One of the most important things Customer Success teams do—and essentially, you could argue, their raison d'être—is to capture the myriad of signals customers give off in order to fully understand their success with a product (and therefore understand their likelihood of renewal).
Typically, we call this health scoring, and can then use these insights for efforts such as identifying and mitigating risk, churn modeling and customer maturity modeling.
Drowning in data
With so many metrics to play with, Customer Success teams often fall foul of getting lost in the data—losing any qualitative (or common sense!) insights and struggling to humanize the data in a way that allows them to make meaningful changes that actually impact retention rates.
So let’s take it back, break it down and cut the frills: Which metrics should you, as a Customer Success practitioner, focus on to get the most bang for your buck? Let’s gather some valuable insights without drowning in data!
Engagement—with the tool, with you, and with each other
In Customer Success we’re typically already pretty good at keeping track of our customers’ product usage and their engagement with us as a company—certainly for higher ACV segments. Hopefully, we already know if we have the right number of relationships with the right people across those accounts, both at DMU level and user level, for example.
But how much attention are you paying to your users’ engagement levels amongst themselves and within your customer ‘community’?
Community engagement is a huge leading indicator for strong health scores. When customers interact with each other and share best practices, your product is not only being further cemented into their workflow, but they are also receiving more opportunity to get added value from it.
This is especially important to pay attention to within the long-tail of your customer base—those lower ACV clients who may give off fewer obvious health signals and tend to stick to your self-serve and tech touch offerings.
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Robin van Lieshout, gives some great suggestions for measuring customer engagement in this blog post.
In the SaaS industry, we take pride in the number of people using our software products and how much value they get—and rightly so! That’s why product adoption ﬁgures are so important for overall success in SaaS, and why Customer Success teams are dead set on seeing them increase. Maximizing product adoption is about making sure customers have the necessary tools they need to get the most potential from your product at all times, including:
- During the onboarding process
- As you deliver new functionality
- And when rolling out product updates
Alongside the standard interactive usage metrics, look into other activation metrics and usage ratios to figure out which data is most useful to help you understand the users of your product specifically.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for inspiration on strategies to stimulate product adoption, check out this presentation from Usabilla and inSided with some best practices on that very topic.
A no-brainer, right?! A key focus for any CSM worth their salt is to maximize the customer experience and ensure the product delivers the customer’s desired outcome(s). Of course, this then directly correlates to the long-term engagement and retention of said customer. Review NPS data regularly, as they can really help act as a red flag when other health indicator signals aren’t firing.
Lay the foundations
Of course, I’m certainly not suggesting that these metrics alone will give you all the insight you need, but they’re a great start when it comes to setting some basic foundations for leading indicators, rather than lagging measures like logo retention.
Jay Nathan, Founder of CS consultancy Customer Imperative puts it nicely during an interview on The inSide Scoop podcast:
There's a big lack of tracking conversations and touch points that we're having with customers with regards to the overall relationship health. I think as an industry, or as a subset of the SaaS world, Customer Success has to get much better at going down a level. It's not just gross retention or logo retention. Those aren't the KPIs. I mean, those are important KPIs, but they're lagging measures.
Founder, Customer Imperative
So, pull your head out of that bucket of overwhelming data you were drowning in and take a deep breath!
Start by identifying the key leading indicators (i.e. pre-emptive warnings) of most use to you (i.e. in the context of your product and your customer base), and establish the metrics you’ll track within the areas highlighted above of engagement, adoption and NPS/satisfaction, to lay some solid foundations for Customer Success measurement.
Fancy some interesting listening with your morning coffee or while you process email? Check out our podcast, The inSide Scoop, where we chat to Customer Success leaders and have them spill some of the secrets to their success. This is a great one to get started with. You can also find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Or maybe you’re looking for more juicy Customer Success how-tos? Download our eBook, ‘How to Keep and Grow Your Customers’ for some strategic and tactical guidance that will really help you move the needle.
By Danielle Juson
Customer success community expert and writer at inSided. Passionate about sharing the value and impact of community, and enabling companies to get it right. Connect on Linkedin