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The Art of Scaling: Leveraging Customer Success in Tech Startups 

A conversation with Alex Kerswill, VP Customer Success at One Click LCA

A New Era of Customer Success

The path to scaling is a pivotal journey for any startup. Alex Kerswill, VP of Customer Success at One Click LCA, has a great deal of expertise navigating the complexities that come with rapid business growth.

Alex’s journey from startup to scale-up includes creating and leading Customer Success (CS) teams, playing an active role in the fundraising and implementing CS strategies built around customer results. 

Alex recently spoke with Zeren to shed light on the role of Customer Success in the scaling journey.  


Crafting a Strong Customer Success Foundation

As VP of Customer Success at One Click LCA, Alex noted the importance of establishing a strong Customer Success foundation. Transitioning from startup phase to scale-up phase, the team can build from a position of strength, marked by a substantial customer base and strong revenue performance. This approach highlights the essential role of a well-established CS function in propelling the company through its growth journey. “Our objective was to ensure that our CS function not only boosts customer retention but also makes a substantial contribution to our company’s growth trajectory,” he elaborated. 


The Influence of Customer Success in Fundraising and Investor Dynamics

Fundraising rounds are pivotal moments for startups, and Customer Success plays an important role. Alex’s recalls, “Investors want to understand forensically how the business performs from a revenue point of view…For CS this means looking at, gross retention, net retention and expansion among many other SaaS metrics. You have to be able to demonstrate you can retain and grow your customer base, and strong NRR shows not just an effective CS function but a product that customers need, use and get value from.”  

Customer Success as a Growth Engine

“Our Customer Success team is founded on the philosophy that customers getting value from the software is what drives long term revenue retention and growth. We’ve developed an account management function within Customer Success to capitalise on the great work our support and onboarding teams do. We see this as aligning with the broader industry trend where CS becomes a more explicit growth driver. 

Collaborative Decision-Making in Customer Success Strategy

“CS sits right at the heart of a SaaS business, between Sales, Marketing, Product and others. In building our CS strategy, it’s imperative to involve these stakeholders,” Alex stressed. “This collaborative approach covers all   the big decisions we make, especially those with a direct impact on revenue. We actively engage with our sales department and other key executive team members in these discussions to ensure we are closely aligned with the broader objectives and strategies of the company,” he explained. 

The collaborative decision-making process in Customer Success is a cornerstone of success when scaling. It reflects the recognition that Customer Success is not a siloed function but an integral part of the company’s overall growth strategy.  


Adapting Customer Success Candidate Profiles for Evolving Needs

“As the CS function continues to grow, we’ve seen a natural evolution in the profiles we seek,” Alex explained. “We’ll always want people who are great communicators and naturally customer-orientated, but we also increasingly look for individuals who are skilled at using customer data to identify and capitalise on expansion opportunities,” he emphasised. Our team members also have to be passionate about our mission: to power the makers of a zero-carbon future. 

The evolving needs of the CS function at One Click LCA have led to a shift in the desired candidate profiles. While a customer-centric approach remains vital, the emphasis now extends to a more data-driven and strategic mindset. This shift underscores the importance of not only retaining existing customers but also actively pursuing avenues for expansion and growth. It’s a testament to the dynamic nature of Customer Success in the context of scaling tech startups, where adaptability is key to success. 


Forecasting the Future of Customer Success in Tech Startups

Looking ahead, Alex emphasises the crucial role of Customer Success in the SaaS landscape: “The last few years have been challenging for CS (as they have been in SaaS more generally). But what hasn’t changed are the fundamentals of long term growth for a SaaS business: a strong product, clear market fit and on the CS side, a dedicated, knowledgeable team who ensure customers quickly get valuable business results from their investment in your software. If you can get those building blocks in place, then retention and growth will follow over time.” 


Final Thoughts

Alex’s insights shed light on the critical role of Customer Success in scaling tech startups. His experiences at One Click LCA illustrate how a well-structured CS function can not only enhance customer retention but also significantly contribute to a company’s growth trajectory.  

The lessons from his experience provide a valuable blueprint for integrating customer success into the broader strategy for sustainable growth and market dominance, echoing the collaborative spirit and strategic evolution that he champions.