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Top Customer Success Books Every Professional Should Read


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of quick tips and bite-sized advice on the internet? Here’s something to consider: True mastery in customer success goes beyond scratching the surface. Unlike fleeting online content, consuming knowledge from the top customer success books provide a comprehensive exploration of ideas that can profoundly change how you approach your role.

Explore the Top Customer Success Books for Career Growth

Customer success is an ever-evolving field, and while blogs, social media, vlogs, podcasts, and newsletters all buzz with the latest trends, there’s something uniquely reliable about the depth books offer. I’ve delved into numerous books over the years, and the picks I’m about to share are penned by some of the most respected leaders in the industry.

Each book is packed with insights gathered from decades of experience and is designed to equip you with a wealth of strategies and actionable ideas. These aren’t just books; they are gateways to becoming a more effective and proactive customer success professional.

As we dive into the top customer success books, you’ll discover resources that cut through the noise and offer substantial, transformative content. Get ready to turn these pages and be inspired to take your customer success strategies to the next level.

Book List Overview

Why these books?

When selecting the top customer success books for this list, a few critical criteria stood at the forefront:

  1. Expertise and Authority: Each book is authored by renowned leaders in the customer success field. These are professionals who have not only shaped the industry with their groundbreaking theories and practices but have also mentored generations of customer success managers.
  2. Practical Application: The books were chosen for their actionable insights. They go beyond theoretical knowledge, offering readers strategies and tools that can be implemented immediately.
  3. Innovative Ideas: We looked for books that push the boundaries of traditional customer success thinking. Each book introduces unique perspectives that challenge the status quo and inspire innovation.
  4. Wide-ranging Impact: These selections are influential across various levels of expertise, from newcomers to seasoned veterans in the field. They provide valuable learning regardless of where you are in your career journey.

Now, who are these authors? They are pioneers like Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy, who have not only contributed to the evolution of customer success but have also been instrumental in defining its very core. Their writings are backed by decades of direct experience and success in helping companies transform their customer success strategies.

As we explore these books, you’ll see how each one offers a blueprint for thriving in customer success roles. Whether you are building foundational skills or looking to innovate your approach, the insights from these books are poised to make a significant impact on your professional development.

Detailed Book Reviews

Book 1: “Customer Success” by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy

Why is this one of the top customer success books? “Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue” offers a foundational dive into the transformative role of customer success in the SaaS industry. Authored in 2016, this book is not just a resource but a classic that revisits the enduring principles that remain relevant in today’s fast-evolving business environment.

Core Concepts and Value:

  1. Introduction to the SaaS Era: The book begins by mapping the emergence of the SaaS business model and explains why the adoption of customer success is vital in the subscription economy. This historical context is crucial as it aligns with the shift from product-centric to customer-centric business strategies.
  2. Fundamental Customer Success Principles: It breaks down the core concepts of customer success, making it an excellent primer for those new to the field. The simplicity of the explanations helps demystify complex ideas, ensuring that beginners can grasp and apply these principles effectively.
  3. The Ten Laws of Customer Success: Perhaps the most compelling part of the book, this section is authored by various leaders in the customer success sphere. Each law focuses on measurable metrics and strategic actions that are critical to making customers—and thereby the organization—successful.

Impact on the Reader:

This book acts as a roadmap for both newcomers and seasoned professionals. It challenges you to think about customer success not just as a department, but as a company-wide philosophy that drives growth by aligning company goals with customer outcomes.

Why Keep It on Your Shelf?

Whether you’re just stepping into the world of customer success or looking to refine your approach with time-tested principles, this book provides valuable insights that are both actionable and foundational. The journey through the evolution of customer success equipped with practical laws offers a blend of historical context and forward-thinking strategies that are essential for thriving in today’s competitive landscape.

Book 2: “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” by Jeanne Bliss

Why should someone striving to excel in customer success read “Chief Customer Officer 2.0“? This insightful book by Jeanne Bliss, a pioneer in customer experience, extends the concept of customer success far beyond its usual boundaries. It’s recognized as a must-read in our list of top customer success books because it teaches how to orchestrate customer-driven growth across an entire organization.

Core Competencies for Leaders:

  1. Honor and Manage Customers as Assets: This competency urges organizations to view every customer as a valuable asset that contributes to long-term success.
  2. Align Around Experience: Jeanne advocates for a unified approach to customer experience across all departments, ensuring consistency and satisfaction.
  3. Build a Customer Listening Path: Effective communication channels that gather and act on customer feedback are crucial for continuous improvement.
  4. Proactive Experience Reliability and Innovation: Leaders are encouraged to anticipate customer needs and innovate proactively to enhance the customer journey.
  5. Leadership, Accountability, and Culture: The foundation of customer-centricity lies in strong leadership that promotes accountability and fosters a culture oriented around the customer.

Navigating Challenges:

“Chief Customer Officer 2.0” is crucial for anyone who aims to influence their organization’s culture and operational ethos deeply. It’s particularly impactful for those aspiring to lead—helping them mold a comprehensive, customer-driven growth engine. While it’s a sophisticated read, the real-world examples and actionable strategies make it invaluable for those committed to making a profound impact in customer success.

Book 3: “Go Ahead! Unleash a Contagious Customer Success Culture” by Barry S. Farah

Framework for a Customer-Centric Culture:

  1. Foundation of Cohesion: Farah emphasizes that the most successful teams aren’t always the ones with the most star players, but rather those where every member works in harmony towards a common goal. This analogy underpins the book’s core message: success stems from unity, not just talent.
  2. Steps to Cultivate Culture: The book outlines a step-by-step approach to fostering a culture where every business leader and team member prioritizes customer success as their collective mission. This framework ensures that the entire organization aligns around the customer’s best interests.

Key Focus Areas:

  • Retaining the Right Customers: Identifying and nurturing relationships with customers who will benefit most from and contribute to the business.
  • Training for Success: Implementing training programs that empower employees at all levels to support and enhance the customer experience.
  • Leadership and Alignment: Ensuring that leadership demonstrates commitment to customer success, setting the tone for the organization.

Impactful Insights: Farah’s book is more than just theoretical knowledge; it’s a practical guide that instills a deep understanding of what makes a customer success culture truly thrive. It’s particularly insightful for those new to customer success, offering a clear, engaging, and thorough education on the subject.

Why Is This Book a Must-Have?Go Ahead! Unleash a Contagious Customer Success Culture” is an essential read for anyone eager to drive significant change within their organization. It demonstrates how fostering a cohesive, customer-focused culture can lead to sustainable growth and success.

Book 4: “The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook” by Ashvin Vaidyanathan and Ruben Rabago

What makes this handbook a crucial tool for anyone in the customer success field, especially beginners? “The Customer Success Professional’s Handbook” offers an extensive look into the evolution of customer success and the vital role of Customer Success Managers (CSMs) today. Authored by experts from Gainsight, a leader in the customer success community, this book is a treasure trove of knowledge and practical advice.

Deep Dive into the CSM Role:

  1. Historical Context: The book begins by exploring why customer success became essential as businesses increasingly shifted towards subscription models. This historical insight is crucial for understanding the strategic importance of customer success in modern business.
  2. Core Skills for CSMs: It details the essential skills needed by CSMs and provides strategies on how to develop these effectively. The emphasis is on being human first—a principle that enhances genuine interaction and long-term customer relationships.

Key Features:

  • Practical Tips and Examples: From real-world applications, the book provides actionable tips that CSMs can immediately implement to enhance their effectiveness.
  • Operationalizing Customer Success: It covers how to integrate customer success operations seamlessly into business processes, which is critical for aligning with organizational goals.

Why This Book Stands Out: The second section of the book, focusing on “Core Skills of Customer Success,” is particularly impactful. It guides CSMs on how to navigate complex situations and make decisions that are best for both the customer and the company. This advice is framed not just in making good decisions, but in choosing the best path forward—a skill paramount to success in any role.

Essential Reading for Newcomers: For those new to customer success, this handbook acts as a comprehensive guide. It demystifies the role of CSMs and equips them with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive in one of the world’s fastest-growing careers.

Book 5: “The Outcome Generation” by Paul Henderson

What makes “The Outcome Generation” a significant contribution to the list of top customer success books? This compelling read, received as a cherished gift from a boss in 2019, underscores a pivotal shift in modern business practices: the focus on outcomes. Paul Henderson uses his extensive experience across various functions to elucidate why prioritizing outcomes is essential for every team in an organization.

Outcome-Centric Approach Across Functions:

  1. Universal Relevance: Henderson argues that whether you’re in sales, marketing, customer service, or customer success, outcomes are the benchmark of success. This universal applicability makes the book a crucial resource for all professionals.
  2. Evolution of Selling: The book chronicles the evolution from feature-focused selling to outcome-based approaches, highlighting how this shift has become a necessity in today’s competitive markets.

Key Insights:

  • Impact at Every Stage: Henderson emphasizes that outcomes should be the focus at every stage of the customer lifecycle. This approach ensures that all actions taken are strategically aligned with the end goal of delivering real value to customers.
  • Why Outcomes Matter: The core of the book is the idea that focusing on outcomes rather than outputs leads to more sustainable and successful business relationships.

For Whom Is This Book Essential? “The Outcome Generation” is recommended for anyone involved in technology sales, marketing, or customer support. It offers a refreshing perspective that goes beyond traditional roles and makes a compelling case for the integral role of outcomes in building successful companies.

Book 6: “The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success” by Jennifer Chiang

What distinguishes “The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success” as a must-have for those venturing into or working within startups? Authored by Jennifer Chiang, this book serves as an invaluable resource, especially in the startup ecosystem where agility and innovation are crucial. Chiang’s extensive experience in startups infuses the book with practical insights into building a robust customer success (CS) strategy from the ground up.

Building CS in Startups:

  1. Cultural Integration: Chiang emphasizes that customer success should be granted the same importance as other departments within a startup. This integration fosters a culture where every team member is invested in the client’s success, which in turn enhances loyalty and increases Lifetime Value (LTV).
  2. Ownership and Creativity: Working in a startup often means working with limited resources. Chiang guides readers on how to be resourceful and creative in problem-solving, traits that are essential for fostering a thriving customer success environment.

Journey Through the Customer Lifecycle:

  • From Onboarding to Advocacy: The book outlines how to develop customer success strategies that encompass the entire user journey. Chiang provides a framework for engaging customers effectively at each stage—from onboarding and engagement to renewal and advocacy.

Why This Book Resonates: Chiang uses simple yet engaging language, making complex concepts accessible and relatable. The practical examples not only illustrate her points but also inspire readers to apply these ideas in their own contexts.

For Whom Is This Book Essential? “The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success” is perfect for those new to the customer success field or those working in startups. It provides a clear, engaging, and thorough introduction to the essentials of customer success, making it a foundational tool for anyone looking to champion customer-centric strategies in a startup environment.

Book 7: “The Seven Pillars of Customer Success” by Wayne McCulloch

Why is “The Seven Pillars of Customer Success” often cited as essential reading on many lists of top customer success books? Wayne McCulloch’s book is celebrated for its comprehensive framework that resonates deeply with anyone committed to the craft of customer success, regardless of their organization’s size or maturity level.

Understanding the Seven Pillars:

  1. Operationalizing Customer Success: McCulloch starts by detailing how to establish customer success as a fundamental business operation, crucial for aligning team efforts and resources.
  2. Onboarding: This pillar focuses on the strategies for effectively integrating new clients, setting the stage for a successful partnership.
  3. Adoption: Here, the emphasis is on ensuring customers fully utilize your product or service, which is key to achieving their business objectives.
  4. Retention: McCulloch discusses methods to maintain customer engagement and satisfaction, ultimately aiming to reduce churn.
  5. Expansion: This involves identifying and acting on opportunities to increase the value your customers find in your offerings.
  6. Advocacy: Turning satisfied customers into vocal advocates for your brand is the focus of this pillar.
  7. Strategic Advisor: The final pillar elaborates on evolving the role of customer success teams into trusted advisors who contribute strategically to their customers’ long-term success.

Why This Framework Matters: McCulloch provides a clear and actionable plan to embed customer-centricity at every level of an organization. The book is not just about understanding customer success as a function but mastering it as a philosophy that drives every interaction with your clients.

Essential for Whom? Whether you’re a new entrant to the field of customer success or a seasoned leader, this book acts as both a primer and an advanced guide. Its widespread acclaim and practical utility make it a standout recommendation for anyone serious about driving customer-focused business transformation.

Book 8: “Never Lose a Customer Again” by Joey Coleman

Why does Joey Coleman’s book make such a significant impact on professionals looking to harness the top customer success books for enhancing their strategies? “Never Lose a Customer Again” focuses on a critical, often overlooked aspect of customer relationships—the first 100 days post-sale. Coleman introduces an innovative, systematic approach to transforming initial sales into enduring loyalty.

The 8-Phase Model Explained:

  1. Assess: Understanding customer needs and expectations right from the start.
  2. Admit: Recognizing the customer’s commitment when they decide to purchase.
  3. Affirm: Ensuring customers feel confident about their decision immediately after the purchase.
  4. Activate: Making the official start of the relationship memorable and engaging.
  5. Acclimate: Helping the customer effectively use and integrate the product or service into their operations.
  6. Accomplish: Ensuring that the customer achieves their initial goals and desired outcomes.
  7. Adopt: Fostering a sense where the customer becomes a true advocate for the brand.
  8. Advocate: When a customer not only repeats purchases but also actively promotes the business.

Why This Approach Is Transformative: Coleman’s model is detailed with practical examples and real-world case studies that make the concepts relatable and actionable. Each phase is designed to enhance the customer experience, significantly boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Practical Takeaways: This book is packed with actionable insights that professionals can start implementing immediately. Coleman’s advice is not just theoretical; it’s a blueprint for building a lasting relationship that starts from the very first interaction.

Who Should Read This Book? “Never Lose a Customer Again” is essential for any professional involved in sales, marketing, or customer support. It’s particularly valuable for those looking to dramatically improve how they engage with customers in the crucial early stages of the relationship.

Book 9: “The Customer Success Pioneer” by Kellie Lucas

Why is Kellie Lucas’ “The Customer Success Pioneer” considered a pivotal read in our exploration of top customer success books? Lucas offers a hands-on, practical framework known as DIME—Design, Implement, Measure, Evolve—which guides professionals through their first year of developing or enhancing Customer Success practices within their organizations.

Understanding the DIME Framework:

  1. Design: Lucas stresses the importance of designing customer success strategies that align with the overarching goals of the company, ensuring that these strategies are both scalable and sustainable.
  2. Implement: The implementation phase focuses on putting these plans into action, ensuring that every team member understands their role in achieving customer success.
  3. Measure: Critical to any strategy, this phase involves setting benchmarks and continuously measuring performance against these metrics to gauge success.
  4. Evolve: Based on the insights gained from measurement, Lucas advocates for continuous improvement and adaptation to refine customer success practices.

Key Insights:

  • Customer Success as a Philosophy: Lucas emphasizes that customer success should be viewed not merely as a department within a company but as a core philosophy that permeates every action and decision.
  • Practical Questions and Approaches: The book is enriched with practical questions that help readers assess their current practices and mindset, accompanied by strategic approaches applicable at various organizational levels.

Why This Book Is Essential: “The Customer Success Pioneer” is invaluable for those at the beginning of their customer success journey, providing a clear, structured path to embedding customer success deeply within their business culture. Lucas’ straightforward, actionable advice makes complex concepts accessible and implementable, even for those new to the field.

For Whom Is This Book a Must-Read? Ideal for new customer success managers, executives looking to introduce a CS function, or organizations striving to strengthen their customer success capabilities, this book acts as both a guide and a workbook for embedding effective customer success practices.

Book 10: “Scaling Customer Success: Building the Customer Success Center of Excellence” by Chitra Madhwacharyula and Shreesha Ramdas

Why is “Scaling Customer Success” essential reading for professionals looking to elevate their customer success operations? Authored by Chitra Madhwacharyula and Shreesha Ramdas, this comprehensive guide explores the depth and breadth of establishing a robust Customer Success Center of Excellence. It’s a cornerstone text for those in customer success, packed with strategic insights and operational tactics that are currently in use at leading organizations.

Framework for Excellence:

  1. Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): The authors provide a detailed exploration of the critical metrics that businesses should track to monitor and enhance customer success efforts effectively.
  2. Role Specifics: Insightful guidance on crafting job descriptions for various customer success roles, ensuring that each team member is clear on their objectives and how they contribute to the overall success of the organization.
  3. Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value: Strategies are laid out for building relationships with customers that not only last but also grow. The book offers practical advice on nurturing these relationships to maximize value both for the client and the company.

Why This Book Stands Out: The detailed, grounded advice provided in “Scaling Customer Success” makes it a practical handbook for anyone involved in customer success at any level. It covers everything from the foundational aspects of the role to advanced operational strategies, making it invaluable for developing a sophisticated customer success function.

Who Should Read This Book? This book is particularly useful for CS professionals who are part of, or are looking to establish, a Customer Success Center of Excellence within their organization. It is a must-read for those who aim to ensure their customer success operations are aligned with the best practices and standards that have been proven to drive substantial business results.


We’ve journeyed through a curated list of books that stand as pillars in the customer success field, each penned by authoritative figures renowned for their transformative insights. From the foundational strategies discussed in “Customer Success” by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy, to the leadership and culture-centric approaches in “Chief Customer Officer 2.0” by Jeanne Bliss, these books encompass a comprehensive view of what it takes to excel in customer success today.

The knowledge and strategies shared in these works are not just theories; they are practical blueprints tested by the trials and successes of leading professionals across the globe. They offer a deep dive into the principles that drive customer success, making them invaluable resources for anyone looking to advance their career and contribute to their organization’s success in meaningful ways.

As we close this discussion, I encourage you to not only read these top customer success books but also to apply their lessons diligently. Whether you are starting out in your career or seeking to refine your strategic approach, these books provide a wealth of knowledge that can propel you towards becoming a more effective and innovative customer success professional.

Remember, the journey of learning and growth is continuous. Let these books be your guides as you navigate the evolving landscapes of customer success.

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Picture of Kritika Kishor

Kritika Kishor

Customer Success Strategist | I help SaaS companies achieve exceptional customer satisfaction, customer retention and growth through strategic customer success initiatives.

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