11 Books Every Customer Success Manager Must Read

By July 8, 2019Blog

Being great at customer success management isn’t something you just know how to do. It takes great skill, patience, and planning, and requires an understanding of how people do business and what they expect from the brands with which they engage. For this, learning new strategies and getting advice from the experts is a must, so we’ve put together a list of the top books that have shaped how we approach our customers, our customer success program, and our business as a whole.

From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin

From Impossible to Inevitable, the sequel to Aaron Ross’ Predictable Revenue, contains two cornerstone concepts that we’ve borrowed and expanded upon: the hourglass and the role of customer success in creating predictable revenue. Their hourglass focuses on pipeline (lead generation, sales, and success), showing the three key areas where predictable, scalable revenue comes from. They also explain that a dedication to customer success is vital to growing your “seeds,” explaining that it’s not about increasing customer satisfaction, but about creating revenue growth.

This book is chock full of great advice for companies looking to grow exponentially despite the many pitfalls that plague the SaaS industry. While primarily focused on sales, Ross and Lemkin’s “7 Ingredients for Hyper-Growth,” from nailing your niche to defining your destiny, is essentially a checklist that customer success teams can use to better understand their place in company growth.

HYPERGROWTH: How the Customer-Driven Model is Revolutionizing the Way Businesses Build Products, Teams, & Brands by David Cancel

This book from Drift‘s David Cancel is a short read, but it’s jam-packed with strategies and frameworks to help companies to achieve hyper-growth. The overarching theme in this book (and in every book we mention here) is that a focus on current customers is necessary to drive success.

David has led incredible companies that have gone on to be acquired (Compete, Ghostery, Performable) and spent time as Chief Product Officer at Hubspot, so his experience serves as a sturdy foundation. He goes into great detail about how he developed the customer-driven model he created while at Performable, how it has shaped his work since, and gives excellent suggestions for how to bring this thinking into your own organization.

The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford

Maintaining the trust and confidence of your customers is a critical piece of running a business today. Because we have digital tools that allow us to be much more connected to our customers than ever before, it’s important to understand how to manage customer relationships openly and honestly.

This book details five steps to building a trust-based relationship. It is especially useful for customer success managers who act as a part of their customers’ team, looking to build and maintain trust. The authors offer practical advice, lists, and anecdotes that help readers put trust into action that serves both sides.

“If you’re a human being in this Earth, you need to read this book. Although it’s focused on business consulting, the skills discussed within are transferable to basically every relationship in life.”

Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How to Build Your Customer-Driven
Growth Engine by Jeanne Bliss

Jeanne Bliss is one of the dominating voices in the customer experience space, so when she talks (or writes), we listen. In Chief Experience Officer 2.0, the updated edition of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action, Jeanne draws on her 20+ year career to lay the groundwork for customer experience transformation that has shaped the landscape of how business is done in every vertical.

This is a must-read for folks in customer success, and truly any person in a business that deals with customers. She incorporates executive stories and personal narratives to remind us just how important our customers are!

“Clearly and concisely explains the why and what for leading Cx transformation, with absolute clarity around taking the concept forward.”

The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, Rick DeLisi

This book is great because, like The Challenger Sale, it forces us to confront what we think we know to be true. This time, in The Effortless Experience, Dixon and his co-authors take on customer loyalty and call into question the concept of “customer delight.” With years of data from CEB Global to back up the idea, they explain that mitigating disloyalty is not about the dazzling or wowing customers beyond their expectations, but about reducing the effort required of them to get just what they need.

Dixon, Toman, and DeLisi provide insights, tools, and strategies companies can use to discover how they measure up on a customer effort scale and how they can re-prioritize to create a low-effort environment that increases loyalty.

Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, Lincoln Murphy 

This book is the one-of-a-kind guide that shows you just how to create a customer success strategy. From the initial planning stages through execution, you’ll hear expert advice and guidance on how the customer success movement began, how you can build a killer customer success strategy, and how to implement an action plan for structuring customer success in your organization. In addition, you’ll also get insight into tiering your customers and how to develop the right cross-functional playbooks.

Nick, Dan, and Lincoln dig into three core aspects of customer success – philosophy, discipline, and organization – in a sharp, practical way. This is highly recommended to every CEO or leader out there who is truly seeking to build a customer success-centric company.

Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It by Tien Tzuo, Gabe Weisert

The authors’ core message in Subscribed is pretty simple: Ready or not, excited or scared, adapting to the subscription economy is crucial if you don’t want to fall behind. This book takes a deep dive into how you can use subscriptions to build lucrative, ongoing one-on-one relationships with your customers.

As CEO of the world’s largest subscription management platform, Tien Tzuo has helped hundreds of companies transition from relying on individual sales to building customer-centric, recurring-revenue businesses. If there’s one book that will have you feeling empowered…it’s this one!

“A great reference book for everyone who is working at startups. It has something for everybody!”

Farm Don’t Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success by Guy Nirpaz, Fernando Pizarro

Guy Nirpaz is undoubtedly a pioneer in the customer success space. And if you’re looking for a good ‘customer success fundamentals’ book, this is a great go-to! The authors really get down to the nitty-gritty of customer success as a theory and offer pragmatic action items for implementing a customer success strategy.

Guy loves people and technology and has dedicated his career to improving business through innovation. This practical handbook is perfect for anyone looking to be a leader in the space. As customer success evolves quickly, this book provides the perfect combination of simplicity and insight in order to understand it.

“Very insightful and have found tremendous value in the insights. Love the stats on cost to renew and cost to upsell.”

What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint by Nicholas Webb

This book helps answer the age-old question: how well do you know your customers? Nicholas examines how the hyper-connected economy is radically changing consumer expectations and reveals what companies need to do to stay on top of it. You’ll learn how to discover what your customers love and what they hate, and find tons of tools and examples to reinvent how you can engage with your customers.

If you’re looking to gain extra insight into the minds of your customers and want to go the extra mile every time — this one is for you!


The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success: How to Champion the Customer of Your Company by Jennifer Chiang

Whether you are looking to start or grow a customer success team, this book serves as a fantastic guide. Customer success is no longer just for companies with large teams and resources. It’s a company mindset that can unlock the biggest opportunities in business. Customer success can help streamline experiences, grow product engagement and loyalty, and more importantly — retain business. This guide walks you through how to plan, execute, and grow your own customer success team and the actionable steps that you can take to champion the customer at your company. It’s perfect for new customer success leaders, CEOs and VPs who want their company to be more customer-centric, and start-ups looking to kickstart their own customer success teams.


rick adams book

Practical Customer Success Management: A Best Practice Framework for Rapid Generation of Customer Success by Rick Adams

This practical guide is a complete “handbook for CSMs”, written by a customer success expert who has coached and trained hundreds of customer success managers across the globe. The simple to follow, best practice framework aims at increasing productivity and quality of output for CSM’s, from relative newcomers to seasoned professionals. Rick Adams is full of humor, but uses direct advice for dealing with the types of real world situations CSMs face every day. He provides recommendations, detailed explanations, and step-by-step guidance that will help you adapt and customize your own customer success strategy.







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