Conceptual image for customer success metrics

In today's business world, success hinges on more than just delivering a quality product or service. Now, it revolves around cultivating and maintaining strong relationships with customers. It's a reality underscored by the realization that their success is your success. However, charting a path to effective customer success is complex, requiring ongoing dedication, strategic planning, and a keen understanding of customers' needs and experiences. This journey is navigated with the compass of customer success metrics.

These metrics are your eyes and ears, presenting an unbiased view of your customer's perceptions and the effectiveness of your strategies. They help you understand the extent of customer satisfaction, the areas that need improvement, and how well your team is working to ensure customer satisfaction. Essentially, these metrics serve as a roadmap to a better customer experience, stronger relationships, and, ultimately, a thriving business.

This importance is underpinned by compelling statistics. For instance, PwC found that 17% of U.S. customers will abandon a business after just one bad experience, and a further 59% after several poor encounters. 

Study from PwC showing impact of poor experience on a customer's willingness to make future purchases from said business


Additionally, Recurly's analysis of 1,900 subscription services in 2021 and 2022 revealed an average customer churn rate of 5.6%. This not-so-insignificant figure likens customer churn to a snowball rolling down a hill, gaining mass and velocity as it progresses, taking recurring revenue and expansion opportunities with it, as per OnlyCFO's analogy.

Stats from Recurly showing overall business churn as well as B2B vs B2C and voluntary vs involuntary


However, there is a silver lining. Forrester Principal Analyst Shari Srebnick emphasizes that customer success is indeed sales resulting from success, underlining the role of customer success teams in establishing trust-based relationships that pave the way for retention and expansion. McKinsey's benchmark data supports this, suggesting that existing customers account for a third to half of total revenue growth, even for start-ups, and at a fraction of the customer acquisition cost.

Moreover, satisfying customers yields higher returns. According to research from CX expert Shep Hyken, 58% of satisfied customers are willing to pay more for a positive experience. These satisfied customers can also potentially become advocates for your brand, sharing their service experiences within their networks, providing referrals, posting online reviews, or sharing stories on social media.

Through this article, we delve into the pivotal role of customer success metrics, explore their significance, types, and provide a comprehensive guide on how to effectively use them to boost your business outcomes. Whether you're seasoned in customer success or just embarking on this journey, this guide will provide the insights you need to level up your strategy.

In the business realm where customer-centricity is king, knowledge is power. Customer success metrics are powerful tools in your arsenal, so let's equip ourselves with the knowledge needed to win - for our businesses and, most importantly, for our customers.

The Importance of Customer Success Metrics

Customer success metrics are measurable values that indicate the efficiency and effectiveness of a company's customer success strategies. They provide objective insights into customer behavior, customer success manager (CSM) activity, and overall business outcomes. By keeping tabs on these metrics, companies can refine their customer success efforts, fostering increased customer satisfaction, reduced churn, and expanded revenue.

Types of Customer Success Metrics

Customer success metrics can be broadly categorized into three groups: customer behavior metrics, CSM activity metrics, and business outcome metrics.

Customer Behavior Metrics

These metrics measure customer engagement with a product or service. With the advancements in technology, it's possible to monitor every aspect of a customer's interaction with your offering, providing invaluable data about customer behavior.

For instance, you might measure:    

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

  • What it is: NPS measures customers' willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others. It's typically gauged through a single question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”
  • Why it's important: NPS can be a strong indicator of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. A high NPS indicates that customers value your products/services and would willingly promote your business.
  • How to calculate: NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (customers who give a score of 6 or lower) from the percentage of promoters (customers who give a score of 9 or 10). The NPS range is -100 to 100.

2. Customer Health Score

  • What it is: The customer health score aggregates various customer-level data to provide an overall view of customer satisfaction or 'health'.
  • Why it's important: It helps predict churn, identify at-risk customers, and understand which customers are ready for upselling or cross-selling. It's a comprehensive indicator of how well your customers are doing.
  • How to calculate: Health score is typically calculated by aggregating multiple variables (like product usage, support tickets, customer feedback, etc.) into a single score. The exact calculation can vary based on the company's specific priorities and business model.

3. Customer Effort Score (CES)

  • What it is: CES determines the amount of effort a customer has to exert to get an issue resolved, a request fulfilled, a product purchased/returned, or a question answered.
  • Why it's important: CES is a metric that can help you understand the usability of your product or service and the efficiency of your customer service. Lower effort typically results in higher customer satisfaction.
  • How to calculate: CES is often calculated by asking customers to rate the ease of their experience on a scale from "Very Difficult" to "Very Easy". The scores are then averaged to create the CES.

4. Customer Onboarding Success

  • What it is: This metric measures how successful a company is at getting new customers to a fully operational state with their product.
  • Why it's important: Successful onboarding is critical for customer satisfaction and retention. It can influence how quickly customers start seeing value from your product, and how likely they are to stick around.
  • How to calculate: This can be tricky to quantify, but often involves tracking metrics like time to first key action, time to achieve "quick wins" with your product, or completion of key onboarding steps.

5. Qualitative Customer Feedback

  • What it is: This is feedback given by customers about their experience with your product or service, which is not usually expressed in numerical or measurable terms but rather in descriptions, suggestions, and comments.
  • Why it's important: Qualitative feedback can provide in-depth insights about customer needs, wants, and perceptions. It can highlight problems in your product or service that may not be apparent through quantitative metrics.
  • How to collect: Collecting qualitative feedback can be done through several methods, including one-on-one interviews, focus groups, open-ended survey questions, or even analysis of customer support conversations.

6. Usage Metrics

  • What it is: Usage metrics provide insights into how customers are using your product or service. This could include things like feature usage, login frequency, session duration, etc.
  • Why it's important: Usage metrics can help identify trends and patterns in how your product is being used. This can guide product development, improve user experience, and reduce churn.
  • How to calculate: Usage metrics can be tracked through analytics tools or a customer success platform. The specific calculations will depend on the metrics you're tracking.    

CSM Activity Metrics

These metrics track the actions of your customer success managers. By measuring these, companies can understand how the activities of their CSMs affect customer sentiment and retention.

Some CSM activity metrics include:

 1. Frequency of Interactions

  • What it is: This metric measures how often your customer success managers are interacting with your customers. These interactions could be through email, phone calls, in-person meetings, or even social media engagements.
  • Why it's important: Frequent interaction with customers often leads to better customer relationships and can help anticipate customer needs or issues before they become significant problems. It's a good indicator of customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • How to calculate: This can be tracked through a CRM system or customer success platform. You would total the number of interactions over a specific period (like a month or quarter) and then divide by the number of customers to get an average.

2. Support Ticket Volume

  • What it is: This measures the number of support tickets or issues raised by customers over a certain period.
  • Why it's important: A high volume of support tickets can indicate problems with your product or service that need to be addressed. It can also provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of your customer support team.
  • How to calculate: This is usually tracked through your customer support platform. You simply count the number of support tickets raised within a given period.

3. First Contact Resolution Rate (FCRR)

  • What it is: FCRR is the percentage of customer issues that are resolved in the first interaction with a customer service representative.
  • Why it's important: High FCRR usually leads to higher customer satisfaction because customers typically want their issues resolved quickly and efficiently.
  • How to calculate: FCRR is calculated by dividing the number of cases resolved on first contact by the total number of cases.

4. Risk Identification and Mitigation

  • What it is: This is a measure of how effectively a company can identify and mitigate risks that may lead to customer dissatisfaction or churn.
  • Why it's important: Proactive risk identification and mitigation can help improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase the overall health of your customer base.
  • How to measure: This is a bit harder to quantify than the other metrics. It can be measured by tracking the number of identified customer risks and comparing it to the number of successfully mitigated risks over a given period.

Business Outcome Metrics

These metrics provide insights into the direct impact of customer success efforts on the business’s bottom line. They measure key outcomes such as:

1. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

  • What it is: MRR is the amount of revenue that a company can reliably anticipate every 30 days.
  • Why it's important: MRR is a critical metric for any subscription-based business as it provides predictability of future revenues, helping to plan budgets and set goals.
  • How to calculate: For each active customer, take the monthly cost of their subscription and sum it across all customers.

Monthly Recurring Revenue Calculator


2. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV)

  • What it is: CLTV is a prediction of the net profit from the entire future relationship with a customer.
  • Why it's important: Understanding CLTV helps businesses determine how much they can afford to spend on acquiring new customers and how much they should spend on retaining existing ones.
  • How to calculate: CLTV is calculated by multiplying the average purchase value by the average purchase frequency rate to determine customer value, then multiply that by the average customer lifespan.

3. Retention Rate

  • What it is: Retention rate is a customer success metric that represents the percentage of customers a company has retained over a specific time period. It provides an indication of how many customers continue to use a company's product or service over time.
  • Why it's important:  It's a critical measure of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the effectiveness of customer success efforts. High retention rates usually imply that customers are happy with your product or service, see its value, and choose to continue using it. It's often seen as an indicator of good customer health.
  • How to calculate: Retention rate = [(Number of customers at end of period - Number of new customers acquired during the period) / Number of customers at the start of the period] * 100    

    For example, if you start the year with 100 customers, acquire 20 new customers, and end the year with 105 customers, your retention rate would be:    

    Retention Rate = [(105-20) / 100] * 100 = 85%

4. Customer Retention Cost (CRC)

  • What it is: CRC is the amount of money a company spends on activities and programs to reduce customer churn and retain customers.
  • Why it's important: CRC helps determine the financial efficiency of your retention efforts. If your CRC is higher than the revenue you retain, your retention program may not be cost-effective.
  • How to calculate: CRC is calculated by adding up all the costs of retention activities (like email campaigns, loyalty programs, customer success initiatives) and dividing by the number of customers retained.

5. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT):

  • What it is: CSAT is a metric that measures a customer's satisfaction with a product, service, or support interaction. (Note: For additional customer satisfaction metrics, you can check out the following article).
  • Why it's important: CSAT can give you immediate feedback on how you're doing in terms of customer expectations. Higher CSAT scores typically correlate with higher customer loyalty.
  • How to calculate: CSAT is usually measured by a simple survey question such as "How satisfied were you with your experience?" with a rating scale. The CSAT score is then the average rating.

6. Churn Rate:

  • What it is: Churn measures the rate at which customers cease their subscriptions or stop doing business with you over a given period.
  • Why it's important: High churn rate can be a sign of customer dissatisfaction. Reducing churn can dramatically improve your company's profitability.
  • How to calculate: Churn rate is usually calculated by dividing the number of customers lost during a given period by the number of customers you had at the beginning of the period.

7. Expansion or Upsell Rate

  • What it is: This metric measures the increase in revenue from existing customers through upselling (selling more of the same product) or cross-selling (selling different products to the same customer).
  • Why it's important: Expansion revenue is often more cost-effective than acquiring new customers and can significantly impact a company's growth and profitability.
  • How to calculate: Expansion or upsell can be calculated by subtracting the MRR at the beginning of a period from the MRR at the end, excluding any new sales or churn. It can be expressed as a dollar value or a percentage.

Using Customer Success Metrics to Enhance Business Outcomes

By carefully monitoring and analyzing these metrics, businesses can draw valuable insights about their customer success strategies and initiatives. They can identify what works well and what needs improvement. Moreover, companies can use these metrics to make data-driven decisions, designing and implementing strategies that maximize customer satisfaction and retention.

For instance, if your metrics reveal high churn rates, this may indicate dissatisfaction with your product or service, and necessitate improvements or changes. Similarly, if CSM activities are not translating into improved customer engagement or satisfaction, it may be time to reevaluate your customer success processes or provide additional training for your team.

Furthermore, businesses can leverage customer success metrics to predict and forecast future outcomes. For instance, analyzing trends in customer behavior and business outcome metrics can provide an estimation of future retention rates, churn, or revenue growth.

Here are a few actionable steps you can take today:

  1. Establish a Customer Feedback Loop: Regularly collect feedback from your customers and use it to improve your product or service. This could be done through surveys, interviews, or feedback forms.
  2. Invest in Customer Success Software: Implement software that helps you track, measure, and analyze customer success metrics.
  3. Train Your Team: Provide your team with the necessary training and resources they need to focus on improving customer success.
  4. Monitor Your Metrics: Regularly monitor your customer success metrics and adjust your strategies accordingly. Use your insights to make proactive decisions that benefit your customers and your business.

Utilizing Customer Success Software

Many of the metrics mentioned can be automatically calculated and tracked using customer success software. This software provides a comprehensive view of the customer's journey and behaviors, enabling you to measure, analyze, and manage customer health. They often come equipped with features that can predict customer churn, measure customer health score, and even automate communication with customers based on their behaviors or milestones.

Software like Gainsight, ChurnZero, or ClientSuccess can offer robust functionalities that cater to different aspects of customer success management. These platforms provide tools for tracking customer behavior, automated communication, advanced analytics, and more.

Knowledge Base Software and Customer Success

Knowledge base software, like Helpjuice, can also be instrumental in improving many customer success metrics. Providing customers with self-service resources helps to empower them, reduces the burden on your support team, and can improve both First Contact Resolution Rate and Customer Satisfaction Score.

A comprehensive knowledge base enables customers to find answers to their queries immediately, without having to wait for a customer service representative. This not only improves customer satisfaction but also reduces the costs associated with customer support. Furthermore, a good knowledge base tool allows for easy content creation, management, and customization, ensuring that the information available is always up-to-date and relevant.

Wrapping Up

Understanding and measuring customer success metrics is critical for any business that wants to grow and retain its customers. But manually tracking these metrics can be time-consuming and error-prone. This is where customer success and knowledge base software can be a game-changer, providing the tools needed to manage customer relationships effectively and proactively.

If you're looking to enhance your customer success strategy, why not take the first step and try out Helpjuice's knowledge base software? With a user-friendly interface, powerful customization options, and analytics capabilities, it's an all-in-one solution to meet your customer success needs. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today and experience the difference it can make to your customer success metrics.