Customer Success 101 for Early-Stage Startups

April 27, 2020

This post was written by our friend Michael Provenzano, Chief Operating Officer at ReSupply, and was originally published on Quala's LinkedIn page.

Searching through the old Google machine will yield a billion results on how customer success should be done, how to build your customer success function and your tech stack. What’s more difficult to find are articles on how to get started — how to hire your first customer success manager (CSM) and what steps to take if you’re just starting to sign your first customers.

The nature of the CSM role requires the ability to balance many priorities that reach across most if not all organizational functions. When you’re just starting to work with early customers — the process may seem chaotic and not overtly resembling any well-defined methodology. Over time these seemingly disjointed tasks and activities will start to form a pattern or at least they’ll begin to fall into low and high volume categories.

So, where to begin? With your current tech stack — your CRM, task tracking, support tools, and any other existing platforms are great for now. There is no way to avoid it, you will outgrow these base systems before long. Start looking for a customer success specific solution now. Find one that can help you collect data, manage lifecycles, measure customer health, and the overall impact of CSM activities without a major drain on the limited resources of your early-stage CS team.

While we all know that these early days may not lend themselves easily to data collection, measurement, or reporting — the earlier you get started, the sooner you begin making progress towards a repeatable customer success framework. I suggest checking out Quala for early and mid-stage companies because you can get up and running quickly.

It’s important to note now that any effort expended without record or visibility has a high probability of creating waste throughout the organization. If your customer success (CS) team is allocating time towards achieving customer goals then measuring their impact is pivotal. The data you collect informs the development of your foundational understanding of what good CS means to you.

If the early days of your CS team coincide with the early days of your company and product — it’s historically been difficult for you to easily measure usage-based health metrics, customer sentiment, and CSM activities. If that’s you, look for a simple, fast, intelligent platform that allows early-stage teams to capture all this data and more. You can make quite a bit of progress measuring CSM activity and outcomes without having terabytes of data to crush. Track the touchpoints, the meeting cadence, the customer stakeholders and finally a qualitative view of customer health.

Measuring and drawing insights from these initial data points will help you and the team make crucial early decisions about what is and isn’t working. You will also be creating a solid foundation on which to build out processes and workflows as additional data points become available to the team.