As a customer success professional, you probably know of a myriad of ways to ‘judge’ or ‘grade’ your customers once they start onboarding or activation. This is a pretty standard customer success process and it’s critical to know exactly where you and your customers stand at all times.
A Quick Intro to Customer Success Handoff Scoring and Risks
Did you know, however, that in order to build the best possible picture of customer health, you should actually start ‘grading’ way before activation/onboarding – even before a prospective customer actually becomes a customer? This allows your team to understand client risk from the very beginning and build a better picture of how customers succeed over time. It’s called handoff success and risk scoring, and here’s a quick primer to get your team up-to-speed.
Establishing Your Sales to Customer Success Handoff Score
In reality, the entire concept of the risk score starts with marketing when they are prospecting and grading leads. Your marketing team probably already has a process in place for weighing prospects and determining which ones are viable options for new customers. For optimal handoff success between all teams, these success metrics should be uniform across departments. Essentially, the same grades a marketing team gives new prospects should line up perfectly with the opportunity scores from a sales team and the customer risk scores of a customer success team.
Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Once your marketing team has developed a lead score and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), the account is passed on to the sales team. This is the first element that goes into a handoff score, which helps determine customer risk down the line. Once an account is closed and actually becomes a new customer, this second handoff (between sales and customer success) is extremely critical to a customer risk score. Using the same ICP that was developed by marketing, the sales and customer success team must grade the new client to measure the success or risk of the prospective or new customer.
How to Start Building Your Sales to Customer Success Handoff Score
I think the best handoff scores have 4-6 key success metrics you can collect during the marketing and sales process. This will make the handoff score clear to marketing, sales, and customer success. You can get more complicated with your score as your progress in the scoring process.
Creating Your Handoff Score Metrics
So how do you come up with the 4-6 metrics that are found in your handoff score?
Below are some probing questions to consider. Just be specific and remember that the goal is to find the metrics of why customers stay.
Include these questions — or a variation thereof — when developing your assessment:
- What are the characteristics of successful clients?
- What are the problems we solve for successful customers who stay with us?
- What kind strategic background do successful customers have?
- Why do our clients renew and stay with us?
- What kind of internal resources do successful customers have in common?
- What does the financial picture of a successful customer look like?
- What does the leadership or executive team look like at successful customer?
Once your team has done the initial research and answered some of the above questions, you will find the 4-6 metrics that you can use in your sales to customer success handoff score.
How to Use the Handoff Score
This is pretty simple. The higher the score the more likely a customer will stay with your company and not churn. The lower the score the more risk there could likely be with the new customer account. Simple—many times it is the simple processes that make the biggest impact.
The Positive Influence of the Sales to Customer Success Handoff Score
The handoff score will carry with it a positive influence when it comes to alignment between first marketing and sales, and then sales to customer success. Marketing will start to target and taylor their message to attract customers who stay. Sales will sell the solutions to problems that helps customer stay and grow. And your customer success team will stop getting clients dumped into their laps that are at risk from the start.
Handoff Score from the Start
Why should you start tracking client health all the way from the beginning? It all comes down to weighing the risk of the customer. Unfortunately, some customers can actually cost more to retain than they are worth to your organization. In these cases, it becomes hard to justify spending so much time and employee resources on accounts that are quite literally running themselves into the ground. Measuring a risk score early in the process and monitoring this throughout all inter-team handoffs can help mitigate this risk and ensure your team is focusing its time and energy where it’s needed most – on your most profitable accounts.
Handoff success scores and risk scores are especially important because they bring together success metrics from all departments into a single cohesive look at how customers are engaging with your team. To truly deliver an amazing customer experience to your high-scoring accounts, you first have to determine what constitutes a great customer experience. Having visibility into how handoff and risk scores change over time can help your internal team build better workflows and processes. With better processes in place across the board, from finding new leads to the handoff processes between sales and service to the long-term management of high-quality accounts, customers will be more successful and profitable.