You can scale your SaaS customer success organization in a fairly predictable manner. The trick is to scale just slightly ahead of revenue, and to get creative to solve your most pressing problems. Here are some considerations and a few sample org charts to show you how.
The 1st example is the most simple approach that works up until around $5m in ARR. As a small, growing SaaS one of your founders or early employees will likely handle customer relationships, and add customer success managers and/or customer success representatives as revenue scales.
There is an industry standard guideline of about one customer success headcount for every $1.5-$2m in ARR but that doesn’t work until at least $10m in ARR. Prior to that it’s too hard to build a customer success organization that has enough staff to handle early customers and fill the needed roles.
A few tips for building your SaaS customer success organization:
- Don’t worry too much about revenue per customer success role in the beginning. When you get to about $10m in ARR you can start to work towards a 1 headcount per $1.5-$2m in ARR benchmark. And even at that scale, don’t count customer success leadership or operations in that benchmark, so those roles will be additional to your front-line customer success staff.
- The revenue per CS role may never be attainable if you have a very high touch product or only sell to the enterprise.
- Hire just ahead of revenue. Customer success is a demanding role and the department is almost always taxed and stressed. Hiring just ahead of revenue ensures you are never left scrambling to fill a vacancy if someone leaves, or expecting too much of your new staff as they are getting onboarded into the role. If you hire just ahead of revenue you won’t actually find yourself overstaffed you will instead find you are always just OK enough to make it all work.
- Get creative with the roles you hire depending on what your customer base needs. A customer operations manager can help your entire team gain efficiencies and scale easier. A renewals manager may help take some of the administrative burden of renewals off your team. Onboarding and training specialists may help if you find that to be the most resource intensive phase of the customer lifecyle. An engagement manager may help your CSMs run specialized plays to increase adoption and engagement for at risk customers.
The sample customer success org charts include 3 different stages of growth—less than $5m in ARR, $5-10M in ARR and $10-25M in ARR. I included comments in the file to provide context and considerations.
These samples are in no way meant to be definitive, so I expect you will adapt and modify them in a way that makes sense for your organization. Hope they are helpful for you!