Customer Success vs Account Management: Understanding What Each Team Does

Customer success and account management share common goals: Building customer loyalty and driving growth. Still, considering customer success vs account management reveals some insight into the contributions of both roles.

One way of looking at it is that Account Managers operate reactively often within a sales environment and with a focus on renewal and expansion, while Customer Success Managers (CSMs) pay close attention to customer behavior and health. CSMs maximize customer ROI through proactive engagements that help the customer realize value from the product. That having been said, research supports the fact that customer experience, satisfaction, net promoter score, and other metrics are all higher/better when owned by CSMs.

By sharing customer information and working together, your customer success and account management teams can increase customer loyalty and lower churn.

Customer Success vs Account Management: How are They Different?

Both customer success and account management maximize the customer’s experience of value. Team members must pay close attention to the customer’s goals across the breadth of their journey and anticipate future needs. To achieve this level of oversight, customer success and account management teams must share customer knowledge and coordinate their customer engagements.

As a broad customer success vs account management distinction, these engagements occur in different ways. Account Managers tend to react to renewal anniversaries, customer feedback, and the overall health of the customer experience. CSMs also often work on renewal and expansion, but tend to be more proactive, seeking to create additional value for the customer by measuring day-to-day metrics that reveal the customer experience and taking action based on this data to ensure customers remain engaged throughout their journey.

How Customer Success and Account Management Work Together

There is some overlap between customer success and account management. As such, it is vital that the teams find ways to enhance the roles of their colleagues, including:

Sharing Customer Information

The customer success and account management teams must share customer data. Information should be gathered from as many sources as possible and shared across your entire enterprise. Access to accurate information helps every team member provide personalized, intelligent engagements and ensures the customer never needs to repeat themselves. 

The process begins with a comprehensive sales to onboarding handover that allows the CS team to gather all the information they need to understand the customer’s unique business goals. The two teams should continue to communicate throughout the customer journey so that the account management team is aware of the optimal times to pursue upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Keeping Customer Goals in Mind

Customer success teams help customers meet their business goals. Metrics such as product usage rates, feature access, time spent in an application, and license utilization are crucial to track progress. When these metrics lag, the customer success team must intervene to enhance product engagement. Above all, deriving value and hitting identified milestones are the true indicators of success.

Both teams also need to keep customer goals in mind. If a certain customer is growing rapidly and might need expansion, teams can examine customer goals and key metrics, then determine the best way to provide additional value and frame an upsell opportunity. 

Understanding the Customer Journey

Each customer moves through a non-linear journey as they learn about the product and experience value. Understanding this journey makes it easier to deliver value to customers.

Your customer success team will drive the customer journey by tracking progress and being proactive as different phases are completed. The successful completion of each milestone should be celebrated with the customer to encourage a sense of achievement and shared with the account management team to personalize sales campaigns.

Using Customer Success Software

Your customer success software will be the primary tool of your CS team, but it should also provide a high-level, detailed explanation of the customer experience for account management. The platform will gather and break down customer information drawn from every interaction your customer has with your enterprise. The software can generate customer health scores, making it easy to see how a customer is progressing. It will also serve as an early warning system, alerting team members of significant trends and suggesting the best way to respond to the situation. 

These capabilities help to optimize customer engagements and sales events, empowering both customer success and account management to personalize their customer interactions.

Customer Success vs Account Management: Equal Partners

Your customer success and account management teams occasionally follow separate pathways, but they move toward the same end. They each work to maximize customer lifetime value and develop a mutually beneficial future for you and your customers.

Your customer success team takes a more proactive approach, preparing the way for the sales team to successfully progress your customer relationship through the day-to-day implementation of goals-based engagements. The account management team has a reciprocal role to play. It needs to share information with the CS team so that the needs of the customer are directly served with every engagement.

Together, these two teams drive your customer relationship by proving that your enterprise can provide the value your customers need. 

Totango’s customer success platform helps you optimize engagements, track customer health, and more. When you explore Spark, you will find an intelligent way to scale your customer success efforts across your enterprise. Request a demo today and find out how you can build better customer relationships.

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