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Which Customer Success tools belong in your startup tech stack

CS Leadership
#customersuccesstools#customerautomation

Customer Success Managers are the defenders of revenue at high-growth SaaS startups. A good technology stack is like a super suit, empowering those CSMs to scale their work across hundreds of customers. 

The right tech tools will automate repetitive tasks, expose insights from large quantities of data, and help disparate teams collaborate more effectively. But with hundreds of software solutions available, how do you choose?

This list of 11 tools is a great place to start. Each of these products has garnered high praise from users. You’ll find pricing and key features in each description. And they’re grouped by category, so you jump right to the types of tools your tech stack needs most.

  • Communication tools

  • Project management and collaboration tools

  • Customer feedback tools

  • Product analytics tools

  • Help-desk and customer support tools

  • Subscription management tools

Communication tools

Communication tools help CSMs have meaningful touch points with their customers across all of their communication channels, even when those CSMs are outnumbered 100 to 1.

Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you.

Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert

Front

Improving communications is at the heart of Front

The Front app is often categorized as a collaboration tool (where it gets really high ratings). But improving communications is at the heart of this app. Front allows you to create a universal inbox for things like email, SMS, and in-app chats. Additionally, you can collaborate on a single copy of an email. Just add a comment and tag a teammate to end those long strings of email replies. 

Front pricing starts at $9.99 per user/month

Intercom

Intercom's flagship feature is their live chat but they have a lot more to offer

With 30,000 users and a category leading 4.3 rating on G2, Intercom is a popular messaging platform. Our favorite feature is Intercom’s message testing, which makes A/B testing easy to set up and the results easy to understand. 

Intercom pricing starts at $39/month for one user

Project management and collaboration tools

Collaborative work is better work. In fact, studies show that even the suggestion of collaboration between teammates improves intrinsic motivation. This is particularly important for those Customer Success teams that work remotely.

Software in this category helps SaaS CS teams coordinate activities and track the progress of everyday tasks and team-wide initiatives.

ClickUp

ClickUp is a visual task, project, and people management tool

ClickUp is a visual task, project, and people management tool. It hasn't been been around as long as other productivity platforms like Asana and Trello, but it's getting better user reviews on both G2 and GetApp. Frequent review feedback suggests that ClickUp is easier for growing teams to get started with. And ClickUp offers a variety of customizable views to help visualize the progress of projects and tasks. 

ClickUp pricing starts at $5/month and also offers a forever free version of the platform

Hugo

Hugo makes meetings more productive, from planning through follow-up

Hugo is a note-taking app designed specifically for meetings. It's great for prepping and getting everyone on the same page so meeting time is optimized time. We especially love taking customer call notes in Hugo and then pushing those notes to Vitally so everyone on the team knows what's happening with each customer.

Hugo's free plan will work for most users but they have a pro version for $399/month

Customer feedback tools

Customer feedback tools capture and measure customer sentiment and satisfaction for SaaS products. 

Customer experience metrics like NPS and CSAT are useful benchmarks for SaaS startups. The metrics show strong correlations to both company growth and customer loyalty

Vitally’s Net Promoter Score

Vitally's Net Promoter Score

Vitally offers built-in NPS surveys and analysis designed for startup SaaS companies. Send targeted surveys directly from the app and see the results alongside other customer data. It's especially useful when you incorporate it into other calculations of customer health, like health scores.

Ready to create NPS surveys your customer success team can take action on?

productboard

productboard is a product management platform that helps everyone get on the same page about the product vision. It's a great tool to track customer feedback and find patterns so your Product team is building for the customer.

productboard pricing starts at $49/maker/month for individuals

Product analytics tools

Customer experience tools collect data about how your customers feel about your product—product analytics tools collect data about how your customers use your product.

These tools are particularly powerful for SaaS companies, where almost every interaction a customer has with a product can be cataloged. Product usage trends are strong signals of future customer behavior like renewing, churning, or expanding. 

Segment

Segment is a Customer Data Infrastructure (CDI)

Segment is a Customer Data Infrastructure (CDI). It collects product-usage data from your products and translates it to a language other platforms like analytics tools can understand. This greatly reduces the work need to connect disparate systems.

Segment rules this category, getting the top spot on many review sites, including 610 upvotes on Product Hunt. Their new privacy portal is a nice addition, especially with data breaches making headlines every week.

Segment pricing starts at $120/month

Amplitude

Amplitude is a product and behavioral analytics platform for SaaS products. When did a user create their first task? Invite their 10th coworker? Amplitude gathers and presents this customer intelligence so you can tell which products and features keep your users engaged and coming back. Amplitude’s Pathfinder is an interesting feature. It tracks all the actions a user takes over a certain period, revealing their path through your product.

Amplitude pricing is available by request, but they offer a free version with basic functionality

Help desk and customer support tools

Help desk software helps SaaS companies respond to customer requests, questions, and concerns more effectively and efficiently.

Since 75% of people say they would return to a company with excellent customer support, help desk tools can mean the difference between keeping a customer and watching them churn.

Help Scout

Help Scout has all the basics of a help desk tool as well as extras we love, like Beacon

This up-and-comer might not be the most mature platform in its category, but the response to this help desk app has been stellar. Help Scout has a higher rating on Capterra than several category leaders. Perhaps it's their self-help tool, Beacon, which serves up the right information to the right customer, taking a huge load off of support agents.

Help Scout pricing starts at $20 per agent/month

Stonly

Stonly allows you to create interactive how-to guides that can be embedded into apps such as Front, Zendesk, and Intercom. These step-by-step guides go a step further than standard chatbots, making it possible for your customers to complete even complex tasks without the need for an agent’s support. But these guides can be used by agents as well, helping them give faster, more precise answers. You can even monitor the results of each step in each guide to know whether people get stuck or drop off. While Stonly is a newer solution, the early feedback is very positive. We also like the fact that Stonly was built specifically for growing SaaS businesses.

Stonly pricing starts at $29/month

Subscription management tools

Subscription management tools store customer and payment information to automate billing and payment collection for subscription-based SaaS businesses.

When you have dozens, or even hundreds, of customers on different billing cycles, the manual tasks of that job are overwhelming. Subscription management tools take that burden off of your team.

Chargebee

Chargebee is a subscription management tools

Chargebee is the highest-rated and most popular subscription management solution listed on G2. With Chargebee, you can test and manage hundreds of billing scenarios like pricing-per-seat or usage rate pricing. Chargebee also allows for significant customization, so you can create a branded billing experience with no coding needed. 

Chargebee pricing starts at $249/month

Vitally: One Customer Success Tool to rule them all

Vitally is designed to help time-strapped Customer Success teams complete tasks like onboarding, churn prediction, and customer retention with a human touch.

Vitally sits in the center of the CS tech stack, integrating with other communication, collaboration, and analytics tools.

It's focused on high-growth startup users, which means fast setup, automated (yet personalized!) customer communications, and a clean user interface.

Want to give one CSM the horsepower of 100?

See how Vitally can help Customer Success Managers support a large volume of customers—without sacrificing the experience

CSMs at high-growth SaaS businesses have all the same pressures of retaining customers as their enterprise counterparts. But they often have to do it for 10x the customers. The right tools will empower your CSMs to scale their work accordingly. With the right tech stack in place, they can be the defenders of revenue your startup needs.

Jamie Davidson
Jamie DavidsonCEO @Vitally

Jamie Davidson is the CEO and founder of Vitally. Formally CTO and Chief Customer Officer @Pathgather, he often treads the line between Product and Customer Success, leveraging one to enhance the other.