Cheat Sheet for Evaluating a Customer Success (CS) Platform
Customer Success is a relatively young function in the SaaS space, which is why you can still see professionals across the world who are unsure about which CS tool that they should choose for their business.
Once you’ve decided to go with the CS tool (e.g CustomerSuccessBox), then choosing the best-suited one for your business, from the multiple options available in the market, could be a herculean task!
The following image is a grid showing the different Customer Success Platforms available in the market today.
CustomerSuccessBox is a leading player in the mid-market segment.
I hope to ease your pain through this cheat sheet. Let’s check out the different dimensions which you need to look at before you can finalize the tool.
Actionable vs Non-actionable
Do you want the platform to be actionable or not? People no longer look at a successful platform purely from a data point of view. Data is good but more importantly, you need to know what to do with that data!
A CS tool should help you there. Actionability is:
- * the ability to communicate,
- * to manage hundreds of accounts,
- * the ability to locate the history of the account,
- * the ability to go back in time and see how health scores changed or
- * how a single action translated into a QBR, etc.
The CS tool should have the ability to Integrate data sources smoothly and quickly. A company will need:
- * A CRM system integration like Salesforce, Netsuite, Microsoft, etc.
- * Billing system integrations like Chargebee, Zuora, Chargify, etc.
- * NPS / feedback score integration, and
- * Support/communication integration such as Freshdesk, Zendesk, Intercom, etc.
With regards to integrations, you want to factor in two key parameters- Quality of Integrations and decide if you want a 2-way integration. If you have a separate success and support team, then you do not need a support integration.
Account Health Score
The platform should be able to see historical scores and data trends (what has changed in score). Ideally, it would be great if:
- * It can present ‘Account Health’ as the leading indicator of product adoption and customer success.
- * It’s able to create tasks/triggers to indicate what action must the CSM take based on changes in health score.
- * It has the ability to generate alerts, milestones, etc
- * The scores are defined clearly so that the CSM would know what needs to be the next best course of action.
Average Revenue Per User. It’s a vital factor to be considered before buying a customer success platform.
|ARPU||Customer Success required or not|
|$100,000||Set up a CS team where one CSM would typically handle 10 or 20 accounts.|
|$5,000 to $50,000||You’re restricted to serving customers remotely. You’d need to allott 50 to 100 accounts per CSM to justify a CS team.|
|$1,000 to $10,000||You will have to segment the customers into high-paying (close to $10k ARPU) and low-paying (less than $5000). The customers closer to $10,000 in ARPU would enjoy a customer success program. Whereas, the rest of the accounts could be treated with a self-serve platform with a lot of built-in automation.|
|$1000||Better to automate your processes|
Accounts per CSM
As already discussed, a CSM with 20 accounts as compared to a CSM with 100 accounts will have different expectations from the technology.
You need to first understand what does your customer expects or what does the market expects?
- * Also, you need to decide are you going to be a high-touch success team where you will meet and greet your customers?
- * Or are you going to be a low-touch team and manage remotely?
- * Or are you going to be a 100% tech touch success team?
- * An increase in the hybrid model of low touch/tech touch is widely seen nowadays. CustomerSuccessBox is focused on this market.
Playbooks are essentially simple processes that define a successful manager’s workflow. There are 3 key things to keep in mind here.
- * Playbooks have to be built for CSMs. They should be able to follow the playbooks and deliver success to the customers.
- * You want the playbooks to be very visual in nature. A playbook should not require 5 clicks to get to the task at hand for a particular account.>
- * The playbook should help in measuring real business impact like- Have they adopted the relevant features of the product during onboarding? Or identified the product champion? Or configured the system?
Automation where required
Which one is better- 100% automation or 100% personalized attention? An answer is a hybrid approach. We call it “optimized human intervention”: you automate everything and wherever or in whichever case, in whoever’s case it breaks, then comes human intervention.
Following attributes of a CS tool will work wonders when you need them.
- * Ability to trigger a workflow and share playbooks based upon situation/ information input.
- * Ability to sync notes back into other integrated systems.
- * Ability to set trigger flags for management around certain conditions.
- * The ability for the CSM to set reminders/tasks.
Segmentation lest you bucket the customers with similar characteristics. Segmenting your customers in different buckets & cohorts helps you set up the right process & analyze the performance of the cohort. The CS tool you select will help you in segmenting customers intuitively. For example, if a trial account is actively using product features, it should be automatically moved to the convert segment so that a CSM can act on it and close the deal.
Some of the points to be considered here are:
- * Does the tool, which you’re evaluating, provide customizable dashboards?
- * It should provide analytics for crucial decisions like churn, health scores, product adoption, renewals, etc.
Dashboard & Reporting
You need both Account & User level reporting but the ability to zoom into an account should be huge. Also, don’t get lost in activity reporting. The number of tasks does not matter in the long run.
The CS platform should have the:
- * Ability to see a holistic customer and/or module view per user (individual or leadership)
- * Ability to filter key data (ie: CSM, timeframes, type of activities) for executive reporting. Create Status & Value Reports.
- * Attribute to structure key reports like tasks triggered, change in health score, trends by type of account, at-risk, etc.
This is the last step in your evaluation journey and it comes down to every factor which we discussed earlier like growth stage, ARPU, required integrations, touch model, customization requirements, etc. Also, you need to know how often do new features come out? Is that information Included in pricing?