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GuidesCustomer researchThe ultimate guide to customer success

The ultimate guide to customer success

Last updated

21 February 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

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The customer experience is one of the most crucial aspects of any business, yet companies often overlook it or take it for granted. Today, customer success is increasingly important as businesses strive to achieve a competitive advantage.

Understanding customer needs, delivering excellent customer service, and creating a positive customer experience contribute to a successful business. Let’s explore the importance of customer success and how it can help you reach your business goals.

What is customer success?

Customer success is a strategy to ensure your business achieves its desired outcomes through customer-centric processes, technology, and services. It is a holistic and action-oriented approach to customer management, focusing on understanding customer needs, delivering value, and cultivating customer relationships.

To achieve customer success, you must proactively understand your customers' needs and deliver solutions.

Who needs a customer success strategy?

Any business that wants loyal customers should consider developing a customer success strategy. Businesses focusing on customer success are more likely to build strong customer relationships, increase satisfaction, and boost loyalty.

What is the main objective of customer success?

The main objective of customer success is to ensure that customers have a positive experience every time they interact with your business. This means providing solutions to their problems, encouraging them to return, and creating an environment where customers feel valued and heard. 

Customer success vs. customer support vs. account management

Customer success, customer support, and account management are all terms in the customer service industry, but what do they mean, and how do they differ?

Customer support

Customer support is the process of providing timely and accurate assistance to customers who are having issues with a product or service. 

Customer support teams typically consist of customer service representatives who provide direct help to customers and technical support specialists with more technical expertise. These specialists may also provide product updates and other information.

Account management

Account management entails managing relationships between a company and its customers. Account managers understand a customer's needs and expectations, create tailored solutions, and ensure the customer is happy with the product or service. They may also be responsible for upselling and cross-selling.

Customer success

Customer success is more of a proactive approach than a reactive one, unlike customer support and account management. 

Customer success focuses on helping customers use your product or service effectively to achieve their goals. This involves providing technical advice, onboarding, training, troubleshooting, and showing customers new ways to use the product or service.

Customer success vs. customer experience

While people often use customer success and customer experience interchangeably, they have different meanings.

Customer success ensures that customers get the most value out of the products or services they purchase from you. It’s a holistic approach focusing on building customer relationships, helping them understand your product, and providing ongoing support.

Customer experience focuses more on a customer's overall experience when engaging with a product or service. It's about creating a positive and enjoyable experience for customers. 

This means providing customers with a seamless experience, from interacting with a product or service to completing their goal. Customer experience teams focus on understanding the entire customer journey from first use to the outcome. They create strategies to optimize that journey, ensuring customers have the best possible experience.

Why is customer success important?

Customer success reduces churn

Customer churn, or customer attrition, is when customers stop using your product or service. This can be a major problem for your business, leading to a loss of revenue and customers.

Reducing customer churn is one of the most important goals of any business, and customer success is an integral part of that process. When customers successfully use your product or service, they are more likely to remain loyal to your brand and continue using it. This customer loyalty leads to increased customer retention, which can directly affect your company's revenue.

Customer success drives revenue

Customer success also helps to drive revenue. When customers successfully use a product or service, they are more likely to recommend it to others, which can lead to increased sales. 

Additionally, successful customers are more likely to purchase additional products or services from the same company, which can also contribute to increased revenue.

How does customer success work?

Follow these three steps to create a powerful customer success strategy for your business:

1. Choose a customer success solution

The first step in customer success is finding the right customer success solution for your business. Whether it's a cloud-based software platform, an outsourced customer success team, or a combination, finding the right solution for your business is vital. 

It's essential to consider the features, cost, and support provided by the solution and the scalability of your customer success strategy.

2. Hire and train a customer success team

The next step is to hire and train a customer success team. Your team should be knowledgeable, experienced, and able to provide your customers with the necessary support and guidance.

They should be passionate about helping your customers succeed and have the necessary tools and resources available.

3. Create a customer success strategy

Finally, it helps to create a customer success strategy. This is the blueprint for how you'll help your customers achieve their desired outcomes and goals.

Your strategy should include the following:

  • Clear goals and objectives

  • A plan for how you'll measure success

  • A timeline for when you'll reach those goals

Additionally, you should create a system for rewarding your customers for their success and loyalty.

The mission of a customer success team

A customer success team aims to ensure that customers receive the best possible experiences with the products and services when they transition from sales prospects to active users. From onboarding to ongoing support, the customer success team helps customers get the most out of their purchases and meet their needs and expectations.

At its core, the customer success team fosters customer retention, satisfaction, and long-term relationships. These teams are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience by introducing new features, offering support, and providing guidance.

Customer success teams need the right resources, such as:

  • Knowledgeable customer service agents

  • Customer-centric technology

  • Comprehensive customer feedback systems

These resources are essential in helping the customer success team connect customers with the right solutions and meet their needs. 

The team also plays a crucial role in assisting company growth. By understanding customer needs and expectations, your team can identify opportunities for growth and help your business make the necessary changes to meet customer needs.

What do customer success managers do?

A customer success manager (CSM) is a vital customer success team member, and they: 

  • Manage the customer journey

  • Understand customer needs and expectations

  • Develop relationships with customers 

  • Helping customers maximize their success with your product or service

  • Ensure customer satisfaction and retention

  • Identify opportunities to improve the customer experience

  • Continually strive to exceed customer expectations

CSMs work closely with the customer, the rest of the customer success team, and the service team to create a personalized customer experience. This approach results in maximum customer satisfaction and retention.

In addition to managing the customer journey, a CSM's responsibilities include the following:

  • Identifying customer issues

  • Creating strategies to solve them

  • Providing ongoing support and advice to ensure customer success

  • Gathering, analyzing, and using customer feedback for improvements

They may also be responsible for developing customer success strategies and processes, creating customer success reports, and providing training and guidance to other team members.


Is customer success a sales job?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. While customer success is not a sales job, it requires an understanding of sales tactics.

Customer success is all about providing the necessary support and resources to ensure customers get the most out of your products and services. In this way, customer success is like a sales job, focusing on helping customers find value in the product or service they've purchased.

However, customer success is more than just a sales job in the traditional sense. It does not involve actively trying to sell something to a customer. Instead, customer success involves helping customers get the best out of their purchase and ensuring they can use the product or service most effectively.

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