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Metrics that matter and the ideal customer success dashboard

One chapter of my new eBook / trend report is going to cover metrics. What you track and how you track it.

There is much written about the metrics themselves and I wasn’t yet ready to delve into that. I doodled what I thought was largely the ideal dashboard I could have in front of me as I went about my everyday customer success work.

Just some very high-level thinking unfettered with detail and any influence from the many voices out there on the subject.

It boiled down to this – how to measure what impact my actions, either directly or indirectly are having. By indirectly I often mean the actions I influence the customer to take on behalf of the user and/or platform. Or unforseen circumstances that influence things.

I took the resulting doodle and shared it in a LinkedIn group that has a lot of customer success bodies in it. The Customer Success Forum has 24,738 members at the time of writing this.

My intention was to try garner some feedback. The post got 39 likes and 20 comments (quite a few of the latter are mine in response). I’m not sure how good that is but from what I have observed its not a particularly active group despite the numbers. Perhaps that’s because of the draconian community policies. Some are sensible but most hinder participation in my view.

But I digress. The main point of the exercise was to do a soundcheck and it achieved what I wanted. I think the responses have mainly validated the thinking and I got some terrific input. I have captured my initial brief and request plus a summary of the responses below.

The Ideal Customer Success Dashboard

Click for large image


I’ve tried to capture what I think the ideal is in a quick doodle – hope its legible and the points clear. The question I have for this forum is what do you think and more importantly do you have such a tracking system in place and if so how are you achieving it?

So the key for me is the tracking, not so much the dashboard. And crucially, being able to track your customer success interventions (with automated or manual input) and tying them to outcomes. What those exact interventions and outcomes are is also less important (I’ve suggested some by way of example). Do you do it at all and if so, in one system, disparate tools layered underneath a reporting tool, etc.

The most relevant feedback I got in comments are captured below – with some of my responses. Some really excellent points I’m going to incorporate into more thinking for this chapter.

Violaine YZIQUEL
Thanks Stephen for the illustration – makes total sense. Have a look at Kitewheel, it seems they are tracking customer journey events. Iterable too.
Thing is before going into a tool solution, the hardest part to me is to identify the current interactions, channels, content and triggers (and by whom) and see how these can be tailored for your customers (what segmentation? What maturity? What use case? What customer ie end user/decision maker/admin?). Happy to learn more from you all on this!
Really great points Violaine, totally agree. First try identify current and ideal touchpoints then see how you can track them and what impact they have. Then slice and dice from there.
Matt Myszkowski
So this makes sense to me, but the biggest challenge I have always found is the correlation between activities (tactics) and real, meaningful business outcomes.
Absolutely, totally agree Matt and thanks for the comment. That rabbit hole is for another post and I simply denoted this side of things with the value lable on the vertical axis alongside usage which you have to have first before you can get to value to lead to a satisfied customer. Targeting specific business related outcomes is key, as is agreeing KPI’s around them and most often this is done through use cases. Achieving these drive value creation. In this post I am most interested in the means of tracking all these things and what others are doing around this.
Stevie Bickford
Great illustration Stephen. We’re still working on this and the automated / manual divide. As others have referred to, for me a lot of this ties back to evidencing the value of Customer Success. Being able to track and quantify this is super important to help show the value add to the team, management / board and the customer.
Stevie you absolutely nail another really crucial element of this all – in addition to knowing what success activities are impacting on key outcomes, it’s to be able to show to senior execs the value the customer success team is delivering to the business. Very well pointed out.
Chuck McMahon
I believe it has been inferred here, but to put a point on it, in addition to the softer values that a successful support effort brings, finding a way to monetize the value is huge. Leadership and the Board do want to see that your clients are happy, but what is the Cost of Service? If that goes up exponentially with a fractional increase in client sat, not good. Try also to equate your client sat to renewal rates and/or NPS (or some similar) to new sales. Leadership LOVES to be able to bring a dollar story to the table…
Couldn’t agree more Chuck, thanks for the feedback.
Mike Grafham
Like the image here, definitely a useful view. One thing you might want to consider overlaying is what you *expected* to happen, e.g. did your training event happen within the window that it was supposed to happen based on what typical customers do, or was it early/late. Are your peaks happening at the expected time, or earlier/later? That way you’ve got both the ‘what is’ as well as the ‘what should be’.
Thanks for the comment Mike. Excellent idea. I would tie it into a success plan and specifically the actions you have planned for the period ahead to achieve the metrics you are targeting that quantify success. Then as you go along you can see how you are tracking, or at worst you look back and see how you did against what you planned

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