Customer Success Salaries and Career Path in 2022

Whether you are a part of the customer success industry or just getting ready to step into the game, one thing is obvious: it is ever-growing and everchanging.

According to this research by Mordor Intelligence, in a timeframe of 5 years (2021-2026), the compound annual growth rate estimated for the global customer success management market is 25.02%. Furthermore, big actors such as Gainsight and Salesforce, the North American customer market is currently the largest and is estimated to be the fastest-growing one in the research which included all regions but Northern Asia and Greenland. 

By looking at such statistics, we can easily say that the customer success industry is a safe bet for a career plan. And before we move on to talk about a career path in customer success and estimated salaries, let us remember what exactly customer success is.

What is customer success?

Customer success is various services provided to gain and retain customers, usually by large teams directed by a customer success manager in larger companies and smaller teams or a single employee in smaller companies. Moreover, roughly in the last ten years, it has become a trend that all companies, no matter the size, work with a customer success manager software such as Salesforce CRM, HubSpot CRM, or ZOHO CRM.

However, this software is merely tools to assist the masterminds behind the real work, who are the customer success manager and the rest of the team. So, no need to have the anxiety that AI will take over the customer success industry too, this is a job that requires exceptional creative thinking and problem-solving skills in the pursuit of increasing your customers’ success rates.

Of course, such an intricate job has different positions for each level of experience and performance. Although the customer success title that is way more popular than the others and is sometimes used as an umbrella term is customer success manager, it is only one of the several customer success positions.

Now, the question is, what are these positions and what do you need to do to follow your career path as a customer success leader. Rest assured; we have gathered all the information you will need.

Although the responsibilities and the salary of someone who works in customer success vary according to many elements such as experience, company size, team size, and even the city, it is possible to figure out the median data by just checking websites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor and PayScale. And that’s exactly what we did.

And before we proceed, make sure you know the differences between Account Managers and Customer Success Managers.

Here is a thorough scan of job descriptions, responsibilities, and salaries of customer success people all around the world:

Customer Success Associate

Now, this is not a title you hear every day, but it exists.

Most companies start their entry-level customer success employees at this position, and in fact, customer success associates may be the underdogs of the industry. Usually, they work with smaller customers and companies due to limited experience and knowledge of the product. However, it is not necessarily hard for a customer success associate to rise in the company as the customer success industry favors the best performers.

What skills do I need?

Being an entry-level position, becoming a customer success associate requires relatively less of a skill set compared to other positions.

Still, working in customer success requires the basic skills of effective communication with the customers and the team, logical thinking and problem solving as well as technical skills that are at least advanced enough to use a CSM tool.

Customer Success Associate Salary

With 1 to 3 years of experience in sales, marketing, or a similar department, Glassdoor data shows that the median base salary for a customer success associate in the United States is $55,919 / a year. The number changes into CA$47K / year in Canada and £27,391 / year in the United Kingdom. Such drastic change is only natural given that North America is the leader in customer success and the fact that different currencies simply work differently. A customer success associate can also receive bonuses and commissions, according to data from PayScale.

More base salaries in other countries

  • Australia – A$50,000 / year
  • India – ₹546,334 / year
customer success manager salary

Customer Success Manager

Here we are at the infamous customer success manager, and just like any umbrella term position, this one may get a bit complicated.

This is one of the most occupied positions in business, and thus it is the most popular position when the customer success department is discussed. Furthermore, with this title, we once again remember that not all titles are definitive in terms of tasks.

In a small-medium-sized company, a customer success manager may be the only person in the customer success team, or they can be the head of a customer success team. In another scenario, they can be the superior of a customer success associate, working with the bigger companies and knowing more intricate details about the product at hand. In that case, they would have a manager of customer success or a senior customer success manager as their superior who leads a team of associates and managers. But in most cases, when we talk about a customer success manager, we refer to a team leader that may or may not have a chief.

What skills do I need?

Just like a customer success associate’s skills, a customer success manager needs strong communicative, analytical, and creative qualities that will let him/her pinpoint what is wrong with a customer’s experience and come up with solutions that will last.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that a manager is the more experienced version of an associate. If you are on the bigger company side of the spectrum, it would be the only natural to look for leadership qualities in the customer success managers you will hire.

Customer Success Manager Salary

Customer success manager is the second step on the customer success career path, and since it is a position that may require leadership roles as well, it is important that the candidate for the job has the experience required. In the United States, the average base salary is $64,682 / year, according to Glassdoor’s report. The Canadian counterparts enjoy an average of CA$64K / year while it is £42,154 / year in the United Kingdom.

More base salaries in other countries

  • Australia – A$91,000 / year
  • India – ₹945,579 / year
  • Spain – €35,781 / year

Senior Customer Success Manager

As we discussed above, in a relatively bigger company, a senior customer success manager or a manager of customer success is the person in charge of a whole customer success team made up of CSMs and customer success associates.

Such a position may be in the sales department as the head of the CS team, or in a larger company, it may be referring to multiple people, each with a team of their own, working in a separate customer success department under another chief.

What skills do I need?

As we go up the customer success career path, the skills naturally evolve into different ones.

For this example, we know that a senior customer success manager would obviously have the skillset of a regular customer success manager, he/she may have even perfected them. However, the most important skill a senior CSM would need is leadership. Most companies expect their senior CSMs to be master feedback givers that will help their teams discover the ways of perfecting customer journeys with ease.

Leadership, check

Feedback giving skills, check

Having the time and patience to lead and feedback a whole team, check

Senior Customer Success Manager Salary

To be a senior CSM, one must simply – experience. Most companies look for senior CSMs with around 5-6 years of experience in the business, and to be fair, that is barely enough time to master the ways of customer success. So, take your time. Nobody becomes a senior customer success manager overnight. The average base salary for a senior CSM in the United States is $78,180 / year, according to Glassdoor. The average sees £61,571 / year in the United Kingdom while in Canada, it is CA$70K / year.

More base salaries in other countries

  • Australia – A$126K / year
  • India – ₹1,509K / year
  • France – €66,000 / year

Director of Customer Success

A director of customer success is the next chain in the order of command of the customer success department, but it’s not simply another superior in the company hierarchy.

Although it changes from company to company, in a relatively larger company, the director of customer success is the one that builds and mentors the team. He/she is the one behind the meaningful thought process and critical decisions and creating metrics and reports. Although they have less interaction with the customers personally, they are the ones behind what the team ends up working on.

What skills do I need?

Yes, a senior CSM needs to have leadership qualities, but for a director of CS, it is even a bigger must.

While a senior CSM leads one team most of the time, a director of CS may be leading multiple teams, and therefore, it is crucial to have leadership and solid verbal and written communication skills as a director of CS. Not to mention the rest of the CSM skill pack, (problem-solving, critical thinking, and some more skills to tell the world how smart you are) a director of customer success must be, to say the least, a jack of all trades.

Director of Customer Success Salary

Such mastery of skills would of course mean quite an experience. Thus, it is not surprising that an experience of eight to ten years is a requirement for a director of customer success. Because the salary sure is fit for such experience. According to Glassdoor, a director of customer success in the United States earns an average base of $122,091 / year. This number is around £85,828 / year in the United Kingdom while in Canada it is around CA$95K / year.

More base salaries in other countries

  • Australia – A$145K / year
  • Germany – €90,000 / year
senior customer success manager salary

VP of Customer Success

You know it’s serious when you see VP.

This one is basically the next in line after the director of CS and its responsibilities are quite similar to those of the director’s.

In fact, a VP of customer success has the ability and authority to do the director’s job if need be. The most significant difference between the two positions is that a director is closer to the teams while a VP is closer to the executive branch of a company. we could even say that when a director of CS is actively working, the work of a VP of customer success is 25% technical and 75% managemental.

What skills do I need?

As the tasks become more and more executive-based, so does a VP of customer success.

That is why a VP must have the practical knowledge and experience of a director of customer success while having executive skills as well. This is the person who will work with the highest-ranking customers, so it is important that their practical knowledge isn’t rusty, and they have a sharp wit.

VP of Customer Success Salary

When hiring a VP of customer success, you know that you need the sharpest tool in the shed. But the thing is, intelligence isn’t all that matters for this position, and an ideal candidate would need 10+ years of experience. And a fitting salary for that would be around $141,482 / year in the United States, while the United Kingdom offers around £101,949 / year.

Some More Titles

You must have already realized (as I pointed out many times) that there is no one way of naming employee positions and titles and that sometimes the exact same job may be done by a completely different employee in a different company.

Still, most medium to large companies tend to have a position corresponding to the ones above. Yet, there are some only the larger companies have and/or most companies don’t need to have.

Let’s take a look.

Chief Customer Officer (CCO) – Salary and Responsibilities

A chief customer officer is “almost” like a CEO, but for the customer matters. While a CEO is the boss of basically everything, a CCO is the same in his/her own department(s). Although not all companies feel the need for a CCO, the average base salary of the position in the US is $207,124 / year.

Customer Success Specialist – Salary and Responsibilities

The title “specialist” is a term that undertakes different responsibilities and changes its form in different industries and companies.

Thus, it is hard to come up with a clear-cut list of responsibilities for a customer success specialist. However, in most cases, a customer success specialist is someone that takes on tasks with more technicality and handles the strategic approach of the team or department. Hierarchically, a specialist is superior to an entry-level employee but below CSMs.

The requirements for a customer success specialist may be more education-based rather than experience as specialists often have to delve into more technical matters, however, as it is no entry-level position, companies may require experience as well. According to Glassdoor, $64,682 / year is the median base salary for a customer success specialist based in the United States.

Customer Success Representatives – Salary and Responsibilities

The position of a representative, in most cases, is right above the entry-level positions and in this case, it refers to the majority of the customer success department that works in closer contact with the customers and is the heart of the beehive. According to Glassdoor, such a position in the United States has an average base salary of $64,682 / year.

Conclusion

One might think, “all these positions to please the customers? Is it really necessary?”

In all sectors but especially in SaaS and tech, the customer is king.

To understand the needs of the customers and effectively answer them, no matter the size of the company, teams work day and night, in harmony like a beehive. The company may have one employee to better your experiment or teams with several members, the moral of the story is that someone is working to give us a better experiment, and you can become one of those great people.

All you need to do is follow the path above.


Frequently Asked Questions


What does a Customer Success Manager earn?

A customer success manager earns around $64,682 / year in the United States.


What does a Customer Success Specialist do?

In general, CS specialists undertake technical responsibilities of the CS team, and while superior to CS associates, they stay inferior to CSMs.


Do Customer Success Managers get commission?

In most companies, the pay structure of CSMs is established in a way that enables them to earn significant amounts from commissions.

customer success career path salary

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Suzan Çalcalı

Suzan is the Customer Success Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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