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Crappy Data Infrastructure is a Non-Starter

In Part 3 of the Digital CS Series, Ben Lee discusses how bad data infrastructure inhibits your CS operations.
Ben Lee
March 29, 2022
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Ben Lee is Catalyst's very first CX Program Manager. He is responsible for building out various Digital Customer Success programs to help supplement our amazing CS team while providing efficient and meaningful self-serve resources to our customers at scale.

Content is a huge part of Digital CS (covered in my previous article) but there are other important variables you need to be mindful of as you focus on the next phase of your Digital CS program: engaging customers. In this article, I’ll be focusing on data infrastructure and hygiene and why it’s crucial when it comes to engaging your customers at scale.

Engagement is the Car, Data is the Fuel

Once you’ve built out your Digital CS content and it has a place to call home (e.g. online customer community, video library, etc.) the next step is to start engaging your customers and dynamically sharing your resources with different target audiences. 

Here are some examples of different target audiences you can engage: 

  • New users of your product who need help getting started 
  • Accounts/users who aren’t adopting the most value-driving features
  • Customers who have an upcoming renewal or expansion opportunity
  • Important stakeholders who can provide valuable feedback 

Thinking about the examples above, how exactly will you target each of these groups? You can’t focus on new users unless you have the related product event data synced with your communication tool. Trying to dynamically engage accounts who have an upcoming renewal in the next 90 days? That’ll require access to the contract renewal date, which is usually captured inside a field within a Salesforce account, for example.

So, in order to successfully interact with various target audiences, you’ll first need the right data points (e.g. product usage, Salesforce fields) flowing into the communication tool (e.g. Catalyst) that you’ll be using to engage your customers. Once the data points are in, it’s critical for there to be a process in place to keep it all updated and ensure real-time accuracy. 

For example, customer-facing CSMs can have a ritual where they segment all their contacts using a simple picklist field within their CSP (Customer Success Platform). This would then allow you to distinguish and target users by role or similar (e.g. Champion vs. Detractor,  Primary Contact vs. Executive Sponsor), so that your engagement content can be personalized for each group. 

If there is no process in place around data hygiene, then collaborate with the CS leadership team to ensure your customer-facing team members are trained on where, when, and why they need to keep their customer data points updated on a regular basis. Without this alignment and process in place, it’ll be extremely difficult for you to launch Digital CS campaigns at scale because of issues with inaccurate and missing data. Of course, if you are responsible for managing accounts that don’t have a dedicated CSM, you (or your team) can simply apply these same concepts yourself. 

What Are You Aiming For?     

Increasing product adoption is one of Digital CS’ main areas of focus. But how exactly do you determine who you’ll be targeting and what success looks like from your perspective? Establishing product usage benchmarks is a great way to figure out what healthy activity looks like while making it much easier to determine which accounts/users need a helping hand.

For example, looking across your customer base, you should ask questions like:

  • What are the commonalities between your healthiest customers? 
  • How often are they using your product? 
  • Which features are they leveraging the most? 
  • What do the metrics look like? 

Once you have the right metrics in place, you can use them to determine healthy benchmarks, so that accounts/users that fall under the ideal benchmark metrics can be targeted in an email campaign to guide them in the right direction. 

It also doesn’t hurt to make this a cross-functional project with your internal partners on the Product Team. Perhaps they’ve already done some of this work for their own needs, which means you don’t have to start from scratch. Product Teams also often have their own adoption goals, so it could be an opportunity to collaborate to accomplish similar goals and metrics. 

Lastly, before you actually launch a new campaign focusing on driving adoption, make sure you’ve not only identified what healthy looks like (via benchmark metrics), but also have defined success metrics for the specific campaigns you intend on launching (e.g. increase x feature adoption by y percent). This will then put you in a position where you’re working towards realistic and attainable results, monitoring how impactful your Digital CS programs are; remaining ready for any adjustments that need to be made to increase effectiveness. 

Stay tuned for the next article in this series where I’ll elaborate more on measuring impact and the tactics and strategies you can use once your Digital CS campaigns are live.

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