CSM Metrics: Latest and Greatest Thinking
October 17, 2019
The customer success industry is constantly changing. For CSMs in the SaaS industry, the same metrics that guided decision making and strategy even a few years ago aren’t cutting it anymore. Because customer success trends are rapidly coming and going, customer success leaders must keep their eyes open for the latest and greatest thought leadership.
Here are a few metrics innovative CSMs should have a pulse on in the upcoming year:
- Net MRR churn: While tracking customer churn has always been important, modern customer success teams are getting even more granular in the numbers they’re looking for. With net MRR churn, CSMs can see exactly how much revenue was lost from churn compare to expansion revenue (hint – this number is supposed to be negative!). New MRR churn gives CSMs a holistic picture of how all of your accounts are performing at any given time.
- Account expansion: Tracking expansion metrics, whether it’s recurring revenue, expansion MRR, or even new user accounts, shows CSMs how current accounts are growing and finding value in a product. Expansion prioritizes long-term account management and is great for CSMs working with large, involved customers who change and grow with a product over time. Having insight into expansion metrics (especially if customers are growing into new areas of a product or adding users on a new team) can also identify areas of high value.
- Customer references: Although grooming customers to be references is an oft-overlooked part of the CSM job description, it’s still there and it’s still important. Customer referrals are one of the best ways to bring new business to an organization, and tracking whether or not your customers are ready to speak to new prospects should be a top metric for both the customer success team and the marketing team.
- Time-to-value: While this is more of a qualitative metric, measuring time-to-value can be done – and its one that should be tracked by CSMs who are responsible for driving account upsells and expansions. Start by identifying what ‘value’ looks like. Is it when a customer achieves their goals within the product? Or is it when a customer gives great feedback on a survey? Once you have ‘value’ identified, keep track of the milestones that pass before a customer reaches this point. Then, when it comes time to have an ROI or expansion discussion, the time-to-value metric can play a large part in these conversations.
- Sessions per day: If your product involves session-based sign-ins or log-ins, tracking this data can be one of the best ways to understand usage and utilization rates. While CSMs of years past might have been more focused on keeping customers happy than whether or not these people actually used the platform, many of today’s customer success teams are actively trying to drive revenue and grow customer accounts. Tracking sessions per day and product usage can help fuel upsell conversations or highlight areas where customers might need a little more hands-on experience.
- Customer lifetime value: Measuring CLV is as straightforward as it gets – how profitable is a single customer account over time. While this is one of the most commonly tracked customer success metrics, it’s also one of the most important because it’s the best at predicting whether a customer is on par for success or failure. If your team is tracking CLV (and you should be!) just remember to include expansion data, upsells, and even referral values ‘revenue’ to this number.
- NPS: Some things never go out of style, and the net promoter scale rating system is one of them. At the end of the day, the NPS is one of the most important metrics a CSM can lean on for measuring customer sentiment and feedback. As much as numbers and quantitative data can help CSMs in their day-to-day missions, having a direct line into what customers are thinking and feeling is as or even more important.
No matter what industry you’re a part of, customer success is one of the most critical roles at any organization. Having a pulse on the right metrics helps CSMs understand exactly how customers are engaging and interacting with their products and services. After all, it’s this understanding that leads to customer satisfaction and, ultimately, retention.
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