What is Customer Success? Start at the Beginning

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Customer success- it’s one of those titles, departments, functions that you kind of know what it is, but honestly don’t really understand what it means. Well, here’s the thing- it means a lot of different things, and is different at each company.

At some companies, customer success teams are responsible for providing tech support, education, and relationship management. Other CS teams are built as revenue generating machines, focusing on renewals and upsell. These are just a few models.

All in all, I like to think of Customer Success as the team, the function, the people, who make sure your customers are getting what they need in order to be successful using your product. Customer Success should be at the heart of your company and help inform how nearly every other department operates.

And the metric at the center of the heart? Customer retention.

I know, I know- that’s super broad. Besides, every product is different, so your customers’ needs are probably a bit unique. What’s NOT unique is trying to drive customer retention. Most importantly, your CS team is the conduit to learn about your customers, figure out how to keep them around for the long run, and grow your business.

Retention is the name of the game, and ultimately the metric that will drive the success or failure of most tech companies. It’s typically the last major metric companies think about. Driving MQLs and signing sales contracts is really exciting, so companies leave out their key puzzle piece at the beginning: retention.

Similarly, a Customer Success function is typically the last team to be formed. There are a lot of different teams that could (and should) think about retention- but having a customer success engine running from the beginning has the potential for huge impact.

New to customer success? Here are a few ways you can start incorporating retention strategies into your company TODAY:

  1. Make sure you’re including retention numbers any time you report out your company metrics. The brilliant minds over at ProfitWell put this great guide together on how to calculate retention and churn. It can get complicated. But let’s start small. Focus on identifying your total number of customers that left you and divide that by the total number of remaining customers. That’s your churn rate.

  2. Set up a welcome email for your customers. It doesn’t have to be fancy- just put together an email with some basic information that will help your customers better use your product from the beginning.

  3. Talk to your staff. Start asking questions internally about why they think customers leave. Hard and fast metrics are important- and we’ll get to that in future articles- but for now, gather anecdotal data from the people who know your customers the best.

Once you start thinking about retention, it’s hard to stop. So implement a few strategies now, and start thinking ahead about incorporating a customer success function into your business operations.

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Annie And Kristin of Decoded Strategies
Decoded Strategies

A Fresh Perspective

Kristin Spiotto and Annie Mosbacher are dedicated to helping promising, but stuck, tech companies implement marketing and retention strategies that lead to long-term success. 

Get more customers and keep the ones you have.