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CS Benchmark Results & 2021 Outlook

Photo by Kolleen Gladden

2020 was an unusual year all around.

But what was its impact on business and how do Customer Success Executives quantify their organization’s performance against the backdrop of an exceptional year? DesiredPath conducted the Customer Success Benchmark Survey to ask CS leaders how their organizations fared in 2020 and to provide their thoughts on their top focus areas, challenges and opportunities for 2021.

The aim of the survey is to provide participants with empirical data that they can use to benchmark how their organization fared in 2020, as well as understand where the industry is headed in 2021.

2020 Benchmark Results

The size of company represented by the participants ranged from $0 - $100M with the largest group (35%) in the $5-$25M ARR range. 45% of respondents say their CSMs manage over $2.5M ARR and 55% indicated that the CS management team at their organizations manage 6-8 direct reports. The majority of the participants were from North America with 5% representing APAC.

2020 Growth Expectations

65% met or exceed 2020 targets despite the pandemic. 10% of that exceeded targets by > 25%. 40% of the organizations had the % of growth from existing customers > 30%. 60% saw the contribution of customer expansion grow in 2020.

2020 Churn

Net revenue churn as a % of starting revenue for 2020 averaged 5% across all respondents. Slightly over a third of the respondents indicated that their company’s logo churn was between 0-5%. 85% of companies participating in the survey saw the same or more churn than 2019.

2020 Customer Success Change

Customer Success organizations predominantly stayed the same size (40%). 20% grew by over 25% while 5% shrunk by 25% or more.

2020 NPS

55% saw their NPS hold steady or increase by 15pts or more while 30% of respondents said their company does not measure NPS.


2021 Outlook

Overall Outlook

The outlook for 2021 is overwhelmingly optimistic. 45% of participants surveyed indicated they were optimistic and ready to execute while 35% were cautiously optimistic.

Growth, Customer Retention & CS Team Size

A whopping 89.5% expect to grow next year with 5.3% indicating by over 100%.

40% expect customer retention to improve (reduced customer churn) and 70% say the size of their team will grow.

Top Area of Focus for 2021

Last year saw companies place a concerted effort on customer retention as customer acquisition slowed. Executives continue to be focused on driving efficient growth (increased ARR) out of the customer base through:

1. Scaling: team, processes, implementing automation

2. Customer Retention: value creation, deepen customer engagement

3. Customer Expansion: net dollar retention, improve overall Customer Experience

Top Challenge in 2021

Participants indicated that increased competition, customer churn (down sell risk) and market uncertainty due to the pandemic, were the top challenges they anticipate in 2021.

Top Opportunity in 2021

The push to do more online as a result of the pandemic is generating opportunities that companies want to capitalize on. Executives will take advantage of the current economic condition to improve methods to scale their businesses and develop stronger partnerships to do so. Product and Customer Experience innovation is underway to support the top opportunities participants feel will bear fruit in 2021, namely:

1. Accelerated move to the cloud

2. Digital transformation

3. Migration to online collaboration / learning / e-commerce

Impact to Customer’s Business

Finally, 70.6% of survey participants expect their customer’s businesses to change significantly due to the accelerated move to the cloud and digital transformation, increased e-commerce adoption and budgetary constraints / tightened budgets.


A full copy of the 2020 Customer Success Benchmark Survey & 2021 Outlook can be downloaded here:

CS Benchmark Results & 2021 Outlook
Download PDF • 1.87MB

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