The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

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On today’s The Startup Chat we discuss customer success. This market has become saturated with SaaS tools that are useless and a waste of money. During today’s episode we discuss why customer success is really simpler than the industry would have you believe.

So if you’re considering looking into a customer success tool, just listen to this episode first.

Today’s points of our conversation:

Why Hiten prefers the term “customer support.”

Do businesses really understanding what customer success is?

How to keep close and serve your customers.

The glut of SaaS tools on the market.

When to invest in one of these tools.

Why you should just stick to basics.

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As always, you can hit us up on Twitter @Steli or @hnshah, #thestartupchat.


Steli: Hey, everyone this is Steli Efti.

Hiten: And this is Hiten Shah.

Steli: And in today’s episode of The Startup Chat, we're going to talk about customer success. What it is, how to think about it, but much more importantly how to make your customers successful, how to retain them, and how to grow your business with your current customers and why that – and how to do that technically. But even before we start jumping into things, I know that you are not the biggest fan of the term customer success. And I want to like kick us off with that controversy and let you comment on that. Why is that a terminology that you're not a huge fan of?

Hiten: Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of that terminology because I'm either old school or grandpa in this case. And the reason I say that – or a curmudgeon – but it's because I'm used to, in my first SAS business Crazy Egg would still exist, not having sales, or what we now call customer success sometimes. And I really believe it's a made up category for sales to co-op to customer support. So that’s my sort of aggressive approach and thinking around it. And so my take is why don’t we just call it customer support.

And why do we have to call it customer success. Because there are also on sales teams, retention teams, and there's account managers, and they should be doing the function of customer success. So my take is that we merged account management in some ways, retention teams and sales with customer support. And now we call it customer success. And there's, you know, just like in many other terms, like you know this whole term of like account based marketing or whatever it's called, or account based sales, I think that’s bullshit, too.

So it's like we're making up these terms. We have really good terms for this stuff, like sales, instead of account based sales or whatever, and customer support instead of customer success. And a lot of these terms are made up because some random SAS company wanted to create a new market, or resegment an existing market and become relevant. And I think the days of that kind of stuff happening are over. And I could say the same about inbound marketing, except that inbound marketing came out at a time when social wasn’t that hot.

And people were doing a lot more paid acquisition in SEO. And inbound marketing ended up combining a lot of these things. So I'm not trying to justify that terminology, but because of the success of some these terms from back in the day, people are making it up. So in my mind,

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