This article was taken from a Customer Success Festival presentation in June 2021 when Dan Farley was the VP of Customer Success at Seenit. He's now the VP of Customer Success at Distributed.

My name's Dan Farley, and in this article, I'm going to be speaking about building a customer success toolset with a limited budget.

This is something I speak about a lot with a lot of different people in our profession and, hopefully, this article will help you walk away with some really practical guidance that you can apply in your day to day at your business with your customer success team.

I don't just want to talk fluff and strategy in this, I've acquired some practical guidance you can go away with and apply in your day to day at your business with your customer success team.

In this article, I'll discuss:

About me

I'm VP of Customer Success at a company called Seenit. We're a London-based tech company and we provide a user-generated video platform for large enterprise corporate businesses.

I've been working in customer success for roughly 11 years now. I've worked at a few different businesses across EMEA, North America, and different size startups and tech businesses as well.

Specifically, of those 11 years, I have roughly six years of experience in starting and running customer success teams in smaller stage businesses, which has been a great challenge. I'm sure there are people reading that are at smaller tech companies, with 50 to 60 to 90 employees. That's pretty much what I've been doing with myself for the last six years.

I actually used to be an engineer as strange as that may seem, a third-line engineer for just under two years. Started engineering, that's where I thought I was going, turns out I was pretty rubbish at it to be totally honest. It just wasn't for me.

One way or another, I ended up getting into customer success shortly after that.

Why this topic?

What’s available

As you'll know, there are a lot of CS tools available, and it can be a challenge to know which ones to use - we're inundated with options.

I've used some of these tools in the past; they allow you to deploy a really quite intricate customer success operation for your business.

What’s realistic

The realism is when you work at a smaller business, you don't necessarily have the type of budget that you can apply to tools of that type. They can cost anything from £10,000 to 60, 80, 90 thousand a year.

Working at a smaller business, you don't have that sort of budget.

The challenge

However, one thing I did see, and I do continuously see, is when you go and work at a smaller SaaS business, the standards, metrics, and benchmarks you have to meet typically tend to be the same as bigger organizations that have the budgets for tools that enable them to do that, which is a huge challenge.

The stopgap

Over the last couple of years, I've developed a method of being able to build my own system of engagement that can allow me to do that. That's what I want to walk through in this article so you get a really good snapshot of what it looks like.

What this article isn’t

I also want to briefly cover what this article isn't. It is not about not bothering to buy a CS tool like Gainsight instead, you can just use this.

As you mature as a CS department, as you mature as a SaaS business, you will absolutely need to invest in software like that. It is categorically not possible to work at a SaaS business that is in the subscription world, and not have a customer success technology tool in place.

If you do that further down the line it's just not sustainable, you'll have huge amounts of churn, and you'll have a really poor customer success operation. I want to be really clear, it's extremely important as you mature that you invest in tools like this.

However, what this is covering, is that stopgap between having absolutely nothing and having that tool.

Ask yourself what can be used to deliver a fantastic experience for your customers. More importantly, how can you build predictability around how you hit the bottom line of the business?