For customer success managers (CSM), the tools of the trade are growing increasingly sophisticated… and numerous.
From 2019 to 2024, the customer success (CS) platforms market is projected to grow from $854 million to $2.66 billion.
While our 2020 customer success market map puts the number of CS vendors at more than 150. only a handful are specifically customer success products.
This makes for exciting (and frustrating) times for CSMs seeking the tech tools they and their teams need to be successful.
Our market map was developed to give you more than just a list of the best customer success tools. It was designed to help you get your footing in this rapidly changing space.
Plus, in addition to this map—which is available for download—this post will review:
The growing dominance of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model has catalyzed change in the way software is sold. One result of that change is that CS is replacing the old model of “account management + support.”
After all, when a customer purchases a SaaS tool, the value of that customer increases each time he or she renews the subscription. Therefore, reducing customer churn becomes just as (or more) important as acquiring new customers for revenue growth.
Because reducing churn is so important when selling SaaS, CS is replacing the old model of pairing account management with support.
If the new sales model of SaaS started the customer success fire, increasingly sophisticated and affordable CS technologies are fueling it.
These technologies are doing this by making it easier to:
As the market for customer success tech continues to round itself out, several leaders have emerged. Among them are Gainsight, Freshworks, Totango, Amity, Strikedeck (acquired by Medallia), ChurnZero, Natero (acquired by Freshworks) and ClientSuccess.
Each of these market leaders positions their offerings differently.
For example, Freshworks is now staking its claim as an end-to-end customer experience management tool for small to medium-sized businesses while Gainsight is focused on serving customer success managers at medium and enterprise-level businesses.
Despite these differences, fundamentally, market leaders are seeking to:
Our customer success market map breaks CS tools into eight distinct categories.
In the following section, we’ll list these categories, quickly review what tools in each category generally do, and provide examples of vendors within each category.
These platforms provide a comprehensive toolkit of success metrics, best practices, and customer data aimed at helping enterprises implement, optimize, and scale their approach to CS. They are purpose-built for Customer Success teams.
No one would disagree that onboarding remains one of the most core facets of customer success. Onboarding tools make the customer’s onboarding experience as seamless as possible. Although sometimes categorized as solutions for product teams, these tools are the leading solutions that support CSMs with successful user onboarding and adoption.
Activity and engagement monitoring tools help CS professionals track how their customers are using and engaging with the product. These tools also include features that assist you in identifying key customer activities that indicate an increased risk of churn.
Historically, a CRM was designed to be the source of truth for a customer relationship, from lead through to renewal. While customer success was in its infancy, many CS teams ‘extended’ their CRM to manage the customer relationship beyond the sales pipeline.
Today, the CRM is a tool shared between all customer-facing teams, even though it is more typically owned by sales teams. While Salesforce clearly leads the pack in terms of CRM market share, other examples of CRMs include Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Copper.
When we asked CSMs what tools they use everyday, they regularly cited the internal and external communication tools which are designed to make customer success managers more productive in maximizing communication with the customer.
While some of these tools are for general business communications, some vendors—such as Hugo—design their offerings specifically to serve CS teams. This category includes a cross section of products from video conferencing such as Zoom, to live chat apps like Drift and customer communication platforms including Customer.io.
Overlapping in part with communication tools are operations tools such as Airtable, Zapier, Calendly, and (again) Hugo. These tools are designed to make the day-to-day CSM processes quicker, easier, and more efficient through various automation and integrations.
For example, with Hugo, you can take notes during a customer meeting and automatically turn those notes into tasks in a project management tool while keeping your CRM updated.
For CS teams, collecting customer feedback is critical, and there are plenty of tools, to help facilitate that process. For example, Simplesat integrates with other CS software to add embedded CSAT surveys, automate NPS emails, and much more.
Customer support is certainly a distinct function with a very different role to customer success. Support teams are often considered adjacent to customer success with regular coordination (what CSM doesn’t want to be across support issues facing its customers?). It’s for this reason that when we asked CSMs what tools they’re using daily in their quest to be a great CSM, customer support and knowledge base tools consistently came up.
In the past 12 months, new sales tech companies have attracted $1.8 billion in funding and acquisitions have grown by 250% to $9.5 billion.
As mentioned in the introduction to this post, the customer success platforms market is currently valued at $854 million.
Moreover, the latest SalesTech landscape puts the number of sales software vendors at 950 versus customer success’s 156 vendors, many of which are shared with other departments, as mentioned.
Clearly, as evidenced by the money flowing into the sales software market, most companies still emphasize success metrics that favor sales over CS. And even the best CS tools have a ways to go before they displace sales software in terms of market share.
But the growth of customer success can’t be ignored… and despite the disparity in market sizes, CS vendors are disproportionately outnumbered by sales vendors.
In other words, as much as CS has grown, the best is yet to come.
Which tools are missing from your CS software stack?
Creating an excellent handoff plan between your Sales and Customer Success teams makes the transition seamless. Use these meeting and email templates to get started.
A solid relationship between CS and sales is not only good for the customer, it's good for revenue.