Managing a Large Customer Portfolio

Turleyh Member Posts: 1 Navigator
edited May 2022 in Industry Insights


I recently cracked into the customer success field and I've been loving it! I work at a SaaS startup and I manage the SMB portfolio of our client base. I'm responsible for around 95 clients (and counting). It feels a little daunting to effectively manage a larger portfolio of clients. I want to be proactive rather than reactive and I'm working on developing a process to stay on top of all of my clients needs to ensure they get the most value out of our product. So, I was curious what best practices, advice, cautions, and tips that any of you could share in regards to managing a large amount of customers?

I would appreciate any input!


  • Ian Remington
    Ian Remington Member Posts: 6 Navigator
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    Initial recommendation with that volume would be to make sure you've defined your customers into different cohorts. You could naturally set a cohort based on ARR, growth potential, etc. You'll want to define these cohorts and place these 95 accounts into each so you know who you'll have more consistent engagement with and who you won't. With 95, it's unlikely that you'll have regular meetings with all. Instead, consider having your lowest cohort receive customer marketing content from you (Like tips & tricks, pre-recorded webinars, etc). Or host webinars on new features, or existing valuable features that may go underused. You can definitely still drive engagement without speaking to everyone 1:1.

    With the higher tiered cohorts, begin to set a repeatable strategy of how/when to engage. Map this out to ensure you don't have an overwhelming amount all piled into the same time frame. Depending on your product and customer base, this may have you engaging quarterly (or potentially more frequently). I'm typically a fan of having our CSMs reach out around product release time (we release quarterly which works out well) to engage around new value add features and speak to the last release as a refresher.

  • Amanda Flurry
    Amanda Flurry Member Posts: 11 Navigator
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    @Turleyh You've received a lot of great advice so far! One thing I would add that is more practical is be really mindful of how you manage your time. Make your calendar work for you! With that volume of customers, it would be easy to let your calendar get overrun and get into that reactive mode you want to avoid! Think about what kind of activities work best for you and your style and plan from there. For instance, in a role where I did a mix of data-heavy work and meetings, I would block off the first few hours every morning for data work when I'm at my best for focusing, and then the afternoons could comfortably fill up with meetings.

    @Ian Remington and @Jordan Silverman were spot on with segmenting your customers and mapping out appropriate strategies. For your higher tiered cohorts, I would put a block of time on your calendar on a recurring basis, perhaps weekly, to review all accounts and look for changes in usage or health score. For your lower tiered cohorts, a similar block of time on a biweekly or monthly basis may be more appropriate. Keep in mind building in time for strategy work, recording videos, etc.! The proactive work can take a backseat if you get caught up in putting out fires.

    Congratulations and keep us posted on the strategies you find most successful!

  • Kari Thor
    Kari Thor Member Posts: 3 Navigator
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    @Turleyh you've gotten some very valuable insights on how to strategize your work so you can make this quantity manageable. I would also emphasize on using technology to your advantage to free up time and allow you to prioritize what clients you actually spend time on reaching out to because they need your attention. If your preferred method of measuring their experience shows they don't need special attention it's better to focus the time and energy on those that do - meaning ones that have shown a decline in client experience. And you can further prioritize those that need special attention based on their account size, upsell opps, time to renewal etc.

    Happy to discuss further for more information about how to measure their real-time experience and potential experience gap.

  • KVargas
    KVargas Member Posts: 1 Navigator
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    I'm happy to have run across this post! I'll be managing a similar number of accounts.

  • Gary Hoffman
    Gary Hoffman Member Posts: 1 Navigator
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    How are very high customer counts different?

    Suppose CSMs are nurturing 1000 customers each in a largely self-service environment.

    Ideally, automation is taking care of everyone effectively.

    However, it is important to constantly validate that the automation is effective.

    Besides reading the tea leaves - "data" collected - how should CSMs engage to tune automation?

    Thank you


  • Rachael C.
    Rachael C. Member Posts: 3 Navigator
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    When I worked at Zoom Video Communications (in the middle of the pandemic) as a Mass Market segment (SMB & Commercial) the average number of accounts a CSM would hold was anywhere from 150 to 400 accounts. 

    I would agree with the above comments as you really want to make sure you are prioritizing your accounts not just based on MRR or ARR but also on which might have the highest potential for growth as well as which accounts align with your company's internal initiatives.

    Depending on the CRM your company and CS team uses you could focus on setting up a handful of automation (email campaigns and outreach/touchpoints) that should save you some time with some of your small or more self sufficient clients.
  • Anna Alley
    Anna Alley Member Posts: 67 Expert
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    I agree with everything that's been said so far. Additionally, think about automation not just externally, but also as a means to alerting/reminding you of an action. For example, you could set up a workflow/notification to remind you to look at an account if you haven't logged any action on it in 6 months (this might be fine, but it serves as a reminder to ensure you are reviewing all of your accounts at least once a year regardless of if low need). I think this can help protect against quiet customer getting missed. The most important thing is automating as much as you can - remove the mindless tasks and focus on the work that adds value to your customers and your business.

    Identify the key data points that are leading indicators of retention risk or potential growth and fashion processes around those. 

    Finally, accept that you're not going to be able to give all of these customers the attention you might like. While all customers are important, not all customers are created equal, thus you want to establish a positive baseline experience that can be delivered seamlessly and with little intervention and then add on top of that experience where additional intervention or focus is needed.
  • Brian O'Keeffe
    Brian O'Keeffe Member Posts: 199 Expert
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    edited November 2022
    @Anna Alley it is true, who am I ignoring today was how I operated when I had a huge portfolio and had to focus on the ones that needed the attention the most. It is not possible to provide great service to all when you have a huge portfolio. I think mine got up to six hundred at times. That is why I believe strongly in a very different approach and add the ability to move between segments based on need. 
  • Denise_Mueller
    Denise_Mueller Member Posts: 5 Navigator
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    @Turleyh you have gotten a ton of great advice.  I have to second the need for both segmentation and automation.  Make sure that you are providing your customers with information that is right for them at the right time.  I like to use video and segment for expectations of usage at that time in the lifecycle (ie. utilizing a specific feature at a time that is right for usage) and automate emails.  Also, Office Hours can go a long way when you have a large book of business.
  • Sukrah Mebude
    Sukrah Mebude Member Posts: 2 Navigator
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    I would suggest you segment your clients to sections, those who are VIPs should be given topmost priority.

    Also ensure you don't wait for renewals due dates before reaching out to them.

    Always follow up closely with them in building meaningful relationships too because they would certainly be your greatest advocates and likely to refer your brand to others.