Customer Success Manager Vs. Account Manager

Customer success managers and account managers work with customers to ensure their satisfaction with a product or to offer them new products. While these careers seem similar, their focuses are divergent.

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Comparing Customer Success Managers to Account Managers

As competing companies attempt to sell similar products, keeping customers happy and ensuring they purchase the newest product is key for success. Customer success managers and account managers both assist in building relationships with customers, but their focus is slightly different.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Customer Success Managers Bachelor's Degree $64,880 8% (managers, all other)
Account Managers Bachelor's Degree $51,949 7% (sales managers)

Sources: *Payscale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Customer Success Managers vs. Account Managers

Customer success managers are responsible for managing long-term relationships with clients to ensure retention and satisfaction. They work closely with clients by walking them through the use of a product, particularly computer software, and address any concerns or issues they might experience.

Account managers form relationships with clients by managing their sales accounts and selling them products. They may discuss new products and services with existing clients or try to match client needs to an existing product or service. Customer success managers focus on relationships and long-term retention, while account managers work with sales quotas and foster more targeted relationships. Account managers generally work with a smaller number of customers.

Customer Success Managers

To keep clients happy and loyal, customer success managers maintain working relationships. They collect and analyze data related to client issues with a product, which could lead to pivotal insights, such as possible updates for a software application. They may use chat applications and other communication methods to connect with new and returning clients. By serving as advocates for clients, educating them on products, and maintaining lasting relationships, the customer success manager indirectly helps maintain an organization's bottom line.

Job responsibilities of a customer success manager include:

  • Working with clients to map out their goals and develop strategies
  • Onboarding and training new clients in the use of products
  • Assisting in the design of a product on behalf of a client
  • Leading meetings between clients and information technology professionals

Account Managers

Account managers manage a certain number of client accounts and contact long-standing clients to offer them additional products and services. During these calls, they are able to find out what a client's company still needs to be successful and pitch products and services to meet those demands. They may research a client company and its goals to build an effective presentation for a new service, especially if the company is already a client. When they are not growing sales, these professionals are contacting clients to communicate information about contracts and advertising/marketing campaigns.

Job responsibilities of an account manager include:

  • Demonstrating new products or campaigns to clients, emphasizing how they can help the company reach its productivity or marketing goals
  • Managing sales renewals and leads
  • Serving as a liaison between a client and an organization's operational/internal teams
  • Working with other departments to execute a campaign for the client
  • Cross-selling related products to returning clients to compliment or update products and services they already use

Related Careers

A job as a customer success manager is like a position as a public relations manager, since both work to maintain a favorable image of a company. A career as an account manager is similar to that of a project manager as both work across departments to manage and execute a client's particular needs.

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