16 Books Every Customer Success Manager Must Read

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 compxany 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.

 

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

rick adams bookThis 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.

 

 

Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty by Joey Coleman

Coleman’s theory of building customer loyalty isn’t about focusing on marketing or closing the sale: It’s about the First 100 Days® after the sale and the interactions the customer experiences. That’s because, across all industries, somewhere between 20%-70% of newly acquired customers will stop doing business with a company with the first 100 days because they feel neglected in the early stages of customer onboarding.

In Never Lose a Customer Again, Coleman offers a philosophy and methodology for dramatically increasing customer retention and as a result, the bottom line. He identifies eight distinct emotional phases customers go through in the 100 days following a purchase. From an impulse buy at Starbucks to the thoughtful purchase of a first house, all customers have the potential to experience the eight phases of the customer journey. If you can understand and anticipate the customers’ emotions, you can apply a myriad of tools and techniques—in-person, email, phone, mail, video, and presents—to cement a long and valuable relationship.

“Joey offers​ ​a​ ​balanced​ ​approach​ ​for​ ​forming incredible customer​ ​relationships​ ​without​ ​sacrificing​ ​the​ ​bottom​ ​line.​  Never Lose A Customer Again is the best (and most useful) book I’ve read in years.”

The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge

The Sales Acceleration Formula provides a scalable, predictable approach to growing revenue and building a winning sales team. Everyone wants to build the next $100 million business and author Mark Roberge has actually done it using a unique methodology that he shares with his readers. As an MIT alum with an engineering background, Roberge challenged the conventional methods of scaling sales utilizing the metrics-driven, process-oriented lens through which he was trained to see the world. In this book, he reveals his formulas for success. Readers will learn how to apply data, technology, and inbound selling to every aspect of accelerating sales, including hiring, training, managing, and generating demand.

 

The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow’s Business by Blake Morgan

With emerging technology transforming customer expectations, it’s more important than ever to keep a laser focus on the experience companies provide their customers.

In The Customer of the Future, customer experience futurist Blake Morgan outlines ten easy-to-follow customer experience guidelines that integrate emerging technologies with effective strategies to combat disconnected processes, silo mentalities, and a lack of buyer perspective.

Tomorrow’s customers will insist on experiences that make their lives significantly easier and better. Companies will win their business not by just proclaiming that customer experience is a priority but by embedding a customer focus into every aspect of their operations. They’ll understand how emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and analytics are changing the game and craft a strategy to integrate them into their products and processes.

The Customer of the Future explains how today’s customers are already demanding frictionless, personalized, on-demand experiences from their products and services, and companies that don’t adapt to these new expectations won’t last.

Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back): 24 Reasons People are Leaving You for Competitors, and How to Win Them Back* by David Avrin

In Why Customers Leave, popular customer experience and marketing speaker David Avrin makes a compelling case for customer experience as a bankable differentiator in an era of vast marketplace choices. The book lays out the very visible reasons for the recent shift in customer mindset and expectation, illustrates the myriad ways that companies inadvertently drive customers and prospects to competitors, and offers a multitude of creative strategies and tactics to attract and retain new prospects.

In the book, David explores and articulates the disturbing new dynamic that has arisen from easy-to-find, one-click-away, at-your-fingertips options: “We have become a world of impatient, intolerant and demanding customers, and we move on quickly if inconvenienced in any way. Don’t blame the millennials! We have seen the enemy, and it is all of us.”

The Relationship Economy: Building Stronger Customer Connections in the Digital Age by John R. DiJulius III

In The Relationship Economy, author John DiJulius teaches business leaders about the importance of relationship-building in the digital age. He argues that in spite of (and because of) the advances in tech, we’ve become a less connected society. We have dramatically evolved away from face-to-face communication, and the skill of building rapport is evaporating. This means that customer personalization and relationships are more important now than ever—and they will be the key to success for businesses moving forward. As he aptly states, “Being able to build true sustainable relationships is the biggest competitive advantage in a world where automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are eliminating the human experience, which is what creates the emotional connections that build true customer loyalty.” This book reminds readers of the importance of personal connections and shows them how to attain meaningful, lasting relationships with their customers.

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