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How many customers can (should) a customer success manager be responsible for?

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We’ve been asked a lot how many accounts a customer success manager (CSM) should handle and what is the right number of customer success managers to have? There have been discussions on LinkedIn trying to figure out the ratio between the amount of revenue CSMs generate and team size. We decided to tackle this question and utilize the data we currently have from our customers.

We separated the data into two types of customer accounts:

1) CSMs who were in charge of a low volume of accounts where each customer is valued at bringing in >$1,000 revenue per year (aka big fish, smaller amount of accounts)

2) CSMs who were in charge of a high volume of accounts where each customer is valued at bringing in <$1,000 revenue per year (aka small fish, larger amount of accounts)

We found on average the CSMs that managed higher revenue accounts would be in charge of about 37, while the ones in charge of the lower revenue accounts would be in charge of about 200. We had an outlier statistic where one CSM would be in charge of about 400-500 accounts.

Regardless of how many customer a CSM manages, it’s a LOT in all cases. So a critical survival skill for any CSM is to decide which customers to focus on TODAY. The most important factor in deciding where to focus your time is to understand usage. Look at customers that have had a recent drop in usage and offer your help with an email. You might find they’re experiencing a bug, or just brought on a new team member who has no idea how to use your platform. With this knowledge at your helm, your proactivity could secure a customer for life. In fact, we have learnt that, on average, you could improve customer retention by 25% in just 3 months using this approach. The math behind this statement is the topic of a future blog.

In the meantime, here’s how one Totango customer, Clarizen, set up their Salesforce Dashboard to see the activity of all their accounts across the board so their team, as a collective effort, could focus on the ones that require their attention most (those that experienced a recent decline in usage).

Jill Rubin

Jill is a senior marketing and business development executive with experience leading successful teams in both large companies and startups. She has taken companies from early stage to strong revenue growth and propelled established businesses to industry leadership positions.

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