The Future of Customer Success for Startups

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Jared Orr
Jared Orr Member, CS Leader Posts: 52 Expert
First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic
edited January 2021 in Strategy & Planning
Hi GGR family,

I've been reading The Startup's Guide to Customer Success by Jennifer Chiang (great read! link below) and it's got me thinking a lot about the CS and Startup relationship.

It's no question that SaaS startups need to adopt a customer-centric mindset as early as possible and I think more software entrepreneurs are realizing this. But I feel there is still a long way to go before Customer Success becomes more common in the SaaS software space. 

Given the events of 2020 and the strides CS has made in recent years, have you seen any trends among startups regarding CS and an early adoption of it? 

Are there any SaaS startup owners in this community that have some insights? 

https://www.amazon.com/Startups-Guide-Customer-Success-Champion-ebook/dp/B07NDR49NF/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1CNG5M90QDXR0&dchild=1&keywords=the+startup+guide+to+customer+success&qid=1609947042&sprefix=a+startups+guide+to+cust,aps,245&sr=8-2

Jared Orr

Customer Success Whisperer

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  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
    First Comment First Anniversary Photogenic
    edited January 2021
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    @Kelly Hook might have some thoughts on this as she transitioned to leading CS at Orderly. 

    TLDR: Early-Stage Founders know now they need it. The issue is when. Too early, and it's a nightmare of a position and $ should go towards engineering. Too late, and it's reactive. 

    Unfortunately, I find the trend that remains is that urgency in CS becomes a reactive state either once churn begins or customers are challenged with achieving success, goals, and value with a product leading to a decline in adoption. With early-stage companies and limited funding, focus should first and foremost be on building a working product, and once that's solved, sales are transferred from founder to sales lead. 

    As I speak to founders, the one thing I'm seeing is that more often founders are aware of the need, its relevance, and its impact on the success of the org. The challenge every founder has is in the prioritization and too often it's a later stage due to the demanding needs to formalize a company and product.

    I've joined a company where the CEO knew CS was necessary, but the product needed more resources and investment. The founder was amazing at sales so they had a viable product and large enterprise customers (with only 11 people), but delivering CS was a nightmare. The product wasn't ready for enterprise customers, and in the end, all money should have gone to a product rather than my salary to deliver CS.