An illuminated “check engine” light is scary because it doesn’t offer any solution. There could be any number of reasons why that little beacon has been lit. For many, “check engine” may as well just say “car broken”—and that’s terrifying.

The lesson is that our early warning systems are only as valuable as the responses they trigger.

This is certainly true of the customer success health scores used to monitor the status of customers. When a health score indicates that a customer requires attention, you also need to know what went wrong and how to fix it. To improve the diagnostic value of customer success health scores, build them around the right metrics and derive solutions by understanding how those metrics impact customer lifetime value.

What is a Customer Success Health Score?

A customer success health score is a framework used to identify the status of your customers so you can quickly prioritize accounts. It is a powerful tool for capitalizing on potential upsell opportunities and preventing customer churn.

Your customer success health score will give you accurate information on customer satisfaction across a three-tiered display. These categories are also represented numerically as a relative rating out of 100 based on a combination of established metric thresholds. For example, an engagement score would rank active daily usage within an account against other accounts. A mark of 10 would indicate the users in the account are at the bottom 10% in terms of usage.

Combining such metrics across an account performance leaves you with the following display:

  • Doing Well: The customer rates well against health indicators and you should consider value-add engagements such as upselling.
  • Take Notice: The customer meets the highest standards of satisfaction in at least some criteria, and you should continue driving toward more product value.
  • Requires Attention: The customer falls below acceptable standards in some criteria and is at risk of churning.

These warning status signals are, however, only as valuable as the metrics that inform them.

What a Customer Success Health Score Measures

A customer success health score distills many KPIs and metrics into one comprehensive measurement. For instance, you can combine the frequency of product usage measured against expected performance and the percentage of individual users onboarded within 30 days to get an overview of account health in the early stages of adoption. These raw metrics are given a relative rank out of 10 or 100, for example, before they can be fed into your customer health score.

These base metrics need to be ones that are important to your customers, your product, and your enterprise, and the metrics used to create your customer health score should be customized to reflect these core metrics.

For example, while you may collect information on how often your customer accesses your product, it may be more important to know how long they use it during each login. If your customer is logging in to your product each morning but then leaving the window idle, they may have trouble incorporating it into their daily workflow.

Every enterprise will have its own set of key metrics, but most of us should measure the following broad categories:

  • Product Usage and Adoption: How frequently does your customer access your product and its features, and for how long per login?
  • License Utilization: What percentage of the sold licenses within an account are actively being used.
  • Business Results: Is the customer getting value from your product?
  • Engagement: Is the customer responding to marketing information, support opportunities, and customer success engagements?
  • Escalations: Has the customer logged complaints? How have they been resolved?

Linking your customer success health score directly to data that impacts customer lifetime value sets you up to make meaningful responses to status updates. If your customer success health score is properly attuned to the engagements that result in customer value, then improving those scores is as simple as implementing your own best practices.

How to Improve Your Customer Success Health Score

If your customers are in poor health, here are some steps you can take:

Use a Customer Success Platform

Once you identify the correct variables for measuring customer value, track them with a comprehensive customer success platform. The platform should accept multiple forms of data and be able to display information in a hierarchical display over customer segments.

A customer success platform is the foundation of a customer-centered approach and the only viable means of effectively tracking customer data in real time.

Link Customer Health to Business Outcomes

Your product is only valuable to your customer if it delivers ROI. As such, you have to quantifiably track the metrics that produce direct value for your customer. If, for example, your customer is a B2B enterprise, incorporate benchmarked metrics such as search volume, email clicks, and lead conversion over time into your health scores.

Properly Weigh Your Metrics

Not all metrics are created equal. For example, the frequency of escalations may be a better indication of success for your customer than the frequency of survey responses. So, you might want to give the former metric more weight. When establishing the conversion formula for turning raw data into a health score contribution, you could multiply the escalation count by a factor of 1.25 and the survey data by 0.85.

With weighted data, you get more responsive customer health scores. Now, an account that generates a lot of escalations will more readily drop from green to yellow in our three-tiered monitoring system. This should provide a clear indication that the customer needs additional support, training, or personal attention.

Trace Your Health Scores to Underlying Metrics

A change in your customer’s health score can be traced to a root cause within your metrics. By drilling into the underlying data you may find, for instance, that it was linked to a drop off in license utilization. The high-level signal from your health score can become an account level education campaign.

If your customer success health score is founded on the right metrics, you should be able to launch proactive campaigns regularly. The point of the health score is, after all, to guide your next customer engagement.

Customer Success Health Scores Improve with Better Metrics

You improve a customer’s health score by improving their customer experience. Your customer health score should be derived directly from the metrics and measurements that are the most important to delivering and experiencing value—and weighted accordingly. A properly configured customer health score will give you a direct explanation for the customer’s current status.

Tracing the root cause of the score’s movement back to the key metrics that triggered it will enable your customer success team to quickly take proactive action. Changes in customer health signals should lead directly to potential account-saving action.