How do you measure customer health?
When calculating your customer health score, what approach does your organization take? Many companies rely on signals and data from product usage, support tickets, or Net Promoter Score to paint a picture of customer health. Are you also considering customer feedback when determining customer health scores?
In this installment on CX best practices, Evan Klein, Founder and President of Satrix Solutions, and Steve Bernstein, CEO and Founder of Waypoint, discuss the importance of including voice of the customer feedback when measuring customer health. Read the transcript or watch the video for their responses.
Heather Timney, Vice President, Marketing & Partnerships
Evan, customer health scores in SaaS are much more common these days. What’s the relationship between health scores and voice of the customer feedback?
Evan Klein, Founder & President, Satrix Solutions
Thanks, Heather. We work with a lot of SaaS companies where customer health scores are prominent. They can be prominent in companies outside of SaaS, but software is leading the way in this regard. I would say voice of the customer in some form is almost always an ingredient in the customer health score. It’s usually Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Effort Score, or top two box. There is some KPI or multiple metrics that are considered in the derivation of the customer health score. That’s quite common from what we can see across our client base.
What’s interesting is sometimes it’s just an ingredient. However, we feel that sometimes it should be the overriding element in the customer health score. In other words, if you hear from the key decision-maker or sponsor that there is an issue or that they’re frustrated or maybe they haven’t fully realized the value they thought they were going to get, that’s an issue. Clearly, that’s a risk for churn. In situations like that, I feel it shouldn’t just be an ingredient in the customer health score, it should be the overriding determinant. That should be a red flashing signal for your organization. For example, if the usage of the platform is going up, which generally signals something positive, if your key decision-maker is issuing concerns about the realization of value or the ROI that they’ve experienced from your software, then that’s a problem. I think that is an area where there’s still opportunity for refinement. Some companies are just so tied to the quantification of their health score but in some cases, there are unique elements to it that have to be considered. What do you think Steve?
Steve Bernstein, CEO and Founder, Waypoint
I’m always blown away because everybody understands customer sentiment is a really important figure, but when it comes time to put together a health score, there is a kitchen sink approach. For example, the industry talks a lot about support tickets. Yes, the aging of support tickets could be important as long as you’re breaking them down by tiers, because feature requests support tickets definitely are going to age longer and faster than other kinds of issues. But is it for your company? Every company is a little bit different. The industry has largely said, “Here’s a whole bunch of kitchen sink ideas that you can use to throw stuff into your health score, go for it.” The issue is that these things aren’t predictive in many cases and it’s highly indexed so lose all that visibility.
Here’s what we recommend instead. We know that people change jobs all the time in B2B. One of the primary reasons for churn is because you lost a key champion or a key decision-maker or a new VP comes in and they have their own preferred vendors. That’s a key driver of churn. The way to mitigate that is to surround yourself with as many champions, promoters, and advocates as you can. Deep and wide relationships are super important, and you have to make sure that these people are promoters. The question I always have is when you’ve got this health score idea with all these different metrics, why not just ask the customer? Why do so many companies rely on the CSM to report health and sentiment? I think it’s way more trustworthy and accurate to just ask the customer. What’s your take, Evan?
I think that’s certainly a great point. Let’s walk through it a little bit because I think one of the situations, where that might be most likely to happen in a meaningful way, is the executive or quarterly business review. The team goes and meets with or does the Zoom meeting with the customer and has a formal QBR. There’s a lot of discussions and the CSM walks away thinking there is potentially an issue here. What is your recommendation? What do you think generally should happen based on that feedback that’s received in the QBR?
We actually take a little bit of a different approach with TopBox. By getting feedback, again from a deep and wide audience inside that account, engage the champion to help you recruit and get people to respond. Show the champion or explain to the champion that you’re going to be transparent and sharing anonymized feedback with them so that they can understand what’s working and not working because the champion has a stake in it too. Transparency is super important. Benchmarking. Showing how to use your account compared to others like you. What’s working and not working within your organization compared to most other accounts like you. Let’s drive the conversation in the right way.
The bottom line is the approach that we generally take with TopBox is that we will ask for feedback and engage the champions and decision-makers to drive up high response rates at the right time before the QBR. Go into the QBR with a clear understanding of who’s thinking what. What’s working and not working? Come to the meeting prepared with, “Here’s what we’re thinking that we need to be working on together. Do you agree these are the right priorities? How do we work together to prioritize this?” At the end of the day, you have to ask who has responsibility for what? As an outside vendor, you can only do so much. The inside needs to have some action items as well to address some of these gaps. Again, deep and wide, trustworthy, representative feedback from all the right people, 80% plus response rate is definitely achievable. We see it all the time. You just have to put effort into it, and then the gold comes back. Evan, you said, “Feedback is a gift.” Use it to your advantage.
I think I’ll finish up this discussion with one final comment, which you alluded to Steve. If you’re going to feed voice of the customer in some form into your customer health score, please just make sure that it’s quality feedback. It should be derived in a way that adheres to best practices. It’s trustworthy, because it’s the “garbage in, garbage out” scenario. If you’re not doing it properly, and you’re getting bad data that you’re then using to determine the health of your accounts, that’s obviously a problem.