A Detailed Guide on Customer Success

Customer Success is all about ensuring your customer is getting the best value from your product.

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Customer success is much more popular today than two years ago. In SaaS companies, the role of customer success is more significant than it has ever been. Not to mention, they now hold the dignified position of “Customer Success Manager” within SaaS companies.

In today’s highly competitive market, businesses are constantly looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and differentiate themselves from their competitors. One way to do this is by providing exceptional customer service and support, which is where Customer Success comes in.

Customer Success is a relatively new concept in the business world, but it has quickly become a crucial component of many successful companies, especially in the SaaS industry.

In simple terms, customer success is the process of ensuring that customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service.

In SaaS companies, where customers pay for a subscription-based service, ensuring their success is critical to the company’s profitability. The role of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) has become increasingly important as they are responsible for ensuring that customers are satisfied with the product or service, renew their subscriptions, and become advocates for the brand.

What is Customer success?

Customer success is the method of proactively engaging your customers to help them get the most out of your products and enabling them to achieve their desired outcome.

Customers go from unsatisfied and confused to happy and satisfied power users as a result of your intervention.

To make your customers successful, you have to know what success means to them. All customers are different, and they all work in different industries. It’s important to get a view of all the varying definitions of success and incorporate them into your customer success strategy.

You created your product in the first place to help customers meet a need. Customer success is all about fulfilling those needs and delivering ongoing value to the customer. Without the help of your customer success team, customers may simply churn and seek their solution elsewhere.

Read more: Customer Success Myths That Need Busting

The difference between customer success and customer support

Sometimes the terms customer success and customer support are used interchangeably. After all, they are both concerned with dealing with customers and helping them succeed. What’s the point in having two different terms?

The main difference between the two is that customer success is proactive while customer support is reactive. Customer support reps don’t call up customers to find out how they’re doing, or need to have access to the whole context of the customer’s usage of the product. In customer support, the customer contacts the team with a problem, they solve it, and the customer goes on their way.

In customer success, CSMs look at the customer as a meaningful whole and focus on building a long-term relationship with them. CSMs actively look for opportunities to help customers without them having to ask, and anticipate their needs. In customer support, something has already gone wrong and needs to be fixed, and the emphasis is on speed and efficiency.

Read more: Customer Success vs Customer Support

Why is Customer Success Important?

In the traditional way of running businesses, sales and marketing teams were responsible for bringing in new customers. They would touch base with customers occasionally as the life-time value of customers were high. Businesses took time to analyze various software and their companies. Once they decide and buy, they usually stuck around as change was expensive. The role of the marketers usually ended once the customer was closed.

Enter SaaS. Businesses are happy to try software, see whether it solves their problem and whether the product is good. If it’s good they stick around, else they will just move onto the competitor who will happily provide all the tools to migrate their data from their competitor into their SaaS.

Given how expensive it is to acquire new customers, if the churn is high, the business will struggle to be profitable. This stresses how important it is for SaaS businesses to retain customers and keep increasing the recurring revenue.

Read more: Customer Acquisition Vs Retention – Statistics And Trends

So, why would customers continue with your business? Only if they get the value from the product as advertised by your sales and marketing. A customer will never churn if they are getting value from the product. After the customer is closed, who ensures that the customer does indeed get the value that was promised to them? Enter Customer Success teams.

Even though the customer bought the product thinking they are going to solve x and y problem using your SaaS product, providing guidance to your customers, helping the customer with training, getting feedback in real-time, and addressing any issues are all important steps in ensuring the customer succeeds and in turn doesn’t churn.

The benefits of customer success

  • Minimizes churn – by unlocking the value of your product for existing customers you reduce the likelihood that they will churn and cancel their subscription. Customer success reminds customers why they bought the product in the first place and ensures that they are using it to meet their goals.
  • Increases customer lifetime value – when customers are successful with your product they are more likely to renew their subscription and be open to upsells and cross-sells. Customer success generates more revenue per customer and offsets the acquisition costs of acquiring that customer in the first place.
  • Generates word-of-mouth referrals – happy customers are more likely to recommend your products to others. When they are impressed with your customer success team, they are likely to tell friends and colleagues about how good your service is.

The challenges of customer success

  • Success means different things – when implementing a customer success strategy, it’s not always easy to know what success means for individual customers. Customers are in all sorts of job roles in all kinds of industries. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to customer success. The answer to this challenge is to develop meaningful relationships with customers that help you understand their needs and goals.
  • Lack of insight into the customer – if you don’t have the right tools, you won’t know how customers are using your products and when is the right time to reach out to them. Customer success softwares shows you how customers are using your app and you can create alerts for your customer success managers to take action. You’re no longer in the dark when it comes to customer behavior.
  • Managing too many customer relationships – when you have a small customer base, it’s easy to build personal relationships with nearly all of them, but as your customer base grows this becomes more of a challenge. You can hire more CSMs but that might not be realistic. You can take advantage of customer success automation features in your customer success software that allow you to send out automated messages at specific times.
  • Read more: Challenges of customer success teams

Customer success best practices

1. Define what success means for your customers

As we’ve already mentioned, success means different things to different customers. The best way to find out how your customers define success is simply to ask them. When onboarding, send your customers a survey to ask them how they will know when they are successful with your product.

After that, regularly ask for feedback so you can check whether your customer success efforts are hitting the mark. The more people you talk to, the easier it will be to identify trends in what success means for your customers and you can refine your process accordingly.

2. Make customer success one of the foundation stones of your business

Customer success is not something to do as an afterthought. It should be integral to your company from the earliest days of its founding as a sign that you wholeheartedly and thoroughly invest in your customers.

Building customer success right from the start helps you develop a customer-focused culture in your company. Everyone on your team should have a stake in seeing the customer be successful and be willing to contribute to make that happen.

3. Don’t forget about onboarding

Onboarding is the first point of contact that customers are likely to have with your customer success team. Customer Onboarding matters because it is the springboard from which they will be interacting with your product, and sets the tone for all future experiences. If onboarding doesn’t work well, customers are unlikely to start using your product and understand its value.

Most SaaS companies can’t afford to personally onboard every customer that starts using their product. Instead, they go for a low-touch model by making use of automation like product walkthroughs and emails that take customers through the basics of using the product.

4. Make your support team readily available

Make it effortlessly easy for customers to be able to contact your customer success team. While a lot of your communication with customers is likely to be outreach, there will still be times when customers want to get in touch with an issue.

Put in place a variety of mediums that your customers can use to contact you such as a telephone number for their customer success manager or an email address for the team. It goes without saying that you should be prompt and efficient when replying to customers so they know that your company cares about them.

Top customer success metrics

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is an important metric to track because it measures the total revenue that you can anticipate earning from a single customer over the course of their entire relationship with your company. CLV tells you if a customer is being successful with your product, which occurs when CLV increases over time.

You measure CLV by:

CLV = (average purchase value x average purchase frequency rate) x average customer lifespan.

It goes without saying that you want CLV to be as high as possible. Not only does it tell you whether your customers are successful, but is also an indication of how well you are doing as a business. An example is if your average customer spends $50 a month every month for one year, your CLV would be ($50 x 1 monthly purchase) x 12 months = $600.

Churn rate

Churn rate tells you how many customers are canceling their subscription every month. Naturally, every business hopes that their churn rate will be as low as possible. If you have a high churn rate, this indicates that customers aren’t being successful with your products and don’t see the value in them.

You measure churn by:

Churn = (lost customers / total customers at the start of the time period) x 100.

Churn is important to measure because it tells you whether you are recouping the money you spent on Customer Acquisition Cost, and if customers are sticking around long enough to make the expenditure worth it. An example is if your company had 100 customers at the beginning of the month and lost 20, the formula is (20 / 100) x 100 = 20% churn rate.

Time to First Value

Time to First Value (TTFV) shows you how successful your onboarding process is by tracking the amount of time that elapses between the completion of the sale and when the customer finishes onboarding. Pinpointing the moment when a customer finishes onboarding will vary from company to company but is typically when the customer stops exploring your product and is starting to see a return on investment.

Naturally, you want your TTFV to be as short as possible to ensure the customer doesn’t get bored and churn. The length of your TTFV is likely to be longer if your company offers a complex product that takes a significant amount of time to learn. As long as TTFV is equal to the amount of value that the customer expects to gain from your product then you are on the right track.

Read more: Key Metrics to Track Customer Success and Team Performance

How to Build a Successful Customer Success Program?

Building a successful Customer Success program requires a deep understanding of your customers and their needs. Here are some steps to help you build an effective Customer Success program:

1. Define Success:

The first step is to define what success looks like for your customers. This could be achieving a specific goal, such as increasing revenue or reducing churn.

2. Set Goals:

Once you have defined what success looks like, you need to set goals for your Customer Success program. These goals should align with your business objectives and be measurable.

3. Hire the Right People:

Hiring the right people for your Customer Success team is critical. Look for individuals who are empathetic, proactive, and have a strong understanding of your product or service.

4. Provide Training and Resources:

Your Customer Success team should have access to the necessary training and resources to be successful. This includes product training, customer service training, and access to the customer data.

5. Use Data to Drive Decisions:

Data should be at the heart of your Customer Success program. Use customer data to identify trends and patterns, and make data-driven decisions to improve the customer experience.

Read more: Make Data-Driven Decisions For Customer Success

6. Continuously Improve:

A successful Customer Success program is not a one-time initiative; it’s an ongoing process. Continuously gather feedback from your customers, analyze the data, and make improvements to the program.

Read more: Guide to creating a Customer Success Plan

Getting started with customer success

If all this seems overwhelming, it needn’t be. All you need to get started is a commitment to the customer that spans the whole of your organization. If your team is unswervingly focused on the customer, this will lead to a natural emphasis on customer success.

Every team should appreciate the importance of customer success and its role in ensuring the overall success of the business at large. When customers are successful, this reflects well on every team, from Sales and Marketing who acquired the customers in the first place, to Engineering who built the product, to customer support who help customers with the product every day.

Eventually, you’ll want to invest in a dedicated customer success team and the appropriate tools that enable you to manage customers effectively. But before you do that, it’s important to ingrain customer success into the culture of the company. Successful customers lead to long-term profitability, and are indispensable to a SaaS business.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Success in SaaS

What are the elements of Customer Success?

There are three main components to Customer Success:

  • Customer Success Strategy
  • Customer Success Team
  • Customer Success Software

Customer Success Strategy

Customer Success, as with any practice, is not a one size fits all operation. What Customer Success means to your business might be completely different to another company even though the fundamentals remain the same – work towards ensuring customers get full value from your product and are excited.

The first element is to build out a Customer success strategy. For this a deep understanding of what has worked well, what hasn’t, who your customers are, what features they use the most, what they like, what they do not like is important. Once you have this information, you can start devising a strategy that tries to replicate what worked well for one customer for other customers. If some features are used more, you can see how you can get customers who don’t use that feature to start using it. You can also identify problem areas across your customers and plan a set of activities to correct them.

Once you have the strategy in place, it’s time to create a repeatable process that will fix some of the issues you have identified and build a team to realize the processes.

Who needs a Customer Success strategy?

Anyone who sells to businesses and has customers needs a Customer Success strategy. Acquiring new customers is very expensive given the way digital marketing expenses have skyrocketed in the recent years. It has never been more important than now to retain your existing customers and keeping them happy. Happy customers provide upsell opportunities and more importantly become your advocates.

Today’s most fastest growing start-ups and successful businesses have already invested heavily in Customer Success. Growing companies are more likely to invest in Customer Success compared to their stagnant competitors

These companies understand that retaining customers and keeping them happy is half the job done in the pursuit to build their business. They realize Customer Success is the way to keep customers happy and successful.

Customer Success Team

Once you have your strategy and process in place, you would need people to execute it. We have already discussed a couple of ways you can build a team above. Choose what works best for you. Start small – focus on the high-value customers, learn more about your customers and then as your team grows focus on all your customers.

Customer Success Management

Now that you know what Customer Success is and how important it is for your SaaS business, let’s look at how to manage Customer Success as a business function.

Customer Success management involves defining processes and building a team who are passionate in seeing your customers succeed. It involves strategizing proactive assistance, monitoring and customer journey which in turn leads to customer retention.

In some companies, the VP of Customer Success heads the Customer Success practice. VP of Customer Success would directly report to the CEO, showcasing the importance of the practice. A Customer Success manager in turn manages a team of Customer Success executives.

The responsibility of a Customer Success manager/leader include:

  • To define the Customer Success strategy for your team based on a deep understanding of how your customers use your products, what types of customers you have, how different customers get value out of your product.
  • To build and manage the team of Customer Success representatives with a good understanding of the product, your company and related best practices.
  • Actively monitor surveys and feedback received from customers. Identify bottlenecks in customer retention and improve those areas. The bottom line for Customer Success is the reduction of churn and in turn increase in revenue.
  • Work with customer service representatives to identify customers who really get value from your product. Build case studies with the identified customers and convert them into advocates for your product.
  • Train customer service representatives to identify upsell opportunities. This helps to increase revenue from existing customers in addition to increasing retention.

How to build a Customer Success team

Building a Customer Success team from scratch can be challenging and there is a couple of ways that it can be done. If you have the time and budget, you can hire a VP or Customer Success Manager who has a proven track record and work with them to build the team, strategy and execution.

An alternative approach could be to identify a leader from within your organization who has worked closely with customers and understands the full value proposition of your product to lead your Customer Success practice. Knowledge of what value your product provides to customers and how customers benefits will be a great advantage.

From being reactive, you can start by being proactive and setting out strategies on how to map out the customer journey of a customer. You can look at your existing customers, who have been with you for a while, to see what worked for them and how they progressed from onboarding to becoming an advocate of your product. The Customer Success manager can templatize that and start creating a process.

With a small team, it would be difficult to focus on all the customers. You can segment the customers into high-value, mid-value and low-value customers and start focusing on the high-value customers. You can start focusing on other segments as your Customer Success team grows.

Customer Success Software

Businesses who run SaaS companies use several third-party tools to support their business. For example, they might use Segment for data collection, Freshservice for their helpdesk, Pipedrive for their CRM, HubSpot for marketing, SurveyMonkey for their NPS scores and so on. To draw a complete picture of your customer, you would need data from all these tools in one place. Moreover, you want this data to be represented intelligently to simplify the work of the Customer Success representative and help them focus on helping customers rather than doing data analytics work. This is where Customer Success software comes into play.

Read more: What is Customer success software?

You can think of this software as the platform where your Customer Success representatives would carry out their day-to-day work. These software help Customer Success teams identify the customer who requested help and also to proactively identify customers who need help. Choosing the right customer success software becomes important as it is through this software that the customer success strategy gets defined. They also help manage a repeatable set of processes to make sure all customers, though managed by different representatives, have an experience as defined in your strategy.

This software also provides several personalized automation for doing repetitive work which helps Customer Success representatives save time and focus on high-touch high-value activities.

Customer success tools


Churn360 helps Customer Success Managers to manage and retain their customers by integrating with all of the third-party tools that your customer uses in a single unified dashboard that gives you a 360 degree view. It brings your customer communication together including phone, email, chat and online meetings.

With Churn360, you can segment your customers into groups that share common traits, making it easier to perform bulk actions. Once you’ve created a segment, it can be used in all parts of the product from customer list to plays, and customer journey to health score.

When you invest in Churn360, you don’t need any more products to manage your customers. Churn360 provides everything you need to ensure that your customers are successful and that you retain more customers for the long-haul.


ChurnZero is another customer success platform that helps companies fight customer churn. ChurnZero pulls together data across the entire customer lifecycle giving your customer success team the insight to spot opportunities and address threats.

It offers a number of useful features that allow you to manage your customer relationships. The Command Center is where every customer success manager can start their day by organizing accounts, calendar, to-dos, and notes. ChurnZero’s ChurnScore gives you an idea of your customer’s health and likelihood of renewal. Its segmentation tool allows you to make your outreach more purposeful by targeting customers based on traits like lifecycle or product usage.

Read more: Churn360 Vs ChurnZero: Which is better?


Totango is another customer success platform that offers a number of features to help you manage and retain your customers. Its Customer Health Score is a key metric that Totango uses to show your customer’s health as good, bad or neutral. You can keep track of customers and use it to find opportunities to administer intervention. The Account View lets your organization easily keep track of customer information at a glance. Interactive charts give you insight into customer states, and empower you to take action based on those insights.

Totango offers SuccessPlays, which are a powerful automation feature that helps you deliver consistent and proactive customer success. SuccessPlays allow you to redefine processes and workflows so that your team always knows exactly what is expected of them and no customer is overlooked.

Read more: A detailed comparison between Churn360 and Totango


In today’s business landscape, Customer Success is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity. By focusing on the success of your customers, you can unlock the profit potential of your business. Building a successful Customer Success program takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By retaining customers, reducing churn, and increasing customer lifetime value, you can drive profitability and achieve long-term success.

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