of starting. So a lot of different companies are figuring out what the responsibilities of a customer success manager should be and with that what the pay should be, so that it really balances out. There's a really broad window, I would say, tends to make anywhere from $60k to $100k a year, and still have a job. So I'm making pretty much right in the middle there, which is really great. Started out making around $60k, that improved because User Testing wanted to make sure that everyone at the company was making industry standard and so we've improved to this point. And then from here for me to continue improving, I need to make sure that my renewal numbers are good, my customers are utilizing the product, things that are normally expected of me in my day-to-day so that, it's pretty fitting I would say. I had my first annual review last year and I thought ahead and I planned and I came prepared with all of the great renewable numbers that I had, all the usage data, so that I could show the positive impact that I had had on the customers who I'd worked with, and that was really good and it was one of the factors that resulted in me making a little more money. So to be successful as a customer success manager there are a few things that have to happen. You have to be able to think strategically long-term about customers. A lot of times, there's some confusion over well is customer success a sales role? And it's not because in sales, you're trying to sell as much as you can. To be a great customer success manager, you really need to think strategically, long-term about your customers and what will make the most positive impact for them. So you really have to have their well-being in mind if you're wondering about what mindset you have to have. What that means kind of for the skill set is to be able to look at, okay, this is what a customer's hoping to accomplish, this is how we can get them there. Maybe it's a small package, maybe it's something that they just need to get off the ground. And from there, maybe we are going to try out some new different things. And maybe they'll find a feature that is bringing them a lot of value. Great, we can bring them that. We don't need to always be upselling, we don't need to be charging as much as possible, we don't need to be doing any of that. We need to work with their budgets that they're healthy and happy and coming back again next year and continuing to work with us, 'cause that's really what matters. So one of the things that's really important is being organized. So like I'd said, I'm managing a bunch of different customers. Right now, I am managing about 60 customers, which is a lot. So that means multiple monthly touch points every day and I need to be knowing what these customers are doing. So I need to know what their values are, what they want to be achieving. And with 60 different people who I need to be keeping track of, everything each of them are doing, and some of them are teams of more than one people so they have lots of different things they're doing within each of their teams. Organization is really key, you need to be able to keep track of everything. Beyond that, being a personable person and being friendly and not being nervous to go in and have conversations with important key stakeholders is a necessity. You have to be able to be comfortable doing that. Yeah, it's been great. I've actually kind of become close with some of my customers which is really nice to be able to say, "Oh well, you know after work we should meet up for drinks." Or, "You know, next time I'm in town, "I'll give you a call and we can go out." And that's been a really cool experience.