2019 Customer Success / Onboarding Survey
Section 3: Customer Success
Customer Success Software
This section starts the first of the two main topics of the survey, as we asked about customer success platforms.
This is also a relatively new category, as the data shows with only 30% of organizations using or considering a customer success platform.
We did not filter out any industries because the category transcends industry types and can be used by nonprofits, education, etc.—which was reinforced by the fact that some of those organization types were already using customer success software. There was a slightly higher chance of adoption for organizations with 250+ people.
Client Success and Gainsight were the leaders, and the Other category had offerings such as ChurnZero, TopBox, Totango, and internal systems. Click on the picture for an expanded view.
You can tell a lot about an organization’s commitment to customer success by whether or not they have a dedicated customer success team.
A majority (55%) of organizations had a dedicated customer success team, which is interesting because of the high percentage without a customer success platform.
We also asked how many people are (or will be) on the customer success team. The team size tended to be smaller than would be expected when compared to the overall size of the organization.
Once we had the information on customer success platform and team size, we asked about a customer success budget.
We wanted to know if an organization had dedicated budget for customer success outside of employee costs.
Almost two-thirds of organizations did not have a dedicated customer success budget. For the ones that did, the numbers are at right.
An important part of any customer success strategy is tracking customer success metrics.
Just over 83% of responding organizations have or plan to use customer success metrics, which indicates that even organizations without dedicated software, teams, or budget are still tracking metrics related to customer success.
When we asked what was being tracked, there was a lot of variance by industry but the few trends that emerged (in order of frequency) were:
- Metrics associated with measuring time for projects/tasks
- Tracking their NPS score
- Tracking implementation
- Tracking customer retention
Now that we’d established how a company had set up, staffed, funded, and was tracking their customer success efforts, we wanted to see how they rated themselves for how they were handling customer success.
When we asked why they gave themselves that rating, many answers were organization-specific—though there was some commonality for those who scored themselves low (1 or 2), and these mentioned a lack of process and organization.
When we asked the mid to low performers,“What would it take for you to get to a ranking of 5 for customer success effectiveness?” there was a wide variance among industries, but the main commonalities were (in order of mentions):
- Better processes (this answer is a mainly for companies without a current dedicated tool)
- Better tools/systems (again, most prevalent for companies without a current dedicated tool)
- More resources (as in personnel)
In comparing themselves to similar organizations, most rated their customer success approach as above average, while a third of companies rated themselves as average.
A FEW STANDOUT QUOTES (FROM COMPANIES WITH A 4 OR 5 RATING)
“Company-wide support, especially by executives, is critical. Without that and a clear message from the C-Suite, Customer Success would never the make necessary progress.”
“We’re a new team, but we’re already making a big impact on our post-sale interaction and upsells with customers.”
“We announce success and failures to the team to better ourselves regularly and learn from them.”
Customer Success is an ongoing effort, but everything has a starting point.
We wanted to know how an organization arrived at its current customer success process.
Almost half of organizations took more than a year to develop their current process.
Another 20% took more than six months.
A majority of companies relied on internal research, and there were a few common themes that emerged:
- Many organizations said it was an iterative, trial and error process
- Some said it was due to organic growth, including adding personnel familiar with the customer success area
- Some were guided by industry best practices
- A few said their process was shaped by available tools
- For some, their process was still evolving
SUMMARY: CUSTOMER SUCCESS
When we look holistically at the results for the Customer Success section, there are a few trends that emerge. A majority of organizations (55%) across all industries have a dedicated team for customer success in place, though only about a third have (32%) or are considering (5%) a dedicated budget for customer success outside of employee costs.
Almost half (47%) of organizations took more than a year to develop their customer success process, relying mainly on internal research and an iterative, trial and error process fueled by organic growth.
Even though only a small percentage currently use (22%) or plan to use (7%) customer success software, over two-thirds of organizations (67%) actively track metrics related to customer success, with a majority ranking themselves highly (5—14%; 4—42%) on how they handle it.
When we asked organizations to take a moment to imagine the perfect process for customer success and what that would be like for customers and their internal team members, the strongest trends were:
- Adding automation to their current processes
- Continual refinement
- Setting clear goals and expectations, and establishing clear processes
One quote summed it up well: “We say what we’ll do, we do it, we say what we did and ask them how we did.”
As far as how they’d know they had succeeded in putting the ideal customer success process in place, there were a lot of varied responses but the most often mentioned were:
- An increase in NPS
- Less support calls
- Meeting KPIs set out at the beginning of the program
- Tracking time to value, from end of the sales process to when a customer starts using the product
EXTRA INSIGHT: THE BEST ADVICE
We asked all respondents, “If you had to give advice to someone just starting to build their Customer Success process, what would it be—in ten words or less? Here were the best answers.
“Scope processes first, then configure tools to accomplish your goals.”
“Churn happens but if you’re surprised, you didn’t do your job.”
“Work out your internal kinks before tackling external issues.”
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