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For those just joining my blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. In this series I discuss trends, best practices, and advice for frontline customer success managers.

Being on the CSM frontline allows me to directly influence the success of my clients. I love that; as my clients are successful, I’m successful. Each day I learn from the trenches what it takes to make clients happy and successful. Let’s move forward with this week’s blog post!

“What’s Customer Success?”

Since joining the ClientSuccess team in June 2015, there have been many occasions where friends or family have asked me about what I do at work. Having people who know little to nothing about customer success ask “what’s customer success?” is quite the situation; though I know what I do, how do I explain the responsibilities of a customer success manager at a level anyone could understand?

My Customer Success Purpose Defined

Earlier this year, I posted three principles I learned in my first six months as a customer success manager (CSM). Since my early days, I’ve learned that it is the role of the customer success manager to anticipate client needs and help them achieve their goals and succeed. This is, in a nutshell, my purpose.

When it comes to providing some sort of context for this purpose to friends or family, I often focus on some key points. Now that I’ve defined my purpose as a CSM, here are 3 points that help me explain my job to others, as well as remind me of my daily purpose:

My Three Main Purposes as a Customer Success Manager

1. Customer Success Builds Relationships

Authentic relationships are essential for subscription-based companies to be successful; therefore, building strong relationships of trust is a huge part in the role of a CSM. Just like real relationships, the best ones are those built on honest and open communication, a clear understanding or direction of purpose, and being unified in that purpose. Customer success starts and ends with the relationship.

2. Customer Success Solves Problems

Openview Venture Partners has noted, “customer success is unique to each customer’s experience in the context of your product,” so naturally it is important for the success manager to develop and validate a solid, long-term understanding of how each customer defines “success”. CSMs must establish themselves as the customer advocate and problem-solver, and should be (or become) the “quarterback of the customer relationship”. Truly understanding each customer’s goals and definition of success helps push them into the red zone and make touchdowns.

3. Customer Success Validates the Success of Others

When it comes to SaaS, keeping clients engaged and actively progressing through their “lifecycle” is often a challenge. For this reason, it’s important to come prepared for each engagement; successful customer management requires desire and action. CSMs help clients make and keep commitments, remain focused, achieve goals, and become successful. This is all purposed to ensure each client is able to validate their key business objectives (KBOs). At the end of the day, we want our clients to be the internal heroes and champions of their company.

These 3 points show that customer success is proactive. It’s as simple as that; CSMs build relationships with existing customers, have an in-depth understanding of their client’s goals, and help their customers meet those goals through each touch and engagement.