Rearchitecting Customer Success with VirtualCSM model


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The pandemic 2020 has forced a new set of behaviors for the CSM teams, and the engagement we had pre-defined. During this time of uncertainty, I am frequently asked, “how has CSM effectiveness impacted in a Virtual world?”.

As we welcomed 2020, we made big success plans with our customers on adoption, increase in activity and collocating CSMs for enterprise customers. In my network, with CS leadership the conversation was leaning towards, more face-time with customers, CSMs collocating with customers on-site to accelerate adoption, specifically for the enterprise customers in logistics, retail, Fintech who needed a high touch partner.

That all changed in March 2020, as we transitioned WFH. And Customer Success became more important than ever, as new logos are hard to come by and our focus is to retain and service our existing customer base. To enable customers to attain the desired outcomes and maximize value from your product or service, CSM role is highly relationship-focused. In the CV world, we are forced to re-architecture the CSM model.


Virtual CSM can be construed in different ways- It can be understood as doing end to end CS without any human involvement or it can be CSM who is not needed to do any calls or meetings but engage digitally. Both scenarios need to be considered to structure the customer experience in the new normal.

Let’s look at some of the ways the CS engagement could manifest in a virtual way:

CSM Bot – is the virtual companion to the customer, understands customer emotions with the product in real time and provides proactive support.
Pooled CSM – Customer does not get a named CSM but engages with a CSM available or the first one to access a proactive alert in a contextual chat scenario.
Digital CSM – CSM knows their customer well and is able to program the digital engagement. CM intervenes only when the customer is not going in a pre-established path.

Constructing a cost effective customer engagement model using virtual CS strategy to deliver the best-in-class customer experience in customer journey will become a major objective of every CS organization in the post-Covid world

In the past few months, all CSMs to some extent fit into the VirtualCSM category. We have adapted to the virtual customer engagement model quickly, it has accelerated innovative ideas to continue driving customer outcomes.

What’s Working?

– Shifting to more meaningful engagement with customer over web meetings
– Expedited customer learning and Use of self service capabilities
– More Focused and targeted activity
– Increased empathy towards serving customers

One other advantage is to get commitments on QBRs easier as there are no travel dates and other arrangements to work out, QBRs will be a good opportunity to align strategic initiatives.

What’s NOT Working?

– Challenges with building relationships with CSM onboarding
– Getting customer attention and time on their calendar
– Slower pace of deal making and adoption

Being virtual, CSMs don’t get the contextual knowledge of being in a customer environment, picking up on signals, understanding business objectives which are not explicitly mentioned and the overall pulse of end users. The interactions are transactional in nature and it takes longer to move conversation to a strategic level.


This has been an unprecedented year in many regards, and especially for the customer facing roles. We have learned through this and we can take it forward to re-shape CSM engagement. As we transition into the post CVworld, we need to re-think CS metrics, pooled CSM models, redefine OKRs and KPIs. We can use the learnings from the forced virtual world and apply it to the pooled CSM strategy, bring efficiency, productivity on the mid market and SMB accounts to leverage virtual CSM engagement.

There are some great learnings and insights as we adapted quickly to this remote working and virtual interactions. We have become efficient with our time and meeting cadence, customers have expedited learning and using self service tools. As and when we get back to normalcy, for the enterprise accounts, face to face time will be critical. However for the mid-market and SMB segments, this could be new normal. We should continue to innovate and move the needle on #VirtualCSM, using the right campaigns, push activity model and having the right cadence for Executive Business Reviews. Scaling CSM organization, there is hesitation to build large people-based CS organizations, Investing in low human touch or digital capabilities that focus on a high-volume customer segment will be a huge win.

VirtualCSM model helps you diversify cost centers, use digital engagement and also better serve your customers at the right touch points in their journey to drive maximum value.

Neelu Shaikh
Customer Success Executive, passionate about bringing VoC to Cloud/SaaS customer experience. Experienced leader in building and scaling global customer success teams, focusing on increasing consumption and adoption.


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