What Should Your Customer Success Team Be Tracking?

Authored by Kayla Brehm
Published on November 2, 2015

Customer success teams in the SaaS industry are becoming more and more data-driven. Ask any team leader which customer is happiest with your product and they’ll sprout off figures that prove their answer. How do they choose what they track though? Why those things? Why focus on numbers at all?

Why? It’s simple: Numbers don’t lie--but they can deceive if you’re not careful about what you’re looking at.

Startups often face the difficult decision of when to launch a customer success team. It’s a hot topic. Do you wait until later down the line when you have a ton of customers, or do you establish the team early on to get ahead? In order to decide what’s right for your team, you have to think about what you want customer success to accomplish.

So what is “customer success”exactly? I keep going back to a definition by Lincoln Murphy, a customer success and growth thought leader. 

“Customer Success – a proactive, holistic, and organization-level approach that leverages technology and real-enough-time visibility into customer health (not just usage data, but any contextual inputs) to ensure your customers – including those who directly use (users, administrators, etc.) and those who benefit from the use of your product – continually and increasingly receive value from your product over the course of their lifetime as a customer.” -   Sixteen Ventures

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Starting out

When many teams starting out with data collection think about tracking data, there’s this underlying assumption that the information they pull is going to make sense right away- that once data begins being collected the answers will simply present themselves.

While it may be true that collecting key information from your first few customers is important, customer insights takes time. What you start looking for will change as you scale your product and team.

If the overall goal of customer success is to track customer health and predict churn, what data will help you get there? Where do you start?

We started our team by looking at what we want it to accomplish. What was our goal? Customer success at Help has found that it makes sense to start looking at our data in two categories: Customer Identity and User Behavior.

Our Customer Success Manager tracks the following:


Customer Behavior

Who is our customer? We wrote about how it’s possible to gauge the customer identity before you really have customers, but now you have the data. Now you have the chance to pinpoint who they are.

  • OS (Operating Systems)- Tracking what operating system each customer/ team uses can help in the future development of our product. Are our users predominantly Mac or PC users?
  • Browser- Like OS, tracking used browsers is incredibly important in the development and maintenance of our product. Knowing the platforms that customers use can help your team make sure that you’re developing products that work will with those platforms.
  • Location- Where are our customers located? Sales and Marketing teams can benefit from knowing where customers are located and therefore know where they should focus their efforts.

Note: knowing who your customer is is hugely important, especially understanding where your quickest successes are coming from in the early days. Don’t allow yourself to be pigeonholed by those early indicators, your ideal customer will change over time.

User Behavior

User behavior is probably the most complicated (but important) thing to track. Why? Because each customer uses the product differently.

When teams develop a product, there will always be underlying assumptions about how users end up using it. Once customers begin to truly dive into your product, they often use it in novel ways that the team never expected. They might make more use of a feature that your team didn’t think was too important, or they might never use a feature that your team thought would be really valuable for users.

We ran into this with our “home screen”. We thought that having a home screen when users first logged in to Chat would be really helpful. It provides some helpful shortcuts and instructions that we believed our customers would benefit from. In reality, it just isn’t something that our customers really use.

The result? We adjusted our product, so that when users now log in, they are taken to either the real time dashboard or to the chat tab- where the real action happens.


Chat-specific tracking

Our team tracks certain customer actions that help us determine engagement and different use cases. This list will look very different depending on your product (helpdesks would focus more on ticket engagement), but these are the actions that we at Help find the most valuable.

  • Logins- are your customers logging in on a consistent basis?
  • Chat Joins- how many chats are your customers engaging in per day/month?
  • Users Created- are teams creating new users who will be engaged with Chat?
  • Predefined Replies- do teams find shortcuts valuable in their workflows?
  • Proactive Triggers- do teams use proactive chat triggers to engage with their customers? which triggers do they find the most valuable?

Helpdesk-specific tracking

Whether you’re a team of one just starting out, or a larger team with a high ticket volume and a more structured workflow, knowing what to track can help you determine value early on. From staffing needs to product growth, numbers matter.

You have to start somewhere. We track the following to prepare for growth and provide value to our customers and team.

  • Response Rates- is your team responding to customers in a timely manner? If not, is it because you’re understaffed, or is it because you haven’t developed a proper workflow? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you create a game plan and make sure that your customers are taken care of.
  • Average Handle Time- how long is it taking to resolve issues for your team? Are there bugs in your product that are taking too long to fix, or do your support agents have trouble responding to certain customer inquiries? Knowing why certain issues are taking long to resolve can help you determine where your team might be struggling.
  • Customer Satisfaction in Resolving Tickets (“Happiness” Score in Help Scout)- are your customers satisfied with the care they are receiving? Knowing why your customers are happy to work with you can help you strengthen those areas and improve the ones where your team might be lacking.
  • Volume (number of chats per day/month)- knowing your average volume can help your team staff appropriately and make sure that no one agent is overwhelmed.
  • Busiest Time (can help you staff appropriately)- when is your team receiving the most tickets? If a certain time of day is the busiest, it might help you determine when to have the most support agents on staff so that tickets are handled in a timely manner.
  • Tags- are you using tags to label tickets? Knowing what kinds of conversations you’re having can help you determine where there is the most need. If a lot of your tickets are about bug fixes for a specific  area, you might want to work with your developer team to determine where changes need to be made. If a good number of tickets are asking how to create new users (for example), then you might want to explore how to make that process easier for your customers and improve the customer experience.

Overall what you track and focus on is hugely dependent on what your goals are. If you’re new to using customer data like this then start by picking three things you think are important and beginning to track them. Over time you may add new data, subtract old data, and change how you look at things but taking the step to focus on certain behaviors is a great start to building a data driven customer success culture.

Is your team just starting out? What do you measure?



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