As a customer success leader, one of your most important jobs is budgeting for the customer success department. But there is still a lot of parity required for organizations to give customer success equal prominence as other departments in the organization.
The problem here is other departments like sales, marketing, and even products. But do not worry. This write-up will look at budgeting for customer success in complete detail.
Before we proceed further, we recommend you go through our blog titled “Capacity Planning for Customer Success: A Practical Guide.” It is the base on which the customer success budgeting rests. Once you have done the capacity planning for customer success, the next step is to do its budgeting.
Once you have read the blog, you will want to know if you should take the headache of performing budgeting for your customer success department. We have answered this question in the next section for you.
The need for budgeting for customer success
There is no doubt that with the pandemic COVID-19, many businesses in the SaaS space have realized the importance of customer success. There is an increased strength being given in terms of revenue and profitability. Budgeting for customer success has taken a centre stage here. Companies and executives have realized the revenue driver and strategic asset that customer success is which has resulted in an increased budget for customer success. Outline the customer success goals that you wish to achieve in a financial year.
Determine the objectives you want to achieve. Get an idea of the primary, secondary, and important goals you want to achieve. Figure out how these goals will help you and how you can reach them. Align budgets accordingly.
Reduce customer churn
One of the major goals for any company is to reduce customer churn. You need to reduce churn from say 10% to 7%. Be clear on what part of it is avoidable and which part is not avoidable. That way, you can take action on churn. Show how you will reduce churn by implementing certain best practices and policies. This will enhance revenue and propel company growth.
Reduce time to value (TTV)
The second goal for most customer success leaders is to reduce time to value. Every customer success professional must look at driving value faster. This needs to be done from the time of customer onboarding. The time to value needs to be short so that customers get the return on investment in a short span of time. In most cases, SaaS products are feature-rich but if there is poor onboarding or support, there is no value that customers experience.
Like what you are reading?
Sign up for our newsletter
Expand your CS efforts
You need to keep customer engagement and interactions at the core of all CS efforts. You need to personalize customer experience as much as you can in a proactive manner. You must also put content first and simplify how customers reach out and interact.
The major goal for not only CS but all functions needs to be increasing revenue. Customer success leaders need to maximize revenue through excellent sales strategies, marketing plans, product features, and more.
Find out a way to accomplish those objectives
Determine appropriate initiatives to meet those objectives. The best way to do that is by managing playbooks, communicating with customers, reinventing customer success operations, monitoring social media, and identifying why they churn.
Prepare a budget to reach the objectives
The next step is to prepare a tentative budget for customer success to meet objectives. These objectives can include churn reduction, retention, increasing NPS, and meeting customer satisfaction scores.
Taking it from sales and marketing
The customer success team puts in a lot of effort into renewals, cross-sells, and upsells. They are the ones responsible for marketing new initiatives, explaining features, and industry events. The team incurs costs due to marketing and sales. So, it is important to position CS equal to sales and marketing for budget allocations. You need to prioritize customer success with the two departments.
Pulling it exclusively from COGS
CS teams play a unique and essential role in onboarding, support, and driving retention. This is why their costs can be considered COGS. You need to maintain a clear line on cross-selling or upselling opportunities. The customer success team does more than just support and aid customers. They are responsible for adoption, renewals, and support.
Use a hybrid approach
As CS teams grow, it is necessary to create a unique budget model. For example- If customer success and product team are close together, you need to align and inform either team of the budget allocation. Make a list of the efforts and identify which department does what. You can get an idea of the activities, responsibilities, and impact of each department and allocate accordingly.
Determining the customer success metrics to drive home the budgeting advantage (Hint: CFOs (Chief Financial Officer) love metrics!)
Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
Customer acquisition costs are costs that include marketing and sales activities associated with getting in new customers. When you get in new customers, there are certain costs involved. These constitute 65% of marketing and sales costs.
Customer Expansion Costs (CEC)
Customer expansion costs are costs involved in expanding revenues with the existing customer base. The costs of customer expansion can be attributed to marketing and sales. Best practices say this could be anywhere near 15% of sales and marketing costs.
Customer Retention Costs (CRC)
These are the costs that are inculcated due to renewing existing customers. You need to allocate at least 20% of sales and marketing costs into this budget. Customer retention, as we know, is the most important aspect for customer success.
Getting buy-in from C-suite executives
Getting the C-suite buy-in is hard and extremely important. With the right reasoning, data, and knowledge you can convince the C-suite executives to invest in customer success. You can show models of what you have accomplished, display reports of your customer success initiatives, and get the budget into your customer success team. In case you are looking for budgeting for a customer success software, mention its benefits, features, and the impact or result. These points will help build your story and create customer success advocacy.22
As you can see, budgeting for customer success is never an easy ordeal. Much demanding work needs to be put in before you pitch the idea to the C-Suite executives. But, once you have planned your steps carefully, it will help you budget the CS function properly, which will pay in the long run for you as a customer success leader. Aligning C-suite executives to customer success can be difficult, but it is not impossible. You need to look at what drives action and present that accordingly.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published February 10, 2022, Updated March 02, 2023