Discover the customer success tools that CS teams are really utilizing, why they work, and how to choose the right tools. No fluff.
November 5, 2021
“Customer success” is one of those terms that means something a little different to everyone. Depending on who you ask, they may say it encompasses customer onboarding, training, analyzing customer data, collecting regular feedback, providing tech support, and much more.
Regardless of your company’s definition, one thing is objectively true: Your customer success (CS) team is going to need the right tools for the job.
We’re not just talking about a classic, all-in-one customer success platform (though we’ll mention some of those). There are other practical tools that CS teams truly benefit from having, like a webinar platform, live chat tool, survey builder, resource library, or revenue tracker.
To help you get started, we’re rounding up the customer success software tools that CS teams are actually taking advantage of and reviewing the pros and cons of each. First, let’s talk about why these tools are worth using and then clear up some myths.
Dedicating resources to your customers’ long-term success has a huge payoff for both your customers and your company. The right tool set helps everyone on your CS team:
Together, these measures can all contribute to better customer retention for your business. And improving retention by just 1% can positively impact a company’s bottom line by nearly 7%.
Here are some of the myths and misconceptions we’ve seen when businesses are weighing whether to invest in additional CS tools or keep their current setup.
Once you’ve hired someone to focus on customer success management, giving them the right tools will be key to their own success. However, don’t assume they will want to or be able to work with the system you have in place. After all, having a new stakeholder join the team is one of the most common reasons customers churn (as we mentioned in our blog linked above).
Go into this new relationship with an open mind and be ready to talk through the ideas they bring. (This is a great step to take within the first 100 days with your new CSM.) Allow them to inform the discussion on which tools they find valuable, which tools you’re missing, and why.
You’ll see quickly just how much the price tags range for CS-related tools and services. Find the ones that make the most sense to solve your team’s most immediate problems and that will generate the most value and insights about your customer — while sticking to your budget.
For example, Salesforce is the most commonly known CRM. It has all the capabilities you’ll need with options to integrate all sorts of tools in the future. However, it’s likely too complex or pricey for a smaller startup SaaS company’s needs. If you’re a smaller startup, you can start with a product like Streak and grow into something like HubSpot as you eventually make your way to Salesforce, as we did at Arrows!
There’s no rush or need to have every piece of software that could potentially help your team right away. In fact, it may even be more challenging to set up and manage a whole network of tools as your CS team is starting out or going through a busy season.
It’s also perfectly okay to be working out of email templates and spreadsheets if they’re enough for your team. As your company grows, you can weigh the benefit of upgrading to more robust tools. Otherwise, focus on your team’s needs today and be ready to adapt as those needs evolve.
Once you’ve established that you’re in the market for a new customer success tool, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before jumping in.
First off, you’ll want to think deeply about the necessity of the tool you’re considering. For example, if the tool you’re considering offers robust add-ons for reporting capabilities and complex configurations, but your company isn’t yet in the position to leverage those resources, simply look for something more basic.
This will also help you choose a tool that is affordable enough for your company in its current stage. In other words, stick to the must-haves early on!
Next, it’s important to identify which problems the tools help you solve, and if any of those key features are available in another tool you’re already using. Does the tool truly provide unique data or information, or could you perhaps find the data you’re looking for within other tools or through an add-on or integration?
Lastly, you’ll want to ask whether the tool you’re considering allows you to collect everything that makes a customer success team truly great. Think specifically about onboarding tools, CRM platforms, communication tools, resource sharing tools, and customer feedback tools.
For example, does a communication tool allow you and your team to track the status of each support ticket and give you reminders if something requires follow up? Does it capture response times, customer satisfaction, and other helpful metrics?
Onboarding Software Tools for Customer Success
To kick this list off, we’re covering onboarding software tools. These tools help new users and customers quickly interact with your most important product features. They can also help your customers establish regular use habits and reach their goals.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one onboarding and customer success platform, Arrows can help. It’s no surprise that it can be difficult to keep your teams and customers on the same page during the entire onboarding process. Arrows’ onboarding tools can streamline all of this and help build trust with customers at the same time.
Arrows is designed to help businesses that use high-touch onboarding — a human-first approach that guides customers through a complex or technical product — educate, excite, and retain their customers. We support teams of all sizes.
Want to see what Arrows can do for your business? Schedule a free 30-minute demo.
If you’re looking for a real-time customer success platform that balances automation and custom communication, consider ChurnZero. As the name states, the goal is to proactively fight customer churn with tools to closely monitor and maintain customer relationships.
ChurnZero can be a great solution for companies in most industries except healthcare, since it isn’t HIPAA compliant at this time.
As another all-in-one solution for customer success, Vitally.io combines elements of a CRM, help desk, and data analytics platform. It aims to create a better customer experience and improve your team’s visibility into day-to-day customer needs, interactions, and milestones.
Vitally.io can help even fast-growing B2B SaaS companies to proactively address churn risks and expansion in real-time. There’s a lot of manual entering of data to get up and running, therefore, it may be best for small to mid-sized companies.
Looking for a heavyweight software for customer success? Gainsight is one of the biggest names in the industry and provides tech tools that power customer retention, product adoption, and growth.
Due to Gainsight’s powerful feature set, it’s perfect for large companies that are scaling fast. Smaller companies may benefit from the platform, but could also feel they don’t need all the bells and whistles Gainsight can provide.
The AI-powered CustomerSuccessBox is all about helping B2B SaaS companies scale their customer success efforts while simultaneously focusing on broader business goals.
CustomerSuccessBox is best suited for small to midsize companies who are looking to scale. It may not be as effective for large companies or late-stage startups.
An intuitive and flexible customer success platform, Catalyst.io was built by CS leaders for CS teams. It can be a lighter alternative to the more hefty Gainsights of the world.
Catalyst.io is ideal for companies who want straightforward and reliable data, but also aren’t looking for extremely in-depth tools. The platform would be most effective for small startups who want organization without tons of complex features.
ClientSuccess is another onboarding, adoption, and renewal tool in the CS space. While it presents many of the same features as its competitors, users say it brings a higher degree of customization and ease of use.
Ideal for smaller or midsize companies that also don’t need as detailed reporting as other software tools may provide.
ur company is looking for an entry-level customer onboarding tool, GuideCX may be helpful. The #1-rated software focuses on streamlining all information, as well as creating an all-in-one platform for customers and project managers alike.
This tool can work for many businesses, but could be best utilized by teams that need to improve their implementation or project management process.
CRM Software Platforms
A customer relationship management platform (CRM) is perfect for centralizing all new and former customer information in one place, as well as lead information. These details help you uncover patterns and audience segments, better understand your customer, and stay connected with them throughout their entire journey.
It’s a place where …
Let’s look at some noteworthy CRMs.
As the only CRM built entirely inside of Gmail, Streak can be a perfect CRM solution for a company that centers its operations around Google Workspace, as well as a sales team that communicates primarily through email.
This can be a great all-in-one CRM option for small to midsize companies at any stage of growth, especially if your team is all in on email for managing customer communication.
The name “HubSpot” is well-known in pretty much every industry because the company has a myriad of tools and a large library of business and marketing learning resources. The HubSpot Service Hub is specifically for the SaaS field and is focused on service, not necessarily 100% customer success.
HubSpot lacks some capabilities that would be needed for success with big companies, however, it can be perfect for small or midsize businesses.
Calling itself the world’s #1 CRM platform, Salesforce provides top-of-the-line CRM software for businesses with a huge suite of products to support customers, including Sales, Analytics, and Service. It also boasts AppExchange, a marketplace of helpful apps and powerful add-ons.
Due to Salesforce’s various pricing levels and robust customization options, it can be great for a range of companies. That said, it can be expensive and it’s likely not worth it for small businesses or startups in an early growth stage.
Billing or Finance Systems That Provide Customer Success Data
Successful customers are usually the ones who keep paying you and spending more with you as the partnership evolves. Odds are you are already tracking this information within your billing or finance systems. The key here is ensuring your customer success team can access this information as needed.
It’s less about giving visibility into the “finances” and more about making sure your customer success team understands the impact their efforts have on the financial health of the business. Their goals and measurements of success are (or should be) tied to this revenue too. Most CRMs have reporting capabilities for these metrics as well, so be sure to explore your options there too!
Stripe is a widely used suite of payment APIs that powers ecommerce and in-person transactions for millions of companies across the world.
Even though Stripe has the capabilities to work for any size company, it’s most often chosen by small or midsize companies. This is mainly due to the fact that it’s simply not available in as many countries as some other payment processing systems, like PayPal, for example.
If you’re searching for a customer platform to help your company build long-term growth, check out Planhat. The platform can give you insights, manage workflows, and boost customer experience to help maximize customer lifetime.
Planhat was built specifically for everyone from the customer success representative to members of the C-suite, so it can be utilized by companies both large and small.
Specifically for subscription products and companies, ProfitWell’s platform provides analytics, retention, and pricing solutions all to help boost customer retention and success that leads to faster recurring revenue growth.
Due to the free and low-cost options ProfitWell offers, it can be ideal for small and midsize companies. Keep in mind, if your team doesn’t have finance experts, it may take some time to learn how to decipher all of the in-depth metrics.
If you’re looking for a product that tracks SaaS metrics and offers revenue recognition, ChartMogul can be a great option. It will give you one-click analytics for Stripe, Braintree, Chargify, Recurly and PayPal, or via API.
As an overall highly-rated software, ChartMogul would best suit small businesses that utilize multiple billing sources and are seeking a place to analyze all data in one place.
Valuable Customer Success Communication Tools
In today’s increasingly work-from-home world, teams need to have multiple, digital methods to communicate with prospects and customers. Here are some methods:
Additionally, you’ll need tools to engage with your customers outside of those video check-ins. Email (including great customer onboarding emails), live chat, support tickets, and in-app messages are great ways to connect.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned Zoom into a household name. It also happens to be an excellent video platform for businesses to connect, chat, and screen-share with customers for onboarding, intake meetings, check-ins, demos, and more.
Zoom can grow as your company grows, so it’s a solid choice for businesses of all sizes. There are a ton of add-ons and customization options you can tap into to make the Zoom experience specific to your company.
Go-to-Webinar is a platform for live and prerecorded webinars and it’s part of the GoTo product suite, which includes other video conferencing tools. It has branding and analytics tools for marketing as well as options like certifications and payments for employee training.
Go-to-Webinar can work for businesses of all sizes while offering a more structured feel than Zoom. There’s a trial period — which includes premium features — but after the trial, the price of the software will jump if you need space for over 100 participants.
If your team used Google Hangouts, the instant messaging, voice calling, and video calling tool, you should know that Google is phasing it out.
Instead, it’s directing users to Google Meet for video calls and Google Chat for 1:1 and group messaging (Chat doesn’t support direct calls as of now), both convenient tools to chat with your customers.
Google Workspace, and specifically Meet and Chat, can be useful for any type of business. There are a variety of plans, and it’s packed with productivity and collaboration tools which work together seamlessly.
As a revenue intelligence platform, Gong aims to capture and understand every customer interaction, then deliver insights at scale. It records, transcribes, and analyzes all sales calls at your company so you can drive sales effectiveness across your entire team.
Gong can be a great call coaching tool for a prospect or customer-facing team. It would be most effective for mid-to-large size companies, or companies with large sales teams. For smaller teams, the cost may not be justifiable.
As a relatively new platform built specifically for Zoom, Grain lets you record, create clips, transcribe, and share video from your Zoom calls in real time.
Grain is a simple tool that’s perfect for anyone who wants the ability to turn their Zoom calls into searchable, clippable, and shareable content quickly.
As a hub for all customer communication, you can make each of your customers feel like they’re getting truly personalized attention with Front. Front is a cloud-based solution used to assist teams in efficiently managing their inboxes. It essentially eliminates the “CCs” and “BCCs” of the email world.
For a company with multiple teams managing various inboxes, Front can be a lifesaver. However, due to the high cost, it may be better suited for companies that are larger and can justify the hefty price tag.
Intercom can help you build better customer relationships through personalized, messenger-based experiences. As a conversational relationship platform (CRP), it can be used to connect with customers through chat, bots, and direct messaging.
Intercom can be a solution for midsize or large companies looking for a way to connect one-on-one with customers through their website.
As a service-first CRM company, Zendesk builds software to help improve your company’s customer relationships through tickets, chat, and voice.
Zendesk can work well for companies of all sizes and stages as there are many ways to customize your package to keep costs down. However, in some cases, you may need to jump a whole level in pricing to get access to a single feature, rather than being able to add it on a one-off basis.
Shared Resources and Ecosystem Software Options
A key component to customer success is having a repository of information and resources for your customers. From best-practice blogs to how-to tutorials, you’ll want a place to store this information. You’ll also want to be able to easily share it with your customers.
The widely popular Google Drive can be a great tool to ensure your customer success team is running smoothly. Most notably, Google Drive offers free data storage (up to 15GB). There, you can store and synchronize important files, documents, pictures, and videos.
Google Drive can be a wonderful solution for just about any company. Even if you need more than 15GB of storage, Google makes it easy to purchase more space at an affordable rate. That said, some companies that deal with highly sensitive information, such as health records, government relations, or financial records, may want a more secure platform.
If you’re looking for a way to streamline your project management tools, look no further than Notion. The application blends everyday work apps all into one platform, including notes, databases, kanban boards, wikis, calendars, and reminders.
Users are also able to connect these components to create their own systems for note-taking, data, knowledge sharing, and project management.
If you’re willing to take the time to set it up, Notion can be a great way to get your team organized, and ultimately, make future CS tasks and team trainings go smoothly.
Learning Management Systems That Help With Customer Success
As your product or service becomes more robust, you might be ready to invest in a Learning Management System (LMS) to house and share your customer resources. These resources can range from how-to guides, on-demand video content, and even live discussions.
SkillJar is a customer training platform that helps companies build education pathways for their customers that keep them engaged with your product or service.
Whether you have a company that’s large or small, SkillJar can step in to help streamline education, onboarding, and training workflows.
Customer Success Tools for Getting Feedback
A system to capture customer feedback will help you improve your product or service more quickly. You can ask customers directly or use surveys to capture this information.
If you’re in the market for a new product management platform and want to keep customers at the center, check out Productboard. The software helps product managers understand what customers need, prioritize what to build next, and rally all team members around that roadmap.
Any company that is focused on customer-centric product growth could benefit from Productboard.
Collecting and organizing your customers’ feedback is necessary but can be overwhelming. Canny is a product that can help your company streamline this process by organizing all feedback in a single place.
Canny can be a useful tool for any sized company that wants to pay attention to customer feedback and suggestions, especially during a growth phase.
For more helpful tips, tools, and resources, check out our full guide to B2B SaaS onboarding.
As you can see, customer success is connected to every aspect of your business, so having the right tools in place for your CS team can be the difference between growth and stagnation (and happy or unhappy customers).
At Arrows, we know that a long, successful customer relationship begins with a great onboarding experience. That’s why our platform is designed to let anyone — CS manager or first-time startup founder — build onboarding plans that help their customers achieve value faster.
Schedule a free demo to see Arrows in action for your business.
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