It may seem oxymoronic to see the terms ‘customer success’ and ‘books’ within the same sentence. After all, customer success is predominantly a business function that thrives in digital subscription products (SaaS), and seems to be worlds apart from what Merriam-Webster describes as a “set of written, printed, or blank sheets bound together between a front and back cover”.
Yet despite us living in an increasingly digital world, books appear just as vital for education as they’ve always been.
If the point of customer success is to instill product and brand value in the customer, then surely it’s an education of sorts? And without knocking LinkedIn, our faithful source of professional insights, there’s a limit to the breadth of insights you can share in a post – or specifically, a limit to what the average person is willing to read as they’re scrolling through their feed.
So what better way to educate and impart your time to value (TTV) wisdom than in a trusty paperback?
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a framework to drive impactful client outcomes for your company. Whether you’re a Customer Success Manager (CSM) or a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), the authors subsequently mentioned will inspire strategies on how to implement a watertight onboarding sequence, reduce churn and grow your annual recurring revenue (ARR).
So rather than spend hours trawling through Google’s SERPs, we’ve done the hard part for you. If you think we’ve missed the holy grail of customer success, then let us know and we’ll add it to the list! But for now, here’s the ultimate customer success reading list for your perusal. 👇
Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have three heavyweights behind a book? Look no further. Gainsight’s very own execs, Nick Mehta and Dan Steinman, partnered with customer success evangelist, Lincoln Murphy, to provide a hard-hitting guide that demystifies the business strategy of customer success.
This book identifies the turning point of customer-business relations as the advent of cloud-based software (B.C. – before cloud) and the reasons companies diverted their sole focus on sales and marketing to provide their customers with the means of product success. But it’s not purely theory-based. Mehta, Steinman and Murphy provide white-hot insights into the ways in which Customer Success Managers and CS leaders can build a strategy that tiers their customers and protects recurring revenue.
Farm Don't Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success
It’s no surprise that the CEO of one of the world’s leading customer success platforms has taken to pen and paper to share his expertise. As one of the leading figures within the community and the founder of Totango, Guy Nirpaz recognizes the importance of nurturing customer relationships by identifying value with customer success functions.
Nirpaz theorizes that businesses have to uproot themselves from a ‘hunting mindset’ and move towards a ‘farming mindset’; instead of organizations being fuelled by an expansionist outlook to accrue new customers, they should rotate and cultivate their current crop to ensure their survival. The way to do this? Implement customer success into your business, not just as a team, but as a strategic ethos.
The Seven Pillars of Customer Success: A Proven Framework to Drive Impactful Client Outcomes for Your Company
Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight, declared that “everyone in customer success should read this book.” High praise indeed.
With a glowing review like this from a fellow author, The Seven Pillars of Customer Success most definitely does not disappoint, and is a page-by-page delineation of its titular assertion to ‘drive impactful client outcomes for your company’.
Named one of CSC’s Ones to Watch in 2022, Wayne McCulloch argues that in order for an organization to create a culture of customer-centricity, it needs to adopt a proven framework to do so. In order for CSMs to produce stronger customer relationships they can follow these seven, indispensable pillars:
- Operationalizing customer success
- Expansion pillar
- Advocacy pillar
- Strategic advisor
Seven steps to customer success heaven? We’ll take that!
The Startup's Guide to Customer Success: How to Champion the Customer at Your Company
When you think of SaaS products your mind is automatically catapulted to the huge global brands whose names have been adopted into the vernacular (read: Zoom, Netflix and Teams), who have the resource and budget to focus on their customer’s success. And where SaaS products go, you can bet your bottom-dollar customer success teams will follow.
But that isn’t the case anymore. Jennifer Chiang divulges how customer success functions aren’t exclusively for companies that appear on the NASDAQ, and that providing continual value for your customer post-sales should be something you can implement into an organization of any size – even a startup.
Practical Customer Success Management: A Best Practice Framework for Rapid Generation of Customer Success
Stylized as ‘the complete handbook for CSMs’, this manifesto provides a straightforward, no-frills framework that informs its reader on the steps necessary to become a successful CSM.
With these steps, Rick Adams carefully explains each stage of the customer journey and provides the toolkit for a CSM to complete each task with heightened productivity.
Understanding the indispensability of customer success, this book ‘gets’ the need to cut the bullsh*t around making customer success appear amenable or a ‘nice-to-have’ asset; Adams’ advice is direct and full of humor that will assist a CS professional of any level. This book is an absolute must if you’re looking to build out your career in customer success management.
Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven Growth Engine
As customer success rises to the same heights as traditional business functions, so does the need for executive representation.
This book is a must for anyone struggling to unite their customer success function to form a coordinated effort that can be felt by both internal and external stakeholders. To go beyond lip service and find a true voice for customer success. The way to do this? On the C-suite stage.
Jeanne Bliss taps into the pressing need for strong leadership skills, delineating these core steps:
- Manage and honor customers as assets
- Align around experience
- Build a customer listening path
- Proactive experience reliability and innovation
- One company's accountability, leadership and decision making
To quote Jeanne herself: “For customer experience efforts to become valued and considered critical to driving growth, they must rise above the fray of being defined as problem-solving or chasing survey scores.” If unity is what you’re after in your customer success strategies, Bliss provides practical solutions for CSMs to adopt back within their organizations.
Customer Success Mindset
If you’re in the market for a customer-centric, streamlined, out-comes-based customer success function, this book should be the next on your reading list. Jyo Shukla delves into embracing customer-centricity and how to weave this concept into the DNA of your business.
A self-proclaimed advocate of employing a growth mindset to your work – the idea we all have the foundations to improve and develop with determination – Shukla applies this principle to customer success, specifically how a customer-first approach provides limitless growth possibilities for your business.
The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty
As a customer success professional, you might think you know the customer loyalty ropes. Think again. The Effortless Experience takes a world-renowned concept of customer loyalty and completely turns it on its head.
The triple-threat authors behind this work look at customer loyalty through a scrupulous lens, what makes a customer loyal and disloyal, and how to produce and seamless user experience for your customers. If there’s one thing Mathew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick DeLisi emphatically drill down in this book, is that customers don’t need to be wowed – they need a consistently smooth journey from point A to point B.
The Customer Success Professional's Handbook: How to Thrive in One of the World's Fastest Growing Careers – While Driving Growth For Your Company
If there was ever a book that did what it says on the tin, then Ashvin Vaidyanathan and Ruben Rabago have nailed it with The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook.
Hailed as the definitive guide to navigating the customer success function, Vaidyanathan and Rabago understand how companies no longer sell products – they sell outcomes, and in order to provide successful customer experiences, businesses need to wise up.
From providing practical tactics for recruitment and sharing strategies to help your progression up the career ladder, to tried-and-tested retention and renewals hacks, this book does it all. An absolute must for CSM to CCO alike.
The Outcome Generation: How a New Generation of Technology Vendors Thrives Through True Customer Success
Paul Henderson is well-versed in understanding customer buying patterns with over thirty years of experience in managing corporate profits and losses, and their incomes. But what about a business's outcomes? Henderson demands a re-evaluation of business priorities to echo the shift in customer expectations we’ve witnessed over the last twenty-ish years.
In his own words, “Many organizations fail to achieve the vast untapped value available to them. Unseen opportunities can skyrocket revenue and profits but are tragically never realized”.
The Outcome Generation taps into the drastic change in the approach SaaS businesses are forced to provide sustainable, valuable experiences with their subscription products. This book provides its readers with the blueprint to provide optimal outcomes, and how to avoid stagnant, unfulfilling results.
If you’ve got a must-read book that hasn’t been featured on this list, then drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title and the author. Happy reading! 📚