Customer Success Manager is a role that’s focused on making sure that the customers are successful not only in adopting the products and services that the CSM support, but also in maximizing their investment. This role focuses on building and maintaining long-term customer relationships by understanding their needs and helping them achieve their desired outcomes.

But the question is, how does a Customer Success Manager (CSM) do this? Why is having technical skills important for a CSM to deliver both the customer outcome and the outcome for the organization?

In this article, I will lay down my argument on why CSMs should not only be focusing on assisting customers, but developing their technical skills so they can serve customers better, and ultimately reduce churn and boost revenue.

What makes a good Customer Success Manager great?
At Customer Success Collective, we love hearing from Customer Success Managers. In fact, we’re obsessed with them and the work they do; our small contribution is to create a hub of educational resources for global CS enthusiasts.

The role of a Customer Success Manager

But first, what actually is a Customer Success Manager? Unlike a customer support agent who tends to respond only when a customer has an issue, a CSM forms a direct relationship with a customer to guide them through the onboarding process into the implementation phase. It’s a role that allows customers to better grow and achieve their goals, while also strengthening their ongoing relationship with the business.

Their guidance can be invaluable for customers, and it ensures a smooth conversion and adoption process from start to finish. Should a customer have a question or a query, they can contact the CSM directly to sort out any issues. The CSM ensures that the customer has all the tools and support they need to achieve their goals.

Traditionally a CSM would not necessarily need technical skills in order to offer this support. But by developing technical skills, they’re much better placed to offer assistance in more complex and nuanced situations.

The need for technical skills in customer success management

When a CSM has the right kind of technical skills, they can bring a deep understanding of a company’s products and services to the table. With their expertise, they can provide valuable technical guidance and support to customers, especially those wanting to utilize the product in complex ways. By having a good grasp of all the technical intricacies of their product, a CSM can address customer concerns with more confidence, and offer effective solutions.

Additionally, a CSM with technical skills can ensure customers are using a product effectively and that they’re deriving the maximum value from it so they can best achieve their goals. This proactive approach ensures customers feel well supported, which will boost customer satisfaction, and consequently reduce churn.

Here are just some of the benefits of technical knowledge for CSMs:

Understanding product capabilities and limitations

Technical knowledge equips CSMs with the ability to diagnose and troubleshoot product-related issues more efficiently. With a deep understanding of the product's technical aspects, CSMs can identify the root cause of problems and provide accurate solutions promptly.

Effective troubleshooting and issue resolution

Technical knowledge allows CSMs to anticipate and address potential challenges before they escalate. By staying ahead of potential issues, CSMs can provide proactive support, guiding customers through best practices, preventive maintenance, and system optimizations.

Providing relevant and accurate guidance

CSMs with technical expertise can guide customers in effectively utilizing all the features and functionalities of the product. They can provide comprehensive training sessions, create educational resources, and develop customized implementation strategies that align with the customer's specific needs.

Collaboration with product development teams

Technical knowledge enables CSMs to effectively communicate customer needs and feedback to product development teams. CSMs can articulate customer pain points, feature requests, and improvement suggestions in a language that resonates with the development team. This facilitates productive collaboration, ensuring that customer voices are heard during the product roadmap planning and driving continuous improvements that align with customer expectations.

Customer Success Managers vs. Account Managers
They’re both two job titles that float around every business and both seem related, right? But it’s not just a case of rebranding; Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are not Account Managers re-packaged for technology industries like Software as a Service (SaaS).

Key areas where technical skills bring value

So we’ve seen that there’s truly a need for CSM with technical skills. Here are a few key areas where a technical CSM can provide value:

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a crucial aspect of customer success management, and having technical skills plays a significant role in achieving it. A technical CSM possesses the knowledge and expertise to work closely with customers, ensuring that they are not only using the product effectively but also extracting maximum value from it.

By understanding the intricacies of the product, a technical CSM can provide tailored guidance and support, addressing customer needs and helping them achieve their goals.


The retention of customers is paramount for the long-term success of any business, as it’s more cost-effective to hold on to existing customers than acquire new ones.

A technical CSM's ability to establish a strong working relationship with customers, coupled with their expertise in providing ongoing technical guidance and support, greatly contributes to customer retention. Customers relying on the product's functionality and requiring continuous assistance find value in a technical CSM's support, reinforcing their commitment to the product and the organization.

Upselling and cross-selling

Technical skills empower a CSM to identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities. By thoroughly understanding the customer's needs and comprehending their product usage patterns, a technical CSM can recognize areas where additional products or services can enhance the customer's experience or help them achieve even greater outcomes.

With this insight, the technical CSM can make targeted recommendations tailored to the customer's specific requirements, increasing the likelihood of successful upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

How to spot a high-performing Customer Success Manager
One of the challenges I had in the earlier days of building out a customer success function was developing predictable renewals and expansion measures. For context, this was when we were still collecting performance data and our historical data could not yet provide sufficient predictive power.

Final thoughts

While not all Customer Success Managers need to have a deep technical background, it can be beneficial for them to possess some level of technical knowledge. This is because CSMs are often responsible for helping customers with product-related issues and providing guidance on how to use the product to its fullest potential.

Having technical knowledge can help a CSM better understand the product's capabilities and limitations, troubleshoot issues, and provide more effective recommendations and solutions to customers. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction, as customers feel confident that their issues are being addressed by someone who understands the product and can provide relevant and accurate guidance.

Additionally, having technical knowledge can help CSMs collaborate more effectively with product development teams, as they can better communicate customer needs and feedback. This can lead to more informed product decisions and improvements that better meet customer needs.