Oct 17, 2023

Read Time 3 min

From churn to champions: Leveraging professional development for customer retention


This is a guest blog by Todd Eby, co-founder and CEO of SuccessCOACHING/SuccessHACKER.

Few things can impact a business as much as customer retention. When customer retention is high, a company can experience more profits, lower costs, and an overall better standing in the market. But when customer retention is an issue, the inverse is often the case: profits are lower, costs are higher, and the organization as a whole can suffer. Businesses can lean on well-trained customer success functions that gain continuous expertise through ongoing professional development to ensure customer retention is consistently as high as possible.

Let’s explore the intricate connection between a highly-trained customer success team and the sustained loyalty of your customers.

Customer retention and customer success

Customer retention refers to how effectively an organization can keep its existing customers over a set period. Customer retention is integral to an organization’s success: data shows us that just a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by up to 75%, and that most of a company’s business will come from repeat customers. Retaining customers is also cheaper than acquiring new customers, with further research showing that acquiring a new customer is 5x more costly than keeping an existing one, and that existing customers are likely to spend over 30% more than new ones.

Customer retention is a core factor in an organization’s success, and to ensure this metric is as high as possible, organizations deploy customer success functions. Whether it’s one customer success manager (CSM) or a multi-tiered customer success team, these professionals work to create and maintain customer relationships, proactively solve customer problems, and help customers achieve their ideal goals with a product.

But simply having a customer success team in an organization isn’t enough. A customer success team has to be well-trained to solve evolving customer needs and stay on top of fast-paced changes in industry trends. For this, ongoing customer success training is necessary. 

The role of professional development in customer success

Customer success teams are central to customer retention, yes. But these teams can’t just exist and take a “throwing things at the wall to see what sticks” approach. Customer relationships (and therefore retention) are far too important to leave up to chance or under-qualified CSMs. 

Instead of a haphazard, randomized approach to customer retention, organizations can ensure they have an arsenal of highly-trained CSMs proficient in the skills and competencies necessary for this work. This can be done with ongoing professional development.

Why does ongoing professional development matter for customer success teams? Continuous professional development “powers up” CSMs: it equips them with the skills they need to help customers accomplish their goals with a product, effectively problem solve, navigate difficult conversations, and (maybe most importantly) inspire customer trust and loyalty. 

The truth is that CSMs need to be proficient in specific skills and competencies necessary for this type of work to do it well consistently. Hard and soft skills play a central role in how effectively a CSM can do their job. By addressing all of these skills and upskilling when there are skill gaps, CSMs can take a methodical approach to driving customer outcomes, as well as keeping customers happy and building loyalty. When this is the case, CSMs can earn the role of trusted advisor, where customers trust their CSM to make long-term, strategic decisions that will benefit them and their company.

Professional and personal growth, tangible results

Ongoing professional development can take many shapes: there’s not just “one right way” to gain expertise in the core customer success skills and competencies. However, it is clear that when CSMs experience both professional and personal growth, customer retention rates can be positively impacted. 

Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Improved self-awareness: Both personal and professional development are rooted in self-assessment and reflection. When CSMs better understand their strengths, weaknesses, values, and goals, they can use this understanding to inform their decisions in the workplace. 
  • Overall enhanced skills and competencies: Many skills and competencies relevant to personal growth also apply in customer success work (such as open communication, emotional intelligence, and time management). When progress is made in these areas, it can be directly applied to customer success work.
  • Increased motivation, employee retention, and engagement: Both formal and informal growth and training efforts can lead to customer success employees who are more motivated and engaged in their jobs. Data shows us that 76% of employees are more inclined to stay at a company when training is offered and that 94% would remain in their role longer if learning and development opportunities were offered. 
  • Better adaptability and resilience: CSMs who experience personal and professional growth have the skills necessary to adapt to changes and operate resiliently. They can use these tools to manage workplace challenges and to adjust and recalibrate quickly. 

Customer success training: the key to retention

Customer retention is nothing to mess with: it’s a mission-critical item that has the possibility to take an organization to new heights. And to get results that substantially impact the bottom line, CSMs need systemic, ongoing customer success training. Training of this nature teaches CSMs the initial skills and competencies they need for effective customer success work, addresses any skill gaps, and helps keep their skills relevant as the work landscape changes over time.


Subscribe to the newsletter