May 7, 2021

Read Time 5 min

[Q&A] Customer Success Maturity Model: Know Where You Stand


In the rapidly maturing field of Customer Success, if you don’t stop to take stock of the strategy, processes, people, and technology that guide you, it’s easy to lose sight of where you are, and more importantly, where you’re headed.

In our recent webinarJeff Breunsbach, director of customer experience at Higher Logic and Bora Lee, manager of customer enablement at ChurnZero walk through our Customer Success maturity model to help you better understand if your customer success game is lagging behind or leading the way.

Your customer success maturity model questions answered

Q: What are examples of built-in automations for CSMs?

[Bora]: Some of the easiest automations we have built-in are follow-ups to customer satisfaction surveys like NPS, CES, and CSAT. It simply breaks it out by category – so the response whether that’s a detractor, a passive, or a promoter – and it generates for our CSM team. They can send it as is or they can customize information within that. So, if we know that [the customer] left a comment, we can see what the comment is and make an addition to that template right from the tool and then send that to the customer. That’s kind of the easiest one.

Some of our more interesting ones are things like if we know that we have an executive team coming in or a new member, we can generate an email based off a logged activity type that talks about the pros of ChurnZero, and making sure that we have enough time booked with the executive team to answer any questions they might have coming in. 

Another one on that point is usage based, and those are my favorite ones.

Are they using the product a certain way? If we have defined what a healthy customer looks like and the specific milestones they should achieve at certain points in time, I might say, “Hey, customer, it’s the 90-day mark, here are your benchmarks. You’re short on benchmark one and benchmark three. I’d love to have a discussion with you on how we can get you exceeding those benchmarks. Here’s my initial plan.” Those are some of things we have automated, which has been a really effective way to make sure that we get in front of the customer at a very critical point in their journey.

Q: What should a small Customer Success team focus on first?

[Jeff]: I feel like the proverbial answer is going to be it depends. But not knowing a lot of the context, two areas that I would think of that come to mind are support and onboarding. And in thinking about that, not necessarily the ticketing and things like that, but do we have documentation? That can go a long way. Are you thinking about documentation? If there’s internal documentation, how do we turn that external? How do we clean it up so that we can turn it external and utilize a process that’s already there?

The second one that might get overlooked is onboarding. I think onboarding can solve a lot of problems. Thinking about new customers as they come on board. Bora had mentioned this earlier about time to value. Maybe your tool or system can do 10 things, but how do you get them to step one? How do you get them step 2 or 3? How do you get them just to the moment where they’re starting to get value and do that as quick as possible? Thinking about the onboarding and implementation seems like another area to focus on because you can hopefully alleviate a lot of problems down the line.

Q: How do you define a customer health metric? 

[Bora]: Customer health metrics and customer health scores are one of my favorite things because it should essentially tell you something about the customer. We see five main areas when we’re defining customer health metrics.

Engagement, product use, expectations (are we meeting or exceeding expectations?), satisfaction (such as CSAT), and the journey (including extraneous circumstances like acquisition or your main point of contact left).

Those five tend to cover a lot of what we see regarding impacts to customer health and their at-risk behavior with your platform. Now, of those, I will say that it’s not going to be a single health metric that covers all your customers. We generally see those tiered out either by industry or by customer journey stage. So, like an onboarding enterprise customer will likely not have the same churn score or health metrics as a tenured SMB customer who has a completely different use case. Those are the major buckets. We normally see about three to five metrics go in there. If you’ve surpassed five to seven metrics, you probably need to parse that down because you’re going to get too broad and you’re not going to get the accuracy.

Q: What are examples of successful customer engagement tactics you’ve seen used this year?

[Jeff]: I’ve got a couple that come to mind that we’ve been doing. One that we’ve implemented is office hours twice a week. We have two main products. I don’t necessarily mean office hours like “Hey, come in and just ask our team any question,” but we’re bringing a lot of our customers together to more of a peer-to-peer style engagement. We have one topic each week.

For community management, this week, it was around automation within our platform. And really, it’s to drive peer-to-peer engagement, so we split it up into two types of sessions. The first 20 minutes is really about networking. We’re trying to answer one question, which is: Did you meet someone new today? Our hope is to put you in the room with about 3 or 4 people, typically all in the same position. They’re at the same companies. They’re doing the same role. They’re using the same technology.

The second half of the meeting is then that larger discussion where they come back together and it’s like, “Hey, let’s talk about how you’re using automation rules today in the platform. What are some of the things that you’re implementing? How are you’re using them today?” We’re there as a facilitator. We’re not there to present. We’re not there to be the experts so to speak. We’re there to start moving the conversation amongst one another.

But that, to us, has been a really great way to engage our customers and they really enjoyed it. We have seen a 3x rise over the last four weeks of attendance in those, and it just keeps getting better. 

Selfishly we’re a community company, so we feed all of that back into the community. We take those threads and put them back into the community. It drives further discussions.

Another one that we have seen recently is just more around doing fun engagement. We did a trivia recently. We tried to break it up instead of just doing happy hours and things like that. We tried to play some games. We tried to bring a couple other things to the table. So, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly just trying to find different ways to utilize our virtual engagement these days.

Q: When is it critical to implement a Customer Success platform? Can a CRM, like HubSpot, be used instead?

[Bora]: It’s an interesting question. Unfortunately, the answer is it depends. A CRM is not a Customer Success platform. If you think about a CRM, a lot of the time, it’s sales focused. It’s really focused on sales in the pipeline. Whereas a Customer Success platform is really focused on what customer information needs to be assessed. If we’re talking about time to value, if we’re talking about engagements, if we’re talking about product usage, all of that is really meant to live and breathe in a Customer Success platform. We just had a conversation with our virtual RYG the other day around Customer Success operations, where the team wished they had a Customer Success platform earlier. The earlier they had it, the earlier they wish they had it.

Once you get to a point where you’re unable to keep track of your customers in your head, it’s a little bit too late. The earlier you can get buy-in for Customer Success and Customer Success-centric tools, the easier it’s going to be. When we’re talking about data or being able to budget for staff or talking about process and metrics, those all hone in from that Customer Success platform and the aggregated data that lives there. Sorry for a little bit of a backwards way of saying it, but I’d say you start thinking about that early enough and you’ll probably find a lot of reasons that you can get ROI from getting a platform early on.

How mature is your Customer Success Organization?

Download the Customer Success Maturity Model to find out where you stand relative to peers so you can keep progressing in the right direction and level up to the next maturity stage.


Subscribe to the newsletter   

Empowering your customer success team through community

Has your customer community lost its spark? Teams are often eager to launch this new initiative, however, sustaining that same enthusiasm in the months ahead can be a challenge. “It's one thing to create excitement and another to keep people’s attention,” says Shauna...