Every year, reports are published claiming that ‘this is the year of x’ or ‘get ready to see more of y this year’. Without real numbers to back them up, these reports are typically just hopeful looks at different industries or professions that people think might be big in the upcoming year.
This wishful thinking approach isn’t what LinkedIn used to create their 2020 Emerging Jobs Report. By analyzing real-world data from billions of LinkedIn profiles, the team behind the report was able to pinpoint 15 professions that have been on the rise over the last five years. And, wouldn’t you know, tucked in there, next to artificial intelligence, robotics engineering, and data science is the profession of a customer success specialist.
The Emerging Job: Customer Success Specialist
With a 34% annual growth rate over the last year, Customer Success Specialist came in at number six in the LinkedIn 2020 Emerging Jobs Report. According to the report, an incredible 72% of current CSMs are working in the Software & IT industry. By combining a deep knowledge of the product and/or platform with the ability to communicate and engage with consumers with ease, CSMs are instrumental in cultivating and managing customer relationships.
In a report dominated by digital and technology-focused roles, it is interesting to see such a relationship-based role represented. In fact, Sales Development Representative, Chief Revenue Officer, and Behavioral Health Technician are the only other non-technology focused roles included in LinkedIn’s report. The inclusion of these roles highlights the importance of relationship building and human engagement in an otherwise digital world.
What makes a successful CSM?
Whether you’re a seasoned customer success professional or are looking to break into this growing profession, understanding the keys to what makes a CSM successful can be the turning point in your career. Here are some key skills to develop throughout your tenure as a CSM:
- Technical skills: First and foremost, CSMs must be comfortable not only working and talking with their own product but with handling technology in general. Many CSMs jump into the role in order to work directly with customers without realizing that a majority of their time will be spent on an implementation plan or working with the product team to integrate data correctly.
- Communication: Communication is key. One misunderstanding could lead to an unhappy customer, a dropped deadline, or even a churned account. CSMs must be able to set clear expectations early on with their customers and then nurture and guide them throughout their entire customer lifecycle.
- Empathy: When it comes to building relationships, empathy is key. CSMs must be able to understand where customers are coming from, how they are experiencing certain situations, and how they are feeling about the process in general. Being empathetic with customers opens people up and allows CSMs to get to the root cause of problems faster.
- Patience: In every CSMs experience, nothing is ever smooth sailing all the time. There will be times when customers will make you want to pull your hair out, which is why patience is such a key skill. Instead of going on the defensive with customers, stand your ground, explain the process, and work towards a solution with a level head.
The takeaway? While tech-first professions might steal the spotlight, these roles make customer success even more critical. Regardless of industry, people are still relying on the hands-on support and guidance that a CSM can provide.
Customer success professionals should feel secure in their role because, as technology continues to grow and permeate every facet of the consumer life, CSMs will be needed to provide that human link between the customer and the product at hand.