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Four Unconventional Ways To Make Customer Success More Data-Driven

How do you become more data-driven in customer success? These #ReUp2022 talks share the secret.
Diana De Jesus
October 27, 2022

Studies spanning nearly a decade show that data-driven organizations have an easier time getting customers and retaining revenue. But it’s not just the presence of data that helps; it’s how you use it—what Forrester calls an “insight-driven business.”

Data-driven business growth, therefore, lies with customer success. As the team that guards and expands revenue, it’s your duty to leverage data as much as possible.

The secret to becoming a more data-driven customer success operation was discussed across multiple talks at the #ReUp2022 Customer Success Summit. Distilling conversations from the two-day Summit, this article shares four different unconventional insights that help customer success teams lead with data.  

1. Revisit board decks to ensure consistency on KPIs

Discussions about becoming data-driven often end too soon. We say “be more data-driven,” then everyone responds “oh, yes, of course,” and then moves on with their day. 

But wait—what will you use data to drive toward?

To answer that critical question, start with your board, a topic covered in the fireside conversation Things Keeping CS Leaders Up At Night featuring Cassie Young, General Partner at Primary Venture Partners and Ellie Wu, VP, Sales & CS Center of Excellence at Insight Partners.

“Go back to your last board deck,” said Cassie. “The number one thing I'm thinking about is in advance of any board meeting, I'm looking at what you told me a quarter ago, and I'm going to be expecting you to sort of close the loop on some of the things that we may have talked about there or not, like changing course on the types of metrics that we talk about every single time.”

Company boards regularly track against key business metrics. Your job as a CS leader is to dissect those metrics to understand their essential parts and identify how the CS team can positively impact certain parts of the success formula. 

2. Map your customer journey to identify key metrics

Great, you tell yourself. You know what the board wants. Yay! But do you know what your customers need to do to get value from your solution? Or, in simpler terms, do you know your customer journey? 

In his Summit keynote on Scaling White-Glove Onboarding to Every Customer, Paul Holder, co-founder and CEO of OnRamp explained the process starts with customer journeys. When you outline every step a customer needs to follow—from onboarding all the way to getting immense value from your solution—you can more easily assign metrics that help everyone understand progress. 

As Matik CEO and co-founder Nikola Mijic explained in his ReUp keynote Do Your Customers Trust You? the data you need depends on customer journey stage. At the very beginning, you’re looking at account data. Then you move up to usage data and finally to benchmarking across different accounts. 

“Showing data for the sake of showing data obviously is not the end goal,” said Nikola. “We want to be able to show them a comparison.”

3. Document decision-making for easy future reference

After understanding business KPIs and journey-specific metrics, get even more data-driven by documenting the logic behind decision-making.

During the How Data Improves Your Customer Relationships talk at ReUp, Gemma Cipriani-Espineira and Aaron Siegel from Chili Piper explained that documenting your conversations and decisions gives you reference points for the future. While this is not “data” in the typical sense, this institutional memory ensures you don’t lose progress or forget why you took a certain action. 

“You want to document—and make it a requirement—so you understand exactly what it is that you were trying to measure,” said Aaron. “And ultimately, you can go back and understand what that catalyst was that goes through to move your business decisions forward.”

4. Turn expansion into a data-first, trackable process

A lot of expansion discussions are ad-hoc at best and go something like this: a CSM has an inkling that someone might be ready for an upsell (or perhaps the client clearly states something like they are hiring a lot and might need more seats). Then the CSM runs an upsell motion, sometimes through a playbook or sometimes by bringing in an Account Executive (AE). If the motion is successful, everyone wins. 

Make this entire process more data-driven by breaking down your leads into something quantifiable: CS Qualified Leads (CSQL) and CS Qualified Opportunities (CSQO). When a CSM has that gut feeling or gets a positive affirmation that a client might be ready for expansion, they mark the account as a CSQL. The AE team is automatically notified and brought in. If the AE sees the opportunity too, the lead becomes a CSQO and the CSM and AE together run an upsell motion.

By adding this trackable metric to accounts, the company can better understand which leads—and which gut feelings or positive comments—lead to true opportunities. Then they can assess which AE is the most successful at securing expansions. 

This data-driven approach doesn’t just give you something to measure, but insight to improve. In RipleMatch’s case, it led to a 200% increase in upsell leads.

Data is simple, but not always easy

Data is simply information points. Your true challenge is ensuring they are documented and the right ones are used. This all starts with a foundation—knowing where you want to go and what you want to provide—and from there you can directly focus on customers to drive top-line retention and expansion.

Watch all of #ReUp2022 On Demand HERE

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