When Should Your Company Start Using a Customer Success Platform?

When I talk to revenue leaders and executive teams, I often hear "We're too early for a Customer Success Platform."

Sometimes they're right. More often than not, though, it's not true. After convincing many of these teams to look into the benefits of CSP software, I wanted to share my thoughts.

First of all, let's disavow the idea that your company's growth needs to be net new business-focused. In fact, if the last few years have taught us anything, it's that the fastest-growing SaaS companies are all generating more revenue from expansion and net dollar retention than net new sales.

With that in mind, it's never too early to start figuring out how to provide world-class CS. What if every year, your own business was generating 50% of renewals as additional expansion? What would that do for your top-line growth?

The top two reasons people say they aren't ready for a dedicated Customer Success Platform are:

  • Their Customer Success processes are still being figured out, so it wouldn't make sense to bring them all into one place yet.
  • They want to wait until they encounter actual problems before putting effort into solving them.

These points are both worth reconsidering. So let's address each one.

#1: Your Status Quo Is Likely Ineffective

The simple fact is that when your CS team is juggling a plethora of 4-10+ unrelated tools, they can't be fully effective.

And then there's the question of how much time your CSMs actually spend on serving your clients...

Sure, everyone's exact strategic goals are different, but I can promise you that you didn't build your CS team so they could spend 64% of their time not talking to customers.

And just why do average teams spend 64% of their time not talking to customers? Administrative overhead. If you can't take any customer facing action without looking through five platforms to find the context you need on the current state of the customer, that's a pretty obvious problem.

Moreover, while these systems each may be the best in class at their respective function, each also demands expertise. How savvy is your CS team with running SQL queries to generate their own reports? Hell, how savvy is your business team at running and creating the right SFDC reports? I'll leave the questions rhetorical.

Even if your current processes and systems are acceptable, there's a simple, unrelenting truth that can be improved upon — managing disparate systems is hugely inefficient, and your team is wasting lots of valuable time.

#2: Waiting for the Perfect Process or Urgent Pain Is a Mistake

There is some sort of weird attachment to mapping out the perfect process that is unique to CS teams. As an analogy, sales teams have an ever-evolving set of processes that change dramatically as you scale. And yet, no one ever believes it's a good idea to sit in spreadsheets and put off getting a CRM. Why? Because they agree that continuing to work ineffectively even as processes develop is the wrong way to generate revenue. CS teams should think similarly.

Likewise, waiting until there is a serious problem seems like a uniquely-CS backwards mentality. If you went to a doctor with an ache and they told you to start treating it now before it becomes a serious pain, no one in their right mind would say "No thanks, i'd like to wait until i'm in pain to fix it." By then, it'll be a much more challenging and potentially unsolvable issue.

Ultimately, the longer you wait, the greater the pain will become and the more sunk cost you'll have invested in training and developing a system that ultimately you know won't last, and the harder it will be to rip it out.

Related: How CSP Software Helps Your New CSM Hires Ramp Up Faster

CSPs Are No Longer Just for Big Companies With Resources to Burn

Both of the concerns discussed above were more legitimate in a time where the only game in town was Gainsight and other enterprise-focused CS platforms — platforms where your minimum investment was already unaffordable both in terms of time and money, and where implementation and training before anyone set foot into the platform could take many months.

Fortunately, that time is past, and is less relevant with each passing day.

Newer customer success platforms like Vitally — and admittedly even many besides our own — have dramatically changed the internal resource burden required to all-in-one your customer success processes and immediately start seeing results.

when should you start using a dedicated customer success platform when's the right time to buy a csp

When it comes to Vitally in particular, our specific goal at the outset was to build a CS platform that wasn't "too early" for any team size and which could be bought, implemented, trained on, and used within just days. In fact, the majority of our customer base today are still teams below 100 employees — teams that in the past would have never considered a CS tool (and couldn't afford the cost or disruption of bringing one on).

Now that those teams have a feasible Customer Success platform, not only can they have a more efficient workflow, but they also have a base which further investment compounds upon itself. Vitally can be the place they run CS forever. And as their processes change, adapt, and improve, it's easy for them to make those changes without cross-functional support and resourcing, helping other teams save time as well.

So, When Is the Right Time to Invest in a Customer Success Platform?

I'll leave you with these words from our Buyer's Guide: Selecting a Customer Success Platform (direct link):

"While there are many factors in deciding the right time to invest in a Customer Success Platform (i.e. team makeup, goals, budgets), generally speaking, as soon as you start to have revenue-generating customers, you should be considering a Customer Success Platform.

"But does that mean you need a Customer Success team in place? Not necessarily. Customer Success is not just a business function, but also an approach for keeping customers on-track, satisfied with your product, and working towards retention. With a CSP, your team will be prepared to monitor, manage, and prepare your customers for the journey ahead.

"Additionally, a CSP will help your team deliver a better experience to your customers. From onboarding and product adoption, to proactive monitoring to avoid churn, the right tool can help you and your team achieve the experiences that build customer loyalty and retention from day one.

"If you are generating revenue that you want to convert into recurring revenue, it may be ideal to start considering a CSP as soon as possible."

Whether it be Vitally or another platform, if you want to up-level your Customer Success team and make your customers more successful, more happy, and more valuable, consider exploring what options you have.

We suggest starting by requesting a demo of Vitally. You may be pleasantly surprised and find yourself a hero for bringing powerful change to your own team.

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