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Choosing the Best Customer Success Tool (in Just Three Steps)

With your goal(s) in mind, work backward to find the customer success software that helps you achieve your objectives.
October 4, 2022

Managing customer success is like balancing spinning plates on sticks—every client is a plate to keep in motion. Some may wobble. Others might slow down. But those can quickly be righted if you catch them in time. However, neglect a plate too long and watch how fast it crashes to the ground.

And just like the delicately balanced spinning plates, when customers quit using your product because they are unhappy with it, they can start to take down other ones. One publicly disgruntled review could be all it takes.

Choosing the Best Customer Success Tool

(fauxels / pexels)

The key to success is knowing which plates to pay attention to, knowing which can spin on their own for a bit, and making sure you have the right support—in this case, technology—by your side.

Today’s customers hold powerful bargaining chips. They are informed and tech-savvy, avoid expensive upfront costs and long-term commitments, and understand the influence of a product or service review. It’s no surprise that it’s best to keep customers engaged to continue to drive revenue.

But what’s an over-extended customer success manager (CSM) to do? You can only keep so many plates spinning at once!

Enter the customer success platform (CSP).

Understanding customer success platforms

Luckily, there’s an easy answer to keeping up with your customers’ needs: a customer success platform. Customer success tools and software allow you to proactively engage with your customers and anticipate their needs beforehand instead of waiting and reacting to trouble tickets or elevated churn rates.

There are multiple platforms out there to help you skillfully manage your CS team’s workload. Whether your needs include well-timed emails and training videos or regular meetings with your customers, there is a tool for you. The hard part is choosing the right one.

The following are some simple steps you and your team can take to pick the right customer success software for your business. It starts with deeper insight into your business. Your due diligence in learning and planning now will serve you well (and save you some major headaches) in the near future when it comes time to incorporate it.

Choosing a CSP

Step 1: Assemble your team

You don’t have to make this decision alone or collect all the necessary information about your business yourself. Neither do you have to have everyone’s input all the time.

Here’s who you should have on your team:

  • Your CFO or VP Finance can help you with a budget.
  • CSMs (and other members of your customer success team) can help you determine achievable use cases and critical touchpoints.
  • Tech support or the IT team can help you uncover common pain points in implementation and preempt them in conversations with CSP providers.

Step 2: Research yourself

Before researching customer success solutions, understand that getting one for the sake of getting it is a bad idea. Avoid wasting time, effort, and money by having a good defense for its necessity, effort, and price. Have a clear understanding of every potential platform’s pricing system and your budget.

Here are the three key elements you should know:

Your goals and plans: CSPs can’t help you if you don’t already have processes, plans, customer knowledge, and end goals in place.

Your customer’s journey: determine at what points reaching out to your customers with reminders or educational material could prevent them from churning. Will you need high-, mid-, or low-level touch with your customers? Are their needs simple, complicated, somewhere in the middle, or a mix?

The data you have and the data you need: start with good, clean data in your current system. Understand the different reporting requirements and data you hope to collect from such a system.

Step 3: Research to find the right platform for you

After you’ve discovered yourself (so to speak) and assembled your team, you’re ready for the best part of the scientific method—reviewing the options and picking a winner.

During the research and discovery phase, keep the following five factors in mind (and make sure you ask about them in a demo).

Usability: during demos, ask the vendors to show you how you’d solve simple problems that you face on a regular basis (e.g. creating a client-facing dashboard or setting up an automation). This will help you identify platforms that are both powerful for your needs and easy to use.

Integration: consider what applications you already use for jobs such as customer service, online training, communication, and marketing. Choose a CSP that can integrate as many applications as possible to avoid switching screens.

Automation: look for a tool to help automate as many recurring tasks as possible, like assigning duties, logging calls/meetings, sending targeted outreach emails, looping in the sales team with notes, etc.

Reporting: does the software give you all the reporting you require?

Branding: can the software be personalized to maintain cohesive branding? If you have a robust brand style, you want that to carry over into your training and marketing materials for a professional look.

Get more from your CSP

The great news is that there are many customer success tools to choose from, each with its unique mix of services. Selecting the right one for your business will take research and planning. You’ll want to know your budget, processes, and goals, at the very least. With your goal(s) in mind, work backward to find the customer success software that helps you achieve your objectives.

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