skip to Main Content

3 Reasons Why Customer Health is Like a Gallon of Milk

For those just joining my blog series CSM from the Trenches, welcome. Here I discuss trends, best practices, and advice for frontline customer success managers (CSMs).

Being on the CSM frontline allows us to directly influence the success of our clients. I love that; as our clients are successful, we’re successful. Let’s move forward with this week’s blog post!

Customer Health Defined

You might be wondering: “How can customer health be like a gallon of milk?” I know it sounds crazy, but they actually have quite a bit more in common than you’d think. Before diving into that analogy, let’s take a step back to quickly understand customer health.

I define customer health as the current state of customer satisfaction after a given engagement (i.e. emails, meetings, and phone calls). The question to always be asking is simple: “Are my customers happy or are they not?”.

3 Reasons Customer Health is Like a Gallon of Milk

Now that we’ve defined customer health for the purposes of this blog, here’s how it’s like a gallon of milk:

1. Both Require a Plan Based on a Health Strategy

Milk: You choose which kind to buy depending on nutritional needs.
Customer health: You use metrics and/or guidelines as a standard for determining health.

When it comes to milk, we have a clear understanding of which kind we need to buy. We know we’re getting 1%, 2%, skim, whole, almond, or soy. What makes this decision so easy? It’s because we know our nutritional / dietary needs and act accordingly.

Develop Organizational Customer Health Guidelines

Similarly, I think it’s important to have some general guidelines for customer success managers as they determine customer health. This game plan creates organization-wide consistency on the health of customers; customer success teams should understand which metrics they want to have as the standard for health.

Customer Health Recommendations

What I recommend: ClientSuccess allows you to set six-point scale ranges from “Extremely Satisfied” to “Severe Risk”. Below you’ll find an example of what could be taken into consideration as teams create pulse guidelines. There is latitude for each company to determine the detailed definition of each status, but it’s the exercise around customer health consistency that really matters.

Customer Health Guideline Example


2. Both Eventually Become Outdated

Milk: Comes with a sell-by or expiration date.
Customer health: Becomes irrelevant as time progresses.

If you’re like me, one of the things to check when buying milk is the expiration date. If not, I strongly recommend that you should. Not only is it important to know which type of milk to get, but we also need to understand how long the milk will last.

Depending on your customer lifecycle, you’ll likely have a specific cadence expectation for your clients. With that in consideration, CSM teams or organizations should know how long a health value or pulse lasts before going bad.

What I recommend: Check your customer’s pulse at least once every 30 days. Ask them if they’re satisfied or if they are not, and go to work on next steps.

3. Both Need to be Proactively Updated

Milk: Purchased based on usage or expiration date.
Customer health: Determined by engagement or cadence.

We’ve recognized milk has a shelf life; there is a length of time it may be stored before becoming unusable or unsafe for consumption. Whether or not we finish the gallon of milk before its expiration date, we go back to the store for more with a better understanding of its shelf life and how it will be used. Perhaps we’re going to be making cookies or milkshakes this week. Maybe we’re having a friend over who’s lactose intolerant. Or maybe we bought the right amount last week and will stay with the status quo. More often than not, we end up buying the exact same kind. There are occasions, however, where we need to switch it up depending on nutritional / dietary needs.

Customer health follows the same pattern: there is a length of time it may be captured before becoming outdated, we go back to the customer with a better understanding of their satisfaction or risk factors, and establish relevant next steps. Between engagements or scheduled cadences, our clients’ goals might have changed. Perhaps we’ve identified an opportunity or risk with the adoption of a certain feature. Or maybe they’re at the same health pulse. The key here is for CSMs to act accordingly and promptly based on a health strategy.

What I recommend: If a client is “Very Satisfied”, are they still “Very Satisfied” 30 days later? Do we need to step in and continue to advocate for them? Is there additional value we can bring to the relationship?

So when you’re considering the health of your customers, be sure to keep these three things in mind: 1) Have a health strategy plan, 2) remember its shelf life, and 3) proactively update it. I look forward to sharing more best practices, advice, and learning from the CSM trenches.


5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers

Customer Success as a Culture: Customer Success Leaders Edition

Blog Posts:

3 Ways to Eliminate Vanishing ARR

The Four Fold Mission of Customer Success

Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.

Back To Top