There is some flexibility around the job title of customer support manager. A CSM may or may not be a people manager, depending on how the role is classified. Some customer support manager roles might be better classified as customer support agents, responsible for traditional inbound troubleshooting or order help, while others may be specific to certain accounts and have a more proactive role. Still others may be leading teams of agents, and may not interact with customers at all. However, the end goal of all CSM roles (regardless of actual responsibilities) is to enable great customer experiences in order to increase the likelihood of customer retention.
Note: A customer support manager may also be called customer success manager, customer service manager, or even customer service representative depending on the company.
While there is no set job description, a customer support manager will normally have many of these responsibilities:
Customer care — Any customer service manager’s main priority is to take care of customers and to provide them with the best possible experience. Whether in SaaS, where a CSM may be working with a specific customer repeatedly for an extended period of time, or a customer service rep who focuses on one-off inbound requests from consumers, the end goal is always to offer the maximum possible value, while demonstrating empathy and expertise.
Technical support and problem solving — Providing technical support is core to both SaaS and consumer CSM roles. A CSM will have to be knowledgeable enough to help brand new customers, while also working on the more complex issues that existing customers may have. They need to problem solve with empathy, in order to understand where customers are coming from and might be frustrated by.
Account management — A customer success manager may also act as a de facto account manager as well, being the first to learn about intent to churn or return a product, and then working to provide incentives to help keep the customer.
Help lead the support organization — When CSMs are also customer service team leads, they are expected to provide support to agents, pay attention to overall team metrics, and synthesize customer issues and feedback for internal teams. They may also be expected to organize call center and agent schedules.
Traditional metrics by which a CSM is judged can include:
Net Promoter Score (NPS) — How likely a customer is to recommend a product to someone else.
Customer satisfaction (CSAT) — How satisfied a customer is with the support interaction.
Time to first response — How quickly a customer is engaged after submitting an issue.
Handle time — How long it takes to resolve the issue.
Ticket resolution rate — How many open tickets are resolved (in a set amount of time).
Employee happiness and engagement — How happy team members are in their jobs and whether they are likely to leave (for people managers only)
While great communication skills, empathy, and the ability to problem solve are role requirements, there are no standard experience requirements for CSM roles. A CSM position may be an entry-level role (requiring zero years of experience and/or no college), or one that requires significant technical know-how going beyond what one would get with a bachelor’s degree. When in doubt, read the job description. It will indicate what the experience expectations are.
Base salary varies by location, company, and experience, but there are some trends to note:
For roles based in San Francisco the average salary for customer support specialists is anywhere from $30k to $70k per year, while people managers may make anywhere from $60k to $160k per year.
For roles based in New York, the average salary for customer support representatives is between $20k and $90k per year, while people managers may make anywhere from $50k to $140k per year.
For roles based in Austin the average salary for customer support agents is between $20k and $75k per year, while people managers may make anywhere from $45k to $130k per year.