Part 1 | Driving Customers’ Fundamental Change
To date, health scores (a high-level measurement of customer success) have been based entirely on usage metrics. Usage metrics are great for SaaS companies because they are easy to measure.
The problem with health scores based solely on usage metrics is that they do not always map directly to the fundamental value that the customer receives from implementing your product or service as a solution to their challenge.
And this is a big problem.
What we’ve learned from churn analysis is this. You may have a lot of usage of a product or service, but if the customer is not achieving the fundamental change that they sought in the first place, translated into some serious measurable value for their business, then sooner or later you will have a churned customer.
This toolkit is meant to help you instrument an additional aspect to your customer success, and that’s customer value – the value of what you’re giving your customer through your product or service. We call that Fundamental Change (F∆). The impact of F∆ is not just a health score, it’s a hero score. The hero score helps to more accurately represent customer health. This toolkit will help you achieve just that.
Part 2 | Health Scores Aren’t Enough
The nature of facts means you have a ton of data. There is a lot to measure. What we know is that the reason people purchase products and, more importantly in the world of SaaS, the reason people keep paying for a product or service, is they’re getting value from it.
With so much data, it is easy to get lost. What can you measure accurately in order to predict churn? Some things aren’t measurable, while others may give a false indication of healthy usage. The big things can get lost, which means health scores are not accurately capturing how successful customers actually are with your product or service.
Without knowing the metrics outside of the SaaS platform itself, or not knowing which of the million things you can measure are mapped to customer value and fundamental change (F∆) that the customer is trying to drive, you end up with non-representative health scores. As a result, you get surprise churn. You get customers that aren’t as rich and meaningful as you would like.
Part 3 | Using the Hero’s journey to Understand Customers
The unfortunate part of this is that the kind of buyer information you need, the candid feedback, is often non-existent. Ideally, this kind of information – the fundamental value that needs to drive from your product or service – should be discovered by Sales. But it’s not. And it’s either not being discovered or it’s not being conveyed.
Most customer success organizations start with blank slates with each customer, which then need to be mapped, and they try their best to measure customer health. In order to address this, we bring the concept of Buyer as Hero. The premise of Buyer as Hero is that, anytime a customer buys a product, they’re trying to make a change in their world. The change can be small or, in many cases, the change is significant. Most often it’s about organizational impact. Organizations want to change how they function – the way they do accounting, marketing, automation, manufacturing, etc. They want to change something fundamental to the business. When a customer signs up, they have a vision, and they’re looking to you to help accomplish that vision.
The only way for you to understand what customer success looks like for your customer is to understand the fundamental change that they’re trying to bring to their organization.
To help you understand that, we describe the Hero’s Journey.
What we take from the Hero’s Journey, developed by American writer Joseph Campbell, is that fundamental change necessitates heroic behavior. It requires a hero, and it requires allies. And it involves a lot of difficulty when organizations resist change. We can put a lot of business terms around that, like stakeholders, value propositions, and so on. But ultimately it’s the Hero’s Journey, and it helps us tap into the human psyche better than any objective measure.
View your customer as someone partaking on a new adventure or quest. The Hero’s Journey involves a call to adventure. It involves a descent into unknown territory, looking for allies, watching for foes, and overcoming challenges. Ultimately, your customer will reach an action for change. Every one of your customers goes through that journey.
What the hero’s journey tells us is that, to understand your customer, you need to have meaningful conversations about their quest.
Part 4 | Treating the Buyer as Hero
There are many variations of the Hero’s Journey that can be applied to different contexts. We have simplified and translated it to relate directly to change champions in companies, who buy products and services to catalyze change. The journey is about the hero, the protagonist, the main character, who faces a problem, undergoes change involving some sort of fear-facing commitment, which ultimately leads to new space, and an eventual mastery of that space.
All the tools included in this toolkit will aid you in discovering the quest your buyers are already on, and incorporate that into your customer success discipline. To begin, you will work with the Buyer Profile. In order to understand your customer’s journey, you need to understand who they are and where they are coming from. From there, you will map the dialogue that you need to have with your customer to understand their journey. This involves understanding the fundamental quest that they are on and confirming that their quest is underway. Using the Dialog Map, you will probe for deeper understanding of the challenges in what they are trying to achieve. This culminates in a clear understanding of the fundamental change that the buyer is trying to accomplish, and – more importantly to you – the ways in which you and your product or service can help them.
Understanding the Buyer as Hero means that you will be empowered to identify what you need to measure, either in your product or service, or in your regular check-ins with your customer. And that’s when your health scores will become meaningful.
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