Designing an Actionable Customer Health Model

March 1, 2017 Maranda Dziekonski

Designing an Actionable Customer Health ModelFor anyone who has ever been tasked with building a Customer Success Manager role from scratch, scaling out a Customer Success team, or implementing a Customer Success platform, I am sending a special shout out to you!

While you’re at it, give yourself a fist bump, high five, or a bear hug (whichever you prefer). I’ll wait a moment… go ahead, you deserve it.

Puppy Customer Success Manager

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to the to meat and potatoes of why you are here and reading this article: you’re building out your Customer Health Model or refining your current one. And if you’re like any of us, you are probably sitting in front of your computer screen right now, Googling “How to build out a health model” or some variation of it. Great news! I have a few practical tips that will help you out.

Let’s hop to it!

Step 1: Increase your customer knowledge, and understand their experience in your product.

  • Get to know your future customers. Know your customers not just for today, but also for tomorrow. If you are like any other tech company, your goal is usually to land and expand. When you start building your health model, don’t just build it for your current customers. Instead, think through what actions you want your customers to take to get them on the road to expansion.

  • Be a customer of your own product! What is the typical journey that your customer takes through your product? Map it out and understand every stop point and phase along the way. How can you drive value in each customer moment?

  • Sit with Support. There are very few teams in your organization that probably know more about your customers than your support team. Answer tickets with them, listen to calls and review reports on why the customers contact support. Support holds the keys to the inside knowledge that you need.

  • Understand the whys before the hows. Before you make an important decision on what success is in your product, or how you are going to help your customer achieve that, ask yourself “Why is this important to begin with?”. You want your customer base to be as sticky in your product as possible, but don’t arbitrarily create a health model on actions you “think” make them sticky. Ask yourself “why” this will make them sticky or help them realize the value in your product.

Step 2: Corral your data

  • Understand your systems and data. If you are like any other company, you probably have data housed across multiple systems. Do an inventory of all of the systems that you have and the data that lives in each system. Great examples would be, usage and login data living in your internal proprietary tool, sales information in Salesforce, and ticket information in ZenDesk.

  • Understand what is and isn’t crucial. Once you figure out what data you have and where it lives, take a giant leap back and think about what data is crucial. What information must you know in order to understand your customers, the activities that they take on a daily basis, the features that they heavily use, and what will make them sticky? Not all information is needed or necessary. In the beginning, keep it simple.

  • Corral into a common repository. Data is just data when it lives alone, siloed in the various systems that it currently resides. But, once you corral that data into a common repository (there are many great Customer Success Platforms that you can use to achieve this), you can then start identifying trends. This takes data that could otherwise be meaningless and turns it into actionable datasets.

Step 3: Segmentation time

Not all customers are created equal. As much as we would like to treat every customer that we have the same, that is simply not realistic or scalable. You cannot give the same attention to a customer that pays you $15 a month that you would to a customer that pays $1500 a month. Well, you could, but how would that scale and is that really fair to those that pay a premium for that attention?

Instead, this is where segmentation comes in. There are so many ways you can slice that customer pie. For the sake of your health model, we will look at a few:

  • Business size (or logo). Not how much have they purchased from you, but what is the potential growth opportunity (remember, land and expand).

  • ARR/MRR. Annual or monthly recurring revenue.

  • By Industry. What industry are they in?

  • Free vs. Paid

    • And segments within the paid such as:

      • Small business

      • Mid-market

      • Enterprise

Step 4: Identify commonality

Even though you may have different expectations of health for different customer segments, I will go out on a limb to say that there are some actions you want every customer (regardless of size) to take.

Identify those desired shared behaviors and institute some best practices to leverage or instill that predictability in your entire customer base. If you expect every customer to do a certain activity in order to be considered healthy, partner with your marketing team to distribute content promoting that behavior.

Step 5: Think company-wide

  • Identify your customer’s magic moment and share it! When is that moment in your product where your customer stares gazingly into the heavens and realizes the amazing value that you have just provided? You should know this moment or moments and work hard to help your customer experience this again and again.

  • Use insights to influence both internal and external customers. Once you have the “magic moment(s)” figured out, share it with your entire customer base, internal and external. Internal customers (your Product, Marketing and Sales team) can use this information to help build, promote, and sell to new customers.

Step 6: You’re missing something

Nothing about your health model will be static. As you grow and evolve your product and customer base, you will need to review your health model for gaps. What makes your customers successful in your product today, may or may not be the same thing tomorrow.

Think about how your product continuously evolves. New features, new integrations, new look, new feel, all of these impact how your customers view the value of your product. If you are not evolving your health model alongside your product, you could, in fact, be “missing something”.

Here is a quick recap of these six simple steps:

  • Step 1: Increase your customer knowledge, and understand their experience in your product. Know your customers and your product!

  • Step 2: Corral your data. Get all of the critical data into a common repository.

  • Step 3: Segmentation time. Follow simple best practices for segmenting your customers.

  • Step 4: Identify commonality. Identify activities that everyone should do to be successful, regardless of segment.

  • Step 5: Think company-wide. Share those magical customer moments with your internal customers to drive future product decisions and increase customer adoption.

  • Step 6: You’re missing something. Iterate and iterate again. Remember, your health model is not static and will need to evolve as your product does.

What other steps would you add to make this fit perfectly into your customer ecosystem?

 

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About the Author

Maranda Dziekonski

Maranda Dziekonski is the Vice President over Customer Operations at HelloSign. In her current role at HelloSign, Maranda oversees Customer Success, Support, and API (Engineering) Support. Maranda has almost 20 years experience working in customer facing roles in various industries and also does operations consulting primarily in the start-up world. When not building teams, process, infrastructure, you can find her either with her family or escaping the hustle and bustle hiking in the mountains.

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