The Customer Success Professional's Handbook
eBook - ePub

The Customer Success Professional's Handbook

How to Thrive in One of the World's Fastest Growing Careers—While Driving Growth For Your Company

Ashvin Vaidyanathan, Ruben Rabago

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eBook - ePub

The Customer Success Professional's Handbook

How to Thrive in One of the World's Fastest Growing Careers—While Driving Growth For Your Company

Ashvin Vaidyanathan, Ruben Rabago

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About This Book

The definitive "Customer Success Manager How-To-Guide" for the CSM profession from Gainsight, who brought you the market-leading Customer Success

The Customer Success Manager has become a critical asset to organizations across the business landscape. As the subscription model has spread from the cloud and SaaS to more sectors of the economy, that pivotal role will only grow in importance. That's because if you want to compete and thrive in this new environment, you need to put the customer at the center of your strategy. You need to recognize you're no longer selling just a product. You're selling an outcome. Customer Success Managers (CSM) are committed to capturing and delivering those outcomes by listening to their customers, understanding their needs, and adapting products and services to drive success. Although several existing resources address the customer success imperative, there is no authoritative instruction manual for the CSM profession— until now.

The Customer Success Professional's Handbook is the definitive reference book for CSMs and similar roles in the field. This practical, first-of-its-kind manual fills a significant gap in professional customer success literature, providing the knowledge every CSM needs to succeed—from the practitioner level all the way to senior leadership. The authors—acknowledged experts in building, training, and managing Customer Success teams—offer real-world guidance and practical advice for aspiring and experienced CSMs alike. The handbook is written by practioners for practioners. An indispensable resource for front-line Customer Success Managers, this much-needed book:

  • Demonstrates how to build, implement, and manage a Customer Success team
  • Helps new CSMs develop their skills and proficiency to be more employable and grow in their careers
  • Provides clear guidance for managers on how to hire a stellar CSM
  • Presents practical tactics needed to drive revenue growth during renewal, expansion, and customer advocacy opportunities
  • Explains proven methods and strategies for mentoring CSMs throughout their careers
  • Offers valuable insights from Gainsight, the Customer Success Company, and the broader customer success community with more than a dozen of the industry's most respected leaders contributing their perspectives

Currently, with over 70, 000 open positions, Customer Success Manager in one of the fastest-growing jobs in the world. The Customer Success Professional's Handbook: How to Thrive in One of the World's Fastest Growing Careers — While Driving Growth For Your Company will prove to be your go-to manual throughout every stage of your CSM career.

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What Is Customer Success and Why Is It a Great Career?

Customer Success Management: The Birth of a New Profession

  • The role of the Customer Success Manager (CSM) has seen a 736% increase since 20151 and is one of the most promising professions according to LinkedIn.2
  • Companies that consider Customer Success (CS) as a strategic priority saw higher improvement in metrics, with roughly twice the number of companies reporting a double-digit improvement in renewal rates according to Deloitte.3
  • Customer Success Manager has the highest Career Advancement score possible, according to proprietary LinkedIn data.4
  • 60% of Customer Success professionals have received a base-salary increase in the last 12 months while in their current roles.5
THIS is why you have chosen the Customer Success profession. Even if it chose you, be emboldened because Customer Success Management is one of the hottest and most promising modern jobs of the twenty-first century. Companies, especially those that are subscription-based, are finding they cannot survive without it. Those who have embraced Customer Success as a practice are growing faster than their competition. To no surprise, the role of a Customer Success Manager is at the center of this digital transformation.
From an executive's perspective, having an effective Customer Success Management team maximizes a company's value because it generates revenue from existing accounts more efficiently than acquiring new logos.6 The growth is due largely to Customer Success Managers creating essential relationships with existing customers and driving value for them. Businesses are listening because of the results. They are converting to the way of Customer Success. What does that mean for you as a current or future CS professional? Endless opportunities!
Because of the current business landscape, the customer's requirements have evolved. Customers expect outcomes, not just a completed transaction. Businesses have realized they must deliver value in a way that fulfills their product's promise and meets clients' expectations. Enter Customer Success! The CS function is the bridge between customer expectations, the experience they receive, and ultimately their retention. As a result, Customer Success is now one of the most significant contributors to company growth. In 2016, McKinsey & Company published a report that was titled “Grow Fast or Die Slow: Focusing on Customer Success to Drive Growth.” They concluded, “Ultimately, the focus on customer success not only accelerates revenue growth but also creates a more efficient and effective go-to-market organization.”7
Despite the excitement surrounding this burgeoning industry, many are just discovering this fresh new job role and function. You could be an executive looking to advance your business, or an existing Customer Success Manager looking to refine your craft. Some are aspiring to jump into a relatively easy-to-enter profession. No matter what your starting point is, be excited! This comparatively new profession is not just a fad. Companies across a variety of industries have adopted the approach. The Customer Success professional is not a retitling of existing positions either. Customer Success is a new mindset, and the role of Customer Success Manager is its ambassador.
CS has become a critical contributing factor to a company's growth engine, and people know it. In his blog, Tomasz Tunguz, Venture Capitalist at Redpoint and SaaS performance expert, summarized his verdict at a panel discussion on the topic. He stated, “Customer success is transforming SaaS companies by increasing revenue growth, decreasing capital needs, building better products and consequently retaining more customers.”8 The spawning of the Customer Success movement may have begun with SaaS and the subscription model, but it is starting to permeate nearly every industry and business segment.9
A great example of a company that has taken full advantage of this functional and digital transformation focus on building their customers' businesses is Adobe. They transitioned from a typical and traditional software delivery approach to a subscription-based licensing model. The results were spectacular. Thomas Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle captured Adobe's resurgence in a 2017 article stating, “once dismissed as a ‘relic of the bygone era of boxed desktop software,’ Adobe has transformed itself into a cloud powerhouse serving other big businesses in just three years.”10
The bold move allowed Adobe to scale faster and granted greater flexibility to their business and their customers, resulting in a significant usage increase of their platform products (Figure 1.1). Of course, they have an amazing Customer Success team that helped to fuel this growth! On 27 March 2019, Adobe's CEO, Shantanu Narayen, noted during his keynote address at the Adobe Summit convention that “The subscription model put the customer experience front and centre. And we became a company that embraced the always-on reality of the digital business, delivering a continuous stream of innovation to our customers and focusing on building our customer's business and trust every single day.”11
Chart depicting Adobe's growth that scaled faster resulting in a significant usage increase of their platform products, during the years 2000 to 2017.
Figure 1.1 Adobe's growth.
John Sabino, Chief Customer Officer at Splunk, also subscribes to the correlation between Customer Success and business success. A titan in the CS industry, John has an impressive resumé, including executive leadership roles at GE Digital and NBC Universal. But what truly compelled us to ask John to share his thoughts on the topic, is his perpetual determination to promote cross-functional excellence and his focus on the customer's success:
The most successful companies will be the ones who place importance on creating a company culture focused on delivering scalable value to customers across all operations and processes. CEOs and their commercial leaders must be “obsessed with customer success” and appropriately plan and allocate resources to this functional discipline in order to retain their current customer base and grow revenue in an often-uncertain macro-economic environment.
By its nature, Customer Success forces executive teams to see products and services from your customers' perspective. In doing so, Customer Success helps infuse companies with innovations from the perspective of your customers. Ultimately, without this “customer-in” view, a company can and will waste resources on capabilities that do not produce customer value, and they risk making their company irrelevant in the marketplace of the future.
Customer Success is a real function that is creating actual results, and the future is only growing brighter with incredible promise. Curiosity about the remarkable growth is even reflected in the trend of Google Searches (Figure 1.2) on the phrase “customer success manager.”12
Chart depicting the remarkable growth reflected in the trend of Google Searches, growing brighter, during the years from March 2015 to July 2019.
Figure 1.2 Google Trends on “Customer Success Manager.”
The CSM role, more often than not, chooses the employee, not the other way around. There is a 100% certainty that no one grew up dreaming they wanted to be a CSM. It is also 100% certain you did not come out of college wanting to be a CSM either. Up until 2017, there wasn't even a university-level course covering the topic. Dr. Vijay Mehrotra of the University of San Francisco started a career accelerator program for MBA students with an emphasis on Customer Success and Business Analytics. About a year later, Dr. Bryan Hochstein launched a full semester graduate-level course exclusively on the topic of Customer Success Manager at the University of Alabama in the fall of 2018. Some professors have started to introduce CS concepts into their curriculum, like Dr. Deva Rangarajan, Associate Professor of ...

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