Strikedeck Radio - Episode 56

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Rona Yang, who leads Customer Success Operations at Dynamic Yield, joins our Strikedeck podcast this week. In this episode, Rona shares with Kristen some of the approaches she took in creating the processes that have made her team a success. Happy listening!

Strikedeck Radio is a partnership between Strikedeck and The Success League. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and anywhere else you get your podcasts or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to get updates on new episodes.

Scoring Health and Risk

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By Kristen Hayer

Last week Jeremy Gillespie wrote about the Top 10 Health Metrics Customer Success Should Be Measuring, and I thought I’d jump in with some practical advice on how to turn those into a health score. Whether you’re thinking about ways to make your manual health score more quantitative, or building a health algorithm for your CS platform, you need to take a methodical, data-driven approach. Here’s the process we go through when we’re working on developing health scores with our clients.

List Your Hypotheses

Every company has ideas about why customers are healthy and why they churn. Your job is to separate fact from fiction, but before you can do that you need to understand the thinking that is out there. Meet with the leaders of customer-facing teams like sales, marketing and support, as well as your own CSMs and collect a list of all of theories people have on churn and health. As crazy as some of them might sound (“Calling our customers too often is making them churn.”) it is worth testing as many as you can and debunking any myths that might be floating around. Be sure to go beyond product usage and consider the items on Jeremy’s list as well as demographics (like industry or location) that may make specific groups of customers inherently riskier.

 

Test Your Theories

Go down the list of hypotheses and design tests to see if those items do in fact make customers healthier or riskier. A starting point is to look at the data you have on the customers you consider the healthiest and the customers that have churned over the past year. From those data sets, you can see if there are trends that support the theories you came up with. For example, to explore whether more calls to customers do drive churn up, you might measure the number of calls that each churned customer received and compare that to the number of calls to customers who stuck around. Note: Early stage companies often won’t have enough data for these tests to be statistically valid. You’re looking for solid trends, not perfection at this stage. Keep testing, and make changes as needed over time.

Determine Thresholds

Once you’ve figured out your key indicators of health or risk, think about them on a spectrum. For each measure that will be a part of your health score, you’ll need a point at which a customer is considered healthy, and a point at which they are considered at risk. Anything in the middle is shown on most models as yellow – OK, but not great. This is where you can go back to the tests you performed in the last step. Let’s say you found that customers who use your solution less than once a week are more likely to churn. That’s your risk threshold. Then you need to consider the healthy side of the spectrum. How often do your healthiest customers use your solution? Once you determine that, you’ll be able to set the health threshold. If you have a large customer base, keep in mind that you may find that different customer segments have different thresholds.
 

Test Your Algorithm

When you have all of your indicators and thresholds established, you have a health algorithm. Now you need to test it. This is definitely easier if you have a CS platform or CRM you can use to track a customer’s health score at any given point in time. However, you can get scrappy if you have to and manually review a customer’s score at the point of churn, expansion or renewal. On the churn side of things, you shouldn’t see any healthy (green) customers churning. Likewise, you shouldn’t see too many risky (red) customers expanding or renewing. If you do, something is off with your algorithm. Dig in on those accounts to see what happened, and make adjustments to your algorithm as needed. Ideally you should test over the course of a quarter, two quarters if your volume of customers is low or your business is highly seasonal.

 

Visualize Your Base

Once you have dialed in your health score, you can start to really see how the initiatives you’re tackling as a customer success team are playing out in terms of health. If you snapshot your entire customer base each month, you can really see the movement of customers. Most popular CS platforms include reports you can use to visualize the health and risk of your entire customer base, but even if you don’t have one of those tools, you can use a spreadsheet to accomplish the same thing. As you review these snapshots over time you should be able to see the impact that your efforts are having on your base. This can be a powerful demonstration of the value customer success is bringing to the organization. 

 As you go through the process of determining your health score, keep in mind that this should be unique to your organization and that it will shift over time. Developing a data-driven score takes a lot of effort, but is worth the investment. Accurate measures of health and risk are an excellent resource for your leadership team, and a great way to showcase your team’s work.

Need extra help developing a customer health score? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers Leadership Coaching. For more information on our consulting services as well as our training classes and other engagements please visit our website at TheSuccessLeague.io

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Kristen Hayer - Kristen believes that customer success is the key to driving revenue, client retention and exceptional customer experiences. Her areas of expertise include developing success goals and metrics, designing the optimal customer journey, selecting technology, training teams, and building playbooks. Prior to founding The Success League, Kristen built and led several award-winning customer success teams. Over the past 20 years she has been a success, sales, and marketing executive, primarily working with growth-stage tech companies. Kristen has her BA from Seattle Pacific University and her MBA from the University of Washington.

Early Bird Discount on Fall Classes Available Now!

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With our spring/summer classes winding down, we are already looking ahead to the start of our fall training programs. Get in early and be rewarded! Through the month of July, sign up for either our CSM Certification Program or our CS Leadership bundle and receive 20% off. Classes begin the week of August 26, 2019.

Please use code “CSM20FALL” for our CSM Certification Program

and “LEADER20FALL” for our Leadership Program

Looking forward to seeing you in class!

Top 10 Health Metrics Customer Success Should Be Measuring

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By Jeremy Gillespie

Knowing the health of your customers should be at the top of you priority list. The problem? There are so many metrics, it’s hard to know what really matters. In this post, I’m going to cover the top 10 metrics you should consider as you try to understand health of your customers. 

The following metrics will allow you to understand the value customers are getting from your platform, and if they’re likely to renew or churn. An important note: These metrics depend on both product usage, as well as human interactions with CSMs. By using both, you can build a comprehensive health score that is more accurate than simply using product usage data alone.

1. Daily or Monthly Active Users

First, know what portion of your customers are using the product on a daily basis. For a high-level view, consider using Daily Active Users (DAU) divided by Monthly Active users (MAU). 

What’s the number you should shoot for? That depends on the type of company you have. It varies greatly depending on the business. Some variables to be aware of are: 

  • Should users be logging in daily? 

  • What do you consider an active user?

It’s important to note, what you define as ‘active’ makes or breaks this metric. If anyone logging in is considered active, this may become a vanity metric with no real value. Make sure you’re measuring a level of activity that produces value for the customer. 

2. Feature Adoption 

It’s great to understand if people are using your product, but we all know every feature is not created equal. Customers get more value out of some features than others. Because of this we need to define two things: 

  1. What are the high-value features?

  2. What percentage of users are using these features? 

This will show you if the features are being adopted, and if users are returning to these high-value features.

3. NPS

We’re not going to go into a lot of detail on NPS, since we’ve outlined it here. Just like other metrics, NPS is not THE metric to measure, it’s one of many to give you as 360 degree view of customer health.

It is important to note that adding a layer of context to NPS is a great way to gather more insights from the scores. A popular way to do this is to gather scores at different stages of the customer journey. 

4. Customer Communication

This depends on the support model for your product, but knowing how frequently customers are engaging with your team is important. As customers progress across their journey, you need to make sure they’re receiving the proper level of engagement to be successful. To properly measure this, you’ll need to know the frequency of communication across email, phone, meetings or chat.

Note: More is not always better. You’ll need to find the right balance for your customers. In addition, think about implementing a sentiment score to understand if these communications are positive or negative.

5. Feedback from Customer Success 

Who knows the customer health better than the people who’ve been talking to them? This is why you need to capture the feedback from your CSMs. Yes, this feedback is subjective, but it’s necessary for a comprehensive score. Typically, this score should be updated monthly or quarterly. For each score level, make sure you have clearly defined what it takes to hit that level across the team.

Note: If CSMs are measured against this score, it may lead to inaccurate scores.

6. Time To Onboard

We don’t want to say onboarding is everything, but…onboarding is everything. You should know how long it takes a typical customer to onboard and measure new customers against this. Improving onboarding is an ongoing process you’re revisiting quarterly to see where you can improve. Many companies strive to reduce the time to onboard, but that is not always a good idea. Since onboarding sets the tone for the relationship, it’s important to get the customer to see value as quickly as you can, but not rush the process.

7. Support Tickets

You should also pay attention to how many support tickets are submitted by the customer. Support tickets can be positive or negative, so make sure you’re taking this into consideration. Tickets can be for quick questions, report bugs, request training, or to provide feedback, so categorize them (if possible). As you gather data, you’ll be able to understand what the right number of ticket is for a healthy account vs. unhealthy account.

8. License Utilization Rate

If you have a product based on licenses you need to know what percentage of seats are being used. Knowing this will allow you to identify expansion opportunities, as well as customers who may not be seeing the full value because they’re not filling their seats. If you have customers who aren’t filling their licenses, the best case scenario is downsizing, and the worst case scenario is churn. It is better to understand what is happening early.

9. Budget Owner Engagement

Each of your CSMs should know who the budget owner is on each account. Keeping this relationship strong is very important for long-term retention. Make sure you’re tracking the last time you’ve engaged with key stakeholders, including the budget owner. If the relationship begins to become distant or they leave the company, this can signal a high-risk of churn. For ideas on how to develop a long-term relationship with budget owners, consider this class.

10. Late Payments

Customers paying invoices on time…we all know this doesn’t happen, but it’s still important to track. Each customer has a different reason for paying late, so it’s good to know both the reason for late payment, and which customers have outstanding invoices over 30 days past due. All customers with overdue payments should be considered at risk, until you know what’s going on.

There you have it, the top 10 customer health metrics you should be measuring. It’s important to note one last time -- for you to fully understand the health of your customers you need objective and subjective inputs. By measuring these 10 metrics you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the health across your entire customer base.

Want to know which metrics you should be tracking? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that helps companies build top performing customer success teams. We transform support into success by building metrics, goals, and processes that enable customer success teams to perform at their peak. For more information on consulting offerings or our leadership training program, please visit TheSuccessLeague.io

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Jeremy Gillespie - Jeremy is a growth marketing expert who loves using complex data to build creative retention solutions. He is a founding advisor to The Success League, and is also the founder of Built to Scale, a consulting firm focused developing customer acquisition and retention programs. He holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and MBA from Point Park University. He's a proud former Pittsburgher, currently living in San Francisco.

Strikedeck Radio - Episode 55

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We have a new Strikedeck Radio podcast this week! Listen in as our CEO, Kristen Hayer, discusses gender diversity in customer success with Irene Lefton, a thought leader and consultant in the CS field. Enjoy!

Strikedeck Radio is a partnership between Strikedeck and The Success League. You can subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and anywhere else you get your podcasts or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to get updates on new episodes.