Customer success organizational influence

Customer success team influence within the organization

We have seen a consistent pattern of customer success leaders reporting to the highest levels of the organization, firmly establishing the function’s key role within the business. Of course, other factors such as budget and team growth, reporting structures, business charters, and leadership seniority are also critical indicators of how customer success is valued.

In 2023, we saw a decline in both team and budget growth and a slight shift in CS organizational charters. However, these changes appear to be a direct response to the economic uncertainty of the last two years rather than an indication that CS teams are losing influence within the organization.

Key findings

CS teams report to the highest levels of their organziations.

41% of CS teams are led by EVPs, SVPs, or VPs.

CS teams are still small in relation to CSM-to-customer ratio benchmarks.

Team and budget growth stagnated in 2023.

  • 65% of teams have maintained or reduced headcount.
  • Only 37% of leaders’ non-headcount budgets are growing this year, with 63% maintaining or decreasing their non-headcount budget.

Economic uncertainty slowed progress.

  • 65% of CS leaders are delaying purchase and business decisions for three to six months.

More than one-third of CS teams have veto power over bad-fit customers.

Featured charts

Trends in customer success leadership titles (2020 - 2023)

Customer success team sizes (2022 - 2023)

Customer success team size compared to industry benchmarks (2023)

Customer success team growth (2022 - 2023)

Customer success teams with veto power over bad-fit customers (2022 - 2023)

Customer success non-headcount budget changes (2022 - 2023)

Customer success sentiment on whether CS teams should veto power over bad-fit customers (2022 - 2023)

Impact of economic volatility on purchasing and business decisions (2022 - 2023)

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2020 Report

2021 Report

2021 Customer Success Leadership Study download

2022 Report

2022 Leadership Study

2023 Report

About the Customer Success Leadership Study

Started in 2020, the Customer Success Leadership Study is the definitive report of the CS industry. This year, the report was brought to you by ChurnZero, ESG, SaaStr, and HubSpot. The study captures the insights of more than 1,200 CS leaders around the world, with details about CS budgets, team sizes, tech stack, AI usage, decision-making, renewal and expansion ownership, compensation, measurement, and collaboration. ChurnZero and ESG conducted the survey between May 23, 2023, and July 15, 2023. The survey was emailed to our respective databases of customer success professionals. It was promoted across social media and industry newsletters. All responses are voluntary, and all data is self-reported by participants.

The 2023 Customer Success Leadership Study is brought to you by

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