A high-functioning customer success organization is critical to long-term revenue growth. As companies scale, growth comes from managing relationships with customers, adapting products to meet their needs, and helping them evolve through renewals and upsell.
To learn how to effectively structure this function, we asked two of the best minds in customer success:
Check out their ideas for solving common challenges, or watch the replay:
There are many metrics and no one right answer, but some important ones to measure are:
Those are all lagging indicators, and it’s also important to measure leading indicators to predict outcomes and advocate for expansion of the CS team. These include:
It doesn’t really matter which metrics you measure, but you must pick a few and track them comprehensively and accurately.
Pro tip: Always be able to tie the results back to root causes in order to effect change.
There are four buckets of metrics:
At its core, customer success is about making customers happy. The best CS teams include onboarding, account management, and support, but also people focused on education and customer experience. Make sure to provide great content from onboarding all the way through the customer lifecycle to help end users continually learn new ways to use your product.
An early CS team should be closely integrated with engineering so they can just walk over and ask, “How does this work?” and “Can we fix this or that?”
But once the CS function is up and running and has moved into proactive mode, it’s important to hire “boots on the ground” in offices in different geographies. Train these CS team members on common customer problems—and fixes—so they won’t be reliant on the engineering team to resolve issues.
Don’t just look at which customers are successful, but find ones who don’t really use the product effectively. A great CS team should be able to figure out how much of the issue can be solved by:
CS can serve a very important role: identifying the right type of customers. Even the best sales models can’t predict exactly what type of customer will be successful with the product, but that is something CS knows intimately.
CS and sales should work together to decide who owns what for expansion. There is no right answer, but perhaps account execs handle sales, account managers own expansion, and CS is responsible for GRR and retention.
Decide who should own upsell based on a few predefined metrics. For example, for a brand-new buyer within a company (such as HR instead of marketing), sales should take it. If it’s the same buyer, then CS should take it. If annual contract value (ACV) is higher for the new deal, then sales could take it. If it’s about the same or lower, CS could.
The relationship between CS and product is absolutely critical. CS ensures that customers are heard by the product team, which in turn owns the high-level responsibility of creating software that is adopted, used, and loved by customers. CS and product should work together to define adoption and usage metrics, as well as to create educational content that addresses real customer pain points.
CS should bring voice-of-the-customer (VOC) feedback to the product team in a systemized way—not just a long list of complaints. One way to do this is to hire a support engineering team that connects right into the R&D team to provide VOC feedback to engineering. Have a scrum team in R&D that’s focused entirely on existing customers and just on addressing feature requests for fixes.
Mistake #1: Not closing the loop with customers. When companies buy a product, they tell sales teams why they want to use it and what problem they’re hoping to fix. But how many customer success teams follow up with buyers after they’ve implemented the product to see if they got the value they expected? Customers don’t care about NDR—they care about getting value out of the product they purchased, and CS should ensure they do.
Mistake #2: Lumping every customer problem onto the CS team. The reality is churn is not a CS problem—it’s usually a GTM, product, or sales problem.
Remember: Everyone in the company is responsible for churn to some degree, and everyone should work together to ensure better customer outcomes.
Get more tactical tips and actionable advice in our Evolving Enterprise series: