Generally speaking, in Support we measure our operations: time to resolve and backlog, for example. But in Marketing, they measure customer behavior, like click-through rates and conversion rates. In this case, I think Marketing has it right. And from what I’m seeing, more Support leaders think so, too.
The days of passively waiting for customers to open a case are over. Dissatisfied B2B customers may just grumble to a colleague at an industry event, and consumers will share a derisive tweet…if you’re lucky. In many cases the switching costs to a competitor are so low that they’ll just leave. And the fact that you could have resolved their issue, if only they’d asked you, will do you exactly no good at all.
I often say that Support is in the customer success business—so that’s what we should measure, as best we can. We have to watch our customers to see if they’re being successful, or at least if they’re acting as other successful customers do. And we need to be proactive about helping them if they’re not.
I’m seeing great examples of this. For consumers, Intuit’s support measures itself based on how frequently customers are able to successfully complete their tax returns. And Yahoo! looks for customers who are sharing their concerns in social media forums—in some cases, they’ll jump in and help. Yahoo! also measures user behavior to identify which features make customers more active and loyal; the Help team focuses attention on making it easier for customers to adopt these features.
For businesses, configuration health checks are becoming commonplace, as Support measures, in effect, how prepared for success their customers are. And Salesforce.com has implemented what they describe as an Early Warning System—really, a customer success dashboard—that shows how fully customers are taking advantage of the capability they’ve licensed. This lets Customer Success Managers (isn’t that a great title?) guide lagging customers to more deeply engage and get more value from Salesforce—and, in turn, they hope to reduce defections.
These programs all have a few things in common:
- They measure the customer, not support operations
- They’re focused on success and value, not simple uptime
- They’re more impactful and practical in SaaS—yet another reason support executives should want to advocate for the cloud whenever possible
In Support, we love measuring things. Let’s make sure we measure the things that matter to our customers.
(HT to Patsy Nations, Brad Smith, Neil Deluca, and Mehmet Goker.)