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Meet 2022’s top Customer Success influencers and thought leaders spearheading its evolution and shaping its future.
Thanks to the untiring zeal of its passionate community, Customer Success has grown to become the phenomenal force that it is today. Here’s our Top 50 Customer Success Influencers list for 2022 celebrating the inspiring visionaries and trailblazers who are helping shape the field and its future evolution.
This annual list has been compiled by the editorial team at SmartKarrot considering overall influence in the form of industry impact, community contributions, thought leadership, followership, and similar guiding criteria.
While we have taken every care to ensure our selection is unbiased, we humbly admit that we do have blind spots. If we have missed out on mentioning any distinguished influencers, kindly nominate them in the comments below.
So, without further ado, here’s SmartKarrot’s Top 50 Customer Success Influencers for 2022 (presented in no particular order).
Widely acclaimed as a foremost expert to have pioneered and popularized customer success, Lincoln is a customer-centric growth mastermind. His brainchild, Sixteen Ventures, helps businesses optimize their customer lifecycle and reach “Exponential Growth through Customer Success.” His seminal thought-leadership continues to inform and inspire generations of customer success professionals around the globe.
Recognized as one of the most respected business outcomes and Customer Success experts globally, Rick has been helping individuals and companies maximize business value for over 25 years. His company Practical CSM Academy provides global customer success management consulting, training and certification services. His book “Practical Customer Success Management: A best practice framework for rapid generation of customer success” is a highly valuable resource for CS practitioners at all levels.
Peter Armaly is a highly-recognized, visionary Customer Success Leader that can always be found sharing his insight with the CS community. He’s also the Senior Director of Customer Success Enablement and Thought Leadership at Oracle. His passion for and devotion towards the CS space also has him chaired as an Advisory Board Member at CSM Practice and a Proof Advisor at Proof Analytics where he helps executives strategize and scale their CS operations.
Jay Nathan has created an illustrious name in the customer success field thanks to his earnest passion and astute mechanism of sharing customer-centric growth ideas. He’s also the Co-Founder of Gain Grow Retain—the community for CS leaders—and CCO of Higher Logic. Aside from being an active member of the CS community, Jay can also be found having insightful conversations with industry leaders on his popular podcast.
Irit is an immaculate Customer Success Strategist who balances strategic thought-leadership with hands-on tactical management to create rapid results. She’s been a key figure in the CS industry, by shaping Customer Success methodologies and best practices used today. Irit is also the Chief Customer Officer & CEO at CSM Practice. She’s been on the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists list since 2013, which is a testament to her contributions and dedication to the CS space.
Kristi is a pioneer in scaling and transforming customer success organizations at hyper-growth B2B SaaS companies. With over a decade helping companies redefine CS, she founded Keeping CS Simple where she shares her wisdom with leaders and individuals on how to optimize their approach to customer success. Kristi is also the VP of Customer Success at ClientSuccess, Product Advisory Board Member at Cast.app, Founding Advisor at CS Ladies, and Founding member of Gain Grow Retain.
Sue is an all-around Customer Success Leader, Evangelist, Coach, Advisor, and Speaker. She’s the Founder of Success Track Enterprise and Co-Founder of Success Chain, where she helps companies and customers to collaborate in unison to drive win-win outcomes. A community builder par excellence, Sue is passionate about helping individuals and businesses to evolve customer success into helping customers progress. Thanks to her strong customer success professionalism combined with excellent interpersonal skills, she drives a great vision for using customer success to help aspiring CS professionals grow in this field.
Nils Vinje is an admired Customer Success Executive, Author, Speaker, and Consultant. As the Founder, CEO, and Leadership Coach at 30 Day Leadership, he helps B2B leaders become the leader of their dreams through his 30 Day Leadership Playbook, podcast, and academy. He’s also the Founder of Glide Consulting where he helps companies build a customer success function and customer strategy that gives predictable control over their customers’ lifecycle and experience.
As the Co-Founder of Gain Grow Retain, Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic, and Former Managing Partner at Customer Imperative, Jeff has extensive knowledge on how Customer Success provides value to SaaS organizations and their customers. And he’s always willing to share his knowledge with CS leaders and organizations. He also uses a data-driven approach that helps companies hone in and improve their community engagement.
Ziv is one of the most well-regarded Customer Success Influencers across the globe, thanks to his love for CS and dedication to being “customer-obsessed.”. He’s also the Chief Customer Officer at AppsFlyer where he built and leads a global team of over 200 CSMs from scratch while his focus is on delivering value and building long-term relationships.
Dave is the Founding Director at Customer Success Leaders Institute and the CEO of TheCustomer.Co where he advises senior SaaS executives on building customer-focused companies and helps CS leaders improve their communication and effectiveness. A sought-after speaker and a published author, Dave believes that CS is a company-wide capability. His devotion towards helping B2B SaaS companies experience customer-led growth resulted in Dave serving in the board, advisory, and interim CS roles for these companies.
Being the Founder of SuccessHACKER, where he teaches, coaches, and offers strategic consulting, Andrew has been a prominent figure in the customer success domain. He has written insightful content on customer success that the CS community has found immensely valuable. Throughout his 25+ years of experience, when working with aspiring CS practitioners to well-known, established executives, his mission has always been to help his clients see long-term, lasting value through CS.
Mikael is a distinguished figure in the customer success community. He is the Founder and Executive Director at The The Customer Success Association. As the Director/Analyst of Mikael Blaisdell & Associates Inc., he has been supporting worldwide companies in designing, building, and assessing effective customer success resources for over 40 years. His perspective on customer success has always been well-received by the CS community. If you’re looking for a place to learn from and grow with other CS professionals, Mikael’s “The Customer Success Forum” on LinkedIn with over 46,000 members is a welcoming place to start. When he’s not writing and consulting, he can be found contributing to non-profit initiatives.
Jeanne is a well-known customer experience leader that’s passionate about helping companies experience customer-driven growth. She’s the Founder and CEO of Customer Bliss. She believes true customer success is determined by companies being the best version of themselves that she helps them form through their behaviors and actions. Jeanne’s also the Co-Founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. Some of her many achievements include being a 5-time Chief Customer Officer, being a coach to over 20,000 leaders, and delivering more than 1,500 transformative keynotes globally.
As a globally-acclaimed Growth Expert, Thought Leader, Coach, Multi-Time Board Director, and Investor, Allison is a leading figure in the Saas industry. She was named one of the Top Women in SaaS and is part of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Community. In her former role as COO at Gainsight, she helped it scale from a startup to the market-leading company it is today.
An exemplary Customer Success Strategist, Advisor, Speaker, and Author, Emilia is the Founder of GrowthMolecules. Recipient of numerous global accolades for her inspiring work, she is passionate about technology, women in tech, and building scalable customer success programs. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and host of the CS Makeover Show (SimplifyingCS). From customer engagement to voice-of-customer, Emilia is always actively sharing her advice and perspective to help the CS community thrive and grow.
Well-known for the creation, implementation, and maturing of international customer success organizations, Matt is an accomplished and award-winning Customer Success Leader and Strategist. Founder of CustomerSuccessMatters and VP of Customer Experience, EMEIA at Cision, Matt is obsessed with the customer success function and the value it brings businesses.
With 20 years of experience in the software industry, Aaron has dedicated his career to helping customers reach success through their version of it. And now as the Chief Revenue Office at SuccessHACKER, Founder and CEO of Portland Customer Success, and Co-Founder of RevDev.io, he’s helping businesses grow and scale through CS.
With a keen belief that customer success drives renewal, expansion revenue, and referral-worthy CX, Kristen focuses on consulting, training, and coaching CS teams to experience these benefits. As the Founder of The Success League and with 20 years of experience in CS, sales, and marketing, she’s a distinguished personality in the CS industry, and her contribution has been highly valued and recommended by CS practitioners. She’s also a host of two podcasts “Transforming Experiences” and “Reading for Success.”
Rav Dhaliwal is an Investor and former Customer Success Executive who has helped some of the world’s largest organizations drive user adoption and business value. Currently an Investor and Venture Partner at Crane Venture Partners, Rav helps grow the next generation of European software champions. With over 20 years of experience holding executive positions at global companies including Slack, Rav is always willing to share his deep knowledge and insights with the CS community.
Andreas has been recognized as a Top 50 Customer Success Influencer who consistently achieves best-in-class NRR of 150. He’s helped build, design, and redefine Customer Success for multiple companies, including Apple’s SMB Market, while using his Customer Success Performance Index™. Andreas is also a strategic advisor at CSTuners and CCO at Eloquent Cloud where he helps companies build and maintain long-lasting relationships with their customers.
Bill Cushard is the Executive Director & Global Head of the Future of Work and Customer Education Practices at Service Rocket. Bill is passionate about helping promote company and team growth through customer growth. He’s also a Board Member of Customer Success Leadership Network and the Co-Founder and host to the longest-running customer success podcast, “Helping Sales Radio.”
Jason Noble is a Recognized Thought-Leader in the Customer Success and SaaS Industry. He’s worked with and led everything from hyper-growth start-ups to well-known global companies like Sony. Jason is the VP of Global Customer Success at Vinli Inc. He’s also the co-host of “The Jasons Take On…” CS podcast where you’ll find him discussing innovative ideas for customer success. His achievements in the customer success domain include successfully delivering engagements, architecting, and leading global customer success and client service programs. He is also a member of global industry forums and Advisory Boards and a recognized Thought Leader on customer success strategies and future trends.
Bryan Plaster is an Award-Winning Customer Success Enthusiast, and Executive with over 15 years of experience as a CS Thought Leader. As the CEO and Co-Founder of Complete CSM, he’s passionate about helping CSMs teams make the most out of the data they have through AI and predictive intelligence.
Chris has over 15 years of experience in the B2B software industry as a Leader, Investor, Advisor, and Board Member. He’s the CEO and Co-Founder of ‘nuffsaid, Proactive Intelligence Platform for Customer Success. Chris shares a treasure trove of knowledge to help CS leaders be the best leaders they can be for their company and team.
Jason is an exemplary Customer Success Leader with over 20 years of experience building software adoption and CS programs and teams. He’s the CEO of Tri Tuns and Co-Founder at Success Chain, where he helps businesses and their customers achieve greater levels of mutual success. Jason is also the co-host of the popular “The Jasons Take On…” Customer Success podcast that covers various important CS-related topics.
Adam is a third-generation entrepreneur, an internationally recognized Customer Experience Expert, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, and Strategic Advisor with a comprehensive understanding of the role CX plays on a company’s bottom line. He is the author to “Be Your Customer’s Hero” and is the co-host of the “Crack the Customer Code” podcast. Adam regularly shares his customer experience and customer service insights with a global audience on his podcast. He is presently working as a Customer Service Expert, Speaker, and Author at CTS Service Solutions.
Chad is the Director of Customer Success at Kustomer. Chad has effectively built and developed customer success teams across reputed companies with over 15 years experience. His knack for executing customer success strategies—placing the customer at the center—has resulted in exemplary customer satisfaction, retention, and growth rates. And thanks to his years of experience, he has a unique perspective that he’s always willing to and passionate about sharing with others in the CS community.
Catherine is a Thought Leader and an Enthusiastic Innovator in Customer Success. She’s the GVP NAA Customer Success & Renewals at Oracle. With over 20 years of experience, she’s a seasoned CS Leader that knows the value of and strategy behind a satisfied customer. She’s also a published writer and author on topics covering the structure, programs, and operational framework for Customer Success.
If you’ve looked for a mindful and courageous Customer Success Leader in Canada, you’ve come across Kia Puhm. She’s the Founder and CEO of DesiredPath and KIA CX Consulting. Kia is the perfect combination of an Engineer, Executive, and Mentor that systemically approaches and solves forward-looking organizational challenges to bring balance, efficiency, and structure.
Marry is the Chief Strategy and Customer Officer at involve.ai where she’s leading a world-class team that’s dedicated to helping their customers succeed. She’s also a Pioneer in the CS/CX space and she’s passionate about sharing best practices and lessons she’s learned throughout her career to the CS community.
Andrew is the CEO of Avrio where he helps teams find and thrive as the best versions of themselves. As the very popular Show Host of CHURN.FM and Founding Member/Spokesperson at Startup Cyprus, he’s devoted to the fast-paced start-up economy where he helps them with product development to customer retention.
As a results-driven, go-to-market strategist, Customer Success Executive, and Evangelist, Irene is an Influential CS Leader who knows what it takes to have B2B SaaS companies grow at scale. Currently, she holds many key positions in the Customer Success space, from being the Acting Vice President of Customer Success at EmpInfo to an Advisor/CS consultant for various start-ups. Irene’s also an outstanding customer success mentor that helps companies forge strong relationships at the C-level.
Lauren is a Change Agent, Communicator, Leader, and Passionate Champion for the Customer Success industry. She’s the VP of Customer Success at GoodTime.io. Lauren knows that CS is more than an industry or division—it’s a philosophy. Her mission is to help businesses scale by helping their customers succeed through a company-wide, customer-centric approach. Aside from that, the one quality that makes her shine as CS influencers is her emotional intelligence. She has an uncanny knack for attracting amazing talent, connecting deeply with her teams, and motivating them to consistently excel in their goals. Lauren is a true titan when it comes to building a highly effective customer success organization.
Donna is a Recognized Customer Success Thought Leader, Influencer, and Strategist who specializes in helping high-growth companies create customers for life. She’s a speaker and an expert who gets to the heart of the matter. Currently, she’s the Customer Onboarding Expert at Springboard Solutions. Donna is also the Best-Selling Author of “Onboarding Matters.” She is an extremely diligent and detail-oriented leader, who’s also an active contributor in the CS community.
Keri Keeling is a Customer Success Executive and Thought Leader with a natural flair for uncovering opportunities that leads to business growth and customer outcomes. Her passion for CS has allowed her to invent first-ever organizations, processes, and best practices for startups to global tech companies like Oracle. When she’s not driving innovation for businesses, Keri’s helping CS professionals hone in on their craft at CSM Coach. She’s also the Global Head of Customer Success Innovation & Intelligence at VMWare.
Guy Nirpaz is the Founder and CEO of Totango, an enterprise customer success platform, where his goal is to improve the way people do business. He’s also an award-winning author of “Farm Don’t Hunt – The Definitive Guide to Customer Success” and a well-respected Customer Success Evangelist. Today he is a Renowned Customer Success Influencer who guides SaaS businesses towards the next pinnacle of success!
Nick is the CEO at Gainsight, one of the pioneers of laying the foundation of the CS software industry. His leadership skills are unparalleled and Nick’s perspective can be a valuable resource for CS leaders to aspiring professionals. He’s also co-authored two books on Customer Success: “Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue”, and “The Customer Success Economy: Why Every Aspect of Your Business Model Needs A Paradigm Shift.”
With over 20 years of experience working in and building world-class operations and taking them to the next level, Maranda knows how to manage teams that drive outcomes and get results. She’s also the Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, a highly active and sought-after Panelist, Speaker, Mentor, Coach, Evangelist, and Board Member for various companies.
Peter Lyon is a Customer Success Executive, Leader, Coach, and Mentor with over 25 years of experience who has a laser focus on scaling CS. He’s the VP of Customer Success at Poppulo and Co-Founder and CFO at The Customer Success Network, a not-for-profit CS peer learning group.
Megan Bowen is a Customer-Facing Leader, Problem Solver, Customer Advocate, Advisor, Mentor, and Coach. Currently, she’s the COO and CCO of Refine Labs. She’s also an active contributor to the B2B software company where she shares her valuable perspective to professionals of all levels across the customer-facing spectrum.
Alex Farmer is the Founder and CEO of Customer Success Excellence – the world’s first awards event dedicated to the Customer Success professional. The Vice President of Customer Success at Cognite, Alex has rich experience building processes and teams to reduce churn and increase growth at high-growth B2B SaaS scale-ups.
VP of Client Success at InteliSecure, Ed Powers is a prominent Customer Success Influencer leading breakthroughs. Known for helping teams make breakthroughs in customer loyalty, Ed combines neuroscience with data analytics and enterprise-wide improvement to deliver dramatic results. With a well-rounded career spanning start-ups to Fortune 40 companies, Ed loves challenging conventional wisdom and sharing inspiring insights.
Jeff Heckler is a Strategic Leader, Advisor, Thought Leader, and Speaker who brings 20+ years of superior knowledge and experience to the Customer Success table. He’s currently the Director of Customer Success Solutions at MarketSource Inc. His coaching reputation precedes him through results that promote self-reflection and transformational growth.
Shreesha is the current SVP & GM at Medallia and previous CEO of Strikedeck, a Customer Success automation tool, He’s a Serial Entrepreneur, CS Executive, Thought Leader, Advisor, Growth Hacker, and Investor. You can always find him sharing his perspective through value-packed blog posts for CS leaders.
John is the Vice President of Customer Success at KeepTruckin where he helped them grow from $1M ARR to $50M ARR in 12 months through CS. John’s also a passionate member of the CS community and a mentor to Customer Success professionals. And he’s a Co-Organizer to the SF Customer Success Meetup.
Ashna is a Customer Success Leader, Founder, Writer, Speaker, and Emotionally Intelligent Coach. Over the last 7 years, she’s been focused on being a team leader, creating noteworthy strategies, and optimizing CS processes. Ashna has been honored to be one of the Top 25 Customer Success Influencers of 2021 by SuccessHACKER/Gain Grow Retain/Client Success. She Co-Founded CS Insider, CS Ladies, and CS Raving Fan Bookclub. Currently, she’s working as a Customer Success & Customer Support Manager at Ascent Cloud.
Jan Young is a CS Consultant, Customer Advocate, Entrepreneur, Community Builder, Mentor, and Speaker. Currently, she’s a Senior Consultant of Customer Success at The Success League. She is also working as Co-Lead – Voice of DEI Council, Board Member at Gain Grow Retain. Passionate about building communities, optimizing processes, and demystifying technology, Jan is a strong contributor to the CS community.
Wayne McCulloch is a Senior CS and CX Executive, Thought Leader, and Board Member who’s currently the Chief Customer Officer at WalkMe™ and Advisory Board Member at CSM Practice and PS Principles. He has over 25 years of experience leading global teams where he developed a unique understanding of CS through CX. Wayne is also the author of, “The Seven Pillars of Customer Success.”
With over 20 years of experience and a passion to significantly reduce churn rates, Anita Toth is a true CX Thought Leader and Influencer. She’s the Chief Churn Crusher at Anita Toth, Board Member, Growth Mentor, and Course Creator. Anita has also created The Churn Crusher System that helps SaaS companies and CS leaders increase retention rates.
Customer success still has a long road to travel before it reaches the mature, well-known industry that we know it’s destined to be. But until then, one thing is for sure: these amazing men and women (plus many others not mentioned here) paving the way for CS in the community deserve to be recognized and celebrated.108
So, here’s a toast to every one of you for always putting your best foot forward and making the CS community a welcoming, value-packed place for companies and professionals to see the success they and their customers deserve!
Rohan has over 11 years of experience in client services, marketing and hospitality field. Previously, he was head of digital marketing for a hi-tech mobile application. Rohan is driven by new challenges and the possibility of making an impact on individuals and businesses.
Published January 05, 2022, Updated February 28, 2023
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