5 Books Every Customer Success Manager Must Read

By February 7, 2017Blog

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 five 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 brand new book from 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 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 allows us to be much more connected to our customers that ever before, it’s important to understand how to manage customer relationships openly and honestly.

With their Trust Equation model, Maister and his co-authors detail five steps to building a trust-based relationship. Especially useful for customer success managers who act as a part of their customers’ team, building and maintaining trust is critical to the success of the relationship. The authors offer practical advice, lists, and anecdotes that help readers put trust into action that serves both sides.

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.

Chief Customer Officer 2.0 is a must-read for folks in customer success, as well as just about any person in a business that deals with customers. She does a great job incorporating executive stories and personal narratives to remind us of just how important our customers are and how vital they are to our success.

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.

What books have influenced how you address customer success? Let us know in the comments below.

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