How should a company start to design and build a new Customer Success group?

The decision to design a new Customer Success group is not something to be treated lightly.  The role has to be carefully crafted if the team is to have any chance of long-term success.  Unfortunately, the typical approach is simply to go out to LinkedIn, copy somebody else’s job announcement for a Vice President or a Director of Customer Success, and tell the candidate that their first assignment is to design the group.  That’s a recipe for failure.  Either the new hire will get frustrated with Senior Management’s lack of understanding of what Customer Success is all about and quit, or the Sr. Mgmt group will start to realize the potential and then recognize that their new hire is not what they needed after all.  Either way, the cost is a lot of wasted time and miss-steps.

The Questions of Customer Success

The starting point is for Senior Management to get clear on the role and the expected results from their investment in building a Customer Success team.  To help with that process, there is a resource in the Customer Success Library here called The Questions of Customer Success.  The resource is a bank of questions that will need to be answered in the areas of Strategy, Process, People, and Technology.

Another resource that can be of significant assistance in this process is to get a Briefing for the Senior Management team to acquaint them with the full range of options and best practices in Customer Success as practiced by other companies worldwide.

Once the role/mission of the new group has been clearly defined and understood by the Senior Management team, the next step is to proceed to the design phase, to the creation of a blueprint for the implementation of the customer success team.  At this point, it may be appropriate to start the process of identifying and recruiting an executive.  Up until this point, it is recommended that the company consider retaining an interim Customer Success executive for leadership of the implementation.  There are several consulting firms listed on the Customer Success Consulting Services Catalog that offer interim management services.

An effective Customer Success group is not something that can be built quickly.  Companies should expect to spend at least two years in the effort.

Recommended Reading:

The Definition of Customer Success

The Mission of Customer Success

The History of Customer Success