What Does Customer Success Do at a Startup?

At an early-stage B2B SaaS startup, customer success has one responsibility: make sure customers don’t churn. The causes of churn are bad onboarding (users fail to find value quickly enough) and not making contact frequently. Both should be addressed by customer success.

Bad onboarding can be solved in many ways, but customer success puts in place a repeatable process that bridges the gap from being sold to realizing value. Even a self-serve product that could allow users to onboard themselves, benefit from having customer success identify key actions users need to take to be successful and, often manually, drive users to it. No product has perfect self-serve flows and customer success overcomes technical hurdles.

Making contact frequently builds a relationship, uncovers issues users are facing, and reminds users of the value they are getting from the product. If the only time you are getting in touch is for renewals, you need to sell the product all over again. Tactics like quarterly check-ins with top customers, helping users adopt new features, and responding to support tickets create a more durable relationship—even if problems arise.

Eventually, when the startup becomes more mature, customer success might evolve into something that is less onboarding + support and more up-sell and renewals driven.

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