Stop Churn With A Cardiogram, Not a Defibrillator


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Stop Churn With A Cardiogram
(Image credit: Totango)

In medical dramas, it’s good television when patients flatline at the hospital and our heroes race to shock them back to life. In the real world – and in customer success – that’s the last thing we want to see. Thankfully, doctors today can use an electrocardiogram to identify and treat a heart attack before we ever need the defibrillator, and sometimes before we even realize we’re in crisis. Perhaps as importantly, we have the tools to track our health, stay fit, and avoid that hospital visit, all together. 

As anyone who works in customer success knows, this is also the gold standard for our CS practices. Instead of scrambling to woo back a customer who’s ready to churn, we work proactively to monitor, recognize, and address dangerous issues in the customer journey – preferably before customers ever realize anything is wrong and certainly before they’ve churned.

In other words, customer success teams need composable technology that empowers them to monitor the rhythm and pulse of their business and recognize when the beats are off. With agile CS practices, we can then use all the information at our disposal to create a prescriptive approach to putting a customer — or many customers — back into a steady cadence. And with the infusion of AI, we can do all of this even faster.

Become a Health Nut

Before taking this analogy yet another step, I must confess that I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic and spent years convinced I was eating and working out the “right” way. It wasn’t until I found the right tools to measure all my activities in real time that I realized how off I had been about my health.

Today, I use my Lose It! app to track the various macronutrients I consume, including proteins, carbohydrates, fat, and calories, and as I exercise, I’m constantly checking my Garmin fitness watch to keep my heart rate in the perfect zone to ensure the optimal calorie burn for my age, weight, and so forth.  

Just so with customers, we must use the right tools to ensure we’re delivering the right nutrients and keeping them in the right activity zone. 

If we rely on blind faith, manual processes, or outdated spreadsheets instead of proper measurements and real-time data, we will likely be substantially misdirected when it comes to the outcomes and value our customers truly need. 

Keep Customers F.I.T.

So how does this translate to building a customer success practice? I came up with a little acronym to help you keep your customers FIT and poised for success, and it boils down to determining Factors, Importance, and Telemetry:

Factors: Identify the key factors or elements in a healthy customer. In my analogy, I referred to protein, carbs, and heart rate. For customer success, you need to key in on primary health items like product utilization, average usage (e.g. WAU/MAU), Feature utilization, customer engagement, CSAT or NPS, and for your higher-touch customers, account coverage. This list is not exhaustive as the items can vary by business and vertical, and even within your customer set. 

Importance: Next, determine the weighting each of these factors has on ensuring your customer is on the right track. Back to my analogy, if I am working to maintain weight or cut some pounds, I must look at the grams of protein, calories, and carbs paired with the time I spend in a specific heart rate zone to determine the effectiveness of the exercise routine. Just as with Factors, the importance here can change by industry or type of customer within your own business.

Telemetry: Now that you have your key Factors and understand their Importance, it’s time to measure – and that doesn’t mean a weekly look back. If I review my exercise history at the end of the week, it’s too little too late. Instead, I must check my heart rate in real time so I know whether I should adjust, modify, or stay the course. Just so with your customers, you need real-time insights to effectively measure their health so you can adjust and iterate your customer journey to ensure they’re set up to receive the most value and stay safely in that target zone for growth. 

I have seen successful CS leaders use specificity in their FITness regimen to deliver incredible results. Recently, for example, I had a call with a customer who was so dialed into his customer base that he had over 20 health profiles configured to closely measure and track various customer types across different products and verticals. With an accurate reading of his customers’ health, he knows his teams can respond quickly and appropriately to any tension or roadblocks that arise.  

Naturally, he didn't start out with 20 perfect health profiles, and you won't either. Instead, start small with agile customer success technology that harnesses AI and empower you to iterate and grow your FITness regimen even as you continue to more deeply understand the Factors, Importance, and Telemetry that will keep your customers healthy. 

As you create and iterate on workflows to help improve those key factors and set up automated triggers and campaigns to scale your practice, you’ll retain your customers in any market – without having to call a Code Blue and pull out that pesky defibrillator.


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