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Customer Success Simplified - From Experience

When I first got started in Customer Success (CS), I was over a large US-based organization where we had roughly 60 Fortune 500 companies as customers. These customers represented a large recurring revenue stream for our organization, and it was imperative that we retained more than 95% of our revenue (ARR) and it was more important that we retained logos.   

Our efforts were closely monitored, deliberated, and rewarded as we had a distinct focus to ‘retain and renew’ at all costs.  This focus allowed the entire Customer Success organization to drive efforts of success.  As a result, we initially dedicated our time to define our customer’s journey and then deployed CS strategies to ensure their retention.  We focused on the customer, their business model, and their criteria for success, and then we realigned our efforts around that.  

Over the course of the first two years, I made it a priority to personally meet every stakeholder, to help define our strategy and ensure it matched with the KPI’s of our customers. This was done systematically and deliberately across all of the different verticals of our customer base. Each had a specific “criteria” for defining success.  In every case, we documented those KPIs and then set out to deliver on those indicators.  In the end, it was about success for our clients and how we integrated our software solutions into their business objectives.  

Over the years, the Customer Success definition has changed to mean many things to many different organizations. However, Customer Success doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply put, Customer Success is about retaining and growing reoccurring revenue.  This can’t be done by hunters alone and it can’t be done by farmers alone. In a typical sales organization, hunters are those that are invigorated by the hunt, the initial sell. While farmers are the ones that cultivate the relationship and “feed” off renewal and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. In my opinion, especially in SaaS, Customer Success lives in the Farmer environment and has a direct relationship with the executive team supporting the viability and sustainability of the product.  Customer Success has become the new art of solving customer issues and making long-term relationships.   

There continues to be a lot of exposure for Customer Success and in 2022 alone there were more than 100 virtual customer success conferences around the world.  Customer Success has become the new buzzword in SaaS and every week I’m being asked to join this webinar or read that blog or article.  Needless to say, it’s still a confusing topic for many people and there are some that are still having a hard time getting their heads wrapped around exactly what it means.  Ultimately, for those of us wanting (or needing) to build a Customer Success department, the topic can be boiled down into “how do we retain and grow our existing accounts”.  So, what is the right framework for CS and how do you build a group that can essentially retain and grow your existing revenue?    

in the 1990’s I led a group of Account Managers who had the opportunity to retain over $320,000,000 in annualized revenue.  At the time we called them Account Managers, today we would call them Customer Success Managers who were responsible for a book of business and ensuring that their customers retained revenue, expanded business, and advocated for the customer.  These AM’s were simply the best at onboarding, adoption, retention, expansion, advocacy, and being that trusted advisor to their customers (book of business).  These AM’s (Customer Success Managers) were trained to focus on four main value responsibilities:   

  • Onboarding  
  • Support  
  • Renewals and Upsell  
  • Retention  

Measurement was easy and goals were set accordingly.  We focused on what was important and then trained to those metrics.  Customer Success, especially at MarketStar, focuses on these four responsibilities, but we also have expanded our offerings to five main outcomes for our customers.    

  • Mitigate churn through value engagement  
  • Drive customer “touches” that increase the contract value expansion  
  • Improve customer experience and satisfaction   
  • Grow customer acquisition through advocacy  
  • Guide the customer to increased purchases leading to upsell/cross-sell opportunities.   

MarketStar’s Customer Success is unique and simple. We simplify the process and make it a functional part of our clients' business.  We use our client's email, systems, and processes, but we utilize our methodologies, our playbooks, our management, and our ability to scale teams, unlike any other organization.    

Over the past three decades, MarketStar has built and scaled outsourced teams.  MarketStar Customer success now uses defined, flexible, and easy to scale Customer Success strategies for your business and we have become very skilled at focusing on what matters most to you. So, give MarketStar a try.  Give them a call and let them show you how we can build and scale a Customer Success department that becomes an extension of your team.  We do it every day for the brands you have come to trust.     

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