The Metrics These Customer Success Teams Live by — and Why

by Janey Zitomer
January 16, 2020

Key performance indicators (KPIs) allow business leaders with varying available resources to make confident projections based on results they have in-hand. But the similarities between success metrics — even within the same company — can end there.  

Yello Manager Lauren Tafoya uses KPIs to measure customer churn so her team can work to keep accounts that might be close to lapsing. Alternatively, Chicago-based dscout VP Jaymie Wahlen keeps an eye on an “independence” statistic to determine the extent to which users are able to navigate their platform without outside interference.

While KPIs are often regarded as “key” in name only, as MIT Sloan Management Review notes in its 2018 KPI cross-industry survey, both Tafoya and Wahlen are serious about tracking stats like at-risk churn and “time to insight.” They explained the impact of these metrics and others on their businesses, below. 

 

dscout
dscout

VP of Customer Success Jaymie Wahlen said that in terms of KPIs, her team doesn’t stop at consumer-facing metrics. Managers at dscout keep track of how quickly and accurately the company’s users receive the information they’re looking for, so dscout can consistently improve its research-focused offering.  

 

First, tell us what success looks like for one of your customers. What specific metrics does your CS team use to measure success and why?

As a research company, our clients use our software to understand their customers, inform decisions and design better products. A researcher’s success is all about the impact of their work. But it’s notoriously difficult to measure the ROI of insights. With this in mind, we always start by tailoring our definition of success to align with each customer’s ideal strategic outcomes. 

In addition to customer-specific outcomes, we have standard metrics for monitoring health and momentum across accounts. “Time to insight” helps us understand how quickly new researchers have access to insights in dscout. We pair this with a Net Promoter Score to understand their satisfaction and likelihood of recommending dscout. We also monitor the extent to which our customers are utilizing their subscriptions with a series of usage-oriented metrics like quarterly user retention.

This independence metric shows the extent to which each account relies on our services.’’ 

What's one metric you didn't used to track but do now? What prompted your team to start tracking this?

I’m really excited about a new dashboard we’ve created that visualizes customer independence. This independence metric shows the extent to which each account relies on our services. Unlike a lot of customer success teams, dscout research advisors bill hourly and work collaboratively with clients throughout the subscription. 

New customers get a lot of value from on-demand service and collaboration, but we’re always working to help them use dscout with more independence as time goes on. Customer independence has become increasingly important over the last year, both for my team’s continued efforts to scale and our product team’s efforts to make our software as intuitive as possible.

 

Yello
Yello

While the customer success team at Yello is responsible for taking ownership of customer renewal tracking, their designated success metrics allow the entire team to benefit. Lauren Tafoya, manager of customer success, said that weekly “at-risk” meetings enable her reports — as well as executive team members and product-facing employees — to get a better idea of how to retain users, who contribute to the bottom line. 

 

First, tell us what success looks like for one of your customers. 

Success for our team means that our customers have made Yello so integral to their recruiting process that it would be difficult to remove any products along the way. We want our key contacts to recognize the value of Yello and be willing to speak about their success or act as references for new customers at events. We measure usage metrics that customers have agreed are important to their business goals, such as the number of candidates captured, the number of candidates scheduled or the percentage of pre-recorded videos completed.

We measure usage metrics that customers have agreed are important to their business goals.’’

What's one metric you didn't used to track but do now? What prompted your team to start tracking this?

This year, our customer success team took full ownership of our customer renewals. They were responsible for tracking any known or at-risk churn (new accounts or annual recurring revenue). With this information, we implemented monthly at-risk meetings where we discuss how to save accounts with the full CSM and product teams, as well as executive leadership. These meetings have provided visibility and allowed for collaboration across the organization. Now we can make further improvements and better partner with our customers to drive success.

 

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