5 Tips for Building a World-Class Customer Success Team

The COVID-19 pandemic created a new sense of urgency around protecting and nurturing customers by highlighting the fact that customers truly are the core of every business. And in this customer-centered economy, your customer success (CS) team is invaluable. The team’s goal is to retain your hard-won customers and help them grow by deepening the customer relationship and ensuring they are realizing value with your product every step of the way. This leads to greater customer success, which reduces churn and increases renewals. 

So, how can you create a customer success team that will give you the results you want? It may be wise to look for applicants coming from diverse backgrounds, such as those with customer relations, sales or other service-orientated backgrounds. Be sure you look for the skills and qualities that will allow a customer success manager (CSM) to truly connect with customers. Support your team by focusing on building a customer-centric culture, and you’ll soon see improvements in your customer’s success, growth, and retention rates. 

Build Your Customer Success Team Around Key Players, Roles, and Skills

A strong customer success team starts with the right leader, such as the Director of Customer Success. This should be someone you can trust with the important job of establishing and cultivating relationships with top-tier clients. They should be quick to understand customer needs and how your product can meet them. 

Next, you’ll need an onboarding specialist, or provide training for your CSMs so they can manage the entire customer journey. In either scenario, this is someone who can ensure that new clients receive the care they need to master the product. They must know how to educate customers so that they will receive value from the product quickly. Make sure both these individuals share their knowledge with the rest of your team and maintain high-quality customer engagements. 

Finally, you need to build your team out so that you have enough people to monitor and communicate with all your clients frequently and promptly. Qualities of an ideal CSM include. 


  • Extensive product and industry knowledge.
  • An understanding of how to apply the insights generated by analytics.
  • Talent for soothing angry customers and good negotiation skills.
  • The ability to build trust by consistently delivering on promises. 

In summary, the role of CSM requires high emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, detailed brand knowledge, and a lot of patience. You’ll see how valuable these skills are when your customer success team drives retention, lowers churn, and collects customer feedback.

Tips for Building a Customer Success Team

Customer success is about proactively taking every possible step to help customers see value when using your product. It’s a field that continues to mature and grow, as CS teams are increasingly responsible for helping companies meet revenue goals. And the best CS teams main priorities include:

  1. Product adoption
  2. Onboarding
  3. Customer advocacy
  4. Customer support
  5. Churn Reduction
  6. Upsells

Not only will your customer success team solve customers’ problems, but they will also help customers have a voice within your company by sharing and acting on their feedback. Here are some things to keep in mind when building a customer success team: 

#1: Recruit the Right People

The role of customer success within organizations has grown exponentially in recent years, and because of this, customer success teams are now collaborating with multiple other departments throughout the company. In a 2021 survey performed by Totango, 43% of respondents reported spending more than 50% of their time working with marketing and 56% of respondents said they spend more than 50% of their time working with service and support teams. The survey also found that individuals entering the CS profession are beginning to come from more diverse backgrounds like project management (20%), sales (18%), and marketing (15%), showing how intertwined CS is becoming throughout organizations. Because of this diversity, it may not be necessary to focus only on candidates who have a long CS work history, and instead try focusing on applicants who demonstrate qualities like excellent people and organizational skills. Look for applicants who work well on a team and can stay organized with a large number of clients. Enthusiasm is also key, as you want people who love your brand and are passionate about helping customers.

#2: Know How Many Team Members You Need

How many people you need is determined by how detailed customer-representative interactions are and by how frequently they occur. If you only check in with customers weekly or monthly, one representative can handle many accounts. According to Totango’s survey, 26% of respondents stated that the typical CSM at their companies managed between 51-100 accounts, while 17% of respondents stated that their CSMs managed more than 200 accounts!


You’ll also need to know how many managers you need for these teams. Customer success teams grow in size as coverage models scale to cover a broader customer base, so make sure you have enough team members to give all segments the attention they need, not just high-value customers. But remember, with the right processes and digital tools in place, a customer success team following a 1-to-many approach, can successfully deliver a proactive experience for every customer. 

#3: Compensate Accordingly

Customer success teams are taking more responsibility in helping businesses meet revenue targets. That’s why compensation structures are evolving to align with the increasing importance of customer success. A majority of organizations that have CS teams now offer bonus compensation on top of salary, such as commissions on upsells and renewals, stock or equity options, and other bonuses. This helps motivate teams.  

#4: Use Segmentation

How you segment customers can help with your division of labor and team structure. By dividing your customers into groups based on shared characteristics, such as customer lifetime value or geography, you can give more customers greater levels of personalization. And it allows your teams to deliver targeted, contextually relevant content. According to a recent survey performed by Totango, most respondents structured their CS teams by the size of the account’s company, the revenue from the account, or the lifecycle state (i.e. onboarding, growth, renewal). 

Once you’ve broken customers out into segments, you can determine each segment’s unique customer success needs. For example, do you have customers who are high-value or high-volume? You can assign teams accordingly. Then you can think about the ratio of how many customers each team member can serve, which helps you decide how many people to hire. Most teams use a blended approach. High-value customers get dedicated CSM’s where high-volume takes a 1 to many approach. Value and/or volume aren’t the only ways to segment, others include company size, lifecycle state, geography, industry, and product line, for example.  

#5: Collect Customer Feedback

Once your customer success team is in place, collect customer feedback about their performance. Asking for feedback is a simple yet effective way to boost engagement. Customers like to share their opinions and desires, and they like to know that you value their input. Use that feedback to optimize customer success procedures, then measure the results of your revised efforts. For example, you could consider feedback discussing how efficient a customer renewal was handled. This not only helps you evaluate an individual team member’s performance but helps you understand if your renewal procedures are well-received. Over time, feedback can help you refine your customer success team members and the policies by which it operates. 

Maintaining a base of loyal customers will only become more important as the customer-centered economy progresses. You can set your enterprise up to enjoy a stable, prosperous future by using these tips for building a customer success team. And in order to help your excellent customer success team accomplish their goals, make sure they have the tools to do the job right. 

Give Your Customer Success Team the Right Tools 

 Totango is the industry’s largest and fastest-growing customer success platform. With Totango, your customer success team is able to pull in key customer metrics from across all of your data platforms into one single dashboard in order to gain a holistic understanding of your customers. This allows you to seamlessly integrate customer and operational insights so you can see what is happening from across all platforms and take action immediately.  

 

Totango’s robust platform also enables you to set up events that trigger automated responses, ensuring no changing customer status goes ignored. It’s results-oriented and goal-focused by giving you the power to set goals, create actionable steps and get results. Plus, it’s free! Totango offers the only free-forever customer success solution on the market that allows organizations of any size to set up, learn and implement in mere minutes.

 

Ready to get started? Sign up for Totango for free today and give your customer success team the tools they need to meet their full potential.  

 

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