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Stop Chasing Health Scores

Medical experts agree that establishing a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease is more effective than treating patients once they’ve gotten sick. Proactively developing healthy habits often prevents patients from getting seriously ill and makes it easier for them to recover when they do get sick.

So why do so many companies take the opposite approach when it comes to their customers?

Customer health scores play an essential role in CS efforts but shouldn’t be the driving force behind them. To succeed, stop chasing health scores and instead develop a thoughtful and proactive customer success strategy.

Health Scores Are a Checkup of Customer Progress

As the name implies, a customer health score is a metric used by CS teams to determine if a customer is healthy (engaged and actively using the product) or at risk (not engaged and struggling with the product). Each company tracks the health score in its own way, but common factors include adoption, product engagement, customer satisfaction scores, and account growth. If a customer is hitting all the right metrics, their account is in a good place. But if they are falling behind the target metrics, their account is unhealthy and requires quick intervention to get them back on track.

Customer health scores are a valuable metric to track customer engagement and the overall health of the account and relationships. Customer relationships can get complicated, especially with CSMs managing multiple customers simultaneously, all with different needs and at various points of the customer journey. The customer health score is a relatively simple indicator to help CSMs prioritize their outreach and quickly know which customers are struggling and need extra help and which customers are engaged and using the product well. At a glance, CSMs can distill multiple factors into a single metric that is personalized to each customer’s goals and progress.

The customer health score should be an early warning sign for strategic intervention. Customers don’t fall from being engaged to ending the contract overnight. There are warning signs and steps along the way. The health score acts as a checkup to track those indicators so CSMs can see the customer’s progress and intervene if necessary before they lose the account and the relationship.

…But They Shouldn’t Drive CS Teams

If customer health scores help CSMs prioritize and deliver great service and reduce churn, shouldn’t they be a significant metric for CS teams? Not necessarily. Too often, companies rely solely on health scores and miss opportunities to build relationships.

Health scores are important, but they aren’t the end all be all. Chasing customer health scores puts CS teams in an unhealthy reactive mindset. Instead of continually serving customers and proving the value of the product, teams focused on health scores wait for the score to drop before they intervene or improve the relationship. A real danger if your health score isn’t modeled correctly is that you’ll find yourself chasing lagging indicators instead of leading ones.

Health scores can be a good initial indicator of the customer’s engagement — the triage if you will — but the meat of the CS efforts comes from proactively serving customers and moving them forward with an intentional and well-thought plan.

Proactively Winning at Every Stage

The best CS efforts are proactive and don’t wait for the health score to drop. Just like a doctor wouldn’t wait for a patient’s blood pressure to get dangerously low before providing treatment, a CSM also shouldn’t let the health score drop before stepping in.

It’s more than just checking in with the customer 30 days before the account is up for renewal. A proactive approach to customer success starts by understanding the function and value of the CS team and seeing it as the strategic bridge between the technology and the outcome for the customer.

Proactive CSMs have a strategic process and know the exact steps to lead the customer down the path to reach the ultimate destination: achieving their maximum value of the product. But without data, without a plan, CSMs can’t know the steps to take.

A proactive plan goes through all stages of the customer journey, from implementation to adoption, engagement, and renewal. Successful implementation sets the customer up with the product and gives them access to the tools. Adoption provides the initial training and showcases the product’s value, which leads to engagement or becoming expert users. From a successful engagement, renewal is nearly automatic because customers have seen the product’s full value to achieve their goals.

Succeeding at each stage keeps the customer moving forward on the path to a long-term and renewed relationship with the company. Instead of customers wandering aimlessly as their health scores drop, CSMs can keep them on the path and succeed through each stage forward to reach their desired outcomes. The plan needs to be thoughtful, personalized, and consistent.

Health scores have a role to play, but they shouldn’t be the sole focus of CS teams. Instead of waiting for a patient’s vitals to drop dangerously low and move into crisis mode to save them, CS teams can take a proactive approach to develop a consistently healthy lifestyle. Creating a proactive plan and moving customers forward through each stage leads to long-term success.

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Greg Lloyd

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