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The No.1 Reason that Drives Your Customer Success Down

The aspect that is not recognized as a must-have skill for a CSM is Emotional Intelligence (EI). CSMs or CS leaders with high emotional intelligence (EI) are more likely to get hired and promoted in their respective roles.

Sruti Satish
The top reason why your Customer Success effort is not working

Since the start of the subscription economy, Saas firms have focused on improving customer retention. It is because customers can switch to alternatives if they don’t find value in your product. It translates into a loss of recurring revenue for you. That is why customer success (CS) plays an important role. 

CS is crucial to your SaaS business. It ensures to onboard and retains customers perfectly. CS keeps the ‘churn rate’ in check as well. The team does so by providing the most amazing customer experience. They have got the relevant skills to successfully carry out the required processes. 

You might have come across a situation where your CS team is doing everything right. Yet unable to achieve those ambitious goals! What could be the reason? The only reason that is driving your CS down is the lack of focus on Emotional Intelligence.

Imagine a skill that can drastically improve the level of customer service that you provide to your customers. What if the same skill can be applied to the most difficult and challenging customer situations as well? Yes, there is such a skill and that is called Emotional Intelligence! 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

According to the dictionary, emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”. Emotional Intelligence is, sometimes, more essential than technical skills. It is usually focused on being able to identify, use and control your emotions. 

As Travis Bradberry says- 

Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” (Bradberry, Greaves, Emotional Intelligence 2.0) 

In customer success, the CS team should know and recognize their emotions and manage them well. Emotions flow in and out when dealing with customers, especially, angry or frustrated customers. Hence, it’s vital for you to recognize how to marry your emotions into your professional life. 

Why is Emotional Intelligence important?

You must be wondering how these two words “emotion” and “intelligence” can be clubbed together. The word was made popular by Daniel Goleman in his book-  “Emotional Intelligence: WHY IT CAN MATTER MORE THAN IQ

He says that it’s a way to be smarter than the rest.  Well, we believe him!

Why is Emotional intelligence given so much importance by leaders? Because of the impact that the skills create on both individual and customer levels. Highly emotionally intelligent individuals remain calm even under pressure. It is because they can regulate their emotions and keep them in check. 

This key skill matters because people know how their emotions can dictate actions and decisions. They also know how these decisions can have real-world implications. For example, emotionally intelligent individuals can create a vast difference between different outcomes in a situation.

Emotional Intelligence and Customer Success

Its importance can’t be stressed enough! Emotional Intelligence should be the cornerstone of your customer success strategy. CS professionals come from varied backgrounds. Though technical skills are crucial, soft skills play an important role in his/her career. Emotional Intelligence is a core element of the same. 

CS professionals with a great EI are the treasured ones because they:

  • Know their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they react to tough situations and people. 
  • Tend to be highly motivated, which makes them more optimistic and resilient. 
  • Connect better with people. 
  • Master at relationship management.
  • Naturally curious to identify a solution to a customer’s problem.  
  • Genuinely care about customers and respect them for their choices.
  • Can keep their emotions in check. 
  • Have patience and thoughtfulness.

These qualities make them an indispensable part of a CS team. Emotionally Intelligent CS people can attain the following objectives easily:

  • To onboard customers smoothly
  • To reduce churn
  • To retain existing customers
  • To provide the best customer experience

Now you can connect the dots and see if your CS team lacks any of these qualities. If yes, that might be the sole reason why your CS function isn’t optimized. 

5 Emotional skills that a CS leader needs 

As described by Daniel, in his book, Emotional Intelligence has the following 5 components: 

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Empathy
  • Motivation
  • Social Skills

I would like to add “listening” as one of the core skills of emotional intelligence. It is because as a CS leader you need to, literally, lend your ears to your customers. This trait is common to most successful CS leaders.  

It’s imperative to train your CS team on every aspect of emotional intelligence. It will prepare them to go that extra mile for customers. 

Self-awareness and Self-regulation

To know your emotions, and how you react to tough situations, start with self-awareness. Knowing your own feelings and thoughts should be the starting point in this process. Once you understand your emotions, regulating them should be the next skill to practice. 

Self-regulation is the ability to control your emotions. Mastering these skills make you-

  • Aware of your emotions
  • Trustworthy
  • Gain self-control
  • More adaptable to difficult situations
  • Less judgemental


A CS professional needs to be empathetic. It’s the number one skill that is a sign of emotional maturity. Empathy is one of the core skills of emotional intelligence. Emotionally Intelligent CS leaders possess the ability to recognize other people's thoughts and feelings. It enables them to better understand and serve others. 


Motivation is the personal drive to achieve one’s goals without an external reward or praise. Achieving self-gratification by motivating oneself. In spite of setbacks and obstacles, motivation is what keeps people moving forward. The readiness to act on opportunities is a by-product of this skill. Motivation is important to CS professionals as it drives their actions and decisions.  

Social skills

Social skills are your interpersonal skills.  They enable you to communicate, influence, build trust, manage conflict, and collaborate with others. Social skills include 

  • Listening skills 
  • Communication skills, 
  • Building rapport and connecting with people, etc. 

As a CS leader, you must be able to inspire and guide your team members to develop these skills. 

Listening skills

Developing listening skills is included in social skills, yet this key skill deserves a special mention. Active listening can be very useful in developing emotional intelligence. This will help you pay close attention to what your customers are saying. You’ll start noticing how they’re responding to different situations. You will become better at handling a conversation and steering it towards certain outcomes.

Marcel Schwantes says- 

Emotional intelligent people use self-awareness to their advantage to assess a situation, get perspective, listen without judgment, process, and hold back from reacting head-on. At times, it means the decision to sit on your decision. By thinking over your situation rationally, without drama, you’ll eventually arrive at other, more sane conclusions.

This couldn’t be more true for your customer success professionals. Focus on developing these skills, if not already. 

Final thoughts on Emotional Intelligence

Although some people are born with emotional intelligence skills, we can develop them easily. Putting in work to actively learn the skills yields results. Understanding its importance is the best place to start with. 

The role that emotional intelligence plays in customer success is crucial. Knowing more about the 5 components is essential to developing them. A CS leader/manager/team member, armed with this key skill is an irreplaceable asset! Read more about how to build your first Customer Success team.

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