The Nuts and Bolts of Building a Customer Success Team

As you launch your product, you’ll need to think long and hard about the role of Customer Success in your business. A general rule of thumb; your business model should determine your Customer Success demands. In turn, these demands will determine the staffing model while being governed by your pricing structure.  

In this blog, we will outline the broad-brush strokes of setting up a Customer Success function, with the caveat that the depth or breadth of how the capability builds out depends highly on the type of solution (e.g. a self-service app versus an enterprise solution with multiple users and complex workflow). At the highest level, following this approach and weighing efforts towards customization or automation based on demand will help you determine your efforts. 

Before we drill in, one quick definition. Customer Success is focused on one key overarching tenant – that customers receive value from the platform. That can and will come in a number of different ways, with the ultimate outcome being they see value in your product and continue to pay you money for access. There are a number of different KPI’s, strategies, and tactics that play into achieving that overarching goal, but at the end of the day, everything ties back to customer value.   

So, with that said, setting up a customer success function requires the following key functions. 


Onboarding Strategy

Build an onboarding strategy that helps your customer understand how to consume your product. Depending on your business model, this could be a simple set of screen prompts when you install an app, all the way up to a complex 90-day process that ensures all users have appropriate levels of access and capability training.  There is no one-size-fits-all, but there is a sequenced set of exposures that guide a user from first install, access, use and achievement that ties back to critical value points.  Nailing these first few steps are critical to satisfaction and ongoing use. One cheat for you: if you aren’t sure where to start, go back to your customer interviews and validation work.  There are most likely some details there that will help you understand user psychology and how they prefer to approach using a solution to accomplish their goals. 


IDentify Your Point of Value

You’ll notice I used the word value in onboarding. By identifying the key points where a customer will realize a point of value as it relates to your platform, you’ll be able to map out the key steps in the journey that it will take them to achieve that value. This will not be a straight line and will most likely resemble a preschooler’s squiggle as major and minor points are crossed over a continuum. One important note in this journey effort – recognizing key internal milestones like quarterly reviews (often referred to in the enterprise world as QBR or Quarterly Business Review) or renewals, will help you understand the psychology of your customer and ensure you are focusing on the key drivers to their perceived value. 


Build a Dashboard

Build a dashboard that tracks key metrics: LTV, CAC, NPS, Churn, as well as red flag metrics like Length of First Session, Frequency of Logins, Total Number of Logins, and time spent on tasks. While also valuable to the Product and Finance functions, these metrics will quickly allow you to identify leading and lagging indicators off consumption, satisfaction, and risk, allowing you to get ahead of any potential issues in a productive and effective manner. 


Build your Toolset

Build out your toolset! You are introducing a new function at this point in your growth, and you are going to require a new basis of tools to manage your effort. By functioning in both a proactive and reactive mode based on qualitative (customer feedback) and quantitative (your dashboard), you’ll be able to quickly address needs to keep customers happy while sharing important info with sales, product, and finance.


Similar to talking about building a product roadmap, there are high-level functions that we can outline, but at the end of the day what is built depends on your product roadmap and pricing model. What works for me will be different for you, which will be different from the guy next to us.

My recommendation: leverage the themes and stories built in your Product Roadmap to understand your value points and onboarding strategy. Define your metrics to get both proactive and reactive, and most importantly, reach out for help. There are a host of people available to help you define what you are trying to accomplish, and we’re always happy to chat.