Burn the churn 9 min read

How to build a data-driven Customer Success team

Hannah Whalen • February 7, 2022

Welcome to another week of Burn the Churn! This week, it's time to do some core work. And what sits at the core of any solid customer health model? Data. So let's make sure your CS team has the goods to be truly data-driven. Let's go! 💪 (Not signed up for the challenge yet? Join here.)

Data and technology are at the heart of Customer Success. It’s what allows you to quantify and measure what’s otherwise just gut instinct and guessing.

To put it another way: If your tech stack is the engine, then data is the fuel.

And in 2022, your CS team is in the driver’s seat.

Set your Customer Success team up for data-driven success with this in-depth guide. From picking your team to defining high-impact metrics to evangelizing data culture across your org, we’ve got you covered – churn, be gone!

Let’s dive in.

Why Customer Success Should Be Data-Driven 

Data drives business just about everywhere — but in 2021, Customer Success has seen an acceleration of this trend as organizations harness the full power of customer data.

The benefits are clear: companies with strong data-driven cultures are twice as likely to have exceeded business goals in the past year versus those with weaker data cultures.

Data helps you answer key questions about your customers. With better customer data insights, you’ll be able to:

  • Develop targeted customer engagement strategies
  • Deepen your relationship with your customers
  • Get important product feedback 
  • Better pinpoint causes of churn and improve prediction models
  • Drive more retention and upselling opportunities 

Yet, 39% of professionals admit they’re “not totally sure” what it means to be data-driven in their organization. 

Whether you’re just starting out building a data-informed Customer Success team or leveling up to the next stage, we’re here to help.

How to build a data-driven Customer Success team


1.  Hire data-driven people

When you’re putting together a team, look to hire the kind of people that get excited by data and who thrive in front of a spreadsheet. But even more importantly, seek those who have a passion to drive things to be better because of data. 

Finally, you’ll also want to enlist team members that also have a commercial lens of data, who can put themselves in the shoes of the CSM. With this mindset, you’ll empower successful cross-functional collaboration.

Recruit from data-driven companies or maybe you’re more inclined to hire internally. But once you find your data-minded folks, don’t let them go.

2.  Identify your metrics for data success

With your people in place, it’s time for your team to get to work identifying metrics for success. But how do you decide which are the right ones for you?

The challenge is there is no one north star metric, there are lagging metrics and leading metrics and you’ve got to keep an eye on all of them. Here’s how.

  • Create a clear customer journey
  • Identify the milestones along that journey
  • Select the data points you need to track against that journey 

You’ll have top of funnel milestones and bottom of funnel milestones – i.e. traditional metrics, churn retention, revenue retention, and logo retention. 

Once you’ve chosen your basic metrics, it’s time to get intentional with high-impact metrics.

3.  Be data-intentional with your high-impact metrics 

Are you doing the right things or are you just doing things? 

Successful data-driven CS teams don’t just tick things off a list, they take actions that make an impact, drive specific outcomes and maximize customer engagement.

Define your measurable, high-impact activities. These might be QBRs, strategic engagements, renewal conversations, or depending on your business, even a hot-topic educational conversation. 

This helps you understand how many customers are engaging in high-impact activities. If you’re not reaching these numbers, ask yourself: 

  • Are you using the right tools? 
  • Are you staffed enough? 
  • Are the ratios leveraged too much? 

Then, you can always adjust your defined high-impact activities as needed.

4.  Centralize your data in one accessible place 

Got a ton of useful data in different places? Siloed data holds your CS team back from maximizing success. 

Consolidate your customer data in one centralized, accessible spot for better data-driven decisions.

Give your CS team a single source of truth of ALL of your customers’ touchpoints – from community engagement to customer feedback — by connecting all your teams and data sources.

By centralizing your customer data, you’ll be better able to drive more value to customers, develop targeted engagement strategies and create deeper relationships with your customers.

5.  Prioritize your CS team dashboards and reporting

Your dashboards might be brilliant but are they actually driving value in making your CSM’s day-to-day life easier and more efficient? Are they moving the needle when it comes to churn prediction or possible product adoption? 

Give your CS team the data they need. When it comes to your data dashboards and reporting, it’s critical to prioritize from a frontline CSM perspective to have the full impact.

After all, these are the folks who have to consume and leverage the data to its maximum efficiency. 

Dashboards and reports can and should roll up to management to be shared with execs across different views and lenses, but first and foremost they should be geared to be used by the actual CSM on a day-to-day basis.

6.  Empower your CS Team to make data-driven decisions 

When it comes to data, it’s easy to be like a kid in a candy store: we just want more! But sometimes that can lead to analysis paralysis with too much data and too few decisions.

Now that your CS team has the access and perspective to see a full 360° overview of all your customer data, it’s critical to actually leverage that data in everyday decisions. 

The benefits are clear: 56% of organizations say data and analytics have helped their teams achieve faster, more efficient decision-making.

56% of organizations say data and analytics have helped their teams achieve faster, more efficient decision-making.

Give your CS team the autonomy to effectively use the data at their fingertips to make real, data-informed decisions.

7.  Foster data literacy in your company culture 

Great data-informed CS teams start with a data-driven culture. Even if you already share customer data across your org, are folks in different departments able to connect the dots?

A whopping two-thirds of organizations rely on a small group of highly data-specialized employees to work with data. Yet, company-wide data democratization holds huge benefits: In companies all employees are data-trained, 88 percent exceeded business goals.

Make data accessible for everyone with:

  • Role-specific dashboards
  • Custom reports 
  • Visualized data views 

...to inform stakeholders and departments, no matter where they sit in your org. Create a standard of backing up decisions with data points, in CS and beyond.

When you evangelize data literacy across your entire organization, you unlock the full power of your data.  

Give your team the tools they need to leverage data

Data is becoming more and more critical as organizations scale up and data-driven teams are leading the charge. How does your team stack up?

If you’re looking to give your team an edge, start with your technology stack. A truly data-driven Customer Success team needs the right CS tech stack to succeed.

Give your team seamlessly integrated, purpose-built tools to unlock a world of user data, boost community engagement, and get a 360° view of your customer.

Need help empowering your CS team to be more data-driven with technology? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to The Technology Stack for Customer Success Teams.

Ready to burn the churn and improve your customer health scores? 

Join inSided’s 8-week customer health challenge and get access to content, events, and tips on how you can go from red to green.

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Picture of Hannah Whalen

By Hannah Whalen

Hannah is the Senior Content Strategist for inSided, specializing in B2B SaaS content marketing and digital strategy. An avid writer, she travels to explore bookshops, eat local cuisine and walk for miles (likely in pursuit of a stray cat). Connect on Linkedin

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