By Andreas Knoefel
The Customer Success Performance Index™ (CSPI) measures operational Customer Success excellence in eight dimensions from internal Alignment to ROI. In 2018 over 100 companies participated in the global CSPI benchmark survey and confirmed the strong correlation between high Net Revenue Renewal (NRR) rates and high CSPI scores. If you would like to receive your personalized report, please take the 8-10 minute 2019 CSPI benchmark survey.
In addition to the summary of the 2018 global benchmark, I am presenting three high performing business leaders from the US, UK and Japan. First up is Lauren Costella from Medrio, a Top 100 Customer Success Influencer. She achieved one of the highest NRR rates and leads the benchmark with the highest CSPI score overall. Congratulations to Lauren and her team @ Medrio!
Lauren and I reviewed her personalized CSPI benchmark report and how Customer Success is ingrained into Medrio’s culture. Here is a unique glimpse behind the curtain that leads to Medrio’s exceptional business performance. Thank you Lauren for sharing some of your secrets.
Overall Value of the CSPI
Before we focused on some of the areas where she shines in particular, I asked her about her impression of the benchmark survey.
We Customer Success leaders want to compare ourselves against our peers. The CSPI benchmark survey provides the perfect platform to measure your business performance and excellence in a complete set of focus areas within the broad topic of Customer Success. Knowing where we stand in comparison to over 100 companies provides my CEO and Board of Directors with additional proof of the value of Customer Success. I find additional value in seeing where and what to improve next in my strategic 3 Year plan.
Customer Success is not a remote island. The companies with the highest NRR score also very high in the Alignment dimension of the CSPI and integrate Customer Success tightly into their companies. Medrio has embraced some of the concepts that show the tightest integration of Customer Success.
At Medrio we have a few categories with varying degrees of Long Term Value. Each contract is scored for it’s fit based on the solution fit, contract type and customer outcome. If a contract falls below a specific threshold, it is automatically reviewed in our Deal Desk, a council with representatives from Sales, Marketing, and Engineering. The contract risk is reviewed and next steps formulated to mitigate risk for Medrio and the prospective customer. With an average payback period in the software industry of 30 months, it is imperative to know ahead of time which customers we can make successful with our solutions and services, which ones we want to invest and which ones are not a strong fit.
This allows my team to focus our resources and maintain high profitability within Customer Success, which I am accountable for to our CFO, CEO and Board of Directors.
A strong relationship with your customers leads to the upsell and cross-sell opportunities to expand the account value and supports both parties in stressful times.
We treat our customers as partners with mutually agreed upon goals, a customer journey that considers their needs, and a mutually agreed upon communication schedule to (re)align our goals and improve their business. One of our customers struggled in one area and required additional attention from my team. Despite the struggle, the relationships with key stakeholders allowed us to move past this and continue to renew and expand the contract value.
In a subscription economy you are reselling your customers every year. Successful Sales is based on establishing an ROI schedule with your prospect. In Customer Success the natural focus should be to measure and demonstrate that the expected outcomes were achieved or even exceeded. Surprisingly for most of the participants in the 2018 CSPI benchmark survey this aspect of their Customer Success is highly undeveloped. It is however no surprise that the companies with the highest NRR shine here.
We set expected business outcomes and ROI like the “Time to setup a Study” with our customers very early in each sales or renewal cycle. Tracking and confirming the outcomes and ROI become a natural conversation point in our customer interactions. Achieving and even exceeding the expected ROI allows us to discuss an even brighter future with additional offerings, a higher value contract type or the penetration of additional business areas. One of our clients became so successful with our solution that they in turn became a service provider or CRO (Clinical Research Organization) and was able to increase their and Medrio’s profits substantially.
Next Steps for 2019
Our final topic was a look at 2019 and what Lauren has in mind next to increase her NRR rate and CSPI score even more.
There are several items in my 3 year plan to continue on our path to Customer Success excellence through iterative innovation and improvement. One focus area is in the Playbook dimension of the CSPI. We have now analytics in place to measure the effectiveness of each playbook. Now we can start to introduce new variations and Playbooks for specific scenarios. I fully expect to retire the less effective Playbooks in our effort to develop an optimal Playbook portfolio.
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Once more congratulation for the highest score in the 2018 CSPI benchmark Survey. I hope to see you again for the 2019 CSPI benchmark survey.
Lauren Costella - Lauren is a change agent, communicator, leader and passionate champion for Customer Success in business, since a great customer experience drives retention, growth and brand advocacy. Her expertise centers on building early signs for risk and growth, defining cross-department success plays, team enablement, operations and process, and selecting and implementing CS software. When she’s not working as the VP of Customer Success for Medrio, you can find her serving as an advisor and blogger for the Success League, an active board member for the Customer Success Network, and blogging generally about her CS experiences on the CS Playlist. Lauren has her MA and BA from Stanford University. She was a former USA National swim team member and enjoys staying active with running and surfing in the Bay Area.
Andreas Knoefel - Andreas is the inventor of the Customer Success Performance Index™ (CSPI) and a passionate customer success leader. He applies his practical and holistic approach to startups and giants SAP and Apple alike, combining his Ph.D. from KIT and MBA from Santa Clara with his international experience leading customers to success. He recently headed client success for NextLabs and is currently advising two startups on how to preserve their customer base and expand their revenue stream. Andreas finds work-life balance through modernist cooking, outdoors photography and teaching high-octane cycling classes.