10 Best Customer Success Books to Read in 2021

Home » Books » Customer Success BooksUpdated: December 06, 2021

You found our list of top customer success books.

Customer success is the art of designing products and services around clients’ needs and desired outcomes. Customer success books are guides to this methodology. These works cover topics like onboarding, relationship-building, and proactive issue-fixing. The purpose of these books is to help company representatives and developers better understand clients and create exceptional customer experiences.

These guides are a type of business book and are similar to customer service books and customer experience books.

This list includes:

  • customer success manager books
  • customer success guides
  • books about customer success
  • customer success books for beginners

Here we go!

List of customer success books

Here is a list of books about customer success strategies and best practices.

1. The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success: How to Champion the Customer at Your Company by Jennifer Chiang

the startup's guide to customer success book cover

The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success is a new and growing company’s guide to putting the customer at the center of business decisions. This book shows how focusing on customer needs can help startups build a loyal customer base and reach profitability. Jennifer Chiang lays out an easy-to-follow framework and shares success stories and suggested techniques from founders and CEOs. The guide spans topics such as how to form and develop a customer success team, anticipate and prepare for client needs, gain support for a customer-centric approach, and design the company culture around catering to clientele. The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success provides a solid introduction to the practice and shows how to bootstrap client-centricity with modest resources.

Notable Quote: “The idea of customer centricity isn’t new. What is new is the emphasis within companies on customer centricity. Customer success has gone from fancy customer support or account management to a company philosophy.”

Read The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success, and check out more books on startups.

2. Farm Don’t Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success by Guy Nirpaz and Fernando Pizarro

Farm don't hunt book cover

Farm Don’t Hunt revolves around the central metaphor of cultivating vs chasing customers. The book advocates for customer success strategists to nurture and grow a clientele base rather than try to constantly capture new customers. The authors show the ways in which customer success can be a mutually beneficial arrangement, and explain how to reduce client churn and reap maximum rewards from longtime relationships. Farm Don’t Hunt is a basic introduction to the world of customer success in terms that are easy to understand and visualize, with relatable comparisons.

Notable Quote: “Think of a farmer. While not particularly sophisticated, he maximizes his harvest with simple tasks that he repeated every year. He prepares the soil. He carefully tends to young seedlings. He provides his crop with attention, water, and fertilizer over time to ensure that his harvest will be healthy not only this year, but in years to come. He identifies problems and tests solutions, keeping only what works. If you think of farming your customers rather than hunting them, then what you know about farming takes on new meaning.”

Read ​​Farm Don’t Hunt.

3. The Seven Pillars of Customer Success: A Proven Framework to Drive Impactful Client Outcomes for Your Company by Wayne McCulloch

The seven pillars of customer success book cover

The Seven Pillars of Customer Success is one of the best customer success books for beginners. The book breaks down the practice of customer success into the most basic elements, which include operationalizing customer success, retention, and advocacy. The chapters lay out the fundamentals of customer success in straightforward terms, and give actionable advice for putting these theories into practice. The book is rich with anecdotes that help readers understand the ins and outs of the methodology, and contains valuable insights from time in the tech world. The Seven Pillars of Customer Success reveals the formulas for creating exceptional customer experiences and living up to the promises you make to clients.

Notable Quote: “The problem is, the more and more you bite off and chew, the harder the information is to swallow. The more insights you read, the tougher it is to put together a cohesive strategy to build a customer success organization that drives impact for the client.”

Read The Seven Pillars of Customer Success.

4. The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook: How to Thrive in One of the World’s Fastest Growing Careers—While Driving Growth For Your Company by Ashvin Vaidyanathan and Ruben Rabago

the customer success professional's handbook book cover

The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook is one of the better customer success guides. The book opens by explaining CSM and outlining the opportunities for growth in the field, before identifying the traits that make customer managers most successful. The latter half of the guide shows leaders how to build customer success into organizational operations as well as how to recruit, develop, and retain skillful CSMs. The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook is a useful playbook for putting the principles of customer-centricity into practice and running a company that serves clientele in a meaningful manner.

Notable Quote: “Because of the current business landscape, the customer’s requirements have evolved. Customers expect outcomes, not just a completed transaction. Businesses have realized they must deliver value in a way that fulfills their product’s promise and meets clients’ expectations.”

Read The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook.

5. Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy

Customer success book cover

Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue is a masterclass in customer-centricity. The book starts by exploring the origins of the practice and pointing out the benefits of the approach to different business models. Part two lays out the “ten laws of customer success,” the underlying truths that drive customer experience such as, “sell to the right customer,” and “relentlessly monitor and manage customer health.” The authors empathize that personal relationships are not necessarily the key to keeping clients, and the functionality product plays a pivotal role in customer happiness. Finally, the book touches on Chief Customer Officers and forecasts the growth of customer success. Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue is a toolkit for organizations looking to retain customers through empathy and proactivity.

Notable Quote: “Customer success is ultimately about loyalty. Every company wants loyal customers. Recurring revenue businesses, such as Salesforce, need loyal customers. Acquiring customers is expensive. Really expensive. That makes keeping them a necessity, no matter how big your market might be. It’s simply a losing battle to try to out-acquire a high churn rate. So, if a business depends on loyalty, it’s critical to understand what that word means.”

Read Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue.

6. The Outcome Generation: How a New Generation of Technology Vendors Thrives Through True Customer Success by Paul J Henderson

the outcome generation book cover

The Outcome Generation is a rallying cry to revolutionize the customer experience. The book defines customer success theory and points out the ways that the masters of the craft are able to discern what clients desire from products or services. Furthermore, the authors insist that businesses are no longer merely selling services or products, but rather, peddling outcomes. Clients seek out convenience and desired results, and it is up to CSMs to understand those wants and needs even when clients cannot articulate them. The pages are full of insights and examples from professionals who excel in the practice, as well as step-by-step instructions on how to identify and achieve optimal outcomes for customers. The Outcome Generation provides a blueprint for making the right promises, and making good on those promises.

Notable Quote: “There’s vested interest for traditional vendors to deliver success for their customers. They want customers to pay maintenance; they hope to sell them more products and services; they need references for future selling. But most vendors just want their customers to have success from their products or services. That feels good.”

Read The Outcome Generation.

7. Onboarding Matters: How Successful Companies Transform New Customers Into Loyal Champions by Donna Weber

onboarding matters book cover

Onboarding Matters stresses the importance of educating customers. The author advocates for starting the client relationship on a positive note by connecting with your customer at the beginning of their client journey and taking time to explain the finer parts of the service. Teaching clients the ins-and-outs of the offering can prevent issues or frustrations, help the customer realize the maximum potential of the product, and make the client aware of the resources available. Not to mention, this act establishes a rapport and shows the customer that the support team cares, which makes clients more likely to stick around and give the company a chance to fix issues. The book explains the importance of onboarding, and lays out rules and tips for delivering optimal onboarding experiences. The author outlines the stages and steps of the process and shows CSMs how to design smooth and helpful programs. Onboarding Matters is the ultimate guide for setting customer expectations.

Notable Quote: “The reality is that customer-facing teams are siloed. Either no one owns the process of bringing customers onboard, or it’s the onerous job of one person. There’s a tendency to wait until customers have problems before anyone gets involved. Rather than deploying expertise and guidance up front, customer-facing teams wait for customers to tell them what they want and need.”

Read Onboarding Matters.

8. The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson

The ten principles behind customer experience book cover

The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience is one of the most useful books about customer success. As the title suggests, the book lays out ten of the most important factors and rules for putting the client at the core of operations. This guide uses a combination of psychology and case studies to explain the finer points of the customer success methodology. The author explores the logic and desires behind customer decisions, and the best practices that make interactions between customers and clients most positive. Matt Wakinson lays out how to appeal to the customer’s identity, make the client feel in control, and remove stress and friction from the experience. The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experience lays down the golden rules for customer-centricity, and acts as a practical guidebook for client-facing professionals looking to make a lasting impression.

Notable Quote: “It is important to clarify that the customer experience is not restricted to the usage of a product or service: it spans every interaction that a customer has with a business or its offerings. This can be anything from seeing an advert through to cancelling a contract, or disposing of a product when it is no longer of use. As we will see, there are many interactions that are commonly neglected but offer great opportunities to stand out from the competition.”

Read The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences.

9. The Customer Success Economy: Why Every Aspect of Your Business Model Needs A Paradigm Shift by Nick Mehta and Allison Pickens

the customer success economy book cover

The Customer Success Economy is a manifesto for putting the client at the core of every business decision. The book explains how leaders can initiate a top-down transformation of their organizations to center on customer experience, and justifies why this change is necessary. The authors insist that customer success is not a passing fad, but rather a shift in standard business practices. The latter half of the book gives practical advice on how to optimize each area of an organization to cater to clients’ needs and expectations. To support the points, the authors use anecdotes from leading companies that were able to leverage customer experience to boost revenues and reduce churn. The Customer Success Economy is a business guide for modern times, and a how-to manual for any entrepreneur obsessed with serving their customers and creating value.

Notable Quote: “The biggest learning– to my happy surprise– was that doing good didn’t have to be at odds with building a great business. In fact, it could be a differentiator. Genuinely helping your clients propels stronger revenue growth, market leadership, profitability, consistency, employee retention, and valuation multiples– as we witnessed across the Customer Success community.”

Read The Customer Success Economy, and check out more change management books.

10. Practical Customer Success Management: A Best Practice Framework for Rapid Generation of Customer Success by Rick Adams

Practical customer success management book cover

Practical Customer Success Management is one of the best customer success manager books. This textbook covers the full scope of client experience management and provides readers with a firm foundational knowledge of the practice. Chapters deal with topics such as KPIs and measurable outcomes, research and planning, customer success strategies, and collaborating with other areas of the organization. This text fleshes out the customer success manager position and gives professionals a fuller understanding of the responsibilities of the role. Beyond giving readers a broad knowledge base, Practical Customer Success Management lays out multi-step frameworks for successfully implementing each part of the CSM process.

Notable Quote: “In reality– or at least in my reality– customers are not clear about what it is they have purchased, stakeholders are difficult to manage and disagree between themselves as to what is important, outcomes are at best hazily defined, strategies and initiatives get changed all the time, and end users are, let’s say, “less than enthusiastic” about embracing change.”

Read ​​Practical Customer Success Management.

Final Thoughts

Tech’s shift from single-purchase to a subscription model made customer loyalty much more important to business strategy. The key to profitability revolves more around getting as many existing customers to continue using a product or service rather than enticing as many individuals as possible to try the offering. To remain competitive, companies need to innovate with empathy and continually make improvements that enhance customer experience.

The practice of customer success is integral to the software-as-a-service world, however other industries can also profit from this approach. Attracting, closing, and onboarding new customers is costly and time-consuming, and businesses can benefit from retaining existing clients. The best strategy for preventing customers from straying is to think like the customer and solve issues that prevent the experience from being ideal. The books on this list show leaders how to get into the client mindset and design business systems that champion customer success.

For more reading suggestions, check out these list of books on creativity and advertising books.

FAQ: Customer success books

Here are answers to common questions about books on customer success.

What is customer success?

Customer success is a practice where organizations base decisions, design, and business strategy around outcomes for clients. The theory is that by removing customers’ pain points and delivering desired results, companies can reduce churn rates, retain clients, and boost bottom lines and long term organizational health. This methodology is especially popular in the software as a service sector, where profitability depends on renewals. However, the system also has applications in more traditional sectors.

What are customer success books?

Customer success books are guides that teach readers how to take away client’s pain points and encourage continual use and subscription renewal. Books on customer success are popular with professionals in the Saas and technology industries, however have practical applications for all fields.

What are some good books on customer success for beginners?

Some good books on customer success for beginners are The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences by Matt Watkinson, The Seven Pillars of Customer Success by Wayne McCulloch, and The Customer Success Economy by Nick Mehta and Allison Pickens.

What are the best books on customer success for managers?

The best books on customer success for managers include Practical Customer Success Management by Rick Adams, Customer Success by Nick Mehta, et al, and The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook by Ashvin Vaidyanathan and Ruben Rabago.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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