The Basic Formula for Creating a Metric for Customer Success

There are a lot of intangible factors in key account management, your customer’s idea for success or failure being one of them. All of your customers likely choose to use your products or services for different reasons and because of this, what they expect/demand out of your product is going to be different from company to company.


While one client is fine using your tools as a quick way to save time and free up some much-needed staff, another client might choose your product as their exclusive software in their company. When companies use products differently, it’s easy to see how their expectations can be different.


Although challenging, measuring your customer’s success with your product and putting a numerical value to it is crucial to nourishing and growing your relationships with key accounts. When you can practically guarantee success and overdeliver time and time again, then it becomes harder and harder for them not to renew every year.


So, how do we go about creating this metric and tracking the success of your customers? Believe it or not, it has less to do with looking at spreadsheets and more to do with the customer’s personal definition of success.


What’s Important to Your Customers?

So, how do you figure out what’s important to your customers? The easy way to find out is to ask them, but you can’t just flat-out ask them a simple question like that because more times than not, the answer is a little bit more complicated. In addition, you’ll also find that customers themselves have a difficult time putting their finger on what really matters to their organization and will instead opt for the easy answer like “make more money” or “grow our customer base.”


While these kinds of answers are better than nothing and can provide you with a touch more insight into their needs, wants, dreams, and goals, if you can dive a bit deeper, you’ll have better luck attaching a specific numerical value to what they want and you can work to meet their highly-specific goal.


We recommend that you look for more probing questions that allow you to get deeper into their expectations from your company and what they foresee happening in the future. Ask them what their best-case scenario is while using your product. Ask them where they want to be a year from now with the help of your product. Ask them how their business would be different if they didn’t use your product or one of your competitors’ either. These questions provide a deeper understanding of what’s going on in your client’s head and will give you something clearer to work with and thus a better chance of reaching their end goals.


Finding a Customer Impact Identifier

Once you have a clearer understanding of what your client ultimately wants to get out of your services and benefits, you can start working towards the metrics you want to set and the specific goals you must meet at specific time points in the account plan. Just like you have KPIs for the sales you make, you should also have set Customer Impact Identifiers for each account to make sure that they are on track and your actions are having a real impact on their account.


Impact is a crucial component of the work that you do daily, and whether you recognize it or not, the impact that you have on a client’s organization will determine whether they renew with you or go to a different provider. Creating and making impact can seem tricky at first, but with the right knowledge of what your customer really wants, turning their goals into a formula is simple.


Consider how they derive value from your services. Maybe you’re able to grow their revenue through your work. Perhaps your company is excellent for generating awareness and driving organic engagement for their company. Whatever the case may be, talk to your clients to learn more about why they work with you and choose your products over the competitors, and you’ll have a deeper understanding of how they justify the cost of your services.


With this in mind, you can start jotting down a list of ways that you have and will make an impact for the client. This serves essentially as the unit in your equation for customer success. Once you have the right unit – be it engagement, % of revenue growth, etc. – you can start getting hyper-specific with a number that you must shoot for in the account plan.


Get Specific

What is one of the primary goals of a Customer Success Manager? To provide and enhance value for the customer. We are the ones that will drop everything to answer a question about their software or provide information about their industry. It’s that added value that is the icing on the cake and the reason that they stick with us and not the other guys.


When it comes to tracking and measuring the overall impact that your work had on the account, it can be hard not to get lost in the weeds measuring the wrong metric that is only a symptom of your work but not the actual value.


Remember that we are not interested in tracking value that we’ve enhanced for the client (i.e., with our help, an already valuable area of their business improved) but we want to know the exact value that we created for them and delivered. Tracking enhanced value for the customer doesn’t really do much good to change their overall outcomes and goals and simply rides the coattails of an already existing program or initiative at their company.


The real value that you bring to your clients largely depends on what their goals are and why they chose to work with your organization in the first place. For example, the clients that found you and are looking for ways to improve their efficiency will have more value in time saved and budget saved in relation to their output. If you can prove that your software tool increased their overall productivity by X%, that will be a win for you and your organization and will show that you not only provided value to the client, but you also had an organization-wide impact.


Again, you must talk to your customer and fully understand their needs, wants, goals, and objectives. As with everything in KAM, knowing these things will help you as you create their account plan, but will also keep you on track for the life of the account. If after reading this you struggle to think of a specific value you provide to your clients it’s time to jump on the phone and start asking some more thoughtful and probing questions. Some clients might seem a bit secretive about why they want to use your software but in the end, the more that they can tell you about their business, the more that you can do to help them get to where they want to be.


It Must Be Measurable

As the old saying goes: what gets measured gets managed. You might have been wondering why we’re making such a big deal about finding a customer success metric in the first place. As long as the client keeps on with your company, that’s all that matters, right? While it is true that simply having the client renew year after is a primary goal, it’s how you get them to renew that matters the most because it provides you with insight into your own processes and you can work to make it repeatable for other clients.


When you measure specific metrics of an account, you’ll be more likely to manage the data and derive meaningful insights from it and make changes along the way to make sure that the account is on the right track and well on its way to crushing its goals. Keep in mind that while collecting data is better than not collecting data in most cases, it’s what you do with it that matters the most.


If you’re just collecting a ton of data from every angle and dimension of the account and you aren’t measuring it over time or taking insights from the numbers, you’re not doing much. You simply have a collection of numbers from the account with no meaningful actions to complete next. For this reason, it’s crucial that you use a KAM platform like Kapta that can make the entire data management and metric tracking process seamless and automatic. Rather than doing things the hard way, the software will do that for you and provide you with clearer insights into the data you collect from your accounts.


Also, one thing worth mentioning is that more times than not, you’ll have to depend on your client to provide you with this data and because some of it is likely confidential such as their number of customers, sales, etc., a few clients might be apprehensive to share it with you. It’s important that you relate to the customer why you want to track and manage this data and how it will benefit them in the long run. With that information, they’ll get on the same page and will likely be an open book moving forward.



To summarize, the steps to finding the metric of customer success for your clients are as follows:

  • Identify what we are tracking
  • Create a numerical target
  • Answer this: did it happen or not?
  • Be accountable
  • Improve results


When you break it down into five easy steps, then the process seems like a walk in the park. However, once you put this strategy into practice, you’ll quickly realize that there are potential bottlenecks and obstacles in your way, most likely regarding access to information and the how much your clients are ready to tell you about their company.


Remember, without a way to track and manage the impact that your product or services have had on the client’s organization, it’s almost impossible to improve your results. If the client’s goal was to have 50% of their customers sign off on their plans, it’s pretty easy to tell whether you met the goal or not. If you didn’t, it’s back to the drawing board, but if you did, you could add that to the list of things you helped do for the client and can set your sights on what comes next.


It all comes down to finding irrefutable evidence that you are the best KAM that your clients could have chosen to work with. You have a real impact on their bottom line, and these rock-solid numbers and metrics prove that. It’s hard to argue with 50% growth in a quarter, but it is easy to argue with “a smoother customer experience.” One of those metrics has a numerical value attached to it that is as clear as day while the other is less tangible and more opinion-based. Which of those do you think will get a client that’s already on the fence to sign on the dotted line?


Real results earn real revenue, and with this simple, dedicated formula, you can start earning those real results for your clients.


About Kapta

Kapta is less of a KAM company and more of a relationship company. Rather than producing software that keeps you in the weeds and bogs down your daily work, with the Kapta platform, KAMs can spend more time building relationships and working with their clients rather than stuck in spreadsheets. The tool features a variety of innovative features that KAMs in any industry will find practical including the Account Planning tools, relationship health score, and contact management. If you want to see how Kapta can change your KAM program, schedule your free demo here.

A Sales Primer for Customer Success Managers

Sales is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it worse for yourself by pushing products from the beginning. In a B2B context, there’s a better way of doing it.

Selling products may be the end goal, but if you emphasize products from the beginning you’ll have trouble keeping your client’s attention. Take time to understand your client’s unique situation so you can present them with a solution that fits their needs perfectly.

This is a win-win situation. You won’t be shooting in the dark and they won’t be wasting time with cut-and-paste products that don’t quite do what they need them to.

So, how do you do it? How do you walk into a sales meeting and NOT talk about your products?


Making a First Impression

This method of sales revolves around building a good relationship with your clients. You need to start off on the right foot by working to establish their trust from day one. First impressions are a huge part of it.

Studies have shown the importance of making a good first impression. While you can work to change people’s impression of you over time, the first impression they get will often define your relationship for a long time.

Starting things off with a heavy focus on things that have a direct benefit for you won’t always give a good impression. It may end up being negative or simply neutral and uninspiring. You’d rather leave your clients with the impression that you’re focused on providing value to them. This is a positive way to kick off a relationship and it gets you in the door faster next time.


4 Steps to Pitching without Products

If you’re going to focus on customer value in a meeting, while not talking about your own products, you should make sure you check all the boxes. Having a nice chat with your client is friendly, but not helpful unless you’re learning what you need to know while you’re there.

Ask targeted questions to root out the information you need. These are all questions related to a future partnership between you and the client. When you meet them first, let them do most of the talking. Instead of looking for every opportunity to sell yourself and your company, ask to find out what they really need and how you might be able to help them.

Follow these steps:

1) Find their pain points

Pain points are the areas where they’re struggling. Every company has weaknesses. You’re not looking for areas to exploit, but opportunities to help them solve a problem. To carry on with any sort of win-win relationship, you have to ease a pain point for them.

When you know a client’s pain points, you can base a later product recommendation off of that. If it doesn’t address the pain point or help them in some other way, it’s irrelevant to them.

2) Uncover their goals

Ask your clients about where they are now and where they want to be. Separate that into short-term and long-term goals. Where do they want to be in 3 months? 6 months? 12 months?

Understanding goals is an important part of relational selling. People don’t just buy things because they like the price, quality, or features. They make purchases that feel like the right choice for their existing needs. Sales happen when a client feels like what you’re offering will get them to their goals.

Your job in this initial meeting is to make sure you thoroughly understand where your clients want to be so you can match a product to that need later on. Once you know their pain points, you can combine that with what you learn about their goals to get a good overview of the issue.

3) Learn their history

If your client has been in business for a few years, they’ve likely worked with others before you. Learn about what they’ve tried before and how it worked for them. Ask about other solutions they’ve done before, their track record with those solutions, and why it worked out as it did.

The goal of this line of questions is to make sure you’re not repeating the mistakes of previous sellers. You don’t want to come to your client offering the same things that they already know don’t work. It’s better to understand how their previous attempts to solve a problem or meet a goal ended up and to get their perspective on why.

4) Ask to follow-up

At this point, your information gathering is complete. Now, you need to work on getting a follow-up meeting. You’re looking for buy-in from them. Practically, this looks like an agreement for another meeting where you can discuss a specific set of options.

This follow-up meeting is where you’ll be pitching your product as a solution to a problem they’re facing and as a way to accomplish their goals. Don’t pitch your product at that initial meeting. Ask for a little time to go over their situation and come up with a recommendation based on what you’ve learned.

Emphasize that you want your solutions to be tailored to fit their needs. You want them to leave the initial meeting looking forward to hearing how you plan to help them achieve their goals.


Why This Works

A client-centric view helps you address their actual needs more often. This is very appealing to your clients. They’re not concerned with making sure you’re doing well as a business. They’re more likely to be persuaded if you can demonstrate that you’re in the business of providing as much value to them as possible.

Play the long game. Build a relationship that’s based on mutual understanding first. If you focus on pitching your product initially, you’ll miss the opportunity to learn what they care about most.

Addressing customer pain points and goals directly is the easiest easier way to sell to them. It’s difficult to sell something when you’re not fully aware of the problems a client faces, what they hope to accomplish, or what they’ve already tried before.

Start with a focus on them. When it’s time to follow-up, recommend products that would actually address their needs. You’re more likely to find a good product match if you give yourself some time. You’ll also have a better idea of what your client is looking for and why they should care about your products.



Client value can be tricky to balance. Reserving the first meeting for information gathering helps you kick the relationship off right and solidifies you as a value-focused, intentional partner.

How to Get Your Client Success Program to Stick

Client Success is an integral program that can make or break a business’ success in the modern age. With so many choices in the software and services world, it’s the experience and relationships that you’ll have with your customers that will drive your revenue goals. Your strategic accounts are everything, and if you’re doing your job right and nourishing the accounts correctly, you should be everything to their organization as well.


Conceptualizing a key account management program for your organization is one thing, but getting it to stick long enough to see real results can be an entirely different challenge in itself. Why is this? It typically boils down to the fact that most corporate change programs fail. Change at the organization-wide level is no easy feat to pull off, and with other departments involved and shifting job titles, it can take some doing to get everybody on board.


So, how do you make your new key account management program succeed? Let’s take a closer look at some of the pre-planning elements and steps to take to build a key account management program from the ground up that drives real results.


Focus on the Big Change

Mindset is everything when trying to implement a new change management program into an organization. If the leaders of the program don’t have the right mindset, getting everybody else on board can be tricky. To build a Client Success program that sticks, you need to focus on the big change rather than get bogged down in the minor details of day-to-day work.


Getting a key account management program off of the ground can be a significant change and you shouldn’t overlook it or rush through any of the foundational steps, or the program will struggle to carry its weight once the rubber meets the road.


The big changes that a key account management program will bring to your company mostly relate to how you interact with customers, how you grow their relationships, and what your end goals are for each of the accounts. With this big change in your business, allow it to motivate and inspire the entire team. Before they can become inspired, however, you need to get their support.


Get the Buy-In

Not everyone is so quick to accept a new change in the way that they achieve their daily work. While sales coordinators and reps might not experience the most significant changes from the new key account management program, your account managers and clients are going to see their duties shift.


For this reason, it’s crucial that you have the buy-in and support from leadership and the account management teams. If they aren’t buying into the program before it’s off the ground, you’ll find that if and when problems arise, they’ll be less inclined to jump into action to make changes or even worse, they won’t look for new areas to improve upon in the processes of the program. You need this support, and when the entire organization is invested in the program, they’ll want to see it succeed, creating momentum that will lift your bottom line.


When going for the buy-in, consider what each party wants. The CEO and Senior Executives will want different things than what the sales coordinators want and vice-versa. Present the new Client Success program as the solution to all of their problems, and you’ll gather the support you need.


Sharpen Your Skills

Another core component of any successful Client Success program are the skills and behaviors behind the account managers. As you’re getting the new Client Success program off the ground, investing in the team and their skills can pay its dividends in the long-run. Not everyone is cut out to be a successful key account manager, and not everyone has the natural abilities and behaviors needed to nourish, grow, and maintain mutually successful relationships.


Look into coaching programs, seminars, courses, and training organizations that will help get your team up to speed and ready to tackle their key account plans. Some of the core skills necessary include empathy, organization, proactive behaviors, and more. Make sure that your key account managers are ready to lead their accounts into the future and have everything it takes to hold the title of Trusted Advisor.


Embrace Feedback and Criticism

Feedback is a crucial part of growing a key account management program and ensuring that it sticks. Without feedback and honest, open communication between the teams and upper management, it’s hard to determine areas for improvement before it’s too late. For this reason, you should offer feedback and take it as well.


Some managers implementing a new key account management program might assume a defensive mindset where any criticism or feedback is a direct reflection on them. While it’s true that this new program is essentially your brainchild, you should want to see it improved and developed and accepting feedback is a significant component to that.


Foster a community of growth and encourage every member of the organization to share their thoughts and experiences with the program. With their input, you can make changes and adapt the program to better fit everyone’s need, and they’ll be more willing to fight for its success.


Start Small and Build Momentum

Every change management program will cause disruptions to daily duties and the way that the organization interacts with customers. It’s up to you whether that disruption will be minor or major. To avoid throwing everything out of whack, you should take baby steps and carefully plan for the launch of your new Client Success program. If you were to rush into the program, you might miss key steps in the process, and the program will struggle.


You want to make sure that everything runs smoothly from start to finish. With the right steps and components in place beforehand the more likely the program will stick. Make a plan that details every step of the process and stick to the plan. Take baby steps, and you’ll start building momentum that will ultimately lead your organization and your key accounts to success.


How the Best Deliver Ongoing Customer Success with Kia Puhm

I’m really excited to share a fantastic interview I conducted with Kia Puhm, the Founder of K!A CX Consulting. We sat down to talk about Customer Success, Key Account Management, and how to drive real success with your most important clients.

In this interview, you will learn:

  • How to build proactive Customer Success Plans
  • Why it’s important for Customer Success teams to be prescriptive with their clients
  • Secrets to mastering Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs)
  • How to grow into your Customer Success role.

This was a fascinating conversation with a real Customer Success pro. Enjoy!


About Kia:

Kia Puhm has extensive experience building world-class practices that accelerate business growth.  Kia leads businesses through the transition to customer-centric organizations. Her proprietary ICE™ methodology provides clients with a disciplined and sustainable approach to increasing customer value and long-term loyalty.

Her company, K!A CX Consulting, accelerates business growth through Customer Experience (CX) innovation. Kia provides the leading methodology to establish a disciplined and sustainable CX framework that drives revenue, retention, and scale.

Prior to K!A CX, Kia held chief positions at Oracle, Eloqua, Day Software (Adobe), Intelex Technologies, and Blueprint Software Systems.


My Customer Success Interview with Kia Puhm


Alex Raymond:
Kia, you’ve done lots of work in the fields of Customer Experience and Customer Success. Tell me about your background and how you think about Customer Success.


Kia Puhm:

I’ve spent 22 years in the software business, starting with a computer engineering background at some very fast-growing companies. I’ve built every post-sales function and the consistent thread has always been: “How do you drive efficient customer adoption? How do you get them to use the technology?” Working for a software company, it was ultimately about getting customers using the technology, and because I was at these fast-growing companies, I had to figure out, “How do I do it most efficiently for the vendor?” That is a natural challenge that still exists today.


With SaaS however the challenge is only magnified. Whereas with on-premise software, there are a certain finite number of customers implementing the software at any one time, with SaaS, you’ve got this ever-increasing customer base that’s continuously interacting with you. And because a vendor in SaaS is dealing with end-users versus the technical department, it has to become the subject matter expert in the business, the industry that the product serves. So, the focus is really on how your product or service helps businesses achieve their goals and objectives.


The whole idea of Customer Success – of making customers so successful that they become loyal – came from the subscription (or recurring) revenue model pioneered by SaaS companies like Keeping recurring revenue means that you don’t need expensive sales reps to sell to the customer base. You can have a post-sales team within the organization help customers realize their business objectives and have positive experiences so that they stay. It doesn’t have to be a sale, per se—it is more like account management – just proper, healthy, Key Account Management to keep the customers loyal and make sure that they were getting value.


You mentioned a couple of terms that I’d like to clarify. What differences do you see between terms such as “Customer Success” and “Account Management” or “Key Account Management”?


Fundamentally, I think the terms are similar in that they are used to 1) ensure companies are successful with the products and that 2) they are a partner to that user in realizing the value of the product and the services that they’ve purchased.


In essence, Account Management and Customer Success do the same thing and have similar objectives. And certainly, the two have similar profiles in terms of project management fundamentals such as having good communication skills, listening skills, understanding what customers’ objectives are, and strategic planning. All of those elements make for really good Account Managers and CSMs, as well.


One of the things that you’ve written about a lot on your blog is the idea of really being more proactive about building Customer Success plans. A lot of people are talking about how to be more strategic and more proactive. When you look at experience and your clients, what are the things that make a good Customer Success Plan? What are the best practices?


I like to take things down to the level of fundamental principles, and I like to make things very simple. The simpler things are, the more efficient they are to operate and the easier they are for customers to understand. In that context, it ultimately has to be about the customer and what they’re trying to achieve. I think a really solid Customer Success Plan is a plan that looks at, “What is the customer trying to achieve?” and that is aligned with that answer. When I see mistakes in Customer Success Plans, it’s that they are overly focused on the product, rather than the customer’s desired outcomes.


I love analogies. One I like to use is of personal fitness. A personal trainer can give you what they think is the best plan to reach your goals, but if you don’t follow it or incorporate the lifestyle changes, then you are not going to achieve your goals. It doesn’t matter that the plan may be perfect. If it doesn’t resonate with the person, and they can’t do it, then it’s not going to lead to success.


It’s similar to customers. I often see plans that are very elaborate, and they focus on what vendors want the customers to do. To be honest, those are fraught with a higher risk of failure because they’re not taking into account the context of the customer. Will the customers be able to do everything that you are asking them to do? The more you can streamline the planning into their existing environment, into their day jobs, and how they operate, the more effective you will be in terms of driving adoption and success.


So, for me, a good Customer Success Plan is very aligned with what the customer is trying to achieve and how they operate.


So, it’s really about keeping it simple and staying focused on what drives customer outcomes. This is not about you as the vendor, but instead, it is about the customer. This is what we might typically call a Voice of Customer interview, correct?


Yes, absolutely, but there are some nuances. The Voice of Customer already happened (hopefully) during the sales process. Voice of Customer information should be amassed by the sales team so that this Key Account Manager is not coming in and going, “Okay, now tell me everything that you’ve already told all my sales colleagues!”


Of course, you want to understand what the customer’s objective is – but here’s the catch: To be efficient and able to drive successful Account Management or Customer Success, the vendor should also have a prescriptive approach and best practices to making the customer successful. Because, otherwise, if you’re truly doing a bespoke type of engagement with every account – that’s not scalable, and that’s also a failure. So, the CSP has to have this fine balance of really understanding the customer and their objectives and understanding how you can seamlessly fit the product into their environment, so they can adopt technology in a manner that’s going to be effective.


One of the very common things that happens with plans of any kind, including New Year’s Resolutions, is that people will sit down in January with their boss to set goals. If I’m an Account Manager or a CSM, I’ll sit down in January with my boss, and I’ll come up with a plan for my accounts. I’ll write it all down – but then the plans don’t get reviewed and they are super static. It doesn’t change. It doesn’t get reviewed – nobody looks at it until June or July if you’re lucky! It often just gets saved in some random folder on Google Drive or in the CRM, and it doesn’t become a living, breathing thing. Your plan becomes a concept as opposed to something that you are actively working on day in and day out with your customers.
How have you seen Customer Success professionals take these plans and make them really, truly actionable?


That’s a great question and I’m passionate about this topic. I like to look at repeatable success and using the overarching objectives to keep people motivated. With my elite sports background, I always had long-term goals that I had my eyes set on. Whenever training got really hard and I was tempted to stop, I would think about achieving my overarching objective and that would motivate me to keep going.


Understanding why your customer bought from you and what they are trying to achieve creates a powerful vision and motivator. You need to keep that vision top of mind for the customers so they stay motivated. You need to have that prescriptive success path so that they know you’ve got that answer. This is where I use the customer journey. If a company understands “What is the most successful path for customers to take and adopt the software, and then remain loyal and buy more and expand their use of the software?” then it has the prescriptive path to success that it can track and follow. The Customer Success Plan becomes the tool to manage this repeatable approach and use regularly, not something that is looked at one time a quarter or once a year.


Everything that you talk about with the customer should be in the context of the journey and their overall objectives. Again, using an analogy, let’s say I’m going to the gym because in a few months I want to run my first marathon. The fitness trainer should give me a plan, and when training gets really painful or I need extra motivation, the instructor should remind me of my over-arching goal and how great it’s going to feel to finish that first marathon. They should point back to the plan and explain how every training element is focused towards achieving that goal. If they keep me focused and following that “success” plan, then I will acomplish my goal. That journey then forms the context for what the customer is about to embark on to achieve their success.


That means you’re not talking about discreet points of work effort with the customer but a holistic plan that builds up to the end goal. You’re providing the path to success for the customer and keeping them accountable for the actions that are going to impact their ultimate outcome.

Fantastic. One of the other things that we’ve talked about a lot is communicating with your customer – i.e. how to build trust to get that “Trusted Advisor” status with our customer. I know that one of the things that people talk about is being transparent to build trust, because the more a customer trusts you, the better the relationship and the results.
What have you seen work well in building trust or driving better communication styles with customers?


Trust is built on some fundamental principles—saying what you’re going to do and then doing it. And doing that consistently over a period of time continues to build trust. Also, it is having the customer believe that you have their best interests in mind and that you’re aligned with what the objective is. Setting proper expectations are key here.


Being forthright, open, transparent, direct, and clear are important elements that go into effective communication. But I also think by setting the context of how you’re going to operate together, you answer the question, “How do you build trust in a very effective manner?” Again, this is where I go back to the journey. If you can tell the customer what they’re going to embark on, starting from today and over the next 30, 60, 90 days and beyond, and you can give them a high-level expectation (even where things might go wrong) along the journey, then the trust grows.


When you can tell your customer up front what’s going to happen and then it happens as you’ve laid it out, that just establishes trust that much quicker and more effectively. Of course, you should be forthright and honest. By setting expectations of what things are going to look like and how you’re going to walk the customer through the journey, the quicker you can build that trust.

What are the best methods of communicating with customers? Email, phone, chat? How do I know what method to use at what time?

The more you understand the customer’s goals, objectives and concerns, the more you can be very relevant in your communication. So, if you know that there’s a big moment of truth at a certain part in the adoption journey that is crucial to their business, then having some form of personal contact is always good. If you set expectations that they’re going to expect to feel “this” and that you’ve got video training to handle “that”, or they can call out to you at any point in time and reach out to you, or they can submit support requests, then you can use any number of different mediums to communicate. There is no one best medium through which to communicate. It really should be relevant to the context of how critical is that moment for the customer. Set the expectations so that they know how you are going to communicate with them so that they trust in the process and the support offered.


Again, if I think about it, none of us minds going online for how-to questions or help. We prefer that instead of contacting someone for support. But when we can’t find what we are looking for or we don’t know and are stressed or under a time critical situation, then we get upset and search for someone to talk to personally. If you know that customers are going to feel a certain way at certain points in the journey, then I would argue you should be contacting them using the medium that is most effective for that situation.


Every communication should also be linked to what they’re trying to achieve. It should be relevant and helpful to them. It shouldn’t be that you’re just reaching out to them to keep the conversation warm.

One of the most common communication mechanisms that Account Managers and Customer Success Managers do are Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) which many people dread. And they dread them because maybe they don’t prepare, maybe they feel overly formalistic, maybe they just feel like they come up too quickly. Looking at QBRs in general, do they work or how can we make them more effective, or what are the practices that you’ve seen that wind up being solid in terms of how people can take them and use them to their advantage?

I think when they don’t work is when the QBR is done for the sake of doing a QBR. I would expect that Account Managers and CSMs would dread them when they have to come up with some agendas and figure out what to talk about and that they’re doing it for the sake of doing it.


If you really have a holistic plan for how you’re going to move a customer through the journey, and the Customer Success Plan encapsulates that, and every time you are talking to a customer, you are talking to them in the context of the journey, their objectives, and actions that they should be taking, then a QBR is just a continuation of that communication.


Instead of it being something tangential to the regular, on-going communication, it should be like zooming out to remind them of the bigger picture and take stock of what has been done to-date. It provides the opportunity to pull up from the minutia of the Customer Success Plan and all the tasks and activity work and say, “Okay, this is what we’ve done over the quarter.” Or, “This is where we are on this journey now. All the things that we thought might come up did.” Or, “An exceptional item came up, and this is how we addressed it and corrected course.” It should be a discussion reviewing and learning from what’s been happening.


The QBR should be very relevant to what they’re doing and a continuation of the dialog, bringing the customer’s focus up so that they can see the forest from the trees to see that they’re on track and that they’ve still have the bigger picture in mind.

Are there different people involved in the QBR than the normal communication meeting? What are the right expectations to set there, both with my internal team and with the customer?


There are definitely different people involved. With a QBR you want to have the key stakeholders and executives in the room. You want to try to pull them onboard because it does two things:


  • It can highlight the success of their team. You, as the external party, can give kudos and credit to the team and let them shine in front of their management to show how much they’ve achieved.
  • It also helps keep the effort and the product top of mind for the executives so that they see the strategic impact the product has on their business and it becomes more business critical versus just talking about the nuts and bolts of the engine and what the product is doing. You want to get them to see the same vision.


Sometimes it’s hard to get folks involved. Again, it is about setting expectations. I like to set the expectations even in the sales phase by saying things like, “Hey, our most successful customers have their executives engaged throughout the process. As a matter of course then, how we drive success is to keep executives engaged through the Quarterly Business Reviews. During these we cover milestones achieved and track progress to objectives and we need your accountability as part of that to drive the change that the organization is embarking on from top-down.”

One of the questions I get asked a lot is to what extent should the Customer Success or Account Management Team formally own revenue. What are the considerations about this, and what do you recommend?


First we have to understand how customers adopt our product or service and what their needs are in doing so. That allows us to then think pragmatically about the skills that are required to address those needs, and whether those skill sets can be found within a person or team.


If the skill sets to drive adoption and revenue can be found in one person, then there’s no reason why revenue can’t be owned by that role. Separating adoption and revenue typically occurs when the products or technology are very complex and requires deep subject matter expertise which usually means that those individuals don’t have a sales bent or want to talk about revenue.


An argument I often hear against owning revenue is that the CSM cannot have a comp plan and be a trusted advisor. I find that line of thinking naïve. Unless you’re working for a not-for-profit, every company is focused on generating revenue. Customers need to get value from your product but the vendor also needs to be paid in order to continue delivering value to its customers. It has to be a win-win and I believe that when you do things smartly and align objectives and goals, you can achieve that win-win scenario. And then there’s no reason why revenue ownership is not possible.


There’s no right or wrong as to whether revenue should or shouldn’t be owned by Account Management or Customer Success. It’s about aligning the business model to drive customer success.

I know there are lots of readers of this blog who are interested in getting started in a Customer Success or an Account Management career. What’s your advice for people who are looking to get started in Customer Success?


First of all, getting into roles that are customer facing is a good avenue into Customer Success. Customer Success is an interesting field because there are so many different roles involved. I’ve seen people from the Marketing side, Support, Product Managers, Account Managers, all getting into Customer Success.


Regarding specific skill sets, I think a strong project management background is really important to guide the customer forward and manage them to success. Obviously, great communication skills, being empathetic, listening skills – those are the types of skills that are important for CSMs. You also need to be passionate about wanting to help customers be successful and accomplishing their goals. Ultimately that passion is what will align you with the customer to help them through the initiatives they’re working with you on.

And what are your top mistakes for Customer Success professionals to avoid?


Trying to be friends with customers and reacting to their every request. Saying “Yes” to everything does equate to being a good CSM or Account Manager.


Again, the analogy with training, if the customer wants to eat food that is not going to be effective for their running, then you as a coach should be saying that. The coach needs to say “No” or let the customer know when they’re not doing things they should be to achieve their goals. The idea is not to be a friend but to make them successful. A wonderfully strong relationship can be a great outcome of making them successful, but ultimately it needs to be about working with the customers collaboratively and making sure that you’re keeping them on track to achieve their overarching objective.





To find our more about K!A CX and how Kia helps Customer Success teams, visit her LinkedIn profile: , or her website,




What Customer Churn Really Means

“Churn” is a term that gets used a lot in the Account Management and Customer Success conversations that we have here at Kapta. Many Account Managers and Customer Success Managers take churn very seriously (and many are compensated based on churn rates).

Churn rate does of course directly show the percentage of lost customers in any given period of time – and is a major source of stress! But measuring and understanding churn can also give you some hints about how to improve your business and what you may be doing wrong. There’s a lot more to churn than meets the eye, and understanding it could help your business grow faster.

Here’s a quick primer for those of you who want to learn more about churn, and how to prevent it.


How Much Does Losing a Customer Really Cost?

By dividing the annual sales per customer account by the number of customers lost, you’ll find your own basic company average. In most cases, B2B businesses stand to lose a very large amount of annual revenues with each lost customer, especially when the cost of acquiring another customer is considered.


It doesn’t matter what type of business you run; customer retention is an important part of sustainable growth. The rate at which customers leave is referred to as your customer churn. Some industries have churn rates as high as 15%, while others sit closer to 2-3%. Every customer lost takes measurable value away from your company, which is why your churn rate is a vital metric to keep your eyes on. You can’t hope to continue growing your business if you’re unable to retain the majority of the customer you already have.


How Customer Churn Is Measured

Usually, churn is measured as the number of lost customers over a set period of time compared to how many you had at the start of the period. The time period is up to you, based on what makes the most sense for your specific business. If you have a monthly buying cycle, you may choose to measure your churn monthly or in 3-month intervals.

For example, a business that started their Q3 with 2,000 customers and lost 32 throughout the quarter is said to have a quarterly churn rate of 1.6%. Churn does not take into account how many customers you gained throughout that same quarter, as it’s only a metric used to find out the rate at which you’re losing customers. Your churn rate won’t tell you everything, but you can use it to make sure you’re regulating customer loss as much as possible. Lower churn rates usually lead directly to higher profits.

For SaaS or other subscription businesses that offer different tiers of service, especially any level of freemium service, there is another way to look at churn that may be more informative on the actual loss. You can calculate the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) loss rather than only focusing on the number of customers lost. This is calculated the same way, but replacing customers lost with MRR lost and total customers at the beginning of the period with total monthly revenue. This measurement will show you a more accurate representation of the impact of customer loss over that period.


You Are Directly Responsible for Your Churn Rate

The real truth about customer churn is that your business has failed a customer. The reason customers leave, especially when they are leaving to switch to your competitor, is that you are not providing the type of value they are looking for. This is especially true for B2B companies, as you’re dealing with larger buyers who are less likely to just stop buying altogether.

When your customers switch from your company to your competitor, it’s because you are not providing them with the value they’re looking for from a vendor. You may hear excuses such as price competition, incorrect product usage, issues with performance, or defects in the product. But, in most cases, these are not the underlying issues that drive the buyers away. All of these types of issues can usually be solved through communication, which hints that something else is missing.

Sometimes the value that’s lacking will be related to one of the excuses mentioned above, or other simple explanations. But more often than not, there is a larger problem underlying all of them, which is that your company is not providing consistent value. This can be seen by customers not getting the right end outcomes from your product, a lack of trust between your company and theirs, and a lack of relevance to the customer’s needs.

  1. End Outcomes Versus Product or Service Results

Even if your product is working exactly like it should be, it may not be getting the customer what they really want. If you do not truly understand what the customer wants to get out of using your product or service, you may not be able to notice if it’s working to give them the results they want or not. It’s even worse if your product or service isn’t being used properly or if it’s not working well.

The problem is that you may be tempted to believe the outcomes they want are the same thing as the solutions your product or service provides. This is generally not the case. While your customer may be looking for a product to fix a problem they have, that solution is not the end goal they are looking for. Instead, they have goals and outcomes that are important to them as a company. If your product or service isn’t helping them reach those outcomes, they are likely to look for other options.

You can only hope to help your customers achieve their outcomes by understanding what is actually important to their company. If you do not understand your customers enough, you may not be prepared to supply them with the outcomes they really need.

  1. Lack of Trust

People don’t buy from companies; they buy from people. If you want a successful buyer-seller relationship with your customers, there must be a human-to-human element that builds up a strong sense of trust over time. In many cases, there is a lack of useful interaction between buyers and sellers after that sale has been completed. Follow-ups can sometimes be treated as unnecessary chores, even though the buyer would like more opportunities to talk about the product and service.

B2B sellers can often forget that their large customers may want a lot closer of a relationship. Not all clients are the same. Some may be okay with limited interactions, but others may want more personal interaction so they can build a greater sense of trust and investment into the seller.

If you as the seller don’t pay attention to how you’re treating the customer and the level of service you’re providing, you may be creating a relationship that lacks trust. Customers who feel neglected, betrayed, or lied to by sellers are very likely to churn.

  1. Relevance to the Customer’s Needs

Most of your competitors may be able to supply a similar product or service as you, so the way you have to compete is with the other value you offer your customers. B2B buyers are looking for sellers who can help them build their business and become a stronger player in their own industries. If you can offer useful and relevant information or services that extend beyond the initial sale, you will put yourself in a fantastic position to foster customer loyalty.

If you cannot develop a deeper understanding of your customers, their industries, and their evolving needs over time, you risk becoming irrelevant to them. Customers are less likely to find value in a company that is only interested in selling without trying to understand the client’s needs and stay relevant in changing environments. Understanding your customers on a deeper level helps you give better support and advice on how they can use your products or services to meet their needs.


Some Churn is Normal – But It’s Not Good

Despite its obviously negative effect on your profits, some level of customer churn is inevitable. There will always be somebody with a reason to choose another company instead of yours. As a company, you cannot be all things to all people. If you try, you may end up losing more money and driving away more customers.

This is not a statement meant to encourage you to ignore your churn rate. But, the truth is you will have to learn to accept that some churn is absolutely normal for a business. It’s your job to see how you can get your churn rate as low as possible without spending more on customer retention than you would have on new customer acquisition.

Customer retention is not free. It’s vital to focus efforts and resources on customer retention, but only to an extent that it leaves you with an acceptable amount of churn. “Acceptable” should be the lowest level of churn possible in order to sustain your growing business. Churn may be normal, but it’s not a good thing. Keeping your churn rate as low as possible may help you to get a competitive edge in your industry, especially in SaaS or other subscription-based businesses.

Acceptable churn rates vary widely from business to business. What’s acceptable for sustainable growth in one business may lead to ruin for another. You cannot set a basic benchmark for your own churn rate by looking at universal averages. You should calculate it based on a combination of your own business circumstances and your industry churn rates.

The idea is to keep a steady rate of growth. If you start a quarter with 200 customers, lose 10, and acquire 12, you are not experiencing a high growth rate. You will have only made a net gain of 2 customers. There may not be much you could have done to acquire more customers, but you can increase your overall growth by lowering the numbers of customers you’re losing. If in that same quarter you could have retained 5 of the lost customers, you would have made a net gain of 7 new customers in a quarter.


How to Help Prevent Customer Churn

Although some churn is inevitable for most businesses, you should try to prevent customers from churning. Your industry and specific business may require some different strategies than other industries. But, many of the same principles can apply to a wide range of B2B companies:

  • Predict Which Customers Are at Risk

By the time a customer churns, it’s already too late to save them. In reality, the point of failure may have been months ago. While you can’t save those customers, you can use the churn data to help calculate risk factors and predict who is most likely to churn in the future.

Use this data to focus efforts on lowering risk factors. Learn from whatever mistakes were made with churned customers in the past. Find the areas that you are failing to provide value to your customers and develop a better system to keep your current customers from churning later on.

  • Continuous Communication After Sales

Insincere and useless communication is not what most B2B customers want. To promote customer loyalty and reduce churn, you need to see problems coming before the customer shows signs of leaving. That requires you to be communicating well and getting to the heart of issues before they turn into reasons for customer churn. Think of this as Continuous Relationship Management.

  • Focus on Customer Retention, Not Only Growth

Maintaining growth is important. But, you can help your growth rates to have a bigger impact if you can reduce churn as well. Balance your efforts to retain existing customers versus simply acquiring new customers. By increasing your customer retention budget, you may be able to put more efforts into reducing churn, which will actually help your company grow faster in the long-term.

Retention may require some segmentation of customers. Some customers may not generate enough revenue for your business to justify a large retention budget, while others are more worth the effort. If you are developing a Key Account Management strategy, this should already be on your agenda and will help you in that as well.


Customer churn does not necessarily mean your business is failing as a whole. But, it is a sign that you are failing to provide the value that some of your customers are looking for. Instead of ignoring this strong signal from your customers, adjust your view of customer churn and take action to prevent the loss of customers whenever possible.

How to Use Customer Success Software in a Non-Tech World

Customer Success software is an excellent addition to any business’s sales and CRM systems. It allows users to track their customers’ data which in turn helps the client succeed while retaining them for the long-term. For years, Customer Success software has been marketed as a solution for SaaS companies and startups in the technology sector. While it is a perfect tool for these businesses, Customer Success software can be used by any business seeking to retain customers and expand their profits.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of Customer Success software, how the theories and concepts of Customer Success can benefit any business along with real-world, practical uses for Customer Success software like Kapta.


Benefits of Using Customer Success Software



Before Customer Success software came around, account managers had to do all of the tedious work to build relationships with clients including tracking and managing the customer’s important data. Key Account Management systems like Kapta automate much of the data tracking process so account managers can spend less time working in spreadsheets and more time building personal, successful relationships with clients.


Customer Retention

It’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than it is to convince a new customer to come on board. Customer Success software systems help account managers maintain and strengthen customer relationships by accurately tracking the customer’s data. One of the most critical measures for SaaS companies is the client’s usage of their programs. With this metric, account managers can see who is logging into the app, predict usage trends and forecast churn.

By utilizing this data, account managers can determine which clients love the software and which ones haven’t used it in a while. They can then reach out to the inactive clients to try and correct any problems they may be experiencing as well as reaffirming their commitment to building upon their success.



Renewals, cross and up-sell opportunities contribute significantly to a client’s lifetime value for any firm. Customer Success systems allow account managers to visualize and monitor each account’s long-term goals which make it easier for them to identify products and services the customer will be more likely to purchase. An organized system like this allows account managers to keep tabs on what each customer is looking to accomplish and then identify opportunities to cross-sell more products and services.

 Focusing on this link between the company’s products and services with the client’s goals will create long-term success for not only the customer, but the service provider as well, as the customer, will begin to see the intrinsic value in purchasing from them.


Using Customer Success in a Non-Tech World

 So, what if your company doesn’t specialize in software sales? Or what if your services and products have nothing to do with technology at all? The core-ideas and values of Customer Success still apply to you. Here are some examples:


Be Proactive

One of the key principles of Customer Success is remaining proactive and anticipating what customers might need next. Traditionally, businesses might have chosen to simply wait for customers to come to them, only relying on marketing materials and the occasional sales push.

The key to Customer Success is to consistently stay in contact with key accounts to better understand their goals so you can find ways to help them achieve their success. While SaaS vendors will do this through careful monitoring of the client’s usage data and other metrics, any business that serves clients with ongoing products and services can schedule a call or email once or twice a week to check-in with the client.


Be Strategic

Results-based strategies are another pillar to the success of CS. If you are careless, and just let clients fall to the wayside without creating and following a consistent game plan, the success of your clients and the ultimate success of your relationship will stumble. CS software packages like Kapta include templates and playbooks to ensure your business has a sound CS strategy; however, you can also accomplish this without software, it’s just much more tedious.

Grab a notepad and jot down these three steps:

  1. Identify your customer’s goal
  2. Determine how they will solve their problems
  3. Develop a list of your services or products that will help them achieve success.

Your strategy should be more detailed than that simple list, but breaking it down to those three steps is a simple way to visualize your entire Customer Success strategy. Keep a strategy playbook for each of your clients, and be proactive in your approach.


Build a Win-Win Relationship

If your client achieves success, your business does as well. The goal is to create a link between your services and your customer’s success so they will stay with your company for the long-haul and begin to see your products and services as a primary contributor to achieving their goals.

When speaking with each of these clients, you want to add a personal touch to your products and genuinely listen to their goals. Traditionally, sales were viewed in a negative light where the salesman does the selling and pushes useless products onto a client that isn’t really interested. Customer Success and Key Account Management are shifting this focus, and instead building a win-win relationship with clients where each party benefits from the exchange.


Determine Your KPIs

KPIs are different for every company and every business model, so it’s essential to determine what you’ll be measuring as a form of success. The most common KPIs for many companies are:



If your service is based on a subscription-model, measuring the churn rate is an efficient way to determine how often customers are continuing service and what percentage are canceling.


Expansion Revenue

This will determine if repeat customers are buying more products or services from your than they did the first time. Overall, you want to expand your offerings to customers in the long-run, so their success almost becomes dependent on your services.



Sending a brief email survey after each purchase or asking clients about their satisfaction with the services will give you a beat on the pulse of your accounts and if there is anything that needs to be changed.



So how are you ensuring your customers are successful? Have you given it much thought? Try implementing some Customer Success strategies into your sales and account management teams and see how quickly your retention rates increase as your clients begin to look at your company as the leading proponent of their success.


If you would like to try one of the leading Customer Success software platforms available, download your free demo of Kapta today.