Are Customer Success Certifications Worth It?

Are Customer Success Certifications Worth It?

Written by Erika Villarreal - Contributor for CS Insider

It’s been one year since I completed my first Customer Success certification. I had been job searching for a month and I was struggling to communicate my experience to hiring managers.

You might be in a similar position. Breaking into Customer Success is challenging. Especially if you’re from a non-SaaS background.

  • Net Retention
  • Renewals
  • Churn
  • Running Business Reviews
  • Managing a Book of Business
  • Creating Customer Success Plans

Knowing tangentially about these terms and responsibilities and knowing how to communicate your understanding of them are two different things.

After numerous failed interviews, I realized I needed to change my approach and learn how to position my experience as a value add to the company.

Then I met Andrew Cartwright. He worked for one of the companies I had applied for a role at that time. I was browsing through his LinkedIn profile and noticed he had a Customer Success certification badge from Success Hacker. He had also taken Pulse’s certification and many others. So, I was curious.

I reached out to him and asked about the certifications he had taken. He highly recommended them, especially for someone who was just getting started.

So I thought it would be easier to take one of those certifications and save me time from googling all these different concepts and trying to discover which content would be better to spend my time on. I was trying to absorb as much as possible in the shortest time.

If you’re considering whether it’s worth getting certified in Customer Success, here’s what I learned.

Certifications are not the determining factor in getting a job

No one mentioned my certification during the interview process. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it as a job requirement in Customer Success. Aspiring CS mistakenly assume having a certification will land them a job. Don’t make this assumption.

Yes, completing a certification shows that you’re more serious about a career in CS, but it isn’t a magical pill. It’s the spark that ignites your path toward competence and mastery.

Certifications streamline the learning process

I like having structure when learning the basics.

Certification programs are designed to:

  • Go from easy to advance.
  • Keep everything is in one single place.
  • Be referenceable.

If you want a clear path through the learning process, then certification is a fine approach.

Certifications help you communicate your experience

After I took my first certification, a few things changed.

  • I was able to optimize my resume with targeted keywords.
  • I was able to translate my past experience for the role.
  • I felt more confident giving answers during interviews.

Even if I didn’t have all the experience listed as “required”, I was able to let hiring managers know I could do it. Being confident plays a big part in both interviewing and in a CS role.

Certifications can be expensive but are often worth the cost

If you want to break into the industry and are short on cash, there are plenty of free places to start. But if you have some extra money and are serious about devoting the time necessary, here are two good options from my experience.

Success Coaching

The first certification I took was SuccessCoaching: CCSM Level 1.

General thoughts:

  • Great if you’re trying to figure out if CS is the career for you.
  • They have a Launch program that walks you through the basic concepts.
  • The program is well structured and easy to digest. I looked forward to learning more every day.
  • The program clearly explains the history and importance of customer success.
  • I love their mini-quizzes in-between lessons to make sure you’re on track.
  • You get exercises and great templates to practice your learnings.
  • You can download their resources and save them for later. Plus, you get access to the learning platform for one whole year.
  • You get a cool badge to share on LinkedIn and add to your profile.
  • The program is $99 but it is very likely you will find it at a discount price of $50.

Practical CSM

I recently started Practical CSM’s certification. I recently completed Level 1 and 2 and look forward to finishing Level 3 and 4 soon.

General thoughts:

  • They have a fundamentals course that covers the basic principles of Customer Success Management. The price of the course is $115.
  • The complete certification program includes 4 different levels that walk you through the Practical CSM Framework.
  • I really like how their Level 1 certification includes an overview of how businesses operate.
  • The content is very well organized. Their videos are short and include real-life examples.
  • You can download resources such as onboarding checklists, adoption plans, and outcome templates.
  • You get a great certificate to share on LinkedIn and add to your profile.

My conclusion…

Taking a CSM certification will not guarantee you a job. And completing it won’t mean you’re a competent CSM. That only comes with actual experience. But it can help you be better prepared.

Taking these certifications has been a game-changer for me and totally worth the money. Again, it doesn’t mean I’m an expert. It doesn’t mean I’m qualified to make more money or get a promotion. But I am no longer afraid to put myself out there. These certifications have given me the confidence needed to dive deeper and fill in my gaps.

If you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or confused about where to invest your resources, consider the certification path. Invest in yourself. No one else is going to do it for you.

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