Professional Services and Customer Success

How to Align your Professional Services and Customer Success Better?

Customer Success (CS), although not a new profession, is still a foreign concept to many. Since it’s an evolving industry, some confusion around it is natural. To add to that confusion and complexity, CS roles come in different shapes and sizes like customer managers, customer success associates, etc. The exact job requirements usually vary according to a company’s organizational structure. In this blog post, let’s find out how Customer Success is different from the Professional Services function.  

First, let’s understand the concept of professional service?

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What is a Professional Service ?

A Professional Service (PS) takes the action required to achieve an end goal. For example- a PS team can configure a feature on behalf of customers. Hence, many B2B SaaS firms offer Professional Services as they can certainly add value to both pre and post-sales customer experiences. Services like Onboarding & Implementation, Product customization, Change management, etc. are the ones offered under this umbrella. Several research studies have shown that these services help drive the other primary spokes of customer success like retention, and expansion.

A Professional Service aims to deliver business outcomes. It helps increase enterprise sales because these customers face challenges when implementing new products and workflows. Usually, their existing systems are complex and sophisticated. A professional service provider offers a guaranteed solution to the specific problem of the customer.

Reducing churn is another advantage. A survey concluded that “If a customer spends a greater percentage of their first year ARR in Professional Services, the company can expect to see lower gross dollar churn”.

This is made possible by a smooth launch of the customer journey from the ‘pre-sale’ stage itself. Right Onboarding significantly reduces the chances of churn. is done right, When done right, Onboarding significantly reduces chances of customer churn

How is Customer Success different from Professional service?

Customer Success is a proactive function. CS professionals are subject matter experts who tirelessly find ways to help customers achieve their goals. They start by thoroughly understanding their customer’s business objectives. Using specific use cases (that the customer is trying to solve) helps to drive product usage and user adoption. As a result, ensuring retention and expansion. It is the force behind driving business outcomes. 

Customer success will be there with the customer through his/her entire customer lifecycle. It’s not a one-time job. The function continues as the customer’s business goals mature and grow with time. 

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Customer Success vs Professional Services 

Both teams are experts who assist customers build and implementing best practices. The big difference between these two functions lies in the application of these practices. 

Customer Success (CS)Professional Service (PS)
CS provides the necessary tools to customers to achieve the end goal themselves. PS takes required action to achieve the end goal on behalf of customers. 
Eg- The customer Success team consults and instructs customers to configure a feature themselves. Eg- The Professional Services team configures a feature on behalf of customers. 
Proactive function.Scheduled function.
CS focuses on a long-term relationship with customers. PS is a short-term and billable process. 
Customer Success is a strategic function.Professional Service is a ‘White-glove’ doer function. 
Customer Success Revenue is exponential.Professional Service Revenue is linear.

How to align Customer Success with Professional Services? 

The sure shot way to accomplish customer and company goals are through having both Customer Success and Professional Services functions work together. 

Most of these professional services projects are done during the implementation and customer Onboarding stage. The team can serve as a valuable resource in connecting pre and post-sales teams if the scope and other relevant details are already discussed. 

A Customer Success Manager (CSM) and a consultant could work together to set up future processes for the customer. 

If any other project does come up in the future, the consultant can chip in to remove blockers to ensure their customer’s success. Key Contributions that a PS team does are as follows:

  • Ensuring a smooth and successful Implementation and Onboarding.
  • Providing solutions to common customer requests.
  • Supporting the enterprise customers, as and when a need arises.

When these processes are in place, the baton passes onto the Customer Success team which works continuously to drive desired results for the customer. 

Final Thoughts on Aligning the functions

Both Customer Success and Professional Services functions focus on a common goal- to ensure that the customer achieves their desired business outcomes. They just do it differently. Customer Success professionals, irrespective of their differences, work on providing a seamless customer experience right from the start of their journey with your firm. 

Aligning both functions is crucial in ensuring the stage is set right for processes in the future. Maintaining a long-term relationship with your customers is absolutely essential. Whereas the importance of providing packaging solutions that help customers in short term can’t be overlooked. In other words, customer success and professional services need to work shoulder to shoulder to ensure customer retention and expansion. 

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Content marketer at CustomerSuccessBox | An avid reader, a passionate writer and a life long learner | Writer @ Hacker Noon | B2B SaaS & Customer Success enthusiast |