How To Build And Scale A Customer Success Team

So you want to build a customer success team but you aren’t sure where to start? We’ll cover everything you need to know in this post.
Published on: Jan 15, 2024
Last updated: Feb 09, 2024

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Between 2016 and 2021, businesses that prioritized customer experience made double the revenue of those who didn't, according to a report by McKinsey.

Customer experience has quickly become a key differentiator. As a result, businesses are investing heavily in customer success teams to ensure their customers receive the best possible experience.

But building and scaling a customer success team is no easy feat. It requires careful planning, effective processes, and dedicated team members who are passionate about delivering exceptional service.

In this blog post, we'll cover how to do all that and more. We won't be covering all things customer success, but check out the following articles for more information:

Why you should scale your customer success team

Customer success is a core to any successful business operation. Here are a few reasons why scaling your customer success team can immensely benefit your company:

Greater customer satisfaction

73% of customers prioritize experience as an essential part of their purchasing decision, beat only by price and quality. Keeping your customers happy consistently should be a business priority.

Use ****Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores (a key performance indicator) to measure customers' satisfaction with your product or service. It's a percentage showing how much of your customer base is satisfied.

Pro Tip: CSAT scores vary widely depending on the industry, with average scores typically ranging between 64 and 80. Knowing your industry's average CSAT score can provide helpful context when interpreting your own scores.

More customer loyalty

Customer loyalty is crucial for business success. When consumers have more options than ever before, building a loyal customer base can give your company a competitive edge.

Loyal customers spend 67% more on your business than new ones, and are more likely to try new products or services you offer. A well-scaled customer success team can help maintain high customer satisfaction and foster customer loyalty.

Pro Tip: Use customer retention rate (CRR) to measure how many customers you've retained over a specific period. A higher CRR means your customers are more loyal and satisfied with your product or service.

Less customer churn

Customer churn is when a customer ceases to engage with a company or stops buying its products or services. It's like an inverse measure of customer loyalty.

Pro Tip: A high churn rate can often indicate deeper problems with your product or service, such as unsatisfactory user experience or poor customer service. Monitoring your customer churn rate is crucial in optimizing your customer success strategy and scaling your business successfully.

Greater revenue

Scaling your customer success team will directly impact revenue. By retaining customers and building robust relationships with them, you can increase their lifetime value (LTV) and grow your bottom line.

Pro Tip: Use customer lifetime value (CLTV) to calculate how much revenue each customer generates for your business over their entire relationship with your company. This metric can help you identify which customers are most valuable and focus on nurturing those relationships to drive more revenue.

10 tips to scale your customer success team

Building a successful customer success team doesn't happen overnight. It requires careful planning, strategic thinking, and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. Here are ten tips to guide you through the process:

Clarify your goals

Your goals provide the roadmap for your customer success team's journey.

  • Outcome: Clear, precise objectives eliminate ambiguity and ensure that every team member understands what they're working towards, promoting team cohesion and efficiency.
  • Example: Your goal may be to achieve a particular customer satisfaction score or decrease customer churn by a specific percentage.

Pro Tip: Use the SMART framework while setting goals. Your objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Doing so lets you establish a clear direction for your team and track your progress with quantifiable metrics.

Map your customer journey

Understanding the path your customers take from the point of first contact through to purchase and beyond is crucial to your customer success strategy.

  • Outcome: By mapping the customer journey, you gain insights into the key interaction points and potential bottlenecks or pain points.
  • Example: If customers consistently struggle with a particular step in your onboarding process, recognizing this lets you proactively address the issue, enhancing their overall experience.

Pro Tip: Use customer feedback and data from your CRM to create a detailed customer journey map. Regularly review and update this map as you gather more information and as your products, services, or market evolves.

Separate your customer success and customer support teams

Creating a distinction between your customer success and customer support teams is pivotal for maintaining efficiency and focus in your operations.

  • Outcome: This separation allows each team to specialize and excel in their respective areas.
  • Example: Your customer success team can focus on guiding customers to reach their desired outcomes, while your customer support team can concentrate on resolving immediate tickets.

Pro Tip: Regularly conduct cross-training sessions between the two teams. This will ensure they understand each other's roles better and can collaborate effectively when needed without blurring the lines of their primary responsibilities.

Hire the right customer success roles

Securing the right roles for your customer success team is at the crux of ensuring a proactive and beneficial customer experience.

  • Outcome: By hiring individuals with the right skills and mindset, you can ensure that every customer interaction adds value.
  • Example: If you provided spreadsheet software, a potential customer success role could be a data analyst who can understand customers' needs and use data to help them reach their desired outcomes.

Pro Tip: Look for candidates with impactful empathy, communication, and problem-solving skills. These are essential qualities for customer success roles that often require managing difficult or frustrated customers.

Create a self-help knowledge base

A self-help knowledge base is an online repository of informational articles, guides, and FAQs that give customers the tools to solve their issues independently.

  • Outcome: Implementing a self-help knowledge base can significantly reduce the volume of incoming support requests. It empowers customers to find answers to their queries swiftly without any wait time, leading to an enhanced customer experience.
  • Example: If your company offers a SaaS product, a comprehensive knowledge base with how-to guides and troubleshooting steps can alleviate the burden on your customer support team. This lets the team focus on more complex issues, scaling your operations.

Pro Tip: Regularly update and expand your knowledge base to reflect new features, products, or common customer queries. Using analytics to track which articles are most accessed or helpful can guide this process.

Perfect your onboarding

The onboarding process is the customer's first interaction with your product or service. It sets the context for future engagements and lays the foundation for a positive customer relationship.

  • Outcome: Streamlining onboarding can significantly reduce customer churn and boost lifetime value. It helps your customers become competent users of your product early on.
  • Example: If you provide a complex CRM system, a detailed onboarding process, including a walkthrough of key features, tutorial videos, and interactive tooltips, can guide users to understand the product from day one. This reduces reliance on customer support, thereby allowing you to scale operations.

Pro Tip: Leverage tools like cobrowsing or session replays to identify potential friction points during onboarding. These tools allow you to view real-time or recorded sessions of customer product interactions, making it easier to spot areas of confusion or difficulty.

Automate processes and workflows

Automating customer support processes is a critical factor in efficiently scaling customer success operations.

  • Outcome: Automation streamlines operations, reduces human error and can significantly reduce the time spent on mundane tasks, freeing up your team to focus on more strategic, customer-facing initiatives. This enables your team to manage more customers without expanding dramatically.
  • Example: Instead of having a team member manually respond to common queries, you could use a chatbot programmed to recognize frequent issues and provide appropriate responses.

Pro Tip: Invest in a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform (Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.) offering comprehensive automation features. Regularly review and update your automated workflows to ensure they continue to meet evolving customer needs and operational efficiencies.

Use the right tools

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Using the appropriate tools is pivotal for efficient customer success operations. It empowers your team, streamlining processes and enhancing productivity.

  • Outcome: With the appropriate tools, your team can manage a larger portfolio of customers, improving customer satisfaction while scaling operations without needing to proportionally increase team size.
  • Example: Tools like Gainsight and Totango are built specifically for customer success teams, offering features like customer health scores and churn prediction. Cobrowsing tools let your agents control a customer screen directly over a call, facilitating faster resolution to technical issues. Session replays allow you to auto-record and view customer interactions with your platform, providing valuable technical insights on their use and potential pain points.

Pro Tip: When choosing tools for your customer success team, consider the scalability and integration capabilities of the tool to ensure it can support future growth and align with other systems used within your organization.

Collect customer feedback

Gathering customer feedback is an integral part of scaling customer success operations. This practice lets you grasp your customers' needs, preferences, and pain points, enabling you to tailor your services and enhance customer satisfaction.

  • Outcome: Regular customer feedback can identify gaps in your service, helping you proactively address issues and improve service delivery. In the long run, this leads to increased customer retention and allows your customer success team to manage a broader customer base effectively.
  • Example: Utilise tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to create and distribute customer feedback surveys. These platforms allow for the collection of structured feedback, providing valuable insights into the customer experience and potential areas for service improvement.

Pro Tip: When designing your feedback collection process, ensure your approach is scalable and repeatable. Automate the process where possible, and consider integrating this with your customer success tools to streamline data collection and analysis.

Analyze and improve

Continual analysis and improvement form the bedrock of successful customer success operations. This practice involves regularly reviewing key metrics to comprehend and enhance your performance.

  • Outcome: Regular analysis of these metrics allows you to identify trends, understand customer behavior, and make data-driven decisions to further improve your services.
  • Examples:
  • A high churn rate might indicate customer dissatisfaction, leading you to devise strategies to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction. A higher CSAT score reflects greater customer satisfaction, increasing customer retention and loyalty. NRR (net retention rate), on the other hand, gives you a sense of revenue growth or contraction from existing customers, helping you fine-tune your monetization strategy.

Pro Tip: When setting up your metrics analysis, aim for a scalable process, and make it a part of your routine operations. Use automation tools to track these metrics regularly and integrate them into your customer success platform for a holistic view of your customer journey.

How to scale your customer success team as you grow

Scaling a customer success team is not a simple task of hiring more staff as your customer base grows. Let's delve into a few key strategies for effectively growing your customer success team.

In the startup phase

Roles to Hire:

  • Generalists who can handle multiple aspects of customer success, like onboarding, training, and support.
  • A strong leader who understands the broader vision and can wear multiple hats.

Focus On:

  • Finding the right product-market fit.
  • Setting up basic customer support workflows and a feedback loop.

Don't Worry About:

  • Over-obsession with metrics.
  • Over-specialization in roles.

Team Structure:

  • Small, agile, and flexible. Team members should be able to adapt and manage various tasks.

In the growth phase

Roles to Hire:

  • Specialists for specific functions like customer education, analytics, and support.
  • A dedicated support role to offload technical queries from the rest of the team.

Focus On:

  • Building customer journey maps.
  • Establishing proactive customer management strategies.

Don't Worry About:

  • Implementing complex churn prediction models – at this stage, focus on building relationships and understanding customer needs.

Team Structure:

  • Begin to define clear roles and responsibilities while maintaining flexibility.

In the scaleup phase

Roles to Hire:

  • Managers for different customer segments or product lines.
  • Support roles with specialization in areas like analytics or customer education.

Focus On:

  • Optimizing and automating existing processes.
  • Developing tiered support models based on customer needs.

Don't Worry About:

  • Rapid cost-cutting measures – this is a time for strategic investment in the team and tools.

Team Structure:

  • More defined roles with a focus on specialization and handling a larger volume of customers.

In the mature phase

Roles to Hire:

  • Senior roles in strategy and operations.
  • Specialists in data analysis, customer insights, and automation.

Focus On:

  • Leveraging data for predictive analytics and customer insights.
  • Refining and optimizing customer success processes.

Don't Worry About:

  • Getting caught up in only metrics and analysis – keep a balanced focus on customer relationships.

Team Structure:

  • Well-defined roles with a clear hierarchy and specialized functions.

Wrapping things up

To wrap things up, here's a quick recap of our key takeaways:

  1. Emphasize Customer Experience: Prioritize customer satisfaction and loyalty for business success, as these factors directly influence revenue and growth.
  2. Strategic Team Development: Scale your customer success team thoughtfully, hiring roles tailored to each growth phase and focusing on goals like customer satisfaction scores and churn reduction.
  3. Leverage Tools and Automation: Use the right customer success tools and automation to handle increased customer volume efficiently, boosting team productivity and customer satisfaction.
  4. Continuous Improvement and Feedback: Regularly gather and analyze customer feedback to refine your services, ensuring the team's strategies evolve with customer needs and company growth.

With the right approach and a commitment to continuous improvement, companies can successfully navigate the challenges of scaling their customer success teams — and reap the rewards.

Good luck on your journey towards customer success excellence, and happy scaling!

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