What You Should Measure, But Probably Don’t

April 3, 2017 Maranda Dziekonski

What You Should Measure, But Probably Don’tOkay data junkies, let’s pause for a second (or about 244 seconds as this article is a little lengthy), and review what we are measuring in our Customer facing organizations.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you build it they will come.” Well l have created a version of my own: “If you measure it, you will have insights.”

I am not proposing sending yourself into a state of analysis paralysis by any means, but having a strong understanding of the world that you own is never a bad thing.

As with anything, you need to look at what’s right for your business, team, and customer base, but here are some core metrics and data points that if you are not already tracking, you should be!

In order to have the full picture of your customers’ experience, I am going to cross multiple chasms here and combine all things Customer Operations (Success and Support).

As you are about to get a lot of metrics thrown at you, I have broken this out into three buckets:

  • The obvious
  • The kind of obvious
  • Whoa, I didn’t think of that

Each bucket will have a mix of customer experience and efficiency metrics.

It’s also very important to note, that while this is customer focused, it is also crucial to measure employee engagement, retention/attrition, and overall happiness (which I do not go into below). Happy, engaged, and empowered team members are probably the strongest lever any organization can have in regards to driving customer success.

Happy, engaged, and empowered team members are probably the strongest lever any organization can have in regards to driving customer success.

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Ready to dig in? Great! Engage your data thinking caps, and let’s begin.


The obvious

Many of the points we're about to get into might seem obvious (especially if you're a long-time Support or Success professional). Even still, every solid house is built on a solid foundation. These metrics simply can't be ignored.

  • CSAT: Also known as customer satisfaction score. This is typically a measurement of how happy your customer is with the overall interactions that they’ve had with your team. CSAT is measured on a percentage basis (0-100%). Every positive rating equals 100% and of course negative 0%. Generally speaking, CSAT is sent out after each contact made (or case solved) with your Customer Support Team. Customer Success Managers should get into the habit of checking the CSAT of the most recent interaction(s) their accounts may have had with support. This will help them have a better picture of the overall account sentiment.

  • NPS: Also known as net promoter score. Simply said, that is asking your customers if they would promote your product. There is a lot of information already available on how to conduct a great NPS survey, so I won’t go into it in too much detail here. But, what I will say is make sure you segment your customers appropriately (by MRR, CSM, Sales, etc.), and be sure to follow up on the feedback (good, bad and ugly). There is nothing worse than giving feedback and feeling like it was filed away with no further thought.

  • Time to resolution: How long does it take your team to solve your Customer's issues (bugs included!) from contact initiation to resolution? This metric is typically owned by Support, but yet another measurement that Customer Success should be knowledgeable about with their customer base. It’s always good to know before reaching out with any proactive tidbits if your customer has a ticket that has been dying on the vine. Save yourself from unnecessary surprises and any degradation of customer sentiment.

  • Churn: This should need no introduction. Are you able to retain customers? How many leave you? How many downgrade (yes – downgrading is a type of churn)? I suggest some key segmentations when you are looking at your churn. There are always telling tidbits when you gather this data and really have a holistic view.
    A few things that I like to segment on:
           - Revenue
           - Products Purchased
           - Time with your company
           - Sales Professional that closed the deal
           - Customer Success Manager that managed the account

  • Overall Contacts (both quantity and reasons): The information that you learn from support contacts (reactive in nature), can really inform your Customer Success Team and help guide them on the areas that they should focus more on during their proactive interactions.

    • For Support, you will need to track how many contacts (emails, tickets, phone calls, chats) and reasons (cancellations, passwords, general help) to understand many things such as:
           - Forecasting for head count.
           - How to provide improved self-service options.
           - Random trends from changes you’ve made in your product.
           -  Overall efficiencies.

    • For Success, you should track things in a similar manner, but for different reasons:
           - Forecasting against the different customer segments to better understand and anticipate the different needs that SMB, Mid-Market and Enterprise customers may have.
           - How to become more proactive by learning from each interaction.
           - And just like support, understanding how changes in your product impact your customers.


The kind of obvious

The points that fall into this category are kind of obvious. These are things that you have heard of or even thought about putting into place, but didn’t really have a clear vision around what value they could drive. Now that you have a strong foundation, it’s time to start adding to it.

  • Customer Health Score: Whether you have a homegrown system or use a Customer Success tool, having a health score is a great beacon that can help guide Customer Success and Executives on the overall state of the customer portfolio. This is where you define what activities make a customer successful in your product. And based on the actions that they take and the health profile they fall into, this score will be a guiding point on how to help move that needle.

  • Customer Onboarding: Measure onboarding? Absolutely! Measure time to onboard, create milestones for your customer and measure the success in hitting those milestones. Also, measure post-onboarding feedback. The key is to measure it. Analyze it. Optimize it. Improve it.

  • Upsells/Cross Sells/Renewals: I am constantly hearing and involved in conversations around who owns what in this category (Sales vs CSMs). The honest truth is there are many ways to slice that pie and depending on your model, Success could own it through to completion, or pass it once it reaches the negotiation point. However, regardless of who owns the upsell or renewal, track it. If Customer Success is doing a great job helping the customer achieve their desired value and remain sticky, barring no unforeseen circumstances (customers funding, etc), renewal should be a no brainer. Measure the different upsell and renewal rates across the various CSMs (even if they don’t own the negotiation/closing piece). CSMs do a huge part even getting them to that point.

  • Customer Interactions with your Product: Logins, overall usage frequency, feature utilization – anything that is an interaction with your product – track it, learn from it, and use it to influence product decisions and the success of your customer.


Whoa, I didn’t think of that

And finally, the points below should really get you thinking about how to continue adding to the already strong foundation that you’ve built. These metrics are not actively measured in Customer facing worlds and may be measurements that are frequently missed.

  • CES: Also known as Customer Effort Score is a newer measurement in the customer-facing world. It’s almost like a cross between NPS and CSAT. How much effort is involved for the customer to do business and/or interact with us? There is a lot of helpful information out there on what it is and how to implement. Check out this article by Customer Thermometer about how to measure your CES score.

  • Average Time To First Value: How long does it take to get your customers to what would be considered their first value? This is different than onboarding a customer, as you can be completely onboarded in a product and still not be realizing value. As this may feel subjective, you should work with customers to see what first value means to them. Find trends, group them and then start measuring this by segment: CSM, Sales, and any other cohorts you’d like drill into. Understanding what helps customers get to what they consider their first value quickly is a very powerful tool to have in your toolkit.

  • Cancellation Saves: Track these. Period. This is an important value add to the company (as long as you are saving the customer and solving for the original reason that they were cancelling). Track this at both Support and Success level along with the revenue that you saved. Don’t arbitrarily save someone that will never be successful on your product.  

  • Feedback delivered to Product: Yep, track this too! This is very important at the CSM level. CSMs should be having conversations with the highest value customers and understanding what they need to make them successful in your product as they grow and evolve. And unless you get very bizarre requests and all of your customers are on an incredibly different spectrum from each other, what is beneficial for one, will most likely be beneficial for many. Track the revenue associated with the customers that benefit from the feedback items and tie it to their overall value.

  • Customers presented to Marketing for case studies or customer references: Same idea as above. Just like insightful product requests fueled by high value customers are golden nuggets, case studies and customer references help drive revenue and value. Track these and partner with your marketing friends on how many leads your referred case studies have developed (most Marketing teams track these as they want to know their levers).

  • Help Center/Knowledge Base Traffic:  What are your customers searching for? Do they find it? Are you providing the right content and keeping your content fresh? How many people are visiting your Help Center on a daily basis? These are all important as you grow, scale, and evolve your product and your customer base.

If you are still here, congrats, and thank you for hanging in there! You made it through a fairly exhaustive list of suggested metrics/data points, that hopefully sparked some thought for you.

Before you take any of this information and start making changes, make sure you are very deliberate in thinking through what outcomes you’d like to drive. Understand the problem that you are trying to solve for before you start changing anything that you are currently doing.

While this list doesn’t have every possible thing you could measure, nor would I want it to, these are the key things that I have personally found to provide me with a strong understanding of my levers for customer experience and efficiencies.

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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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