Customer Success

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success connects why customers buy your product or solution (their purchase intent) with what they get (realized value and outcomes) using a proactive and prescriptive customer management approach to achieve both your customer and your company’s goals.

What customer success is not.

As a newer organizational function, people unfamiliar with Customer Success often try to compare it to other well-known functions they do understand, such as customer support or sales. This is reasonable given that we all need a frame of reference to build context from when trying to understand new concepts. And while likening the functions can serve as a helpful point of orientation, doing so also paints Customer Success in broad strokes and invites the wrong assumptions.

As a result, we’re frequently made to define Customer Success by what it’s not.

  • Customer Success is not customer support or a call center.
  • Customer Success is not account management with a trendy name.
  • Customer Success is not just about the renewal.

Customer Success connects why customers buy your product with what your customers get.

How this connection materializes in terms of real-life application looks different for every company based on their solutions, their team, and their focus. Regardless of how Customer Success is delivered, the same tenet applies: Customer Success is not only about the how-to of your product but also, and more importantly, about the why.

At the end of the day, you don’t retain customers only by showing them how to use your product. You retain customers by proving why your product makes their life better and then showing them how to put that expertise into practice. For instance, let’s look at ChurnZero’s customer health score feature. The value of CS isn’t solely derived from teaching customers how to add a factor (say, product usage) to their customer health score. The real value is in educating customers on why this factor matters in the first place. In this case, it’s because product usage is a leading indicator of a customer’s likelihood to churn. It’s a critical component of measuring customer health, which helps you predict churn and deliver forecasts that your executive team trusts.

What are the main benefits of Customer Success?

Customer Success drives the success of your customers and the success of your company by improving the customer experience, increasing efficiency and driving revenue.

When done well, Customer Success delivers exactly what a customer needs, exactly when they need it.

Customer Success teams help:

  • Prevent customer dissatisfaction and churn before it happens
  • Preemptively clear roadblocks to customers achieving their goals
  • Answer the questions customers aren’t asking
  • Increase product usage
  • Identify opportunities to expand accounts
  • Anticipate customer needs by understanding their journey and tracking their behavior
  • Create customer advocates

This may sound like a tall order, and it is. Which is why real-time customer usage data, defined customer journeys, predictive customer health scoring, and accessible customer touchpoints are fundamental to both your success as an organization and your customer’s success.

But being proactive isn’t enough to keep your customers. Knowing that customers don’t renew on generic experiences, Customer Success must also be prescriptive in their guidance and approach. This means Customer Success teams:

  • Consider the customer’s context when sending engagements and consulting
  • Design customer journeys that prioritize the customer’s goals before the company’s goals
  • Work to ensure the customer gets onboarded quickly and gets fast and consistent value from your product
  • Send relevant messages based on an account’s usage, obstacles, wins, company news, industry happenings, and more


What are the main responsibilities of Customer Success teams?

  • Customer Success operations
  • Customer onboarding
  • Product adoption
  • Business relationship management
  • Customer renewals
  • Customer expansion
  • Customer advocacy


How is Customer Success different from support and other customer-facing roles?

The Customer Success industry is relatively new. This often leads to some confusion around how it differs from the established and related functions of customer support, account management, and professional services. Additionally, there’s a wide range of Customer Success roles and specializations. The exact responsibilities of each role vary depending on the company and how different departments work together.

To help you sort through the complexity, we complied a comparison guide that breaks down what makes Customer Success unique from its other customer-facing counterparts: support, account management, and professional services.


Why is Customer Success important for subscription businesses?

No SaaS business is immune to churn. Investing in Customer Success reduces your risk to its ongoing threat and makes you more resilient when it does happen. The subscription business model, which runs on recurring revenue, needs Customer Success to survive.

The proof is in the numbers. It is generally accepted that it’s five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. Additionally, recouping your customer acquisition costs eats up 12 to 24 months of subscription revenue. The M&A advisors at Software Equity Group have real-world M&A figures that plainly show the valuation metrics of a SaaS company with strong retention rates can be twice as much as a company with average rates.

More resources about Customer Success.