Developing a Multi-Tiered Customer Success Strategy

You want to help every customer who signs up for your software get the most value from your service. But you also realize not all customers are created equal. How do you strike the right balance spreading out your resources? We turned to Nick Mehta, CEO of customer success management solution Gainsight, for the answer.

Getting Started with a Multi-Tiered Customer Success Strategy

“I think a big part of customer success and customer success technology is trying to actually deliver high touch at scale,” says Mehta. “That’s the thing — you want everyone to have an amazing experience. You just can’t possibly throw all the resources at everyone.

“We always say at Gainsight that if you had one customer, only one, you could deliver amazing customer success for them. The big challenge is if you go from one to 10 to 100, how do you manage that all? One of the core things is tiering. You could start by saying, ‘How much do they spend with me?’ You could start by saying, ‘They spend $100,000 a year, $10,000 a year, $1,000 a year,’ and you could have tiers.”

Once you’ve established your criteria, Mehta suggests the next step is to define and formalize levels of service you’re going to provide each customer tier. On a basic level, companies will typically take a three tiered approach.

  • Top accounts: This level is typically high-touch. You’re actively spending one-on-one time with customers and maybe even making on-site visits (if the ACV justifies it). If your company is selling to enterprise customers, they may fall into this category, where you want to make sure every touch is great.
  • Middle of your customer base: These customers are big enough that they absolutely matter, but not every one of them can be treated individually. The ability to segment within this tier and prioritize is key.
  • Smallest customers: These customers matter, too! Depending on your model, they might actually constitute the majority of your customer base. You need to make them feel like you are reaching out and there for them every day, but the key is to find ways to do that through automation, taking the principles your marketing team uses with your leads and applying them to your customers.

Note of Caution

While this may seem cut and dry, Mehta cautions against being too narrow-minded when it comes to customer tiering.

“I’d encourage you to expand your view of what you think the value of a customer is, because there is the value in terms of what they’re spending now and what they could be spending,” Mehta says. “Maybe you have a division of Coca-Cola using you, but all of Coke would be a big customer. That division is a reference, it’s an advocate. There’s a lot more value than just the financial value from that customer today.”

Looking for more on launching and optimizing a customer success function? See our Customer Success Resource Guide.

Photo by: Leeroy


Nick Mehta is CEO of Gainsight, the first and only complete Customer Success Management solution, helping businesses reduce churn, increase up-sell, and drive customer success. Prior to Gainsight, he was CEO at LiveOffice, acquired by Symantec.
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