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  • Nov 14, 2023
  • 13 Min

Customer Success Unboxed: What Is It and Why It Matters


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Today, when cultural norms are shifting, consumer expectations are rising and economic realities are becoming more and more harsh, many companies have to prioritize customer success as their top goal.

According to Forbes, investment in new customers can cost five to 25 times more than keeping existing ones. When customers are satisfied with a product or service provided to them by a business, their lifetime value increases exponentially, resulting in greater customer experience and loyalty for said company.

However, considerable confusion has ensued surrounding how to best ensure customers’ success: are there specific guidelines one should abide by or any particular formula they can utilize in their corporate strategy to help achieve customer success? Is customer success any different when compared with departments like customer service or account management?

Below, we offer an overview of customer success and why it’s important.

What is Customer Success?

What is customer success? Image by FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)

Customer success has become the focal point of industry discussions in recent years and should not be confused with customer service or customer experience. Let us first define some key terms.

  1. Customer success management refers to regular checks and activities with customers to ensure both immediate and long-term value creation for them. Customer success may also be defined as mutually advantageous collaboration between software vendors and paying customers that results in cumulative client success.
  2. Customer support or customer relations (also referred to as CSR or customer services) involves satisfying existing customers’ needs through various communication channels such as emails, phone calls, live chat sessions or forums.
  3. Customer experience encompasses any interaction a customer might have with an organization, from account management, customer support and other professional services to quality measures like customer onboarding, surveying, upselling or cross-selling activities. Think of customer experience as the umbrella term that covers customer services like satisfaction or advocacy services.

Here, our main goal is to dispel any misperceptions about customer success and its significance for overall organizational performance.

Why is Customer Success Important?

Let’s first define customer success today. Essentially, a customer success program refers to all efforts taken by organizations as an entire group to understand customers’ needs, goals and challenges before working directly with them to meet or surpass these objectives.

Vendors must equip customer success managers with all of the education and tools required for them to show users the purpose and benefits of their product and how best to utilize it to increase revenue and achieve business success. By doing this, clients will remain loyal customers of your organization as they use and refine it further.

Customer success leads to product-led growth; that’s why today’s successful brands, both big and small alike, place high value on it. The brands try to solve already existing issues, understand customer needs and expectations and try to predict their future questions and issues. The companies help their customers achieve their goals while gaining a good reputation, customer loyalty, higher customer happiness and profitability. 72% of businesses view customer success as one of the key ingredients to their growth, so their focus lies on its improvement. Customer success refers to any process or system designed to maximize value creation while yielding positive returns for companies. Customer success managers who help clients achieve their goals are a clear indication of the value a product or service offers. 

Main customer success benefits

Let’s now review some of the main advantages that make customer success so important:

  • Assures high customer engagement and satisfaction. Customer satisfaction and engagement are of critical importance in running successful businesses; to maximize them effectively, businesses should create customer success teams dedicated to learning about each customer individually before developing tailored customer success strategy plans to address their unique requirements. Happy and actively engaged customers play an integral role in running profitable enterprises — customer success teams help businesses efficiently accomplish that objective.
  • Increases revenue per customer. Customer success managers can assist businesses in increasing revenue per customer. By helping consumers take full advantage of products or services, customer success managers help maximize revenue, which could ultimately result in greater earnings over time than would have been possible without happy customers.
  • Improves customer retention and helps reduce the cost of acquiring new customers. A customer success manager can collect customer health data, increase customer retention rates and help decrease customer acquisition costs by reducing churn. Any business looking to remain competitive must do this; customer success managers are effective in doing just this by quickly identifying reasons customers leave and finding solutions before it’s too late.
  • Delivers extra benefits without customers even realizing it. Supporting customers also means helping identify opportunities to maximize benefits they derive from using the product, such as offering personalized customer onboarding or coaching, which they did not know they were entitled to prior to joining a program. This extra effort fosters long-term customer loyalty.
  • Allows companies to identify upsell opportunities and act upon them quickly. By understanding customers and offering tailored pieces of advice, even one customer success manager is able to identify areas for upselling opportunities that allow revenue from current customers alone to increase, making upselling an especially useful customer success strategy during turbulent economic conditions.
  • Offers valuable information for enhancing advertising efforts. Customer success teams offer businesses both the expertise and information needed to enhance their marketing initiatives. By understanding customer preferences, a customer success manager can tell businesses which messages work well when targeting potential customers and which targets should be prioritized more directly. Businesses implementing customer success technology may experience increased efficacy when reaching more prospects through marketing initiatives; customer success teams could provide customer insights as to why certain consumers do not convert while simultaneously suggesting strategies for optimizing campaigns.

Customer Success vs. Customer Support

Customer Success vs. Customer Support. Image by FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)

Customer success vs. support — what’s the difference? Customer success and support have become critical components of business-to-business and SaaS success and survival in an otherwise turbulent business landscape.

Customer success and support both play key roles in driving business forward and ensuring a positive customer journey for its clients. Customer success differs from support in that its focus lies on proactive rather than reactive interactions between clients or customers and your organization.

As we explore their similarities and distinctions and their potential integration, it should become clear how these could enable your company to reach new levels of success.

Customer success

Customer success professionals are helping clients become knowledgeable users who are able to use products and services provided by businesses to reach their goals. Success measures customer objectives, growth over time and satisfaction.

  • Key responsibilities: Taking care of customer onboarding process and educating existing customers and new customers, adopting value; monitoring customer health score, engaging customers; providing customer support services in order to maintain retention/customer churn levels; and upselling/cross-selling as appropriate.
  • What makes it crucial: Assisting customers in attaining their anticipated return from doing business with your organization will establish long-term relationships and help grow its clientele base.

Customer support

Customer service involves helping customers quickly discover, use, optimize and resolve a product or service more easily. Account managers field customer inquiries about specific items, provide immediate solutions, educate them on technical topics regularly and educate customers as part of regular service interactions.

The goal of customer success teams is to prevent customers from ever needing to contact an account manager by anticipating their needs and providing strategic guidance.

  • Key responsibilities: Making sure the support team is helping customers, alleviating their problems; answering their questions, and resolving their issues as quickly and painlessly as possible.
  • What makes it crucial: Businesses rely heavily on maintaining current customers to remain profitable and successful.

Key distinctions

Customer success and support programs work hand-in-hand to offer their customers exceptional service levels, but several specific differences exist between the two programs.

1. Reactive vs Proactive

Customers usually only seek assistance once they contact a company with issues or inquiries (a “reactive” approach). Conversely, customer success focuses on helping customers meet their goals more successfully by being proactive about helping to identify and support consumers in achieving them.

2. Relationship-based Versus Transaction-based

Interactions with customer support and service teams tend to be transactional. They start when a consumer makes contact and conclude when their issue is resolved. However, there is no “finish line” in customer success. It’s a persistent goal that never stops developing adapting, strengthening the tie between the company and its clientele, inevitably leading to the company’s success.

3. Goals, Objectives and Key Performance Indicators

Metrics for customer service often aim to increase both the quantity and quality of help sessions. This metric rarely takes into account what happens before or after a support interaction. In contrast, customer success focuses on the desired outcomes that can result from those encounters, such as enhanced loan-to-value ratios, improved rates of upselling and cross-selling, etc.

4. Keeping Employees and Finding New Ones

The customer service industry has been around for almost 20 years. Thus, there are established norms and procedures for employing customer-facing teams. However, customer success is only around ten years old (and that’s being generous). We lack a comprehensive and convergent perspective on the “right” approach to hiring, training and implementing customer success initiatives because of the industry’s recent (but still relatively brief) introduction to the corporate world.

5. Quantifiable Return on Investment

The majority of businesses treat customer success and support as just another overhead expense. Failure to appropriately support, staff and train service and other teams results in well-documented declines in a variety of metrics, including but not limited to rankings of satisfied customers, rates of retention, referrals, etc.

It’s easy to figure out how much bad customer service costs and both the leadership and finance sections of most businesses are aware of this.
However, leadership and finance often put significant pressure on individuals involved in customer success to show them tangible returns on their time and money spent on such endeavors.

Indicators of customer satisfaction include:

  • Customer integration of the product into their operations
  • Speed and quantity of recommendations
  • Sentiment analysis of mentions and reputation tracking for brands
  • Increases in sales that occur for no apparent reason (other than the economy)
  • Boosts in customer loyalty, product advancement and new purchases

Customer Support & Success Initiatives Give Incredible Results Together 

As noted previously, customer support and success are integral business procedures that will enable your firm to expand, strengthen and deepen existing customer relationships, leading to higher income generation and success for your firm. That’s why we feel that discussing these two procedures in the context of ”customer success vs support” is wrong because they should work together. 

Although it’s best for them to operate as separate departments in order to clearly establish their duties and objectives, they should still have autonomy within them to collaborate effectively while upholding individual identities.

Customer data can help make more informed decisions regarding what will have the greatest influence on subscriber retention if both departments work cohesively together and understand each other’s activities and responsibilities.

How Does Customer Success Work?

There are a few steps you need to take to make your customer success strategy work.

1. Pick the best customer success software – FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)

Pick the best customer success software - FuseBase (formerly Nimbus). Image by FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)

To manage customer interactions proactively and effectively, your team needs a solution for customer success on board—this means implementing a customer success tool or solution.

Monitoring trends and user behaviors are critical for businesses of any kind. Utilizing effective software allows your team to generate reports with data-driven analysis that predict customer behavior while helping find solutions before issues emerge. If you’re looking for the best customer success platform, you need FuseBase (formerly Nimbus). Your customer service managers will love this client-oriented platform. 

FuseBase (formerly Nimbus) is an all-inclusive collaboration platform created specifically to assist client-centric businesses to impress customers while streamlining teamwork.

FuseBase (formerly Nimbus) can become a major growth driver for businesses striving to help customers succeed. Equipped with stylish client portals branded to your business’ name, this tool centralizes updates, approvals and communication in one location, offering customers an impressive destination! Client portal deliver an engaging client experience by centralizing updates and approvals into one central spot to demonstrate professionalism while guaranteeing client satisfaction; furthermore, access and permission management allows customizing user experiences while protecting sensitive information.

FuseBase (formerly Nimbus) also streamlines data collection with integrated forms, surveys and analytics—eliminating the need to switch apps! A quick approval process expedites decision-making while robust communication tools foster transparency and build client relationships, ensuring customer success.

2. Establish and educate a customer success team

Step two is to assemble and educate a customer success team. For this to work successfully, ideally, one or more individuals dedicated to the CS team must be present within your company and have resources available; company size will ultimately dictate which representatives and supervisors make up this group of customer success representatives and supervisors you need. Also, keep in mind to expand this number as your customer base expands for maximum support from customer success representatives and other teams!

Members of a customer success team should have prior work experience interacting with customers. Depending on the scope of your company, you may need to employ a varying number of specialists.

3. Build a more active customer relationship-building approach 

Build a more active customer relationship-building approach. Image by FuseBase (formerly Nimbus)

Help your customers succeed if you want your business to keep growing. Replace reactive strategies to build customer relationships with proactive ones. Customers are more likely to remain engaged with your product or service if you quickly demonstrate its worth; you can accomplish this by helping newcomers through the onboarding process and regularly following up to ensure your services are being utilized as intended.

4. Start a more active customer relationship-building strategy 

Create a customer success strategy to meet customer expectations. Your customer success strategy might differ slightly from others depending on whether your products differ or consumers have different demands; nevertheless, having such an outline in place is crucial for reaching customer success and keeping customers for as long as possible. A lifecycle diagram may help in developing the appropriate model for your organization.

If your team requires assistance in developing its customer success strategy, here are a few guidelines you can follow to create one:

  • Create and enact an effective customer success team, and implement software/tools essential to customer success.
  • Identify your customer’s desired objectives (and why they require customer success).
  • Establish goals with and formulate an action strategy with their fulfillment in mind.
  • Share the customer success strategy with your team, making sure everyone understands what needs to be accomplished both individually and collectively.
  • Examine data collected about customers to see whether or not they’re receiving sufficient help in reaching their goals.
  • As your company and customer base continue to expand, it may become necessary to adjust both its structure and the staff members working within it.

Dive deep into the world of customer success with insights from industry experts!

Summing up

Customer success lies within your grasp. Companies of any kind can reap significant advantages by instituting a customer satisfaction program today, especially given the rise of subscription-based businesses and an emphasis on customers in society at large. You can improve customer experience while gathering customer feedback for teams working on features or processes that could become more efficient with time.

Customer success teams of any size can have an enormous effect on customers, their loyalty, customer churn rate, revenue generation and much more.

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