Framing Metrics in Terms of the Customer’s Success


What analytics and metrics ought we use? There are so many who have written in this area that I wouldn’t add much from a technical aspect. And that’s okay. I can stand on the shoulders of those who’ve come before me.

Let’s start with a question: “if I were on stage in front of my customers and/or fellow teammates and Customer Success industry leaders, what story do I want to tell? What statistics and stories would I be proud to share to support that?”

Numbers, figures, statistics, PowerPoint slides — boring by themselves, without being placed into a context. To architect this story, we need to think about our intended goals, desires, and intended outcomes. How does this connect to our company mission statement? What about our profitability and longevity of the company (i.e., it’s in our customers’ best interest that we stay in business for them)? And what’s really the success of our customers?

If we can see our metrics in light of their success, we will begin to tell a different narrative. One where we’re not the hero, but where our customer is the hero. All this is because, frankly, we’d be on stage for them, not for us. We’re building and maintaining this product for them, not for us. So, why should this story be about us?

Most of the time, it is downright nearly impossible to take something qualitative (“we want to change the world to offer a product that ______”) to something quantitative (measuring clicks, logins, words written, or time spent in the product). Much of the time this requires expanded creativity, and sometimes we simply have to accept there isn’t a perfect solution and instead incorporate what indicators (leading & lagging), proxies, and other puzzle pieces we have to stitch together the true story of quantitative performance.

So if we know what and why, how about how? Every company has to go through this adventure seeking these answers, but here are some questions to reflect on:

  • Am I selecting measureable pieces because they are easy to glean, or am I picking something that really matters to my customers?
  • Does speed matter? If I say “we responded/resolved to our conversations within an average of ______ minutes/hours” do our customers care? At some point they do — I doubt many people want to wait a week for a response, but does it matter between 10 minutes and 12 minutes? Perhaps. But something to consider.
  • Does “customer delight” count? Does it matter if they are “happy”? Perhaps an emphasis on happiness is a red herring and guiding us down the wrong path. Perhaps for some industries and groups they want just want their problem solved (which could lead to delight).
  • Would a customer care about your company’s growth? Is that exciting for them? If you said, “we grew 10x this past year,” would they be proud to come alongside you? Or “well, that’s great for you.”

If you’re striving for World Class Service, Ritz Carlton is a terrific example to emulate — but if you’re not in the hotelier business, it may not all carry over. In that case, we may need to blaze our own trails. Because, really, World Class Service is defined in light of the guest — the customer — and whether they are content enough to come back, refer their friends, and become a fanatic of your company. That’s how we ought frame our own success — in light of their continued success.

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