Success metrics hard to pin down

Amanda Cox
Amanda Cox Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited August 2020 in Metrics & Analytics
Hi everyone!

My team and I have been struggling with this and I'd love some insight from the group: Our customer "success metrics" are difficult to pin down and make SMART because they either aren't tracked or "can't be tracked."

Let me give you some background:
We work with mid market orgs across all industries, our main points of contact are CHRO / VP of HR / Dir of HR typically. The anticipated value our customers join us with is to reduce turnover, increase employee engagement, make better hires, empower managers, etc. Some of those sound like they should have a metric associated with them, right? Our experience is usually none of these things are tracked by our customers at the point that they join us.

I loved the success plan framework that @Jay Nathan shared and the idea behind it - this is a working doc with the customer to agree on how we measure success and guide our work together. I've started using it in my conversations and find it really helpful overall in terms of structure. See here if you are not yet familiar --

Here's my question: 
For anyone else who has run into this type of challenge before, how do you frame success planning?

My gears have been turning with some thoughts below. I'd really appreciate some insight here.
- Insist on them measuring these previously unmeasured thing, help them figure out how to do just that
- Shift to measuring change in processes/operational differences (i.e. if we wanted to make better hires - what does that mean in terms of changes to existing operations?)

Thanks so much in advance for considering!


  • Tiffany Morin
    Tiffany Morin Member Posts: 20 Thought Leader
    edited August 2020

    This was a big challenge at my previous company. Most of what customers deemed as 'success' with our solution we could not be quantified within our product. For example, did location-services result in increased engagement? To obtain these answers, we had to either ask the customer or partner we integrated with who tracked these metrics. We did have several customers who had issues quantifying some of these metrics. 

    To help, during the kick off process with the customers we would ask them what their success metrics were (and suggest a few) and how they planned on quantifying them. We work with customers on how to quantify if they couldn't to at least get base-line numbers. We could then continue to consult customers on how to track and measure them. After all, the success of their role depended on our solution. We also made sure we were integrated with solutions that would allow customers to track the success of our solution but also the end-clients campaign results.  

    Happy to chat further if you have any more specific questions about how we went about solving this challenge! 

  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    edited August 2020
    Yeah, that's a tough one, @Amanda Cox

    I think if I were in your shoes, I'd start with your first bullet because regardless of whether they have metrics, they will certainly need them for multiple purposes, and if there's a way you can help define them (i.e. with billable services) you can increase the value you deliver which also increases your retention and growth.

    The outcomes you specify, however (reduce turnover, increase employee engagement, make better hires, empower managers, etc.) sound like results that come from your solution in addition other things the customer must improve, is that right? In that case, you must show the specific level of improvement your solution makes, (i.e. keeping all other factors constant). This makes the case for your second bullet, the "before" and "after" process states, comparing the time, cost, and quality differences between the two. For example, when we looked at software we had purchased, our users said it saved them 75% of the time to perform a high-volume task. Time is money, so we showed the ROI on productivity savings alone during the renewal conversation with our CFO. 

    Perhaps another important note--part of the essential value of the CSM is to share what's working with other customers. While collaborating to set goals and expectations is always best, keep in mind they also value your specific direction and benchmarks. If you make it easier for them to justify their investment when the time comes for a renewal, they are more likely to be successful making that justification.