The Cycle of Customer Success: A Blueprint for Customer Success Teams

Chad Horenfeldt
10 min readSep 28, 2017

I’m not someone who likes methodologies as I like to keep a clear perspective and be open to change. As someone who studied history, I preferred to use facts and evidence rather than theories and methodologies as the main guides in my decision-making process. After spending over 15 years in Customer Success, I have however recognized some distinct patterns in how the best Customer Success teams are run. I’ve created a comprehensive yet simple approach that you can use to avoid many of the mistakes that I made and double down on the best strategies that the Customer Success community has implemented. For this reason, I’ve documented what I’m calling “The Cycle of Customer Success”.

There are a number of great Customer Success (CS) frameworks already out there which outline the core building blocks that Customer Success teams need. The model I’ve created isn’t a major divergence from these approaches with the exception being the cyclical nature of this framework. You really need to approach Customer Success with the mindset that your work is never done. I know I felt that way as a Customer Success Manager at Eloqua when I had my 30+ accounts and I felt like I was always online. It doesn’t change when you move into leadership. You need to continue to modify your strategy and hence the cyclical approach. It is important that as you round the corners along this journey that you do follow a certain path. For example, you shouldn’t start making massive technology investments until you have some of the other building blocks in place such as your customer journey and processes. That said, this model doesn’t mean that you don’t start hiring until you’ve fully defined your customer journey. This is a guide to help you visualize the steps you need to take.

The other area that I place a greater emphasis on in comparison to other CS models is the area of people. When you plan out the people component, you need to go beyond the structure of your team and how many customers are assigned to the CSMs. I place a great deal of time and effort on the recruiting, hiring, onboarding and ongoing enablement of my CS team members. It’s hands down the most critical element in this cycle. I think we all know this but there are ways to create a more sophisticated approach to the people component that will help…

Chad Horenfeldt

Customer champion & customer success executive. A leader that is always learning. Top 25 Customer Success influencer. Father of 3 kiddies. Leafs fan