Customer Success

The Road to Customer Success: A Resource Guide

August 8, 2014

For SaaS companies, investing in customer success is the key to increasing retention, securing referrals, combating churn, and, ultimately, boosting your revenue. This resource guide provides best practices for developing your strategy, building your team, and optimizing your results.

Editor’s note: This is a living document, and our goal is to update it regularly with the best resources around customer success. Have a suggested link we should add? Let us know in the comments below.
For SaaS companies, focusing on customer success is no longer optional — it’s mandatory. Today’s customers are more informed and empowered than ever, and they’re certainly not afraid to ditch your product for a competitor’s. In order to ensure your customers are satisfied, you need to be dedicated to making them as successful with your product as quickly as possible. 
In this customer success resource guide, you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of superior customer onboarding, engagement, and support, including:

  • The real meaning of Customer Success
  • The fundamentals of building your team
  • Customer Success management best practices

What is Customer Success?

“Customer success is great for a lot of reasons, but one of its biggest benefits is that it provides a very clear view into the health of the company. If your customers are extracting value from your product or services, then you’ll extract value from them.”

— Lincoln Murphy, Sixteen Ventures and Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight

Customer Success: A 5-Minute Introduction
What does getting serious about Customer Success really entail? We’ve gathered helpful tips and actionable insights from some of the top experts in the industry and put them together in this short, helpful guide.
The Biggest Buzzword in SaaS: The Real Meaning of “Customer Success”
“Customer success” — it’s a term that has been getting a lot of attention in SaaS circles lately, but what does it really mean? SaaS veteran Lincoln Murphy searches for a definitive answer behind the buzz, and explains why it’s about more than just service or support.
Refresh Your Company’s Thought Process With this Customer Success Primer
It stands to reason that if your customers are successful, your business will be successful. So why, then, don’t you have people dedicated to the success of your customers? Before quickly answering that you do, take a minute to really think about the question and read Mike Grafham’s customer success primer at Medium.

The Fundamentals of Building a Customer Success Team

From Reactive to Proactive: Transforming Customer Support into Customer Success
What’s in a name? For cloud backup and recovery software company Intronis, quite a lot. Learn why a simple rebranding of the organization’s customer service function was the first step towards dramatically reducing churn and improving customer satisfaction.
3 Keys to a Profitable Customer Success Team
Do you view your SaaS company’s Customer Success team as a cost or an investment? Mashery VP of Customer Success Boaz Maor explains why the value it delivers can be just as significant other revenue-driving functions — but only if it’s focused on the right things.
How to Hire: The Most Important Quality of a Winning Customer Success Team
San Francisco-based API management platform Mashery understands that its people are its biggest asset — and that’s particularly true of the company’s Customer Success function. Mashery Head of Global Customer Success, Boaz Maor, reveals the one quality he looks for when hiring for customer success.
6 Tips for Building a Customer-Obsessed Team
Intronis VP of Partner Success Jasmine Lombardi provides six steps companies can follow to launch a highly effective customer success team. The keys? Laser-focused organization and managers who aren’t afraid to dive in and get their hands dirty.
Incorporating Customer Success into Your Organization
A freemium business model isn’t exactly the typical way to run your company. So naturally, it requires some unique processes and personnel to make it work. One of the most important steps you’ll need to take in order to increase user adoption and drive renewals and upsells is to establish a customer success team. Dan Rodrigues, CEO of Kareo, explains in a video how this hybrid team is a critical component for any company that chooses freemium.

Customer Success Management Best Practices

How to Develop a Cohesive Customer Success Management Strategy
Many SaaS vendors recognize the need for a Customer Success Management (CSM) function, but they struggle with knowing where to begin creating this capability. They often start with doing what they are comfortable with and already know how to do. But this won’t solve their problem. It is time for something new.
Customer Success Management and the Critical Path to SaaS Renewals
Poor user adoption and the lack of perceived value by customers is the greatest challenge faced by SaaS vendors. Quite simply, a customer that is not using your software and not realizing measurable business value from their IT investment will not be your customer for long. Learn how to keep your customers and more importantly, keep them happy.
The Biggest Barrier to Customer Success Has Nothing to Do with Your Software
Implementing a customer success function can result in tremendous value for you and your customers. The only catch? Doing it successfully means teaching your customers to take on something more complicated than learning your software — changing their behavior.
Get to “Reference-Ability” Faster: 3 Tips for Speeding Up SaaS Customer Onboarding
While professional services are a must in the world of SaaS, OpenView senior advisor Chuck Linn says that the time and cost required to offer them shouldn’t drag your business down. In fact, Linn says there are three things SaaS businesses can do to speed up implementation and drive customer success sooner.

Stop Fueling High Churn Rates and Start Focusing on Customer Engagement
Customer retention is a common struggle for expansion SaaS companies and often times, it’s simply the nature of the expansion beast. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up on customer engagement. In this podcast, Lincoln Murphy identifies why you might be falling into high churn rates and offers tips and tactics for retaining high-quality customers.
The Customer Success Map: A Key Tool in Your Fight Against Churn
In the ongoing battle against churn, you may be your own worst enemy. SaaS consultant Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures explains why understanding and mapping your customers’ needs is key to keeping them engaged, boosting their satisfaction, and reducing your churn.
My Customer is My Partner: 5 Powerful Customer Engagement Programs
When you’re a startup trying to establish product/market fit, you have a lot of questions. Go-to-market strategist Brian Gladstein shares five tips for better connecting with the one group who has all the answers: your customers.
7 Tips for Improving Customer Communication and Driving Customer Success
Jasmine Lombardi, VP of Partner Success at Intronis, shares seven tips to help you open the lines of communication with your customers, driving them towards quicker, more sustainable success.

Establishing Success with Professional Services

Professional Services: Your Key to Happier, More Successful Customers
For many expansion-stage software companies, professional services are an afterthought. Former Oracle VP Chuck Linn explains why that’s a big mistake for businesses that rely on customer references.
Keep Your Customers Happy without Burning Out on SaaS Professional Services
Most SaaS businesses deliver professional services in one form or another. But in this post, former Oracle VP Chuck Linn explains why doing so doesn’t have to be such a burdening expense for expansion-stage companies.
Minimum Viable Service: Why Less is Best When it Comes to SaaS Customer Service
Professional services strategist Ken Lownie explains why going lean with your services will help ensure deeper, faster adoption of your solution.
5 Essential Tactics for Crossing the SERVICES Chasm
Ken Lownie sheds light on the OTHER chasm tech companies need to cross to achieve rapid growth — the vulnerable transition to a standardized, scalable, and repeatable services model.
The 5 Essential Requirements for Top-Tier Software Service Offerings
For today’s software companies, the service you provide is often just as important as your product — and unless what you are offering hits five key requirements, you’re doing it wrong. Professional services veteran Ken Lownie shares the criteria for services that simplify the sales process, decrease costs, improve customer satisfaction, and increase profitability.
Just Because You Build It Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come: 5 Steps to Launching Software Services Successfully
You may realize that providing excellent software service offerings is often just as important as the software, itself. But if you’re taking the quick and dirty approach you might be setting yourself up for failure. Professional services expert Ken Lownie highlights the five crucial steps to getting your program off the ground successfully.

Finding Inspiration in Customer Success

The #1 Priority in SaaS: 12 Inspiring Quotes on Customer Success
Just how serious are you about customer success? We put together 12 quotes from leading industry experts that underscore exactly why it should be your priority #1.
4 Examples of Companies Doing Incredible Customer Success Stories
No piece of marketing content is more powerful than an inspired customer success story. Many will argue that storytellers are the new marketers, but as Geoffrey James points out, finding compelling ways to tell your company’s story isn’t enough. In fact, you should actually be telling your customer’s story, not your own.

Customer Success Experts to Follow

Customer Success Management Solutions

Customer Success Consulting

Additional Blogs and Resources

What did you find the most useful in this guide? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.


Photo by: Ryan Cadby

Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy

<strong>Brandon Hickie</strong> is Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy at <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. He previously worked at OpenView as Marketing Insights Manager. Prior to OpenView Brandon was an Associate in the competition practice at Charles River Associates where he focused on merger strategy, merger regulatory review, and antitrust litigation.