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2021 Customer Success Year in Review – Best News, Resources & Trends

Updated on February 23, 2023 11 minutes read

Summary points:

Last year’s impact on the customer success industry was significant, to say the least.

Businesses are progressively grappling with a shift in attitude toward businesses, as people’s priorities shift due to the pandemic’s social influence.

And Customer Success efforts have proven to increase overall growth, even in times of crisis, for most organizations, especially those in the SaaS sector.


2021 Changes & Shifts in the Customer Success Industry

Increased Focus On Customer Onboarding

Proactivity in Customer Success has always been a rapidly growing trend, but in 2021 we saw it go to another level, especially for customer onboarding. Increasing activation, conversion, and retention while eliminating churn, onboarding still plays a major role in Customer Success.

The next horizon of customer success will be built on a bigger shift to customer relations, enabling SaaS companies to achieve long-lasting relationships with their customers and thus efficiently avoid churn.

At IBM, their CSM team will soon enough amount to over 1000 people. And they’ll all focus mainly on being a concierge for their customers, helping them get added value for their purchases.

Custify Tip: Streamline Your Onboarding Process With Live Chat Software

Data-Driven CSMs In High Demand

In 2021, data has played a vital role in customer retention & growth, and hence, in Customer Success as well. The Global Customer Success Platforms Market is estimated to reach $3.1 billion by 2026.

With the help of customer health scores, CS platforms have been taking on new horizons in terms of data analysis. Aggregating customer data & leveraging AI to get insights on usage trends, churn and growth opportunities are all here to stay.

Custify Tip: How Customer Success Managers Can Use Support Ticket Data To Better Understand The Customers’ Journey

The Need For The Human Element

In the aftermath of the 2020 crisis, digital has become the default mode of engagement. And with it came a whole new set of unprecedented customer support queries. The need for human touch has skyrocketed, along with automation in Customer Success.

Highly personalized and proactive customer service is vital to customer success and has been seen to lead to increases in revenue. Over 90% of customers say their customer service experience is an important factor in whether or not they become loyal to a brand.

Custify Tip: 9 Customer Success Automation Challenges And How To Handle Them

The Vital Importance Of CX And UX

Because of poor customer experience, up to 78% of customers don’t go through with a purchase. Undoubtedly, CX has become a powerhouse driving growth: over 80% of business leaders tag customer experience as their main growth engine—the highest of any other growth areas in the industry.

The recent CS developments in 2021 have proven that if your platform cannot provide a smooth customer experience, you may easily be facing churn. The global UI and UX Design Software market size were valued at $960.19 million in 2021.

Custify Tip: 7 Proven Customer Success Tactics To Improve Your Customer Experience

Customer Success Recruiting In High Demand

After a pandemic year, business leaders realized that one of the few areas that generate future-proof growth is customer success, which led to higher demand for experienced CS professionals.

Hiring the right CS vice presidents, managers and representatives has become the foundation for business success in 2021. No wonder “Customer Success recruitment agencies” is a rising Google search trend.

Custify Tip: 11 Customer Success Manager Interview Questions Companies Ask & Why

Investing In Good CS Software Has Been Booming

As more companies have been investing in Customer Success, the demand for good CS software like Custify has been booming.

In 2021, businesses have proven the need to spend less time collecting data or manually calculating complex formulas in order to build more meaningful relationships with customers.

SaaS companies that have been looking to maximize customer retention learned the importance of DX. Industry statistics foresee that the DX market is going to skyrocket from $521.5 billion in 2021 to a whopping $1.2 trillion in 2026.

2021 Customer Success Must-Reads: The Best Articles, eBooks, and Studies

2021 has once again proven that Customer Success is a dynamic field.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional, you should always keep up with the latest Customer Success concepts and ideas.

Here are some suggestions of articles, guides, and books to stay up to date on the latest tactics:

1. Articles

1. How To Run A Gap Analysis For Customer Service & Understand Customer Satisfaction

This article is focused on why gap analysis needs to become a priority for your SaaS business and what you can do to ensure your customer experience consistently exceeds your customers’ expectations.

2. Is Your Customer Success Team Helping Or Hindering Retention?

Enforce your CS team to actually help your customers achieve their goals. Form genuine relationships through proactive outreach and efficiently train your team to increase retention.

3. How To Identify And Optimize Customer Touch Points

Here’s a guide with all the best practices to help you optimize the most important touch-points from the CX, SaaS, and Customer Success perspectives, so you can reap all the benefits sooner than later.

4. Recognizing Your Customer’s Purpose is Key to Growth

Read on to find out how you can transform your business through four strategies for defining, designing, and delivering purpose-led experiences to make it truly customer-centric.

5. How To Optimize SaaS Sign Up Flow To Increase Conversions

Find out how to create a great SaaS sign-up flow and how you can optimize it best, so it makes sense for your own business.

6. How to Leverage Subscription and Payment Metrics in Your Customer Success Workflow

Once you have your Customer Success software, one of the first recommended steps is integrating it with your account & billing tool and your CRM. Find out how to monitor payment-related metrics for Customer Success.

7. How to Keep Customers for Life

Every possible business can now benefit from a subscription model – that means we need to keep customers happy and constantly prove their value increases the longer that customer stays with the company. Read on to find out a few simple but powerful Customer Success tactics that show SaaS businesses how to keep customers for life.

8. Top 10 Questions I’m Asked About Customer Success

Customer Success is still a new space, many people still have reasonable questions left unanswered, and it will take some time before the whole idea of CS is completely solid. Find out the top 10 questions Custify’s Customer Success team gets asked on a regular basis and how they answer them.

2. Guides

The State of Customer Success: 2021, by TSIA

TSIA’s report is here to help you identify trends within Customer Success organizations and explore lessons learned from the Customer Success community throughout 2021.

Customer Health Score Guide, By Custify

Customer Health Scores are a must for B2B SaaS businesses, but any business can benefit from applying the tactics described in our guide.

Learn how to improve your customer relationships and grow your business using Customer Health Scores.

Trends and Data in Sales and Marketers, by HubSpot

Learn how to optimize your sales and marketing strategy in the B2B sector by looking at data from 3,400 marketers and over 500 global sales leaders.

As seen in HubSpot’s report, get ready to increase your business footprint with innovative marketing strategies.

The State of Customer Success 2021, by Customer Success Collective

Customer Success Collective’s definitive report is the resource you need to identify the key responsibilities of Customer Success professionals and to understand where Customer Success sits within whole organizations today.

State of the Customer Success Industry and Salary Report 2021

Despite the current economic state, Customer Success teams are growing in size and numbers, with 91% of CS professionals increasing their team numbers over the past 12 months.

Totango’s report delivers a detailed overview of how Customer Success is changing and how its impact on business is perceived.

3. Books

1. Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions, By Donna Weber

onboarding matters

Top Review: “One of the biggest challenges and obstacles to growth today is the ability to understand and align with customers on their desired business outcomes. It starts with onboarding. When you deliver a proactive and prescriptive experience, as defined in Onboarding Matters, your customers reach their goals, and so do you.”

Get it on Amazon

2. The Seven Pillars Of Customer Success: A Proven Framework To Drive Impactful Client Outcomes For Your Company, By Wayne McCulloch


Top Review: “From someone who has been in the Customer Success profession for over fifteen years, I can truly say this book is a must-read for Customer Success professionals. Wayne clearly lays out the building blocks for a successful CS strategy. He also introduces new concepts, such as a customer churn journey map. I highly recommend it.”

Get it on Amazon

3. Customer-Led Growth: A CEO’s Guide To Building A B2B SaaS Company, By David Jackson


Top Review: “Should be read by CEOs, heads of CS, and anyone who is actively engaged in the customer journey.”

Get it on Amazon

4. The Guaranteed Customer Experience: How to Win Customers by Keeping Your Promises, By Jeff Toister


Top Review: “The foundation of every customer relationship is trust, peace of mind, and respect. Jeff’s book gives you a blueprint for earning admiration in how you lead and operate… earning the right to customer-driven growth.”

Get it on Amazon

5. Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results, By Brad Cleveland


Top Review: “Sooner or later, every successful business realizes that customer experience is the experience that really matters. Brad’s book lays out the road map for any leader who wants to make a difference for the customers they serve.”

Get it on Amazon

6. The Experience Maker: How to Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share, By Dan Gingiss


Top Review: “A great book on the importance of building a shareable (contagious!) customer experience; another winner from the wise and sparkling pen of Dan Gingiss.”

Get it on Amazon

7. I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again & Again, By Shep Hyken


Top Review: “Successful companies are seeking ways to build and deliver connected customer experiences using a combination of technology and human-to-human connections. They aim to create Moments of Magic for all their customers. Shep Hyken shows you exactly how to do this and more.”

Get it on Amazon

2021 Top Influencers in the Customer Success Space

We strongly believe that those paving the way by putting Customer Success on the map deserve special recognition.

In our opinion, these are some of the top influencers in the CS space right now that you should definitely keep an eye on:

1. Colleen Stanley – CEO of SalesLeadership Inc., Colleen has been named one of the most influential sales figures in the 21st century by Salesforce. Notable book released: ‘Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership: The Secret to Building High-Performance Sales Teams’, published by HarperCollins.


2. Jennifer Chiang – Head of Customer Success at Yup, she is passionate about helping companies – particularly startups – unlock the true potential of Customer Success through analytics, empowerment, and a truly customer-centric mindset.


3. Anita Toth – With 6+ years of experience in working with SaaS companies, Anita is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to crushing churn once and for all.


4. Shep Hyken – New York Times & Wall Street Journal named best-selling author of seven books on customer service, customer experience, and loyalty in business. Notable releases: ‘Moments of Magic’, ‘The Loyal Customer’, ‘The Amazement Revolution’.


5. Dave Jackson – CEO of TheCustomer.Co, David is a Customer Success expert, speaker, and published author. He is a recognized expert in Customer Success and Customer Experience at all stages of the funnel. He is the author of ‘Dynamic Organisations’ and ‘Becoming Dynamic’, both published by Macmillan.


6. Chris Mitchell – Co-founder of Customer Success Leaders Institute, Chris is one of the most followed CS Influencers right now. With his extensive experience in accelerating growth for SaaS companies, he is one of the major leaders of the Customer Success community worldwide.


7. Mikael Blaisdell – Executive Director of The Customer Success Association and Publisher of Customer Success Central, is a recognized voice within the Customer Success space’s strategy, process, people, and technology.


Here’s our modest attempt at recognizing and celebrating the brightest minds in the CS space which make this possible – including many, many more, beyond the list above.

If you have any suggestions of who we should include, please comment below with your nomination, and we’ll extend the list!

2021 Custify Year In Review: New Features, Awards, & Achievements

New Features

In 2021, not only did we grow our customer base by more than 300%, but we also doubled the team.

  • Dashboards & Reports

Getting an intuitive and UI-friendly overview of a customer used to be a matter of learning and integrating powerful BI tools in your SaaS stack. Not anymore – with Custify’s newly launched Dashboards and Reports feature, you can:

  • Visualize customer churn
  • Track account revenue
  • Figure out the best times to reach out
  • Compile data-rich reports on your customers’ success

And that’s only a glimpse of the things you can do with the new Dashboards & Reports feature in Custify.

  • Surveys

Surveys aren’t just nice-to-have. After a tumultuous year in Customer Success, CSMs everywhere now realize that surveys are a vital tool in the workflow of any CS professional. That’s why we pulled out all the stops & integrated both CSAT & Promoter Scores within the Custify Customer Success platform. Now you’ll be able to:

  • Run hyperspecific & targeted surveys on the fly
  • Measure customer satisfaction like never before
  • Use customer feedback to immediately improve CX
  • Reduce churn with more contextual, feature-based surveys

Besides these major features in Custify, we also came up with a fresh new app redesign to simplify our UX even further. Of course, there have been also many small improvements and feature expansions, including several novel native integrations like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and Jira.


Our continued efforts to improve have been recognized with industry-relevant awards and top client ratings.

Here’s a list of Custify’s confirmed leading positions and awards:

  • Top Quality Choice from CrozDesk
  • Category leader from GetApp
  • Momentum Leader from G2
  • Best Results from G2
  • Best Usability
  • Easiest Setup
  • Best Support
  • Best Estimated ROI
  • Highest User Adoption


Most Debated Articles on the Custify Blog

1. How I Solved The Challenge Of Measuring Customer Success ROI

Here’s an insightful article on a complex issue many CS managers get asked about daily, as Philipp Wolf explained.

2. The Difference Between Customer Success And Customer Support

The difference between Customer Success and Customer Support lies in their nature: one is proactive, and the other is reactive. Read on to find out more.

3. 9 Customer Success Automation Challenges And How To Handle Them

Is it possible to automate Customer Success? Most say that parts of it are able to be automated & it’s even better if you do so because you’re freeing up time for your CSMs. Read the article above for more insights into the world of automation.

4. How Customer Success Managers Can Use Support Ticket Data To Better Understand The Customers’ Journey

Looking at support is one of the key tasks of the CSM and their team. Here’s a thorough exploration of how we use support ticket data to draw some uncommon insights about the customers that placed those tickets.

5. 11 Customer Success Manager Interview Questions Companies Ask & Why

The CSM job is taking the business world by storm. Are you ready to face the storm? You will be after going through our suggestions for interview questions that will help you decide which CSM is a perfect culture fit and can do the job.

6. What’s The Difference Between Customer Loyalty And Customer Retention?

Learn the differences between loyalty and retention and find out why you should focus more on customer loyalty to drive overall business growth.

Customer Success Today: A Review of News & Trends for 2022

Looking back over the previous year, we can see a lot of progress and investment.

Adoption, expansion, and retention were and potentially will continue to be as important as they have always been.

As businesses continue to implement new technologies, the industry will need to adapt to meet customer demand continually.

Customer Onboarding Focus Is Here To Stay

According to TSIA’s The State Of Customer Success: 2021 research, 52% believe expectations are set during the sales cycle, while 54% believe the Customer Success team is the main responsible link for efficiently onboarding customers.

Data Is The Most Important Currency

Not just that, but for 2022 the focus will be on identifying new insights and patterns across projects, according to a survey of 113 onboarding professionals. This renewed data-driven approach will push CSMs to dig deeper for signals of customer happiness, retention, and churn.

Using AI for analytics & gathering data will definitely be trending in 2022. Last year, AI was more like a cart before the horse in customer success – the technology was available, but businesses weren’t ready to put it to the test.

In 2022, however, many businesses will be ready to take advantage of data-driven technologies. AI-generated insights will start to take over the Customer Success landscape and drive positive, empathic customer experience further.

Customer Success On The Rise Across the Globe

Since 2020, the pandemic has created new market conditions which have deeply affected the economy, decreasing revenue for most companies.

Organizations around the world have started to realize that Customer Success is vital to long-term revenue growth.2021 South-East Asia survey on CS showed that C-level business people are putting customer success at the top of their priority list. This is exactly why CS is becoming a more prominent force in the overall business strategy.

The Vital Need to Make a Case for Customer Success

With rapid change happening on such a large scale, companies need to know how happy customers are and if they’re getting value. As such, good metrics and relevant, actionable customer health scores are more important than ever for CS teams to prove their worth.

Depending on how your CS results align with the company’s overall strategy, it can be your salvation or ultimate downfall when you have to demonstrate the ROI of your team. Falling back on reliable statistics can also help – such as the cost of acquiring a customer being 5 times bigger than the cost of keeping an existing one or the classic ones that show the value of loyal customers.

Custify Tip: Customer Success Metrics You Should Track

Increased Focus On Advocates And Building Loyal Customers

Customer loyalty is crucial for retaining and further expanding your customer relationships. Real growth comes from your advocates. Loyal clients spend 67% more when sticking with a business than new customers.

After all, Customer Success is all about building quality long-term relationships with customers so that they can realize their ambitions and business objectives by securing value and return on investment.

Ready for the New Year?

We believe we’ve gotten off to a great start with Customer Success in the middle of a pandemic. Customer Success’s future is hopeful, especially when businesses actively listen to their customers, identify their needs, and help them achieve their personal goals.

The SaaS business sector will for sure be beaming with new opportunities to serve customers and drive intensive future growth. We’re also excited for our continued growth at Custify – we have lots of new features and guides on the way.
Here’s to a terrific year that just ended and a game-changing year ahead!

We’re looking forward to seeing you for the 2022 Customer Success Year in Review.

Victor Antiu

Written by Victor Antiu

Victor Antiu is the Marketing Manager at Custify. With nearly 10 years experience, his focus is SEO, product marketing, and B2B inbound strategy. When he’s not trying to fix websites and automate processes, he’s traveling and sailing around the world.

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