Lagging & Leading Indicators Part 2: Metrics that Track

3 minute read

March 2, 2022

Lagging & Leading Indicators Part 2: Metrics that Track

Part 2 of How to be a Leader on Lagging Indicators covers how to Track Customer Success Metrics that Lead to Better Outcomes.  

The webinar on how to be a leader on lagging indicators was hosted by Planhat and featured host, Christian Jakenfelds who chatted with Higher Logic’s Chief Customer Officer, Jay Nathan, Smartly’s CCO, Ryane Laredo, and Kerry Cunnigham of 6Sense. 

They discuss the need to ensure your customer success team is tracking metrics that are aligned with outcomes. “What’s really important is that the metric is aligned to how customers see the value of your product.”

With three different perspectives on customer success and the use of leading indicators, the Planhat webinar was incredibly insightful and well-rounded on how leading indicators are not only useful in building customer health scores, but also in contributing to customer conversations and expansion efforts.  

Takeaway #2: Track Customer Success Metrics That Lead to Better Outcomes 

Customer expansion is a massively important outcome for customer success managers (CSMs) yet, it can prove difficult for CSMs to predict the leading indicators that result in expansion.  

It can be tricky for CSMs to know which factors will affect how successful your customer will be with the product and which factors they should measure. But, without this answer, customer success professionals are essentially going to end up working as a “glorified white glove support,” Jay explained. 

Ultimately, leading indicators and metrics need to be aligned with outcomes, what moves the needle is a question that must be answered. Expecting a CSM to be accountable for an outcome they have no control over is never going to work.  

“No metrics matter if the person accountable for them can’t do anything about it,” Kerry explained. It should be closely tied to the outcomes you want to achieve. 

You need to ensure that CSMs are aware of the leading metrics they need to be hitting to achieve the relevant outcome. “We try to build habits that can help achieve what we need, and measure those,” Jay said.  

There should be a solid understanding of your customer profile to know if expansion is right – expecting customer success people to do this blindly is unfair and most likely, impossible. We need to be looking logically at metrics and leading indicators we’re asking CSMs to track. 

Sometimes, there is no space for expansion with a customer and CSMs should be aware of this: “Sometimes additional offerings are not a good fit so you may not have an opportunity to upsell,” Kerry said.  

“What’s really important is that the metric is aligned to how customers see the value of your product,” Kerry went on to explain. You can’t shove a square peg into a round hole and congratulate yourself, you need to fully comprehend what it is your solution is helping your customer to do, and further, what they want it to do.   

“Just because a customer is a customer it doesn’t make them a fit,” Jay chimed in and he’s right. Rather than surrender, CSMs should be prepared to review customers they cannot upsell to in a new light. 

If the outcome doesn’t look like an expansion opportunity, there are other options. Can you build a partnership with this customer, or is there a way to innovate your product?  Ultimately, if your solution isn’t offering the value your customers expect from it, you can maintain positive relationships by explaining how your solution can meet them. 

Explaining to customers that “No, [our solution doesn’t do this] but maybe we can partner on this,” or “No, [our solution can’t do that], not yet, but come help us build it,” Ryane, explained is a way to create value outside of what you can currently offer. 

Being clear on the customers that simply don’t fit and knowing the leading indicators that can identify them will help your CSMs achieve outcomes that matter. 

Don’t forget that tomorrow is part 3! Check out our blog to read about how current customer satisfaction can influence future expansion. 

If you missed it yesterday, part 1 is here!

If you want to listen to the full webinar, you can watch on demand on Planhat. Download it here

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Nuala Cronin

Written by Nuala Cronin

Nuala is the Content Marketing Manager at Vanilla by Higher Logic. She has adored writing since a young age and graduated with a Master's Degree in Publishing and Literature from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

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