Mastering Customer Success: When and How to Request A Client Change

Mastering Customer Success: When and How to Request A Client Change


Customer Success Managers (CSMs) play a critical role in ensuring that clients have a positive experience with a company’s products or services. They are often the bridge between the client and the company, responsible for maintaining and strengthening the client relationship. However, there are times when a CSM may find themselves at odds with a client, and the question arises: Is it time to request client changes? In this article, we’ll explore when and how to navigate this delicate situation.

The Role of a Customer Success Manager

Before we dive into the specifics of requesting client changes, let’s briefly recap the role of a Customer Success Manager. CSMs are responsible for ensuring that clients achieve their desired outcomes while using a company’s product or service. They build strong relationships with clients, provide guidance and support, and monitor client progress. It’s a role that demands a deep understanding of both the client’s needs and the company’s offerings.

Signs That It Might Be Time for a Change

While CSMs are well-equipped to handle a variety of client personalities and needs, there are situations where the relationship becomes strained or counterproductive. Here are some signs that it might be time to consider requesting client changes:

  1. Constant Negativity: If a client consistently provides negative feedback, shows dissatisfaction, or is uncooperative without any clear reason, it can be challenging to maintain a productive relationship.
  2. Lack of Engagement: Some clients may disengage from the onboarding process or ongoing communication. They may not respond to emails or attend scheduled meetings, making it difficult to provide the necessary support.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations: Clients with unrealistic expectations that cannot be met by the product or service may become frustrated. Managing such expectations can be draining for a CSM.
  4. Abusive Behavior: In extreme cases, clients may exhibit abusive behavior, such as verbal harassment or personal attacks. No one should tolerate such treatment.

Steps to Request Client Changes

If you find yourself in a situation where requesting client changes seems appropriate, it’s essential to handle it professionally and ethically. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Assess the Situation: Before making any decisions, take a step back and objectively assess the situation. Are the issues with the client a result of miscommunication, a misunderstanding, or a mismatch in expectations? Make sure you’ve exhausted all other options to salvage the relationship.
  2. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all interactions with the client, including emails, meeting notes, and feedback. Document any instances of inappropriate behavior or uncooperativeness. Having a clear paper trail is essential.
  3. Discuss with Your Manager: Consult with your manager or supervisor about your concerns. They can provide valuable guidance and may have insights into the client’s history or specific needs that can help inform your decision.
  4. Prepare a Request: If, after careful consideration, you believe that requesting client changes is the best course of action, prepare a formal request. Be specific about your reasons and provide evidence from your documented interactions.
  5. Maintain Professionalism: When discussing the request with your manager, colleagues, or the client themselves, maintain professionalism. Focus on the facts and avoid making it personal. Emphasize that your goal is to ensure the client’s success.
  6. Propose Alternatives: If possible, propose alternative solutions that could address the issues without severing the client relationship completely. This could involve assigning a different CSM or adjusting the client’s support plan.
  7. Seek Approval: If your manager agrees that requesting client changes is the right move, seek approval from the appropriate channels within your organization.

The Potential Impact on Your Role

Requesting client changes can be a difficult decision, and you may wonder how it will impact your role as a CSM. Here are some potential outcomes:

  • Improved Mental Well-Being: If the client relationship was causing you undue stress or anxiety, requesting changes can lead to improved mental well-being. You’ll be better equipped to focus on other clients and responsibilities.
  • Professional Growth: Handling challenging situations like these can contribute to your professional growth. It demonstrates your ability to make tough decisions in the best interest of the client and your organization.
  • Client Satisfaction: In some cases, the client may benefit from a new CSM who can better meet their needs, resulting in improved client satisfaction.
  • Team Dynamics: Requesting client changes may have an impact on your team dynamics. It’s essential to communicate openly with your colleagues and maintain a supportive work environment.

In Conclusion

Customer Success Managers are integral to maintaining positive client relationships, but there are times when requesting client changes becomes a necessary step. By recognizing the signs, documenting interactions, and following a structured process, CSMs can make this transition as smooth as possible while ensuring the best outcomes for both the client and the organization.

Remember that your well-being and ability to perform your role effectively are paramount. Requesting client changes, when warranted, can lead to a healthier work environment and more successful client relationships in the long run.

Author: Hakan Ozturk

Driving Customer Success –

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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