Gaining Customer Usage Insights

While the definition of Customer Success is all but done and dusted by now – to review, CS revolves around proactively engaging with customers to ensure that they are realizing their desired business outcomes – there are still challenges in accurately determining customer pulse in real time. With poor survey response rate and even NPS unable to increase the quantity and quality of feedback, organizations are increasingly relying on a comprehensive health score to keep them in the know.

SaaS companies are at the forefront of this evolution, with these organizations increasingly relying on usage data to run their health score algorithms. SaaS companies have a lot of visibility into how their users are using their product, which makes usage the most impactful metric to input into their health score formulas. In fact, many successful SaaS companies have a well orchestrated product feedback loop in which usage data guides the product roadmap and new features to build.

High Usage Customers Who Might Still Churn

While usage data is awesome, it results in a Customer Success blindspot, which occurs when organizations become singularly focused on usage as the most important metric of successful customers. While customers may be using the product to the full extent, they can still be at risk for churn.

Here are few scenarios in which this could happen:

  • If they feel that they have achieved everything they can with the product, and there are no more milestones to hit with the product
  • If the key executive sponsor leaves the organization, and the new stakeholder has a different favorite product
  • If the customer feels that the product roadmap is not exciting, and that the vendor has stopped innovating
  • If the last customer-vendor interaction was a negative one
  • If the vendor is not able to prove the ROI achieved from the product
  • Competing priorities won the mindshare of the key executives

Low Usage Customers Who May Not Churn

Similarly, a customer who may not be using the product fully, uses only few features, or does not utilize all the seats they have contracted, may still renew if:

  • They find the vendor exciting and a category leader.
  • The customer realizes that they need to do more with the product
  • Increased usage conforms to the organization culture
  • The customer and vendor have a positive relationship

Along with usage data, it is necessary to track customer engagement, customer journey status, and build a customer workflow process that ensures renewals & expansion. A good Customer Success strategy is to fully understand the desired customer experience and design value-based engagement. This is often overlooked if the focus is just on usage metrics. Proactively monitoring customer engagement, ROI, and other KPIs will provide you understand the true customer context. This is not rocket science, but it is amazing how many companies lose sight of other key Customer Success KPIs when staring at usage metrics that are deemed the peak of importance.

How to Proceed With Engagement

The aim of designing customer engagement touchpoints is to keep customers moving toward their desired outcomes. Every customer interaction should be about making customer feel more positive than when they started. Start with mapping out the customer journey; understanding the lifecycle of the customer is critical in building the ideal experience ecosystem. Define what a successful client looks like and identify the outcome data that validates that a client is successful.

It’s also important to continuously gather information about customer goals and milestones throughout their lifecycle, and not just at the time of sales hand-off or onboarding. Monitor implicit feedback on the brand and product excitement, along with the explicit feedback like surveys/NPS. Every meetup and check-in with customers is an opportunity to collect implicit feedback, monitor the tone of the conversation, sentiment expressed, and understand any company/context changes. Insight can be gathered by understanding what customer is saying, but also looking for signs on what is not expressed out loud.

The health score at the company, subscription, and user level, its raw number, trends, and changes is core to working in Customer Success, but make sure that it does not become a blindspot that obscures all other relevant factors. If you keep in mind that you should always be organizing the data and building context, you’ll never lose the full picture of the customer.