Monday, May 2, 2016


About the driving wheel
Want to know how it feels
To be taking time out, turn it all about
We're taking hold the driving' wheel

            - From Poco's "Drivin' Wheel"

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it
             - Peter Drucker

In my last post, I promised we would talk about influence drivers here.  So let's do that.

In any endeavor we undertake, we naturally want to achieve or more positive outcomes.  But measuring the positive outcomes themselves give you after the fact information; puts us into reactive mode.  And, in customer success, we want to be proactive rather than reactive.  With that in mind, the idea is to measure drivers that influence positive outcomes...drivers that indicate how we're doing during the journey to our outcomes.

A really convenient point here:  most of our resulting outcomes are really determined during SaaS onboarding and nurturing...and most of the influence drivers we find relate to onboarding and nurturing.  Cool how that logic ties together, isn't it?

In a nutshell here, the idea is to measure influence drivers in a timely fashion (note that I'm avoiding the discussion of real-time, near real-time, and the related technical dogma - I'll only say that sooner is better).

So if it were me measuring customer success, I'd focus on something akin to the following:

Onboarding Drivers

  • Time to Provision:  Measure in days the time from when the customer subscribes to when they have access to all the SaaS environments promised.  The smaller the number, the more positive the influence.
  • Time to Value:  I'd measure this in days from the completion of the provisioning to the time of first value use or "go live" date.  The quicker the better.
  • Initial Adoption:  What is the rate of use by the initial individual users at the time of first value?  I'd measure this by transaction numbers or usage (daily, monthly, and/or frequency).  We're simply setting a baseline here to measure growth or contraction during nurturing.
  • Customer Satisfaction:  This comes down to a basic yes or no question:  would the initial set of users recommend your service at the time of go live.
Nurturing Drivers

  • Adoption
    • User Adoption: growth in usage - more transactions, more users
    • Feature Adoption:  do we see new types of transactions?  We're looking for growth in use case solutions or in the use of additional features included in the applications.
  • Capacity Utilization:  how many seats a customer is using relative to those they are paying for in the subscription?  the higher the ratio or percentage here, the better.
  • Business Results:  measurable gains that relate to the outcomes desired by the SaaS customer.
  • Escalations:  the number of open inbound requests, the number of closed requests, and the time to resolution for closed requests.  The smaller the numbers here, the more positive the influence.
  • Customer Feedback:  The same deal here as with Customer Satisfaction, just a different point in the lifecycle.  This comes down to a basic yes or no question:  would the initial set of users recommend your service at the time of go live.
Not only would collect these for onboarding and nurturing metrics, but I would share the metrics for each customer with that customer.  Because influence drivers matter just as much for customers as they do for providers.

In addition to the metrics above, I would also measure these outcomes:

  • Renewals:  both in terms of dollars and number of customers who extend their subscriptions
  • Growth: both in terms of dollars and number of customers who subscribe to additional SaaS products
  • Churn: both in terms of dollars and number of customers who cancel their subscriptions
Let me sum it up.  The mission of customer success is to add value for both customers and providers.  To add that value in the world of SaaS, you must be proactive rather than reactive.  And the best way to start being proactive is to measure influence drivers.

Last point for the day:  I'm stealing a huge portion of these ideas from Guy Nirpaz's book "Farm Don't Hunt: The Definitive Guide to Customer Success".  A very worthy read if you're into SaaS and customer success.

Comments welcome...

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