Are Your Customer Success Managers Overwhelmed?

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) Are Responsible for Successful Customer Journeys, but Scaling Can Cause Friction, Resulting in an Overwhelmed CSM

May 5, 2022

As your company scales, there will be friction points. That's certainly the case when customer success managers (CSMs) no longer have the bandwidth to solve customer problems. By the time you recognize they need help, it's too late, and the damage to the customer experience is done.

Let's outline CSM responsibilities and how to identify when they've become overwhelmed.

8 Responsibilities of a Customer Success Manager

Customer success managers enable customer satisfaction. But what does that look like tactically? Here are their 8 most important responsibilities:

1. Onboarding New Clients

Educating customers about a product is crucial for their success. What good is a product if the customer can't use it?

Onboarding new clients is the CSM's responsibility. This includes giving a product tour, demonstrating how it works, and setting up their account. The less technical friction here, the better.

It's a place where OneSchema can help. Onboarding often involves getting customer data into your tool, which is likely in the form of a CSV. It will fall to your customer support manager to make sure this process goes smoothly, but simply transferring customer friction onto your teams (or directly onto your CSM) isn't the answer. That's where OneSchema's Workspaces comes in, specifically designed to aid customer onboarding teams. Instead of transferring friction, Workspaces reduces it on both ends—for the client and your company.

2. Company Advocate

CSMs bridge the gap between the customers and the company. The customer success team is the primary point of contact for the customer. Ultimately, a customer success manager represents the company to the customer.

Being the face of the company, a CSM needs to have in-depth knowledge about the product or service and company policy.

3. Customer Champion

CSMs are company cheerleaders, but they're also customer champions. It's their job to make sure customer needs are met so they're getting the most value from the product or service.

A CSM listens to customer concerns and represents their interests, whether it's added features or UI improvements—anything and everything. A CSM will prioritize the highest impact requests from evidence-based data.

4. Reducing Customer Churn

Customer churn is the percentage of customers who cancel your product or service within a certain period. For example, if 100 customers start using your product this month and 10 cancel next month, your customer churn rate is 10%.

A high churn rate is a red flag. CSMs work to reduce customer churn by keeping customers engaged and helping them get the most out of the product. Proper onboarding plays a vital role in reducing churn.

5. Retaining Customers

CSMs are responsible for customer retention—making sure customers stick around and continue using the product or service.

Monitoring client expiration dates, doing follow-ups, and addressing customer concerns are critical for retention.

While the onboarding process of new customers is necessary, retaining existing customers is essential for the long-term success of any business.

According to the survey reports analyzed by BIA/Kelsey:

"Recently, a new trend is developing as 61 percent of small business owners surveyed report over half of their annual revenue comes from repeat customers rather than new customers and that a repeat customer spends 67 percent more than a new customer."

By retaining customers, you can significantly increase revenue.

A study conducted by Invesp found that 52% of SaaS companies increased their investment in customer retention year over year from 2016 to 2017.

Customer Retention | Source: Invesp
Customer Retention | Source: Invesp

6. Offering Upgrades or Premiums

As customers continue using your product or service, they may need premium features or a higher level of service. Upselling existing customers can increase revenue without the overhead of finding new customers.

7. Improving the Customer Relationships with Customer Support

Customer support can generate customer frustration.

The CSM can improve the relationship between customers and customer support. CSMs provide feedback to customer support on behalf of customers, train customer support representatives, and act as a liaison between customers and customer support.

8. Helping Customers Find Value

A CSM's ultimate goal is to help the customer find value in the product or service. This can mean different things for different customers.

For some B2B customers, value may be increasing sales or productivity. For others, it may be providing a better experience.

Megan Costello, a Fusion Advisor at High Alpha Innovation, created a mental model to help customers find value and success. 

Here's how it works: 

Questions of Impact

Ask the customer about their business goals and how your product or service can help them achieve those goals.


Work backward from the customer's responses to determine what needs to happen, so the customer sees their point of success.

Create a Roadmap

Create a roadmap your customers can understand. This will give them a visual representation of the journey they need to take (with you along the way) to reach their business goals. Having a journey roadmap gives you and the customer something to measure against.

How To Identify an Overwhelmed CSM

There's no doubt that CSMs have a lot on their plate. With all these responsibilities, it's easy to see how a CSM can get overwhelmed as you scale.

They're constantly interacting with customers and team members, and they're always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. As a result, it's not uncommon for CSMs to feel swamped as your customer base grows.

Common Signs of an Overwhelmed Customer Success Manager?

There are a few signs that may indicate an overwhelmed customer success manager.

  • Always reactive and never proactive.
  • Constantly putting out fires but never seem able to get ahead.
  • Always available to their team but never have time for their initiatives.
  • Working long hours but not seeing any results.

If you see any of these signs, it's important to take action. An overwhelmed CSM won't be effective, leading to unhappy customers and high churn.

Here are some ways you can identify an overwhelmed CSM:

Time-Tracking Data

Time tracking data allows you to see how your CSM spends their time. Time-tracking tools aren't there to micromanage your CSM but to give you visibility on time use, so you can identify any potential issues and help them find ways to be more efficient.

If they're spending a lot of time on administrative tasks, such as creating reports or following up with other departments, it could be a sign that they're becoming overwhelmed.

According to Zapier, the best time-tracking software can track in real-time and export invoices and data. It also provides you with a dashboard to break down daily, weekly, and monthly reports by project, client, task, or employee. Some top time-tracking software includes RescueTime, Toggl, and Harvest.

Talk to your CSM

A weekly one-on-one session can help you identify if your CSM is overwhelmed.

They may be hesitant to open up about it, but it's important to establish a culture of transparency.

Try talking to your CSM (or any employee) using the “Feedback Sandwich Method.” This involves starting with a positive comment, followed by constructive feedback, and then ending on another positive note.

When the CSM appears to be overwhelmed, a weekly one-on-one provides a good forum for you to step in and help set priorities.

Observe Your Employees

If you have regular interactions with your CSM's team members, take some time to observe them. Do they seem stressed or overworked? Are they constantly coming to your CSM with problems?

Check their productivity and notice the time it takes for them to onboard customers or resolve issues. If you see a decrease in productivity or an increase in the time it takes to complete tasks, it could be a sign that your CSM is feeling overwhelmed.

CSMs are Your First Line of Defense

Customer success managers are the first line of defense against customer churn. They interact with customers and work for their success—from onboarding to ongoing support.

With all the responsibilities of the job, it's not surprising that CSMs can feel overwhelmed, especially as you scale up and gain new customers. And when a CSM is becoming overwhelmed, it can harm the entire team, which can damage your business.

Time-tracking software, weekly one-on-ones, and team audits can help you see the signs that your CSM needs help. When that happens, investing in systems that can add efficiency or reduce the friction of complex technical tasks, like OneSchema's Workspace for CSV importing, is a crucial step you can take to offload tasks from your CSM and increase their available bandwidth.

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