Startup Institute

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Why Every Startup Needs A Customer Success Team

When you think of sales jobs, you think of bringing on new customers. But what companies, especially those in the tech startup space, should be equally as focused on is maximizing the value of their current customers. Based on variables such as industry, market and what study you subscribe to, it can be anywhere from five to 30 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. In the realm of business-to-business sales, this number gravitates towards the latter rather than the former.

It is extremely important for you, a potential customer success manager, to focus your company’s efforts on success strategies to increase customer retention. In order to achieve customer success, you should first understand the difference between customer success and customer support, and how they both directly impact sales.

Customer Success vs. Customer Support

Simply put, customer success management is the practice of helping a customer reach their desired outcome. A key element of customer success management is promoting effective customer support, but the two departments are very different, and should not be confused with one another. While customer success refers to the very end of the customer experience, customer support focuses on the middle of the process. Customer support is the practice of remedying any issues a customer may be having with a firm's practices or products. In short, customer support is a means to your end: the promotion of customer success.

Why Customer Success Is Critical

Customer success is among the essential departments for companies in any industry, but especially for those focusing on B2B and SaaS models. In fact, based on a study on the B2B model, Walker has found that the importance of customer experience will outweigh the importance of both price and product by the year 2020. This means that businesses buying from one another will choose to purchase from firms that promote mutual success, rather than the firm that has the "best" product or competitive prices.

If a company doesn't focus on customer success, its churn rate will likely rise exponentially. Churn rate refers to how quickly customers become disloyal and stop purchasing from a firm, and is one of the most common causes of business failure. To further stress the importance of customer success, OpenView has found that effective customer success strategies can reduce churn rate below 1 percent. This study shows that not only will sales rise from promoting customer success, but expenses will fall as customers grow more loyal and continue purchasing.

The Skills Required to be Successful in Customer Success

As a potential customer success team member, you must develop the skills that are necessary for your field, as you are responsible for your firm's customer retention and will have a huge impact on its success. The qualities of an effective customer success manager are largely the same qualities required of any upper-level staff. Skills like leadership and intelligence are invaluable, but the role can also require some more personable traits.

One such trait you will need is empathy. When you are able to relate to a customer and accurately diagnose their desired outcome, you are then able to more effectively help your customer be successful with your product or service. Creativity and problem solving are also important for individuals in your role; the ability to think outside the box and reach the ends needed for customer success (whether it be providing support or modifying a product) will go a very long way.

A final, very useful skill that you can have is the ability to sacrifice. Whether it be sacrificing your time for work or making sacrifices on behalf of your firm, putting the customer before yourself is one of the most meaningful ways to promote success.