If you’re only investing in sales and marketing, you’re missing a huge revenue opportunity. Customer Success isn’t just for established leaders; it also helps growth-stage companies compound their growth through retention, upsell and expansion. ChurnZero Chief Customer Officer Alli Tiscornia explains why earlier is better, and how to build a CS team that scales for the future.

Why start early?

  • It’s much cheaper to retain current customers than to replace them with new ones.
  • Your renewal process starts on Day 1 of implementation

Your company may go through several iterations while growing out Customer Success, but ultimately, the CSM should own expansion. This allows you to present a frictionless renewal and expansion process to your customers, rather than handing them back to Sales.

When should you start customer success?

As soon as you have a repeatable methodology around customer acquisition.

The most important part of planning your CS program is mapping out your customer journey. This is where most companies get hung up. At this early point, your customer journey does not need to be a long, multi-page document. You can figure it out with your leadership team and a whiteboard. Just do it.

What should your CS team look like?

  • Determine how much business each CSM can handle. The gold standard is $1M in ARR, but in reality, when you’re starting out your CS program, it’s closer to $500,000. However, your business model will dictate how large the book of business is for each CSM.
  • Whatever the title, whoever is managing the CS team needs to have experience with renewals.
  • Optimize your hiring plan for the fact that your CS team should have some commercial term experience as they’ll be negotiating contracts.
  • The 3 key metrics for Customer Success are GRR, NRR, and logo retention. NPS is a company metric, not a CS metric.

Scaling your customer success team

  • At 4-5 CSMs, you’ll be ready to hire a manager. Rather than promoting from within, bring in someone with experience in CS best practices who can uplevel your CS program.
  • Split out specialist functions (i.e. technical onboarding vs contract negotiation) early on. Usually, by the time you hire your first manager. Having every person on the team handle each step is not scalable.
  • Customer Success is not Customer Support. Support is transactional, Success is a relationship.



  • The primary objective of a Customer Success organization is adoption and optimization of your product.
  • Your Customer Success organization is a revenue-generating organization, not a customer happiness team.



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