Customer Success, Featured | 20 MIN READ

Top 50 Customer Success Influencers 2021

Meet the leading Customer Success influencers and thought leaders who are helping shape the field and its future evolution.

Anurup Gaurav
Jan 5, 2021

Customer-Success-Influencers

Customer Success Influencers

The evolving field of Customer Success owes its origin and rapid rise to a passionate community of pioneers, proponents, and practitioners. Here’s our Top 50 Customer Success Influencers list celebrating those frontiersmen and women pushing the boundaries and making Customer Success the force that it is today. 

This list has been compiled by the editorial team at SmartKarrot taking into account overall influence in the form of original insights, industry contributions, community engagement, followership, and similar guiding metrics.

While all care has been taken to ensure our selection (presented in no particular order) is free of bias, we understand we might have had our blind spots. If you find any prominent influencers missing, kindly nominate them in the comments below.

Without further ado, here is presenting to you our Top 50 Customer Success Influencers for 2021.

2021 Top 50 Customer Success Influencers and Thought Leaders

Lincoln Murphy

Lincoln Murphy

Proclaimed as the Customer Success growth expert, consultant, and thought leader, Lincoln is a customer-centric growth mastermind. His brainchild, Sixteen Ventures, is his medium of sharing his expertise and ideas to help businesses obtain sales acceleration and augmented customer engagement. His blog is highly credited as one of the richest sources of actionable information and guidance on Customer Success and SaaS growth. Lincoln’s valuable Exponential Growth Framework is the culmination of his tactics to bolster the growth strategy for companies around the globe.


Allison Pickens

Allison Pickens

Leading the world of SaaS businesses, Allison Pickens is recognized as one of the Fortune Most Powerful Women, for her contributions as a growth expert, a thought leader, and her eminent presence on the board of directors in top SaaS companies. Having scaled up Gainsight from $1M in ARR to a market-leading giant, Allison has chaired several C-suites and advised founders on go-to-market strategies for their businesses. She has also geared up many product-based SaaS companies as an Investor in recent times.


Dave Jackson

Dave Jackson

Known as the Founding Director at Customer Success Leaders Institute and the CEO at The Customer.Co, Dave’s ideologies and work are ubiquitously respected. In the past two decades, he has not only advised several SaaS leaders on customer strategies but also founded and established customer-focused SaaS businesses. A Customer Success expert, speaker, and a published author, Dave is known for his remarkable expertise in supporting B2B SaaS companies and developing their Customer Success capabilities.


Jeanne Bliss

Jeanne Bliss

Ruling the Customer Success industry with her tried-and-tested business growth practices, Jeanne is a celebrated coach to over 20,000 leaders and a 5-time Chief Customer Officer with global giants. The 4-times best-selling author has not only transformed global businesses through her revitalizing Customer Success guidebooks but has delivered over 1,500 keynotes globally. Being passionate about guiding leaders on making their companies “unforgettable,” she is the Founder and CEO of Customer Bliss and is fondly known as the “Godmother of Customer Experience.”


Andrew Marks

Andrew Marks

Throughout all his phenomenal pieces of work in the Customer Success domain, Andrew has strategically drafted a brilliant approach towards leveraging Customer Success for business growth. Fortunately, he now spends his time coaching and training individuals on effective customer acquisition, satisfaction, retention, and revenue generation. Well-recognized as one of the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists, Andrew has founded SuccessHACKER and SuccessCOACHING to share his Customer Success insights and advise the SaaS business owners.


Mikael Blaisdell

Mikael Blaisdell

The trust and following of over 40,000 members in The Customer Success Forum on LinkedIn is just the tip of the iceberg for Mikael. He is the Founder and Executive Director at The Customer Success Association; and as the Director/Analyst of Mikael Blaisdell & Associates Inc., he has been supporting companies worldwide to design, build, and assess effective Customer Success resources for over decades now. Apart from consulting and writing about customer lifecycle management and sustainable profitability, he is a generous contributor to non-profit initiatives.


Rick Adams

Rick Adams

Starting a career as a systems engineer and transitioning into business ownership cannot be more glorious than the way Rick achieved this. Today, his love for technological innovation, science, and creativity has established him as one of the most respectable business outcomes and Customer Success experts globally. Simultaneously, he has been a consultant, coach, and trainer for technology professionals across 30 countries. Rick has authored the book named “Practical Customer Success Management: A best practice framework for managers and professionals” which is an amazing collection of practical advice and assistance for Customer Success professionals at all levels.


Peter Armaly

Peter Armaly

Acclaimed multiple times as a top-notch Customer Success leader, Peter is the Senior Director, Customer Success Enablement and Thought Leadership at Oracle. Being highly devoted to the Customer Success community, he also chairs the Advisory Board at CSM Practice wherein he consults with several executives to drive their Customer Success operations and scale up their business. An award-winning contributor to the Oracle Marketing Cloud Blog series, Peter’s content on Customer Success is highly valued in the Customer Success community.


James Scott

James Scott

If you believe in an interwoven community, built truly for Customer Success enthusiasts, you may know about the Atlanta Customer Success Leadership Forum co-founded by James. Being an active Customer Success leader, he is currently serving as the VP of Customer Success at ShootProof, and he has also founded the Atlanta Customer Success Network. Truly invested in sharing his amazing insights on best practices for Customer Success professionals, James has assisted several individuals and organizations on their customer journeys through the Atlanta Tech Village community.


Jay Nathan

Jay Nathan

Co-founder of the Gain, Grow, Retain community for Customer Success leaders and Founder of Customer Imperative, Jay is a distinguished personality in the Customer Success industry. Apart from these mediums of sharing customer-centric growth ideas, he also shares conversations with industry executives on his podcast, specifically targeted to B2B SaaS and tech leaders. Additionally, he serves as the Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic.


Jeff Breunsbach

Jeff Breunsbach

An ardent believer in providing value to the customers, Jeff knows the magic of connecting people and executing data-driven approaches for SaaS organizations to provide value to their customers. His magnificent expertise has placed him as the Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic, Managing Partner with Customer Imperative, and the Founder of Gain, Grow, Retain. Being actively involved in Customer Success leader communities, Jeff finds himself sharing his knowledge and ideas on customer strategy execution.


Nick Mehta

Nick Mehta

Nick is CEO of Gainsight, one of the first customer success companies, which recently got acquired by Vista Equity Partners in the first unicorn deal of the industry. Apart from his pioneering leadership in the field of customer success and community contributions, Nick has co-authored two seminal 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



Julie Hogan

Julie Hogan

As the VP of Customer Experience at Drift, Julie is well-known for her insights on improving customer journeys with the help of conversational marketing. Being an esteemed leader and strategically managing the Customer Success teams at eminent organizations throughout the past few years of her career, she has successfully pioneered the art of transforming customer experiences into personalized brand value generation tactics.


Kristen Hayer

Kristen Hayer

Backing the concept of metric-driven Customer Success, Kristen takes immense pride in helping Customer Success professionals create and develop exceptional teams at their organizations. Best-known as the Founder and CEO of The Success League, she fosters business growth through Customer Success initiatives that can reverse the churn and accelerate revenue. Her extraordinary skills and diligent approach have led to the formation of top-performing award-winning teams at global technology companies.


Kristi Faltorusso

Kristi Faltorusso

Making it to the Top 25 Customer Success Influencers in 2020, Kristi has turned the tables for hyper-growth B2B SaaS companies. In the rising landscape of Customer Success across global businesses, she has successfully spent the last decade with companies trying to reinvent the way they deal with their customers. Kristi is currently the VP of Customer Success at IntelliShift and one of the Founding Members of Gain, Grow, Retain. In addition to this, she has been associated with Catalyst Software and frame.ai as a Coach and Advisor respectively.


Nils Vinje

Nils Vinje

Rowing two boats with the same purpose can be challenging, but here we have Nils, doing a splendid job with them both. Identified for his 30-Day Leadership Playbook, Nils makes effective Customer Success possible for SaaS start-ups and fast-growing businesses. He runs Glide Consulting as his means to enable companies to make wise decisions and gain control over their customer lifecycles and experience.


Ziv Peled

Ziv Peled

Owing to his love for Customer Success consulting, Ziv is one of the most revered Customer Success influencers around the world. Being the Chief Customer Officer at AppsFlyer, he leads and guides the Customer Success teams across 13 global offices. Simultaneously, his passion brings him to crossroads with customer support and sales engineering, through which he establishes the potential of Customer Success driven by value, relationships, and people.


Todd Eby

Todd Eby

Taking immense pride in the idea of educating the world’s SaaS leaders on Customer Success, Todd knows exactly what a company needs to be successful. Apart from being a reputed advisor on Customer Success, he is the Founder and CEO at SuccessHACKER and Antwoord42. His love for educating and empowering Customer Success professionals brings him to USF School of Management as the CAP Co-Director, Customer Success, and Insights MBA Program.


Aaron Thompson

Aaron Thompson

Customers are nothing but normal people like us. Interestingly, Aaron seems to have figured out the way of making things work for businesses—“liking people.” It is his belief in creating customer experiences for people on their own will that has brought him to the apex of the Customer Success industry. Professionally, he is a General Partner at SuccessHACKER, the Founder and CEO of Portland Customer Success, and the Co-founder at RenDev.io.


Adam Toporek

Adam Toporek

Widely known as one of the best Customer Success Keynote Speakers, Adam is also a Customer Service Expert, Trainer, and Strategic Advisor for several entrepreneurs. A top-notch thought leader in the customer experience industry, Adam is a splendid author and the co-host of Crack the Customer Code podcast. His blogs, podcasts, and speeches mark the frontline of Customer Success.


Andreas Knoefel

Andreas Knoefel

The widely used framework that leads to amazing net renewal rates, Customer Success Performance Index™ was invented by Andreas. If that’s not enough to establish his magnanimity, he is one of the founding members of Gain, Grow, Retain, and a Strategic Advisor at CSTuners. From start-ups to leading companies, Andreas has successfully reinvented the importance of Customer Success for several companies, including Apple’s SMB market.


Don Peppers

Don Peppers

Internationally recognized as a Customer Experience Authority, Author, and Speaker, Don is supremely known for his contributions in the marketing and business competition domains. Credited for launching the CRM revolution, he has been featured on prestigious lists by The Times of London, Accenture, and the UK’s Chartered Institute for Marketing. Being the Co-founder of CX Speakers LLC, he conducts workshops on Customer Success and thought leadership around customer relationships and marketing technology. He is an international best-selling author with a gigantic legacy of books sold in over 18 languages.


Kia Puhm

Kia Puhm

The Customer Success industry has been witnessing Kia for the past 22 years, leading strategic roles and teams across global organizations. Her legacy of assisting customer-centric businesses to attain customer loyalty and enhanced customer experience is profound. With this, she is the Founder and CEO of Desired Path and K!A CX Consulting. Business practices and intelligent frameworks developed by her help businesses gain Customer Success benefits and faster revenue growth.


Nimesh Mathur

Nimesh Mathur

Leading Customer Success teams across several industries for over 14 years, Nimesh is one of the most honoured Customer Successes Influencers around the globe. He is currently serving as the Head of Customer Success (India, SEA & ANZ) at Branch where they provide marketing technology solutions to top-notch digital brands. For years now, he has been placed amongst the world’s best Customer Success coaches.


Sue Nabeth Moore

Sue Nabeth Moore

A Customer Success Leader, Evangelist, Coach, Advisor, and a well-known Speaker, Sue is the jack of all trades! She is the Founder of Success Track Enterprise and the Co-founder at Customer Success Mastermind where she utilizes her energies to train and assist business leaders on how to leverage Customer Success to scale their organizations.


Bill Cushard

Bill Cushard

Being extremely passionate about growing companies by growing customers, Bill is the General Manager at Service Rocket. Apart from that, he is also a Board Member at the Customer Success Leadership Network. Interestingly, his books and other writings have gained acclaim in the world of fast-growing enterprise software companies.


Chad Horenfeldt

Chad Horenfeldt

Director of Customer Success at Kustomer and a veteran professional in the Customer Success industry, Chad has been successfully implementing Customer Success strategies for over 15 years now. His commitment towards the Customer Success community brings him to the frontline of influencers who are most-valued for their exceptional pieces of advice and knowledge.


Emilia D'Anzica

Emilia D’Anzica

Exceptionally reputed Customer Success Leader and Consultant, Emilia is the Founder and CEO at GrowthMolecules. Designated as one of the top 2018, 2017, and 2016 CS influencers and strategists, she fuels her passion by helping companies build high-yielding customer lifecycles and by educating individuals about emotional intelligence. An avid speaker and writer, Emilia has addressed several professionals at various events and summits.


Irit Eizips

Irit Eizips

An accomplished Customer Success strategist, Irit has the rich legacy of being voted as one of the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists since 2013. Currently serving as the Chief Customer Officer and CEO at CSM Practice, she has been a Speaker at several conferences and her views on creating Customer Success technology solutions and deriving value from the same have been published multiple times.


Matt Myszkowski

Matt Myszkowski

A senior Customer Success Executive, Founder of CustomerSuccessMatters, Leader, and an Evangelist, Matt is a well-known award-winning Customer Success influencer. His venerable proficiency in creating and implementing Customer Success strategies for multi-geographic organisations makes him a top influencer for the industry.


Ellie Wu

Ellie Wu

Having a strong grasp on the tactics that help employees and companies—from hyper-growth SaaS to multinational corporations—deliver excellent customer experiences, Ellie is a profound Customer Success leader. She is the Senior Director of Customer Experience Transformation at SAP Concur, while serving on the Board of Advisors for Women in Cloud. An avid speaker and podcaster, she also led Community Experiences at TEDxSeattle.


Jason Noble

Jason Noble

From well-established conglomerates to fast-paced start-ups, Jason has led them all. He is presently the VP of Global Customer Success at Vinli Inc. Recognized amongst the Top 100 CS Strategists, he is also the co-host of the famous “The Jasons Take On…” Customer Success podcast series where he discusses innovative ideas and opinions with the global Customer Success community.


Catherine Blackmore

Catherine Blackmore

For more than 2 decades, Catherine has led the highest Customer Success executive positions at world’s best organizations. A thought leader and a remarkable writer, she has published several blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers around customer retention and customer health. As of now, she is the GVP NAA Customer Success & Renewals at Oracle.


Jason C. Whitehead

Jason C. Whitehead

Co-host of the renowned podcast, “The Jasons Take On…”, he is one of the “Jasons” of the Customer Success world. Partner and Co-founder of Customer Success Mastermind, Jason is also serving as the CEO at the training and consulting company, Tri Tuns. He assists software vendors and providers ensure a sustainable user base while making customers gain the best outputs.


Nello Franco

Nello Franco

Being a Customer Success Evangelist and Advocate, Nello is working as the Managing Director at VCG. His popular blog features his ideas and exceptional Customer Success strategies to follow. Being a key contributor to consumer-centric organizations, he is also serving as the SVP of Global Customer Success at Talend.


Curtis Bingham

Curtis Bingham

Customer Success can help B2B companies retain more profitable customers. With the grace of his roadmaps and critical strategies, Curtis makes sure companies can benefit from customer-centricity. He is a Customer Retention and CX Consultant, and a popular Speaker and Mentor too. As the CEO at Chief Customer Officer Council, he has worked with over 200 chief customer officers. His blog is a golden archive of his advice and guidance.


Andrew Michael

Andrew Michael

From customer retention to strategic planning, from product development to marketing, there’s nothing that can keep Andrew away from innovation. Being one of the Founding Members of Start-up Cyprus, he has generously contributed to the growth of the start-up ecosystem. His podcast CHURN.FM for fast-paced SaaS company leaders is one of the best-known resources out there.


Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Being the Co-founder of Customer Success Leaders Institute, Chris is one of the most followed CS Leaders. A veteran Customer Success influencer and operations executive, he is serving as the VP of Operations at Intrado. Having consulted with several SaaS companies for accelerating their growth, Chris is one of the major contributors to the Customer Success community worldwide.


John Wood

John Wood

John’s passion for Customer Success is driven by his inclination towards operational excellence. As the Founder and Managing Director of 3 Point LLC, he works with B2B SaaS giants to empower them to build long-lasting Customer Success teams that can deliver tangible results. He imparts his knowledge through his podcast, Beyond the Acquisition, and helps companies curb their churn, and boost customer retention and revenue growth.


Swati Garg

Swati Garg

On a mission to create solutions for real-world problems and empower individuals to take action, Swati is a shining star in the universe of Customer Success. Her vision has brought her to form Melo Associates and Just Rest, Inc all in the past 4 years only. She is widely renowned as the Co-founder and Chair of the CuSP – A Customer Success Community as well.


David Sakamoto

David Sakamoto

With the idea of delivering value through customer journeys, David has spent a decade in leading Customer Success roles across top organizations. Currently, he is serving as the Vice President of Customer Success at GitLab Inc. He is also the Advisor Ecosystem Member at Outcome Selling Advisory Ecosystem (OS AE) where professionals focus on growing the value of customer accounts to attain business outcomes.


Irene Lefton

Irene Lefton

Renowned Customer Success Executive, Evangelist, and Startup Advisor, Irene is a gem for the Customer Success industry. Having an illustrated career in the Customer Success leadership roles, she has a tremendous grip on the best customer adoption and retention strategies. Acting Vice President of Customer Success at EmpInfo, she has advised several start-ups and companies on go-to-market strategies.


John Gleeson

John Gleeson

Head of Customer Success at KeepTruckin, John has a wide array of knowledge and insights on Customer Success strategies that deliver results. Known for his multifarious expertise and contributions, he has also been voted as the Top 25 Customer Success Influencers in 2020. He is also one of the Co-organizers of SF Customer Success Meetup.


Lauren Costella

Lauren Costella

Viewing Customer Success through her eyes, one would understand how CS is not a division, it’s a company-wide philosophy. Lauren is the VP of Customer Success at GoodTime.io and a Board Member for CS Leadership Network. She shares her valuable insights on scaling CS teams and generating world-class customer experiences through her blog, The CS Playlist.


Mary Poppen

Mary Poppen

Chief Customer Officer, Glint at LinkedIn, Mary’s passion revolves around everything relevant to a customer. For years, she has been mentoring Customer Success and CX leaders and female executives. Being a Board Member at top Customer Success organizations, Mary is an active coach for professionals seeking advice on CS and CX.


Donna Weber

Donna Weber

Helping businesses create lifetime customers, Donna is an acclaimed Customer Onboarding Expert, Author, and a Speaker. For over 14 years, she has been a Member of the Customer Education Management Association. Currently serving as the President and Customer Onboarding Leader at Springboard Solutions, she uses her legacy of experiences to help high-growth companies develop healthy customer lifecycles and maximize customer lifetime value.


Phil Nanus

Phil Nanus

Phil serves as the VP of Research, Customer Success at Technology & Services Industry Association. Known for assisting over 200 SaaS, PaaS, and other technology services companies, he is reputed to be one of the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists. His 20-year-old experience gives him the ability to share expertise around a varied range of topics in the Customer Success domain.


Ari Hoffman

Ari Hoffman

Making empathy and technology work together for Customer Success, Ari is an exceptional Customer Success influencer to be followed. As the Director of Customer Advocacy at Coveo, his mission is to promote the customer experience and their business’s engagement with that experience as the foundation for growth. Giving back to the CS community, he is a lead organizer for RIP City Success and a University of SF Board Member for their CS & Insights MBA Program. You can watch him speak on Customer Advocacy at a conference near you.


Mark Pecoraro

Mark Pecoraro

Mark is a Principal at CSLeadership, and the Co-Chair of Customer Success Leadership Governing Council. A seasoned expert and a thought leader in the Customer Success industry, he has remarkable cognition of the ideology of data-driven Customer Success. He has extensive experience in Customer Success leadership and is one of the best advisors for B2B SaaS companies trying to leverage Customer Success for their growth.


Vincent Manlapaz

Vincent Manlapaz

A 4x author and podcast host, Vincent runs Rediscovering Customer Success as its Chief Content Officer. He is an adroit thought leadership writer and an interviewer for several Customer Success leaders around the world. His work has gained him recognition as one of the most active Customer Success professionals across the globe.


Update: We are honored to be receiving such an overwhelming response to this list celebrating the leading minds in customer success. Thank you all for your love. By popular community demand, we are extending this list further to include more of the brightest minds in customer success. Please keep the nominations coming.


Maranda Ann Dziekonski

Maranda Ann Dziekonski

Vice President of Customer Success and People Operations at Swiftly, Maranda has spent over 20 years building and scaling world-class customer success orgs and operations.  She is a highly active and sought-after practitioner, panelist, speaker, leader, and a true champion of the customer success philosophy. Maranda has been honored as a Top 100 Customer Success Strategist in 2017 & 2018, a Top 25 Customer Success Influencer Judge in 2020, and a member of numerous boards of advisors.


Guy Nirpaz

Guy Nirpaz

Guy is the Founder and CEO of Totango, an enterprise customer success platform. Acknowledged as one of the earliest proponents of the customer success philosophy, he is the author of Farm Don’t Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success. A well-respected industry speaker and community contributor, Guy has championed the new paradigm of moving away from a hunting mindset to a farming mindset for recurring revenue business.


From just about being born a decade or so ago to the phenomenal success it enjoys today, Customer Success has come a long way.

This was our modest attempt to recognize and celebrate the men and women who have made this possible—including many beyond the list shared above. It takes a village!

Here is to the untiring zeal of the passionate Customer Success community and to its continued success.

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Originally Published January 5th, 2021, Updated August 24th, 2021

Anurup Gaurav

Anurup is a marketing and strategy leader with over 20 years of experience in scaling technology companies through strategic marketing initiatives. He is passionate about championing the customer and storytelling at the intersection of technology and value creation.

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Comments

10 months ago

Don Peppers

Thanks you for including me in this list, but you left off a VERY influential person in the customer success space: Guy Nirpaz, the CEO and founder of Totango, a customer success software company, and author of the book about the customer success function, Farm Don't Hunt (which is, for my money even better than Nick Mehta's book). Of course, Totango and Gainsight (Mehta's company) are direct competitors. I know them both, and think they are equally influential and competent in this space.

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