The Real Deal About Breaking Into Customer Success: Insights from Experienced CSMs

The Real Deal About Breaking Into Customer Success: Insights from Experienced CSMs

Breaking into Customer Success

Customer Success Management (CSM) is a field that has gained immense popularity in recent years, promising impressive salaries and a relatively stress-free work-life balance. But is it all as simple as it sounds? In this blog post, we dive into a discussion among seasoned Customer Success Managers (CSMs) who share their thoughts on newcomers trying to break into the industry and the true complexity of the role.

The Steeper Learning Curve – Breaking Into Customer Success

One of the first things experienced CSMs highlight is the often underestimated learning curve in this field. While the role may seem straightforward on the surface, mastering it takes time and effort.

“I’ve accepted that it’s going to take many more months still until I feel comfortable with the role,” says one CSM with four years of experience.

The reality is that many skills crucial for success in CSM roles take years to develop. Skills like reading and understanding API documentation, effectively context switching, being strategic in customer interactions, and confidently discussing technical terms like SQL, SDKs, webhooks, and data warehouses don’t come overnight.

A Flood of Misconceptions

The influx of newcomers into the field can often be attributed to a flood of misconceptions about the job’s ease and rewards. Social media platforms like TikTok have been awash with influencers painting CSM roles as effortless, high-paying jobs with minimal work hours.

“People on TikTok have been hyping it up over lockdowns as this WFH job that pays near 6 figures and you work like 2 hours a day… that’s the problem,” notes one CSM.

It seems that the allure of the CSM profession is being oversimplified, leading to unrealistic expectations among those looking to enter the field.

The Technical Side of CSM – Breaking Into Customer Success

Many CSMs, especially those dealing with technical products, emphasize the importance of technical skills in this role. Understanding and discussing complex technical aspects is often a requirement, and this is where newcomers might find themselves unprepared.

“I don’t have to know how to do all these things, just talk about them,” explains one CSM, highlighting the need for technical fluency in communication.

The role is not just about soft skills; it’s about bridging the gap between technical intricacies and customer understanding.

The Jaded Perspective

Experienced CSMs might sometimes come across as jaded or cynical when they see newcomers breezing into the field. It’s not about discouraging fresh talent but rather about setting realistic expectations.

“Now when I see someone on Tiktok talking about it, I’m really vocal about how they need to stop selling a dream,” says a CSM with nine months of experience.

It’s essential to acknowledge the hard work and dedication it takes to excel in the CSM field and to ensure that new entrants are aware of the depth of the role.

Embracing Change

Contrary to some apprehensions, an influx of newcomers can be a positive force for the CSM industry. It can lead to the evolution and maturation of the field. Additionally, it can help in standardizing processes and increasing the legitimacy of CSM as a profession.


In the end, Customer Success Management is a dynamic and multifaceted field that encompasses both technical and soft skills. It’s not a one-size-fits-all profession, and the journey to mastery is often longer and more challenging than it appears. While new entrants are always welcome, it’s essential to paint a realistic picture of the industry and the hard work required to thrive in it.

So, if you’re considering a career in CSM, embrace the learning curve, stay humble, and be ready to adapt. The journey may be tough, but the rewards, both personally and professionally, can be well worth it. And for experienced CSMs, don’t be cynical; instead, mentor and guide the next generation, helping them navigate the complexities of this ever-evolving field.

Author: Hakan Ozturk

Driving Customer | Top CS News from Silicon Valley to Paris and beyond.

Hakan Ozturk

Hakan Ozturk
Founder,, #1 Weekly Customer Success Newsletter

Hakan Ozturk is a Paris-based Customer Success leader with over 15 years of experience in the computer software industry. Passionate about driving growth and delivering value to strategic customers, Hakan has established himself as a trusted industry expert. As the Founder of The Customer Success Café Newsletter and, Hakan provides valuable industry insights and daily-updated job opportunities worldwide in the field of Customer Success. Connect with Hakan to boost your career in CS and your company’s potential for massive growth.

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