Customer Success at Scale

By Jeremy Gillespie

Do you know about Hiroshi Mikitani’s Rule of 3 and 10? Essentially, the rule states everything in your company breaks as you grow 3x and 10x. And there aren’t any exceptions to this rule. He means everything. Each time you reach one of these milestones everything needs to change... and that includes your customer success engagement model. 

I would argue especially your engagement model. After all, 70-95% of your revenue comes from renewals and up-sells. But you knew that!

So how do you build a scalable Customer Success engagement model? I’ll show you with these 4 steps to success:

Measure Usage

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Peter Drucker quote, “what gets measured, gets managed.” Well he’s right. Start with actively measuring usage. I say actively because this is something you should be using on a daily basis to drive engagement, measure risk and provide insights to your team.

At the beginning you’re looking to set a baseline for stages of the customer journey. Each stage of the journey will have a success goal, which is your desired outcome for the customer.

“At the end of this phase, customers should be ______.”

This graphic from Totango, is a great representation of how to map your customer journey. Across the bottom, you can see they’ve defined each stage. Develop a similar timeline for your product and benchmark engagement for each phase. We’ll put this to good use in a second. :)

ACTION ITEM: Develop a baseline of usage at each stage of the customer journey.

Score

Now that you’ve defined a goal and usage baseline for each stage, the next step is to create a scoring system. Think of this score as the health of an account. In fact, if you’re using Customer Success software to track engagement, it is usually referred to as a ‘Health Score.’ This health score will measure their propensity to upgrade, renew, churn, etc.

Your scoring model is derived from usage patterns you see across accounts. The score will use a number of signals and roll them up into one clear and easy to understand number.

  “Accounts with a score of ___ are likely to _____.”

The beauty of a score is that you can very quick measure and more importantly, manage risk across your customer base.

Make sure to segment accounts by their score and which stage they’re in. This will make next step a breeze.

ACTION ITEM: Develop a Health Score and segment accounts by their score and part of the customer journey they’re in.

Message

Onward. Use your score to automate communication with your accounts at each stage. Typically, you’ll have a messaging stream for accounts in Good, Average and Bad health. This allows you to serve them relevant communication to actively move them on towards the next phase. Do not be afraid to breakdown your stages into additional segments. For example, if your company serves companies large and small, break your Onboarding stage into six different streams.

Onboarding - Enterprise Accounts

  • Good Health
  • Average Health
  • Bad Health

Onboarding – SMB Accounts

  • Good Health
  • Average Health
  • Bad Health

This might seem like extra work, but it’s well worth the time. Remember, your communication should be relevant.

Since this post is about scalability, here’s a few ways you can take a one-to-many approach.  Do some testing to figure out the best way to engage your customer base.

  1. Email additional product information
  2. Email a personal reach out and check-in
  3. In-app message
  4. Offer in-app chat
  5. Invite them to join a webinar
  6. Invite them to a customer event

ACTION ITEM: Build automated messaging streams for customers with Good, Average and Bad health at each stage of their customer lifecycle.

Action Plan

Your messaging should not happen in a silo without informing key members of your Customer Success team. Use alerts and tasks in your CRM to make sure everyone is on the same page and accounts are contacted in a timely manner.

At this point, the team should implement an action plan to make sure the customer hits their milestones. These plans will be tweaked and unique for each customer, but you should have well-defined ‘playbooks’ for the team to work from. This will provide consistency and structure for scalability.

ACTION ITEM: Build Customer Success playbooks to define actions a Customer Success Managers will take to provide value to your customers at each stage of the lifecycle.

Put the Pieces Together

To engage customers at scale you need to take build a strategy that doesn’t break as you add new team members and/or customers. This model will not be built overnight and it will need optimized, but the hard work will payoff.

Don’t wait until for the Rule of 3 and 10 to bite you. Take action today!

  1. Measure Usage - develop a baseline of usage at each stage of the customer journey.
  2. Score - create a Health Score and segment accounts by their score and part of the customer journey they’re in.
  3. Message - build automated messaging streams for customers with Good, Average and Bad health at each stage of their customer lifecycle.
  4. Action Plan - develop Customer Success playbooks that define the actions Customer Success Managers will take to provide value to your customers at each stage of the lifecycle.

Need help identifying and implementing technology to support your customer success efforts?  The Success League team specializes in success tech!

Jeremy Gillespie - Jeremy is a growth-oriented marketing geek, technology enthusiast and customer evangelist. He loves using complex data to build creative retention solutions. By leveraging technology, Jeremy excels at creating scalable retention marketing programs.  He works for LinkedIn, holds a BA in Communication from the University of Pittsburgh and MBA from Point Park University.  He is a proud former Pittsburgher, but currently lives in San Francisco, CA.