Why Startups Suck At Customer Success

Your customers aren’t going to love your product right away

Joe Procopio


It used to be you sold someone a product, handed them a wordy and confusing manual, and then walked away.

You can’t do that anymore.

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a suite of productivity applications or an exercise bike, the level of user complexity baked into the average product increases perpetually and exponentially. Because it can.

Moreover, today’s customer — whether it’s your grandfather with his Fitbit or an executive vice president expecting the quarterly numbers to be reported with a snap of her fingers — they want to spend less time learning how to use the product than it takes to open the box. If there’s a box.

Customer success isn’t a new science — it’s something we’ve been doing for ages. Poorly. But when done right, it’s the difference between the 20-page manual that used to come with a clock radio and the little transparent sticker with the arrow pointing to the power button on your new smartphone.

Let’s figure out how we achieve that higher level of smoothness.

What is great customer success?

To get your brain wrapped around the concept of customer success, think of it as a process that begins at purchase and ends with the last support call.

Good customer success helps the customer get started, great customer success builds onboarding into the product. Good customer success instructs the customer, great customer success anticipates and automates. Good customer success offers built-in support, great customer success eliminates customer support.

Or at least 80% of it.

Good customer success is there to make sure the customer is doing exactly what they need to do to get maximum value out of the product. Great customer success does this too, and then makes sure the product is doing exactly what it needs to do to get maximum value out of the customer.

Why startups are terrible at making customers successful

There are basically two reasons why startups fail at customer success.



Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com