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When Should You Start Investing In Customer Success?

You’re an early stage startup — you’re focused on building your minimum viable product, winning your first customers, and trying to build your brand. You’re grinding, pushing toward success, and naturally, money is tight. The investment decisions, and the thinking behind them, are important in the early stages of a company – they set the foundation and highlight your growth priorities. So, when should you implement Customer Success technology?

Here’s how we think about it:

Customer Success technology is an essential investment for any SaaS business — startup or established.  We advocate earlier is better, primarily because we see this technology as a key component of a SaaS business’ infrastructure.  Understanding customer behavior and driving customer engagement is at the heart of any online business.  It goes way beyond serving just the Customer Success team.  It shapes how a SaaS company does everything from product development and marketing, to sales and customer success, to customer support and services.

Companies like Zendesk took this to heart from the time they were a small startup.  Zendesk has been a pioneer in understanding, measuring and driving customer engagement and success in order to support their phenomenal growth.  They are now a public company with a market cap of over $1.9B. Crittercism and Unbounce are examples of two other innovative startups that have implemented Customer Success technology to help them scale their business. Crittercism’ VP of Operations, Alex Brower shared that their, “sales and marketing team would fly blind if they didn’t have real-time data into how specifically customers are using us during a free trial or once they’re in the paying period. Our product team needs it to prioritize their time and see how features that they’re developing are actually being used…and, we wouldn’t be able to package a product properly without this data.”

Though we advocate implementing Customer Success technology at an early stage, the reality is that many businesses begin paying attention when they start feeling the pain of churn. They zero-in on the immediate need to stop losing hard-won customers. This typically happens when they hit about $1M in sales or about 1-2 years after they begin selling aggressively.

Regarding cost, for early-stage startups, this is definitely a consideration but something we think is definitely a prudent use of resources. In fact, it’s an efficient and cost-effective way for SaaS companies to gain a deep understanding of customers and drive engagement without having to build this out internally using precious development resources.  At Totango, we offer small companies a special startup package that enables them to get started with customer success and engagement right from the start.

But let’s hear from you — how are you thinking about incorporating Customer Success into your business?

Kaiser Mulla-Feroze

I'm the CMO at Totango. I love the challenge of bringing new products to market. Before Totango, I spent over 12 years at salesforce.com across products, marketing, and business development. I had the most fun there during the early days when we were establishing salesforce's product leadership position. I'm looking forward to doing the same at Totango.

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