This article was transcribed from a presentation at our Customer Success Festival in San Francisco in September 2022.
You can only improve what you measure. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and it’s especially relevant in light of all the industry trends we’ve seen over the last few years.
First, there was the Great Recession, then there was the Great Reshuffle when a lot of talent switched jobs to move into hybrid setups. Right now, we’re in the Great Rationalization.
Over the last couple of years, companies have bought a lot of software tools, and now CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs are questioning whether all that spending is necessary and if more tools really equal more value. If there was ever a time for you to measure the value your team provides to your customers, it’s now because your customers are asking these tough questions too.
Finding your CS organization’s purpose
Before you think about what the metrics for a customer success (CS) organization should be, the first question to answer is why does the CS team even exist? I'm not being facetious – there isn't an easy response. A lot of companies just cobble together a CS organization and run with it. I think it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the key reasons for our existence and the problems we’re trying to solve.
Gainsight did a survey a few months back about what the CS teams can contribute, and net retention rate seems to be amongst the top contenders for our reason for being. Product adoption and product utilization also came up. In companies with very sticky products where you're not worried about net retention rate and other metrics, the primary thing is to get more advocates and promoters out of the equation.
As you think about what to measure, it’s also essential to consider these two facets of delivering customer success:
- The outcomes that your product or service delivers to your customers
- Your customer’s experience of working with your company, products, and services
Think of it like this: when you’re taking an Uber to the airport, getting from point A to point B is the outcome. But if the driver’s playing music you don't like, unfortunately, that’s it impacts your experience. That translates into the B2B world; it's equally important to deliver on both facets if we want to build long-standing relationships with our customers.