As of writing this review, it’s been two years since Farm, Don’t Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success was published and it is still an excellent starting point if you’re interested in learning about Customer Success. Whether you’re considering getting into the profession or have found yourself in a Customer Success role through circumstance, Nirpaz’s simple metaphor of growing a tree is accessible and communicates the nurturing pro-active attitude that is preferred for a CS role.
The book is a nice afternoon’s read at roughly 120 pages of relatively large font. The beginning chapters give background as to why the role of Customer Success has emerged and explains the shift towards retention, up-sell, and cross-sell. Simply put, it’s expensive to find new customers. Keep the ones you have and put energy into growing them.
As any foundational book should do, basic SaaS metrics such as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), and Churn are defined and their importance is explained. I would have appreciated more detail about how to calculate each in a real-world scenario and how variations in these three metrics can affect the long-term success of a SaaS company.
Where this book shines tremendously is the establishment of Success Programs versus Success Plays. A Success Program is regular and ongoing whereas a Success Play is in response to a particular trigger. The one-two punch of programs and plays are overlaid on common SaaS lifecycle events including onboarding, support, renewal, and growth opportunities—what Nirpaz calls harvesting. Moreover, many of the programs and plays involve other teams such as marketing, sales, and product, giving you a blueprint for encouraging other teams to be customer-centric.
I only have two criticisms of the book. First, the metaphor wore on me by the end—okay we get it you want trees. In that sense the book felt a bit preachy; however, it never was overbearing. Second, discussion of Totango, a Customer Success software had a slightly pushy feel, but truth-be-told I checked it out after reading the book so maybe mission accomplished.
At the end of the day, this book sets the stage, introduces the key players, identifies high-level goals, and presents options to fill a day-to-day action plan. Take the few hours to read this book. Buy a physical copy to thumb through, it’s also eligible for Kindle Matchbook so your digital copy is super cheap. This is a book I’ll be going back to when the job seems to be getting overly complicated or I need a fresh idea.