Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

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Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

​If you inventory all the metrics used by your customer-facing organizations – Sales, Marketing and Service – you’ll find an impressive collection of data elements that describe how you interact with your customers. But with all your customer metrics, what do you really know about your customers? How do you assure that you can sustain and grow relationship value? These 3 critical customer relationship value metrics can point the way.

Marketing metrics describe the ability to reach and influence customers.

Sales metrics provide insights into the time and efficiency to book revenue.

Service metrics describe the volume, timeliness, and effectiveness of interacting with them.

Add to this the insights provided from customer satisfaction assessment efforts.  As an industry we have a lot of customer data, but does it tell us everything we need to know about how to engage and sustain long term profitable relationships?

We know how much effort it takes to reach and influence customers, the time it takes to convert prospects to buyers and the time, effort, and costs to service customers.  These are all important, yet too many customer metrics focus on the transactional aspects of the customer relationship—volumes, speed, and efficiency. Too few of them focus on examining the quality of our relationships.

Now we’re not saying you should stop tracking transactional customer metrics!  BUT consider adding the following measurements to examine the strength and quality of your customer relationships:

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #1: Adoption

Adoption tracking provides important insights into the frequency and extent of customer product use.  Customer adoption metrics answer questions such as: Are your customers using your products?  Are they using them to the fullest extent possible?  It seems counter intuitive that customers would not use what they buy, but for many reasons lack of license utilization or under utilization occurs.

Why Adoption metrics matter

If customers are not using what they have already paid for or are not able to apply products to their business, then future subscription renewals or license sales are in jeopardy.

What to measure

Whether through automated tracking or customer surveys, it is important to understand if, how and to what extent your customers use your products.  Consider the following metrics:

  • Adoption: The percentage of licenses sold that are being used.
    • Metric: % of licenses adopted
  • Adoption Extent (Feature Adoption): The features are customers using.  Are they using a basic set of available features or do they take advantage of advanced capabilities?
    • Metric: % of basic users
    • Metric: % of advanced users

How to use Adoption metrics

If you determine that customers are not using what they already have, the next step is to determine why.  Are products too complex? Do customers lack necessary skills? Are products not aligned to customer needs?  The sooner you understand the barriers to full adoption, the sooner you can take corrective actions through services, training, or product enhancements to drive higher product and feature adoption rates.

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #2: Success

Customer success tracking builds upon Adoption and examines the extent to which customers realize tangible benefits from your products. Customer success metrics answer questions such as: Do customers consider your products to be integral to their business?  Are they able to apply your products to meet their business goals and objectives?  The very health of your customer relationships depends upon your customers ability to apply your products to drive success with their business.

Why Success metrics matter

Even with 100% adoption rates, it is possible that customers fail to achieve the outcomes they want with your products.  Understanding the extent to which a customer can positively affect their business with your products is a critical indicator about the overall health of the relationship.  Customers that indicate positive impacts from products are far more likely to continue or expand their relationship with you.  Customers that fail to meet performance objectives are at risk of lower spending or ending their relationship with you.

What to measure

Success can be a subjective measure, yet the perception of success is the basis upon which real decisions are made.   Success measurement is most effective when there is a mutually established definition of success.  Companies that work with customers to develop success plans and journey maps with measurable outcomes can track progress to plan.  Success can also be measured as the return on the original investment in a product.  The most subjective metric is based on asking customers to express the extent to which they believe they have benefited from the use of a product.  Although not ideal, this approach provides insights to alert you to situations where negative perceptions may impact customer relationships.

Consider the following metrics:

  • Success Plan Realization: The percentage of an established success plan that has been realized.
    • Metric: % Success rate
  • Return on Investment: A tangible measure to indicate the payback from the investment in a product over an established timeframe.
    • Metric: ROI
  • Success Perception:
    • Metric: % positive impact (success rate)
    • Metric: % Neutral impact
    • Metric: % None or negative impact

How to use Success metrics

Getting customers to adopt products is just the beginning of long-term profitable relationships.  You need to be able to help customers realize tangible positive benefits from product use.  Regardless of how you measure success you must be cognizant of when you fail to meet customer expectations.  The very practice of measuring success suggests that you are attempting to establish a baseline understanding of what customers need or want from the use of your products.  When you understand customer expectations and detect that your products have not met them, you can examine the reasons why and develop corrective actions to increase success rates.

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #3: Retention

How many of your current customers do you keep? How long do you retain established relationships?  While adoption and success tracking provides insights into the health of a customer relationship, they do not explain all the reasons for churn in your customers base.  Retention examines the rate and duration that you sustain customer relationships and provides an opportunity to identify and examine the reasons for lost relationships,

Why Retention Metrics matter

For many companies most revenue comes from existing customers, thus keeping the customers you have is imperative.

What to measure

Retention is a straightforward metric when you establish a clear definition of what it means to retain a customer.  For our purposes retention is defined as active, revenue-generating relationships.  This is clear for subscription-based / SaaS relationships, but less so for relationships based on perpetual licensing.  When SaaS customers stop paying for their subscriptions they lose their ability to use the product or service they subscribed to.  Perpetually licensed software is different.  A customer can continue to use a perpetually licensed product but pay no maintenance fees, nor purchase any future products.  Retention examines the net number of revenue-generating customer relationships from one period to the next.

Consider the following metrics:

  • Customer Retention (perpetual and subscription): Revenue-generating relationships carried over from previous period (e.g. year to year or quarter to quarter).
    • Metric: % Customer Retention rate (relationships)
  • Net Revenue Retention (perpetual and subscription): Net value of existing contracts carried over from previous period, plus new revenue and less losses (e.g. year to year or quarter to quarter).
    • Metric: % Net Revenue Retention rate

How to use Retention metrics

Retention analysis informs about the stability of your customer base.  You can strive to get your customers to adopt products and be successful with them.  Even then, you cannot prevent all existing customers (or contract value) from going away.  You must however be vigilant and monitor customer retention rates and examine the reasons why you lose customers and revenue (e.g. you may keep a relationship, but at a lower value).  Only when you understand why you lose customers can you act to retain them.

Your Goals: Retention, Growth and Long-term Profitability

We know a lot about customers, but let’s make certain that we understand the foundations of successful customer relationships.  By measuring the extent to which customers adopt and use our products successfully we can identify situations where products fall short in fulfilling their needs and expectations.  With these insights we can take corrective action to minimize churn and identify ways to retain and expand existing relationship value.

We’re here to help.

Reach out anytime to start your own conversation about recurring revenue and customer relationship value. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Ready to commit to a Customer Success strategy? Learn the 5 critical milestones.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

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GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. 

While products form the basis of a customer-vendor relationship, services are the foundation from which post-sales customer relationships are built and sustained.  Services are a natural extension to core product features and offer access to the expertise, skills, and resources that drive customer value.

By Steve Schneider – Co-Founder, WorkRails

Why selling services can be difficult

Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult?

The ability of Sales to sell services is often complicated by inadequate systems and manual processes that reduce the speed and accuracy of service discovery, configuration, and quoting. Inhibitors to service sales are often systemic and arise from programs that are disproportionately focused on selling strictly new products.

Services revenue is more important than ever, and companies must make concerted efforts to help their Sales teams sell services more efficiently.

10 ways to help Sales teams sell services

  1. Make Sales aware of available services.

Sales teams may not be familiar with the extent of services available to customers or recent modifications and enhancements to the catalog of available services. Actively promote the availability and value of services to Sales.

Develop a comprehensive catalog of service programs with up-to-date program descriptions and critical details. Make the service program catalog available digitally in a single, easy-to-find location like a CRM.  Keep Sales up-to-date about enhancements to the service catalog.

  1. Make it easy for Sales to align customer needs with available programs.

The existence of a service catalog does not mean that Sales will know how to align customer needs to available services. Help Sales recognize service opportunities and provide the tools to match needs to available services.

Provide Sales with digital customer journeys, use case examples, and service configuration guidance (configurators). Consider creating predefined service-outcome-based journeys that package multiple service programs to deliver specific customer outcomes, but also support custom SOWs.

  1. Justify service value.

Every service program and service bundle will have an associated price, even if it is discounted. Customers will want to understand the benefits of service offers for the price paid. Be prepared to help Sales justify service value. Establish guidance to suggest the tangible benefits customers can expect, including faster time to benefit; lower costs to implement and maintain; and the attainment of business performance objectives.

Provide Sales with cases studies and quantification tools to help justify the cost of services.

  1. Simplify service configuration.

Some service programs will provide standard deliverables and resources, other services must be customized to meet specific customer needs. Make it possible for Sales to customize and configure services to meet the specific scale and scope of customer needs. Integrate configuration tools with the ability to create customized service quotes.

Provide Sales with access to easy-to-use sales enablement and on-line configuration tools to capture required information needed to customize service quotes.

  1. Streamline proposal creation.

Creating a service proposal should not be complicated. To simplify service proposal creation, use configured services information to automatically build proposals with up-to-date program descriptions, terms, and conditions. Provide the means to pull information from existing systems and integrate customer-specific configuration inputs to create customized service proposals.

Provide Sales with the proposal-generating tools necessary to generate customer-ready documentation quickly and easily.

  1. Digitize pricing, discounting, and Sales policies.

Pricing should not be a mystery and Sales should not have to hunt for quotes. Provide a digital experience for Sales and Service team members to dynamically create quotes based on customer needs. Add pricing and sales policies to your services catalog and keep all data up to date and relevant in one central repository. Assure that pricing and sales policies are clearly delineated by regions.

Provide Sales with a digital platform to generate quotes on demand based on customer requirements.

  1. Automate approval workflows.

Take the guesswork out of pricing and discounting by establishing clear sales policies and approval guidelines. Automated, end-to-end service sales workflows and approvals assure that proposals are aligned with current sales policies.

Provide Sales with clearly defined sales policies related to pricing discount and approvals. Provide digitally enabled processes for creating and routing new proposals to the appropriate internal resources for approval—deal desks or executives— with the ability to capture customer approvals digitally.

  1. Seamless system integration

Selling services should not require extraordinary efforts by Sales. Disparate systems that require time and effort to keep up to date can increase the time to close new service deals and lead to errors and inaccuracies.  implify the service sales process by integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM),  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), and other back-end systems that enable service sales actions such as configuration, pricing, quoting, booking, and scheduling new services.

Remove the burden on Sales teams to update multiple disparate systems by providing seamless system integration across the end-to-end service sales process.

  1. Incent action.

Streamlining and simplifying the end-to-end service sales process will help Sales sell services, but it may not be enough. If you want Sales to take an interest and commit time and efforts to selling services recognize and incent action. Structure compensation, goals and KPIs to properly align products and services.

Incent Sales to sell the right services to the right customers and adhere to established service sales policies and guidelines.

  1. Measure and improve.

Monitor the effectiveness of service sales actions to identify which service programs are most often purchased and w messaging and sales resources are most useful for closing service deals. Evaluate the effectiveness of selling platforms and processes to further streamline the service sales process.

Continually monitor service sales performance and engage with Sales teams to assure that service offers are aligned with current customer needs; sales resources are effective; and that systems and processes are streamlined.

Help your Sales team sell services.

Services and the means to sell them are imperative. With the right resources Sales can quickly and accurately discover, understand, configure, price, and quote services. Effective service sales capabilities create opportunities for recurring revenue retention and growth. Help your Sales team sell services by providing the information, systems, and processes they need.

Service sales can be complex and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

About WorkRails

WorkRails has reinvented how software companies sell services to their customers.  With over $700 billion a year spent on technology services, we were shocked to see the most advanced companies relying on old documents, spreadsheets and predominantly manual processes to drive such an important part of their business.

Through automation, WorkRails makes selling services easy, fast and more accurate for our clients, saving them time and money.  Our SaaS solution powers an e-commerce experience for services employees, clients and partners that increases adoption and reduces errors.  Our clients include some of the top software companies in the world.

Learn More about WorkRails at https://www.workrails.com/

 

Match Customers with the right services.
Close more deals faster.

On-Demand Webinar:

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Essential Customer Success Activities

Essential Customer Success Activities

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Essential Customer Success Activities

Customer Success—and the recurring revenue it generates—results from a series of intentional, interrelated activities performed throughout the customer relationship lifecycle. As shown in this graphic, effective customer success activities comprise a continuum:

 

Essential Customer Success Activities

Effective Customer Success activities fall into 6 distinct categories.  All are essential, yet recent ServiceXRG research revealed that half of companies surveyed are doing only half the job:

Customer Success Activities Commonly Used

Source: ServiceXRG 2020

Customer Success Activities Defined

Onboarding Activities

Onboarding activities aim to remove barriers that may inhibit successful product use. Onboarding can encompass activities to welcome and introduce customers to the resources necessary to use new products, as well as verification that customers can access and use products.

Onboarding activities can include:

  • Initial welcome
  • Kick-off-meeting
  • Goals and objectives inventory

Success Planning Activities

Success planning helps customers realize the full potential of products. These activities can increase understanding customer business objectives, introducing customers to product capabilities, and aligning services to help yield tangible business results.

Success Planning activities can include:

  • Goal setting
  • Account planning
  • Journey mapping
  • Business reviews

Activities to Drive Adoption

Adoption activities occur throughout the product ownership lifecycle. They are designed to advance Customer Success by encouraging the full and successful use of product features and capabilities by all targeted users.

Adoption activities can include:

  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Best practices
  • Templates

Health Monitoring Activities

By monitoring the customer ownership experience, your team gains insights about the extent to which customers are using products successfully. Early-warning signs of low adoption or low success rates trigger corrective actions.

Health monitoring activities can include:

  • Usage tracking
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Risk assessment
  • Intervention

Customer Retention Activities

Customer retention activities facilitate the contract-renewal actions that are necessary to assure sustained customer relationships and continuation of recurring revenues.

Customer retention activities can include:

  • Renewal notification
  • Budget planning
  • Follow-up
  • Win-loss analysis

Up-sell and Cross-Sell Activities

These expansion activities focus on the growth of customer relationship value by offering additional capabilities or capacity. This is where Customer Success activities pay off in additional, and ideally recurring, revenue.

 

Up-sell and cross-sell activities can include:

  • Account reviews
  • ROI analysis
  • Goal setting
  • Opportunity alignment

Make a plan to optimize Customer Success activities

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies optimize their Customer Success strategies, create action plans, and apply best practices.

Let’s make a plan to optimize your Customer Success Activities.

Contact ServiceXRG via the chat button at bottom right or e-mail now; or click on my calendar to set up an initial assessment of your Customer Success planning needs.

 

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Service and success programs are a significant source of revenue. To assure that they yield their maximum revenue potential they must keep pace with customer needs and expectations.

Formal Product Management of Service Portfolios

Treat service portfolios as valuable offerings by assigning dedicated program management resources to keep offerings up to date and relevant. Consider the following:

Develop service and success portfolios that span delivery silos (Support, Success, Education, Professional Services, etc.).

 

Assign a full-time dedicated product manager to lead program management activities for the service / success portfolios across service disciplines and related product families.

 

Establish goals and objectives for the service program manager based on performance and revenues directly associated with sale and renewal of service and success offerings.

 

Grow the team of portfolio product managers to keep pace with the size, complexity, and financial performance of the service portfolio.

 

To assure that your service and success portfolio remains relevant to customer needs review and update offerings on an ongoing basis.  Consider adding new offerings and enhancements as customer needs evolve.  Be certain to define and articulate the value of all offerings and reinforce service benefits to help sustain customer relationships.

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Stop Selling Support and Start Selling Success

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It is no longer enough to attach a support program to a product sale. Effective Success Sales teams must be able to establish long term service relationships that last and grow well beyond the initial sale.

Success Sales Effectiveness

Success sales effectiveness is optimized when Sales teams are knowledgeable of service programs and can articulate a compelling value proposition for long term service benefits.  To maximize sales effectiveness, companies must establish formal success training programs.  Consider the following:

Establish a formal success sales curriculum to instruct sales representatives responsible for selling services (direct and through partners).

Instruct sales teams in the identification of success opportunities.

Provide opportunities for instructor led classroom and virtual training.

Supplement core training with periodic updates delivered through self-paced instructional videos and/or periodic live webinars.

Include coverage of core offerings, value proposition, use cases and overcoming objections.

Supplement sales training with supporting tools and reference materials.

Establish competency-based testing to verify sales representative knowledge. (internal sales staff and partners).

Assure that all service sales staff have been full trained, and their knowledge tested.  Monitor sales effectiveness by measuring initial service contract sales (attach), renewal rates and the rate that service revenue grows from expansion selling.

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Your Support Value Proposition is Out of Date

Your Support Value Proposition is Out of Date

Changes to product licensing – perpetual to subscription – will change the services and benefits customers need and expect from you. Make sure that your value proposition is up to date and relevant to the way you license products and deliver services.

From Product to Subscription-Centric Value

The benefits promised from post-sales services need to reflect the needs and expectations of customers.  Support and post-sales service benefits can be so much more than commitments to keep technology up to date or the speed that issues will be responded to.  Customers need and expect that your products will positively impact their business.

Consider how the elements of your service value proposition must change as you switch from product-centric perpetual licensing to subscription services.

Recommendations

 

  • Make sure that your value proposition is aligned with the way that you license products and deliver services.

  • Structure your value proposition to convey how your services will help customers use your products (onboarding and adoption) and apply them effectively (success services) to yield tangible business outcomes.

  • Evaluate your current service offers and consider what if any new services are required to meet customer needs and expectations.

  • Train and enable sales channels (direct and partners) to articulate your services value proposition.

  • Reinforce service value throughout the customer relationship – not just prior to renewal.

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