Customer Success Playbook for Growth Stage Businesses

Three plays pulled from our business growth services playbook.

In this article, you will learn:

Have you seen this scene before? A tech founder builds an innovative product. They start gaining some strong initial traction. Voila, it seems like there might even be product-market fit, and investors are throwing money at them. They take the money to fuel the fire and start hiring sales and marketing like crazy.

Fast forward 12 months, and the founder is stressing out; sales have missed their number (again), and there is uneasiness throughout the organization because they're bleeding money and are far from profitability. Where did they go wrong?

This scenario, unfortunately, plays out more often than you might think. The chase for rapid growth drives many tech companies to pour all their energy and resources into expanding market share and attracting new customers. While this aggressive push for growth might seem logical and even necessary, it often overlooks a critical aspect of sustainable growth.

At this crucial juncture, when the pressure to scale quickly and the uncertainty of how to do it effectively collide, many growth-stage businesses make a common mistake. They overlook customer success, considering it an afterthought rather than an integral part of their growth strategy.

But what if there was a roadmap that could guide growth-stage businesses to balance their drive for new customers with the essential need to nurture existing relationships? What if there was a playbook that could prevent this stressful scenario from playing out in your organization?

Enter the Customer Success Playbook for Growth Stage Businesses.

This playbook isn't just about retaining clients but turning them into advocates, boosting expansion and upsell revenue, and building a holistic approach that resonates with your product. In the following sections, we'll outline a comprehensive guide, designed to ensure that your growth doesn't come at the expense of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term profitability. Let's dive into the 3-step playbook that will guide your company’s customer success strategy.

Play #1: Define Customer Success’s (CS) Role in Your Organization


Customer Success (unfortunately) has a wildly different meaning depending on who you ask. Understanding the difference between the functions that typically fall under the CS banner is the first step in our Customer Success Playbook.


To differentiate Customer Success from Customer Support and Sales, and build a strategy around it.

Action Steps:
  1. Define Customer Success for your organization: Hint — it should look something like this. Focus on helping customers achieve desired strategic outcomes and fully integrate products (onboard) into their workflows. CS is oftentimes responsible for upsell/expansion opportunities as well.
  2. Delineate Customer Success from Customer Support: Support handles immediate issues, restores normal service, and maintains customer trust. They fix issues with the product; they are not focused on solving larger-scale strategic problems.
  3. Understand Sales’ role: Sales works to attract new customers and sometimes expand relationships with existing ones. Expansion is oftentimes a gray area between Sales and CS that evolves differently based on the organization. Figure out the degree (if at all) to which sales interacts with your CS team on expansion/upsell opportunities.

A company’s approach to growth hinges on a clear distinction between customer success, support, and sales. The customer success team should be responsible for onboarding and education, ensuring clients fully integrate a platform or application and then shift their focus to the success of that customer - which will, in turn, result in upsell/expansion opportunities. Meanwhile, the support team will resolve all technical issues and bugs that arise within the organization, while the sales team focus should be on attracting new customers.

When there is an issue or you want a better experience with a product you have to know who is going to have the right answer, and who is going to have the authority to fulfill your request. Support will not be able to negotiate a better price and sales won’t be able to configure your solution. If you have questions, make sure you go to the right person with answers." – Connor Smith, Customer Success Lead

Play #2: Create a Company-Wide Commitment to Customer Success


Customer success must become a mindset across the organization. This means feedback from customer success should guide strategic decision-making, inform product development, and enhance sales approaches. Take a look at the table below to see how Customer Success should be interacting across every area of the business.

Objective: Embed a customer success mindset across all departments in your organization.

Action Steps:

  1. Feedback Loop with Product Team: Provide feedback on common issues customers are experiencing, informing product improvements and innovation.
  2. Partner with Marketing: Work with marketing to communicate customer success stories, align on messaging, and provide insights on customer needs for targeted campaigns.
  3. Align with Sales: Shares insights on customer pain points post-sale, aiding in refining sales strategies and messaging.
  4. Collaborate with Support: Ensure seamless issue resolution and leverage support insights to enhance overall customer journey.
  5. Influence Leadership: Utilize QBR (quarterly business reviews with customers) findings to guide strategic decision-making and overall business direction.

To illustrate, one of Orchid Black’s clients built AN ENTIRELY NEW COMPANY based on feedback from customers on what they wanted (as it was missing in the market). What started as an ancillary add-on product, transformed into a business worth more than $30M a few years later - all because of feedback from customers that was communicated to the right people!

"Customer success is a unique group within an organization because they must be proficient at all functions in the business, product, marketing, sales, support, and leadership. When you are the frontline representative from your company for a customer, there is no leaning on other teams to help at a moment's notice. Your customer success team should be your strongest contributors, and should be your strongest team." – Jim Barnish, Orchid Black Managing Partner

Play #3: Track the Metrics that Matter


Your Customer Success team needs to track key metrics that will serve as your compass. Importance of metrics will vary across organizations, but some combination of the below metrics will be a part of any customer success organization.


Identify and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your customer success goals.

Action Steps:
  1. Track Expansion/Upsell Revenue: Maximizing the value of each relationship boosts your bottom line and unlocks hidden treasures within your existing customer base.
  2. Monitor Net Revenue Retention (NRR) and Gross Revenue Retention (GRR): These metrics tell how well your product resonates with customers. High numbers indicate captivation and set the stage for long-term success.
  3. Keep an Eye on Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): These scores reveal the pulse of your customer relationships, leading to higher retention and influential referrals.


The Customer Success Playbook isn't just a guide; it's a lifeline for growth-stage businesses. Defining the distinct role of CS in your organization, cultivating a company-wide commitment to it, and tracking the right metrics will lead to sustainable growth.

Remember, customer success is more than a department; it's a philosophy that, when applied wisely, can take your business to new heights. Let this playbook be your guide.

If you're ready to make customer success a core part of your growth strategy, contact Orchid Black today to learn more.