Building Your Customer Success Team: Much, Much More Than Just Good Customer Support

January 20, 2016 - 7 Comments

When building a customer success team and making your case for more investment in the initiative, the most striking misunderstanding you may have come across is that a customer success team is a cost center and just provides really good customer support.  Let’s set the record straight – a customer success team does provide excellent customer support, but it’s also a powerful revenue engine.

According to Gainsight, companies with a dedicated customer success team – focused on identifying at-risk customers and getting them back on track – see a 24% lower churn rate than companies without one. Reducing churn is key to growing the bottom line.

In addition to reducing churn, a customer success team increases the lifetime value of an account. Over time, account revenue can grow to be many times larger than the customer’s year 1 value.  As a customer success team increases customer lifetime value, they can actually produce as much or more revenue than the sales team over the lifetime of the customer.

So, you had them at revenue engine. Management wants you to build a customer success team.

Once everyone is on-board and understands the benefits of investing in a customer success team and the impact they can make on the organization, make sure you spend your dollars wisely to build a profitable practice.  Since customer success is a relatively new discipline, there is still some debate on the best way to structure a team and the skillset required for a customer success manager.  When interviewing candidates to fill out your customer success team, keep these things in mind:

  • Customer success managers are critical to growing your bottom line. They are not only responsible for building a relationship with the customer, but also lay the groundwork for your overall future revenue opportunity with the customer.
  • A customer success manager is responsible for much more than just ensuring customers are implemented properly or their technical questions are answered.  Being responsible for customer success means ensuring the customer is getting value for the money they spend and their programs are growing.  This requires that your team members be exceedingly results-oriented and data-driven.
  • Your company will receive resumes from people with a variety of professional backgrounds. Some may have worked in IT, marketing, sales, product management or customer service.  A well-rounded customer success team should include individuals from of a variety of backgrounds – the one common denominator must be a passion for creating successful customers.

Want to learn more about building a winning customer success team?

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  1. Excellent discussion Scott. What are some of the measures used to gauge the success of the team besides an account customer satisfaction survey score? I would assume reduced churn rate, increased revenue, if applicable. What else?

    • Great question Randy! While we know that Adoption Currency – expand pipeline, increased bookings, faster/more efficient renewals, reduced churn – are great indicators of business expansion, they are a result of having an established customer success practice. Outside of a customer sat survey, additional ways to measure the foundational success of your customer success practice would be implementing a customer health score methodology and publishing specific adoption success stories.

      Customer health scores are a collection of data specific to your customer and are a reflection of consumption/usage and feature utilization, used to drive activities. Low scores drive actions and intervention from the customer success manager, while higher scores will drive additional customer opportunity and success stories. We know that when you increase the health score of a customer, that has a direct effect on the Adoption Currency.

      All of these actions are tied to the desired business outcomes of the customer and when you can remediate risk or help to achieve those outcomes, the success stories will be obvious.

  2. You are so right about Customer Success not just being good support. Customer Success actually should reduce support. Through implementation of our Customer Journey at the implementation and on boarding stage we can be more proactive and less reactive. Our goal is to add value with every interaction. Setting expectations, educating customers and giving them the tools they need can set you up for a great proactive relationship!

  3. Great message Scott. The ability to quantify ‘Customer Success’ business impact is paramount for any business looking to transform, and establish true intimacy with their customers.

  4. Great blog Scott! The Customer Success Talk Series has been fabulous too – great job!

    • Thanks Dana! They continue to grow in popularity and our rating continue to go up too…all good stuff!