Dec 28, 2021

Read Time 7 min

ChurnZero’s greatest hits from 2021 feat. top ten articles and other noteworthy news


It’s the end of the year which means it’s once again time for roundups of the most popular trends from the past 365 days. Leading the way, Google released their Year in Search for 2021. Who would have thought that 2021 would be the year the world searched for “y2k” more than ever before? All thanks to various trends from the late-’90s to mid-2000s coming back into style. Does this mean it’s finally in vogue to trade-in our repurposed office chairs for inflatable ones? And to reintroduce Beanie Babies as a form of (social) currency? Or for ChurnZero to redesign our Churn Monsters à la Lisa Frank? Now, that’s a trend I’m willing to get behind.

A quick search of “y2k aesthetic” will litter your browser with articles on how to actually wear y2k fashion the right way. You know, as if there ever was an acceptable method or rationale for wearing skirts over jeans and belts over shirts – or valuing layers over practicality.

The resurgence of trends from this shiny, futuristic period feels a bit like unearthing a time capsule prematurely before enough time has passed for us to all but have forgotten its existence. I say, best to let our Tamagotchi, Furby, and regrettable fashion choices rest stay buried – until one day in the very distant, far-off future, we can appreciate them in all their absurd and tacky glory.

To continue our trip down nostalgia lane, we complied our own best-of highlights reel of the past year. Here’s ChurnZero’s greatest hits compilation of our top content, milestones, and happenings from 2021.

ChurnZero’s top ten articles from 2021

1/ Net Revenue Retention vs. Gross Revenue Retention: Explained

Have you ever wondered if you should be paying closer attention to your Net Revenue Retention (NRR) or Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) when analyzing churn? Too heavy of a focus on either metric has serious consequences for your business. Learn the nuances between these north-star metrics, the implications of their use on your team and business, and our recommendations on how to maximize their impact.

2/ Retention Deficit: How to Keep Customers by Talking About More Than Your Product

As a Customer Success professional, you talk to customers about your products and services all day, every day. So, it’s easy for product-focused talk to become your default topic of conversation. But if you want to have more than a one-dimensional relationship with your customer, you need to talk about more than your product. In this article, ChurnZero’s Manager of Customer Success, Bri Adams, shares how to use a “Strong Talk” framework to add more depth, substance, and compassion to your customer conversations.

3/ When Customers Give Notice: Handling the Cancellation Conversation

Your days as a CSM are filled with conversations, meetings, and tasks that revolve around helping customers maximize your product’s value. But occasionally, your busy days get interrupted by an email from a customer who wants to cancel their contract. What do you do when that notice hits your inbox? Many companies have playbooks for virtually every Customer Success scenario. But oftentimes, the actual cancellation call gets missed, leaving CSMs to fend for themselves.

Blind Zebra CEO Stephanie Neale shares her approach to handling customer cancellation notices including example scripts and tips to set the context for the call and set yourself up for a save or at the very least, an amicable departure.

4/ 20 Customer Success Interview Questions to Ask CSM Candidates

Talk with any Customer Success leader or hiring manager today, and they’ll tell you that the demand for experienced Customer Success professionals is off the charts. With the pandemic proving the value of investing in Customer Success, organizations everywhere doubled down on their customer retention initiatives.

Then, 2021 became the year of the great resignation – and consequently, the year of the great need to backfill – and the hunt for Customer Success talent grew even more competitive.

With many Customer Success leaders today looking to either stand up an early-stage Customer Success function with stand-out talent or expand their team to keep up with rapid growth, the stress of hiring the right candidate is higher than ever. Because as we know, hiring the wrong candidate, particularly for customer-facing roles, can negatively affect your company’s customer relationships and renewal rates.

To help you in your search for exceptional CSMs, check out this list of essential interview questions. Questions are broken out by Customer Success skills, project management, data management, account growth, and industry knowledge

5/ Customer Success Capacity Planning and Budget Guide

“How much ARR or customers should a CSM manage?”

“What percentage of company revenue should be spent on Customer Success?”

“How do I structure a budget for headcount?”

“How do I get the Finance team to support my Customer Success budget?”

If you’ve ever asked yourself or others these questions, then this article is for you.

Advocating for increased budget is a grind that’s near and dear to the heart of every Customer Success leader. Because as a function that’s historically been underfunded and undervalued, getting the resources you need just to stay afloat can be an uphill battle.

In this article, Kristen Hayer, Founder and CEO of The Success League, shares the Customer Success budgeting strategies and models needed to build a compelling financial case and have more fruitful conversations with your Finance team about headcount.

6/ Customer Success vs. Customer Support vs. Account Management vs. Professional Services: What’s the Difference?

As a Customer Success professional, whether you’re making small talk with a new acquaintance or catching up with family and friends, when the topic of what you do for a living inevitably arises, the follow-up line of questioning is almost always the same: “Well, what does that mean?” “OK. But what do you actually do?”

Customer Success is an emerging industry, and so it’s understandable that there’s some confusion about what it is and how it differs from the longer-standing functions of Customer Support, Account Management, and Professional Services.

So, whether you’re unsure of these distinctions yourself or you’re looking to add more straightforward definitions to your Customer Success repertoire, check out this comparison article. Inside, ChurnZero’s Customer Success and Enablement pro, Bree Pecci, explains what Customer Success is and how it’s unique from its other customer-facing counterparts.

7/ A Day in the Life of a Customer Success Manager Using ChurnZero

Want to take a peek into what a CSM really does? Curious how we here at ChurnZero drink our own champagne? In this article, we pull back the curtain on a day in the life of a CSM using ChurnZero. ChurnZero’s Chase Tinkham walks you through where and how he spends his time to make the most of it.

8/ CS Career Guide: Customer Success Job Titles, Descriptions, and Salary

With Customer Success gaining visibility and prominence within organizations, there’s never been a better time to join this industry. If you’re considering a career in Customer Success, you might be wondering what the right role for you is, and what salary comes with it. To answer your career questions, check out this overview that outlines the different career paths you can pursue, with descriptions and salaries for each role.

9/ Change Management in Customer Success: Overcoming Change Resistance

As a Customer Success leader, you feel change resistance twofold. First, you feel it when dealing with your own internal organizational change. Second, you feel it when driving change with your customers (in the form of product adoption) who must also contend with their own internal team pushback.

In the HBR article “Ten Reasons People Resist Change,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School and book author of “Think Outside the Building,” outlines the most common reasons people fight change. Using Kanter’s 10 reasons as a guide, we identify how Customer Success leaders can navigate this delicate emotional territory to overcome customer and employee resistance to change.

10/ Where Is Customer Success Headed in 2022?

With the demand for Customer Success exploding across SaaS, what’s next for this flourishing function? Find out the top three Customer Success trends to look out for in 2022 as foretold by ChurnZero’s CEO, You Mon Tsang, and CCO, Abby Hammer. Hint: Watch out for NRR.

If you enjoyed these posts, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to start your new year with the latest Customer Success insights right in your inbox.

Other noteworthy news

In case you missed it, here’s what the ChurnZero team was up to in 2021.

For starters, we raised $25 million in Series B funding led by JMI Equity. With this investment, we’ll continue to grow the Customer Success ecosystem, expand our team, fuel our go-to-market programs, and deepen our product development. You’ll see many of these initiatives reflected in our accomplishments and activities listed below.

To support our global expansion efforts, we’ll be adventuring across the pond to open a new office in the Netherlands in 2022. The new office will support existing international clients, while also serving as a primary office for business development throughout Europe.

We were lucky enough to hold two amazing Customer Success conferences. We welcomed our BIG RYG attendees to ChurnZero’s headquarters city in Washington D.C. for our first ever in-person conference. Watch the keynote sessions from that day. We also held our second virtual BIG RYG conference which featured 30-minute sessions on topics ranging from building variable compensation plans and customer communities to battling imposter syndrome and tech stack overload. You can also watch the full line of up BIG RYG Virtual sessions on-demand.

On the resources and content front, we launched our first-ever Customer Success Community and Academy. The ChurnZero Community offers a space for our customers to share ideas, ask questions, lend their expertise, and network with their peers. The ChurnZero Academy provides our customers with guided demonstrations to help them master ChurnZero, from implementation through adoption.

When we weren’t busy creating platforms to help our customers become ChurnZero and Customer Success wizzes, we were pouring everything we know about leading a modern Customer Success program into writing. At 68-pages long, our Ultimate Customer Success Guide covers, in detail, how to build a Customer Success strategy and team that will catapult you to the forefront of the industry and your organization.

We also published our second annual Customer Success Leadership Study. If you want to see where your fellow Customer Success leaders are crushing it and where they have the most room for improvement, check our research.

And for those who want to hear the two-minute pitch of what ChurnZero does, we created this explainer video. Feel free to send it to someone who deserves to have ChurnZero in their life.

Speaking of ChurnZero capabilities, we released a slew of new features this year. Most notably among the bunch is our Account Insights, Conditionality for Plays and Journeys, In-App Checklists, and Custom Surveys. Every day, our customers inspire us with how they apply our functionality in new and creative ways to meet the needs of their business.

To recognize those who achieved transformative growth and development using ChurnZero, we once again bestowed our 2021 ChurnHero Awards across categories including onboarding, adoption, renewal/expansion, and advocacy.

We also took home several top designations ourselves. While not an exhaustive list, we’re honored to be recognized as:

To 2022 and beyond

It goes without saying that the past few years have been eye-opening in more ways than one. In the context of Customer Success, businesses realized they must invest in Customer Success to retain customers. This recognition lit a fire under Customer Success to deliver more personalized and proactive support to gain a competitive edge. We’re extremely proud of the work we do with our customers day in and day out to make their Customer Success team their company’s differentiator. From one Customer Success team to another, know that your value simply cannot be replaced.


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