Dealing with a CEO Who Doesn’t Understand Customer Success: Strategies for Success

CEO Customer Success

In the world of business, effective communication and alignment among various departments are crucial for an organization’s success. However, what happens when your CEO doesn’t quite grasp the importance of Customer Success (CS) and constantly questions the value your team brings to the table? This is a scenario that many CS professionals find themselves facing.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the challenges posed by a CEO who doesn’t understand Customer Success and provide you with strategies to overcome these hurdles.

The Disconnect with CEO

One of the most common issues CS teams encounter is a lack of alignment with the CEO’s expectations. Your CEO might believe that meetings are the only activities that matter and that emails or other forms of communication are “trash work.” They might also measure your team’s performance solely by the number of meetings on your calendar. However, the reality is often quite different.

Understanding the Customer Reality

To bridge this gap in understanding, it’s essential to recognize that your clients have their own challenges and constraints. They might be swamped with their daily tasks, making it challenging to engage in onboarding processes or quarterly business reviews (QBRs). While you aim to be proactive, your clientele might prefer communicating through emails rather than video conferences. Additionally, clients may not see immediate results, especially if you’re dealing with software bugs or other technical issues.

Overcoming the Challenges

  1. Educate Your CEO: Begin by educating your CEO about the true nature of Customer Success. Highlight the long-term benefits and the fact that it’s not always about immediate results. Share industry benchmarks and success stories to make your case.
  2. Track and Prove Value: Show how Customer Success contributes to the bottom line. Measure key metrics like Net Revenue Retention (NRR) for accounts with and without a CSM. Demonstrate how your team reduces churn, drives upsells, and enhances customer satisfaction.
  3. Invest Wisely: If your CEO is reluctant to invest in additional tools or resources, get creative with what you have. Leverage your CRM for better automation, and create training videos with minimal expenses. Find low-cost, low-code solutions to improve efficiency.
  4. Customer-Centric Approach: Communicate with your clients, and actively listen to their needs. When they see the value you bring to their business, they’ll be more inclined to participate in QBRs and other proactive activities.
  5. Talk Their Language: If your CEO values meetings, try to schedule more “office hours” for customers. Treat these as drop-in sessions where clients can discuss their needs. This approach not only aligns with your CEO’s preference but also provides value to your clients.

Consider Your Options

If your CEO remains resistant to change and continues to undervalue Customer Success efforts, it might be time to explore other opportunities. Toxic work environments can lead to burnout and dissatisfaction. In today’s job market, there are often better prospects that align with your professional goals and values.


Dealing with a CEO who doesn’t understand Customer Success can be challenging, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. By educating your CEO, proving the value of your team, and taking a customer-centric approach, you can pave the way for better understanding and collaboration. If all else fails, remember that there are more supportive and appreciative workplaces out there where your skills and contributions will be truly valued.

Author: Hakan Ozturk

Driving Customer Success | Top CS News from Silicon Valley to Paris and beyond.

Hakan Ozturk

Hakan Ozturk
Founder,, #1 Weekly Customer Success Newsletter

Hakan Ozturk is a Paris-based Customer Success leader with over 15 years of experience in the computer software industry. Passionate about driving growth and delivering value to strategic customers, Hakan has established himself as a trusted industry expert. As the Founder of The Customer Success Café Newsletter and, Hakan provides valuable industry insights and daily-updated job opportunities worldwide in the field of Customer Success. Connect with Hakan to boost your career in CS and your company’s potential for massive growth.

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