Challenging the Status Quo

In an earlier article, I promised that we would talk about Health Metrics and Health Scores. The time is finally here!

In another previous post, I discussed how on-premise products typically don’t have in-built telemetry. Don’t let a cloud of dark despair descend over you, and don’t believe anyone who tells you that it is impossible to launch a Customer Success practice without telemetry.

Luckily, the jury is out on that one. Of course, we at Cisco love to challenge the status quo – especially when it happens to be for the benefit of our customers.

Starting CS Without Telemetry

Let’s get to the next question. How do you start Customer Success without telemetry? The answer is deceptively simple – “Use what you’ve got.”

The first step is to start talking to folks within and outside your organization. Find out what you have today, so you can use that to start tracking. My advice to most people in this situation would be to define metrics that can be tracked now; but to think about how these metrics will eventually translate into a scalable model and feed into the final Health Score.

Here are a couple of ideas for your own Health Metric. A subset of the metrics mentioned below made up my first Health Metric. You might also use these to track your interim metrics/KPIs before you either finalize your Health score, or before usage data like frequency, time spent etc. becomes available.

Start with baby steps. There doesn’t have to be a formula. Simply track the metrics first. Formulas or calculations will come later.

The Beginning Metrics

1. Customer NPS or Satisfaction Score: Make sure you have a baseline first. Create a baseline if you don’t have one today. Use this metric to start tracking every customer with whom you engage.

2. Sales Engagement Metric #1: Start tracking how many Sales engineers directed their customers to the Customer Success program. It could be via something as simple as an online form. When you first start out, this might be the most important metric you track. Getting Sales buy-in is critical for the future. You can read more about it here.

3. Sales Engagement Metric #2: Track how many engagements you have had with the Sales leaders e.g. presentation to Sales, request for your evangelization deck to share further etc. You might need to track this manually, but it is NOT impossible.

4. Upsell Metric – % Customers Who Bought Paid Services: After an initial Customer Success engagement, track how many chose to buy paid services or paid learning courses offered by your company. This could be an indicator of other peripheral things – like product complexity or a need for specific type of services.

5. Adoption % Based on Licenses Purchased: Adoption percentage is typically tracked by Licenses Bought vs. Licenses Used. This is a very simplistic way of looking at things before you have true usage metrics.

6. Support Case Reduction in Specific Categories: Let’s be real. Software is never bug free. Thus, it’s better to track case reduction in certain types of support cases e.g. Product questions, Configuration related questions etc.

7. Number of Referenceable Customers: Measure the uptick, quarter over quarter, in referenceable customers who’ve received engagement from the Customer Success team.

8. Online Collateral Consumption: If you are truly looking for scale and have a digital touch program, you must track online collateral consumption. Several platforms offer this type of tracking. You can tie sentiment and license consumption to customers who accessed the VODs and learning materials on the online portal or landing page.

Starting Small is Better Than Not Starting At All

At a minimum, if you have just one of the parameters listed above, you have a health metric! And, what’s more? you can obviously roll out a Customer Success program.

My recommendation is to choose about 3-5 of the metrics above and start tracking those KPIs. It is better to start small and focus on what you want to address first, and then move on to new ones or change it if necessary.

Always keep the bigger picture in mind. You need to start somewhere, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs definition!

Pallavi Gadepalli

Customer Success Product Manager, Security Business Unit , Cisco Systems

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