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Customer Success Terminology: In Plain English

Welcome to the easiest breakdown of Customer Success terms you’ll hear being thrown around! Bookmark this article if you’re getting started with your Customer Success journey, it’ll help you make sense of all the jargon you’ll come across.

Last update Aug 1, 2022

Adoption - Are the customers actually using the product? Adoption is a good measure of whether or not a customer is successful with a product/tool/service.

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) - The actual revenue (not percentage) of money that comes in every year from the customer base.

Beta - A small group of testers (usually customers).

Book of Business - The number of accounts a CSM manages or the total revenue generated by the accounts the CSM managers.

Business to Business (B2B) - A business that is selling to another business. We see the pair “B2B” and “SaaS” together a lot in Customer Success as it’s where you’ll find the bulk of CS jobs.

Business to Consumer (B2C) - A business that sells directly to consumers. For example, Uber.

Churn - When a customer stops doing business with you. They’re no longer paying.

Customer lifecycle /Journey mapping - An outline of the journey a customer will have and the different stages/milestones within that journey.

Customer Segmentation - Grouping customers into segments based on the things they have in common like revenue (SMB, MM, Ent) or industry.

Customer Success Manager - The customer’s strategic partner! CSMs are there to build relationships, serve as the customer’s coach and retain the customer for the long run.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) - A survey completed by a customer usually after having an interaction with your business like solving a support ticket. The survey is scored from 1 to 100 with 1 being absolutely terrible and 100 is exceptional.

Cross Sell - Selling a customer on a complimentary product or service.

Executive Business Review - Very similar to a quarterly business review, but it’s just called an executive business review and may not happen every quarter.

Enterprise (Ent) - Usually companies create their own segments so SMBs can look different from company to company but Enterprise accounts are the highest paying accounts and are often paired with a high-touch service strategy.

Expansion - A combination of upsell or cross-sell plays to expand an account’s total revenue.

Feature Request - When a customer requests a new feature or improvement that can be made within the product.

General Audience (GA) - When the product team releases a new tool/feature/product, they either roll it out to a small segment of customers (beta testers) or to everyone, which is the general audience.

Health Score - A system that Customer Success teams put in place to help them quickly (hopefully) get a pulse on how their customers are doing. It’s usually a red, yellow, green, or healthy, neutral, at-risk spectrum.

Hight Touch - You can consider this the white glove treatment a Customer Success Manager can provide. This can include weekly/monthly and ad-hoc calls, additional training, success plans, and quarterly/business reviews.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - A way to measure performance over a given time related to a specific goal.

Low Touch - This service type involves face-to-face interaction with customers, but it’s not a super tailored white glove service like high touch is. Exactly what low touch looks like varies as the company’s CS structure can define it.

MidMarket (MM) - Usually companies create their own segments so SMB can look different from company to company but these customers are the middle field when it comes to revenue generated and the service may be a step up from SMB or step down from Enterprise.

MoM - Month over month.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) - A survey (scored 1-10, 1 being horrible and 10 being the best) completed by a customer that reflects how happy they are with a product.

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) - Percentage of revenue from the customer base in a given year.

Onboarding/Implementation - The customer signs the contract, and now they’re ready to get started. Onboarding teaches the customer about the product, shares best practices, and prepares them for launch.

Playbooks - A recipe for “what to do” when a situation happens. Like when a renewal is coming up or when an account is suddenly at risk.

QoQ - Quarter over quarter.

Quarterly Business Review - A formal conversation with a customer quarterly to cover progress in the partnership so far. This call can cover feedback, data trends, product roadmap, success plan, and open support requests.

Renewals - Renewing a revenue contract with an account. Usually happens every year, but there are also multiyear contracts. These renewals may be led by the Customer Success team (CSM, Renewals Manager, Account Managers) or the Sales team.

SaaS - Software as a Service. Think Zoom, Slack, and Google Workspace. How does it related to CS? Check out this article here.

Sale Cycle - The length of time and process of taking a prospect from curious to signing a contract and becoming a customer.

Stakeholder - The term stakeholder in Customer Success usually refers to the people you interact with in your accounts. These stakeholders could be the decision-makers, executives, and promoters.

Small and Medium-Sized Business (SMB) - Usually companies create their own segments so SMB can look different from company to company but the customers in this segment bring in a small amount of revenue and we can see this segment being paired by tech touch or low touch service strategy.

Tech touch - Someone doesn’t have any face-to-face interaction with customers; it’s all managed through the help of tech tools (like emails, on-demand webinars, etc.).

Upsell - Selling a customer on a higher-tiered plan, adding additional licenses or seats to their current plan. Upselling looks different from company to company as it depends on a company’s business model. By the way, you get upsold when you go to restaurants – for $4, you can add chicken to your salad.

YoY - Year over year.


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3 comentarios

Errion Mayfield
Errion Mayfield
26 jul 2023

Very informative, thanks for giving good content that's always highly valuable. We need this girl, keep it coming!❤️

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I've been browsing Dianas' site and loved her story, the design, and her offerings. I a feel like the "life-long learner" type after getting into software engineering many years ago: coding for fun. Today, I didn't want to work sew I decided to read all the blog posts - Thanks for keeping the emails and content minimal (ie not enormous like some websites *ahem*) - I am just starting my CSM career journey. Googling random words Idk the meanings of makes this blog post of common CSM terms was highly approachable.

Along the career search another advice blog said it can help you on your way to reaching your goals to publicly announce and state what your aims are, like…

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Kween Bri
Kween Bri
07 sept 2022

Thank you for this article. I‘m breaking into the CSM industry and this terminology helps so much!

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