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Managing your customer’s health and keeping them off life support

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You are the master of your domain.

Your marketing and sales engine is bringing in great leads, nurturing them smoothly through the trial, and delivering a conversion rate that would be the envy of any religion or political party.

Your “go-to” guy, Bob in your Customer Success Group, started his tenure working one-on-one with your customers; and with his great sense of their needs he’s been able to keep everybody happy.

What’s more, he’s done a stellar job letting the management team know how things are going.  Well, letting you know “roughly” how they are going.  Because Bob’s group has gone from tracking 50, to 100, and now 1000 customers; and the cracks are beginning to show.

He’s adding resources and holding things together until your CFO asks him three simple, but very pointed, questions:

“Did our latest customer get successfully on-boarded?”
“Are all our customers using our product OK?”
“Hey for our customers due for renewal, do you think we’re good to count on the cash?”

Now Bob has to sit and think. “What exactly does a successful on-boarded customer look like? Of course they are using our product, or at least they’re paying for it. If they bought it once, they’ll surely buy it again. Won’t they?”

What these kinds of questions do is show the need for a way to measure success in each phase of the customer lifecycle. But to measure, you need a method to track appropriate metrics.

If you’re already a Totango customer, you likely have Smart Lists tagging accounts related to their behavior, and if integrated with Salesforce these tags can be seen directly there. With the data and tags, you then need to be able to tell the “story” to management so they can understand the answers to the 3 questions above.

What we’re going to do now, is “kill two birds with one stone” using the Totango information to answer the 3 lifecycle questions and create nurturing to measure and learn potential improvements in continuing to nurturing the customers through their lifecycle.

Report On The Customer’s Lifecycle Health

At The High Bar we use Totango, Salesforce and Marketo integrated to drive this solution as we measure our customers use of our Charter School Board Governance SaaS application, BoardOnTrack.

1. Instrument your application with Totango to track meaningful actions in your application and ensure you can categorize them into modules (functional feature areas of your product).

Totango has all the resources you need to quickly, easily and successfully implement this.

2. Define your success criteria:

a. Define what the success criteria are for a successful onboard in 30, 60 and 90 days. We leverage two categories for on-boarding, “Good” and “Poor
b. Define the criteria for a healthy customer in the core of their lifecycle. We leverage three categories, “Good”, “Average” and “Poor” and have criteria defined for each.
c. Define when you wish to start tracking a customer coming to renewal. We focus on renewals 120 days prior to their anniversary. We leverage three categories, “Low Risk”, “Average Risk” and “High Risk” and have criteria defined for each.

3. Setup the Smart Lists in Totango to match each of your defined criteria for the lifecycle categories.

Example: On-Boarding Smart List definition that adds the tag “30OnBoard-Good” when the criteria are met and removes the tag “30OnBoard-Good” when the criteria are not met. Note: The “Start Date” is a field in the SF Account object that syncs to the account attribute in Totango, and identifies when the customer started paying/on-boarding.

Example: After completing our 90-day onboarding and prior to 120-day renewal tracking customers are in their core lifecycle. We leverage the Totango Customer Health for the defined criteria.

Example: When customers are within 120 days of their anniversary date we track their health by leveraging the Totango Customer Health status for the defined criteria.

4. The next step is to make use of the data in Salesforce. With the easy integration of Totango to your Salesforce instance, the tags are automatically synced to the field “Totango Insights” in the relevant Account object.

Now you can see easily how the accounts have been tagged per your Smart Lists, but the challenge is how to use this text field that contains multiple tags to generate something that you can report on.

a. We initially need to create a custom field to generate reports form. Here is an example of an Account view that shows the Totango Insights and an additional custom field “Account Lifecycle Status”. The “Account Lifecycle Status” is derived from the tags and used to drive the final report.

The “Account Lifecycle Status” is a custom field picklist that matches your earlier defined categories. Here’s how ours looks:

b. We then have to update the “Account Lifecycle Status” with the appropriate matching picklist value dependent on the Totango Insights tags. To achieve this we created a series of Salesforce Workflow Rules. Here are all the ones that we have defined:

For each one we match against the tag to trigger the update. Here is the example of our “30 Day OnBoard-Good” workflow trigger.

c. So now we have a the appropriate “bucket” for the customers lifecycle stage clearly set in a field in Salesforce that can be easily reported on. The next step is to build a report that now makes sense and you can see quickly overall status like this:

Note: we’ve been using dummy data, to help show the category options.

      • Create a new report of Report Type: Accounts. Note that we are also only reporting against “Paying” customers.

      • Create a Bucket Field called “Lifecycle Status” with the source column being that of our Account field “Account Lifecycle Status”. You will then have all the picklist fields that you can then use to create the appropriate buckets for the report.

      • Summarize the report by “Account Lifecycle Status” to provide the summary count for each of the lifecycle categories.
      • Add the columns that you wish to see in the report.
      • Add a graph to your report

Note: Unfortunately Salesforce does not have an option to hide the legend descriptions.

You should now have a report that looks similar to this one:

You now have a report that anybody in the organization can view quickly, or subscribe to, to see the health of your customers as they move through their lifecycle.

Does this answer the 3 questions we started with?

“Did our latest customer get successfully on-boarded?”
“Are all our customers using our product OK?”
“Hey, for our customers due for renewal do you think we’re good to count on the cash?”

It certainly appears to answer them. I can see how customers “health” is as a snapshot in time. However to improve on this we need to also look at longitudinal reporting over-time of the customer. Just now we are not leveraging history reporting to track this as at our stage we can still use a qualitative measure i.e. if they don’t meet our success criteria by 90 days then they will be a higher risk for not renewing.

We still track overtime the percentage of each of the customers in each health bucket, as we need a KPI to drive nurturing activities for our customer success as well as our own.

Warning: Who set the criteria for the Smart Lists in Totango that drives the tags and the subsequent Customer Lifecycle Status? It’s very easy to make the criteria too restrictive or worse to generic that would provide you with a worthless vanity metric that only makes management feel good. The criteria need to be carefully thought through. What do expect customers to achieve as they on-board, what should they be doing through their core lifecycle, and within the renewal timeframe how do ensure we don’t sound desperate.

 Your goal should be to build the processes to improve the number of customers in the healthy categories so that by the time the customer’s anniversary date arrives you know they’re a low risk.

Next: Nurturing The Customers Through Their Lifecycle

-Case Study Guest Blog by Andrew Jamieson, CTO of The High Bar

Or read the FULL report.

Jill Rubin

Jill is a senior marketing and business development executive with experience leading successful teams in both large companies and startups. She has taken companies from early stage to strong revenue growth and propelled established businesses to industry leadership positions.

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