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Customer Success Leading Indicators: Part II

For many SaaS vendor teams, the industry landscape has become so competitive over the last few years (and especially during the past 18 months) that every single customer interaction counts more than ever. Customers are churning over unforeseen circumstances, and CSMs are left wondering what went wrong.

One of the best ways to proactively stay on top of unforeseen customer issues (including churn) is tracking leading indicators. Knowing how to identify these indicators, which metrics to track for each, and how to gauge success is critical for any customer success team looking to set themselves up for long-term success.

Here, we’ll take a deeper look at the customer success leading indicators discussed in Part 1 to uncover some critical metrics behind each one.

Leading Indicator 1: Customer Engagement

This first leading indicator measures how involved and active a customer is in your project plan. Key metrics to track to measure Customer Engagement include:

  • Total number of high-value engagement in past 15/30/45/60 days
  • Number of days since the last proactive communication (aka email or phone call)
  • Number of days since the last reactive communication (aka support ticket, etc.)
  • Total percentage of contacts engaging with content, either marketing, educational or upsell related

Leading Indicator 2: Successful Onboarding

The second leading indicator that can help set the stage for long-term success is a successful onboarding. Establishing a solid customer relationship right out of the gate is critical, and a robust onboarding process can set the tone for how the rest of the relationship will go. Some key metrics here include:

  • The successful documentation of partnership objectives
  • Average customer rating (or score) of onboarding effectiveness
  • Rate of product usage and adoption during the onboarding period
  • Total number of days spent in the onboarding phase

Leading Indicator 3: Product Usage & Adoption

After the onboarding period, product usage and adoption rate is the next leading indicator to track for long-term success. Getting people using your platform is critical – especially when it comes to product recognition and internal advocacy. Here are some metrics to track:

  • Total number of daily active users (over a period of time)
  • Percentage of product functionality being used
  • Percentage of product stack subscribed
  • Overall usage of core ‘value’ features and products

Leading Indicator 4: Sentiment 

As a CSM leader, you’re more than familiar with customer sentiment and how it relates to customer success. But did you know it can be used as a key leading indicator to measure potential long-term success or concerns? Some metrics to help measure customer sentiment include:

  • CSP sentiment, including direct feedback about the partnership from the CSP
  • Survey feedback, including from post-sales and post-onboarding surveys
  • Total number of contacts (and account decision-makers) serving as customer advocates

Leading Indicator 5: Relationship Development

Finally, once the major project milestones are underway, your customer success team can focus on developing a strategic, long-term relationship with key account executives and decision-makers. Key metrics to track include:

  • Total number of engaged customer contacts over time
  • Total number of engaged executive contacts
  • Number of days since last engagement with an executive sponsor
  • A completed org chart of relevant contacts, executives, and influence

Ready to learn more? 

Check out these related ClientSuccess resources: 

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