Early warning systems are at the heart of any modern Customer Success platform. An Early Warning System (EWS) is comprised of four different components: sensors, event detection, decision support, and customer engagement. With an EWS, customer success teams can use low-level customer data to detect meaningful customer events. These events trigger proactive engagement with the right customer at the right time, creating the proper engagement model to retain, grow, and delight customers.
The core concept of a Customer Success EWS is to monitor, detect, and act. This same model can be seen across several domains including missile defense systems, tsunami, and other crises detection systems. Let’s explore one definition of an early warning system:
An early warning system is more than a warning system, which is simply a means by which an alert can be disseminated to the public.
An early warning system can be implemented as a chain of information communication systems and comprises sensors, event detection, decision support, and message broker subsystems.
Early Warning System Capabilities
An early warning system consists the following capabilities:
The key reason why EWS is applicable for customer success is the constant change in the customer base. Customers are using (or not) the products and services in various ways, and their experience could be positive or negative. They sometimes open service request (support) tickets, and they make payments (or not) on time.
The simplest way to think think about it in that context is to connect the usage and utilization clickstreams and just about anything else that produces a log of discrete events that generate knowledge about users, customers and products. These events are time-stamped and generate a sequence of data points that could be meaningful information about the customer. For example, who is using the service, how often, at which capacity and so on.
Constant logging and monitoring of the descrete data points creates a unique detection opportunities.
Out of all the low level signals that are constantly collected by the sensors, the EWS identifies business meanings. These are intentions, sentiments and motivations of the customer. These meaningful higher level events represents both risks and opportunities that a customer success organization can make a good use of. The business events are derived and deduced automatically by the sequence, frequency and intensity of the data points that are constantly collected.
Sensors and event detection connect the dots of customer information so the organization can take action proactively. What should be the right response? This is where decision support comes into play.
With decision support, we are helping the front-line customer success and account managers to follow tested and proven responses to the various customer situations. In customer success, these are called Success Plays. The system triggers a set of sequenced activities assigned to the customer success manager. The system supports the customer success manager with the business event (what happened?), the full context (what was the previous sequence of events and data-points) and set recommended activities to follow.
This makes it easier to engagement with customer or collaborate internally in order to engagement effectively with the customer is what makes effective and efficient workflows for the engaging customer success teams.
Customer Engagement Framework
A SuccessPlay usually requires the customer success manager to engage with the customer and to engage internally to orchestrate proper organizational response.
Although there are many options to engage with customers (email, telephone, web-meetings, slack) and similar set of tools to collaborate internally, what’s unique about a customer success platform engagement framework is the ability to tie the engagement and collaboration both within the context of the SuccessPlay and the customer context. In addition, it is important to ensure that any customer event represented by a SuccessPlay is actually being followed up and is effectively yielding proper business outcomes and closure.
Some early implementations of EWS within companies have settled with distribution of internal reports about license breaches, or cancellation indications. Although better than doing nothing, these approaches are limited in the ability to ensure follow-up and closure, and with bigger teams it is unpractical to follow up properly.
Early warning systems are gaining rapid adoption within customer success organizations that are able to take advantage of the customer data potential and transform operations from passive/reactive to proactive and predictive.
About Guy Nirpaz:
I wrote the book “Farm Don’t Hunt — The Definitive Guide to Customer Success” to allow customer success leaders be succesful in their job. I’m also the founder and CEO of Totango — a provider of enterprise Customer Success Platform data and engagement technologies.
Note: This post was originally posted on https://blog.farmdonthunt.com/early-warning-system-for-customer-success-b12f12b9c8b7#.wc1lpk98k