Whether it’s losing a key account or not meeting internal growth goals, the last thing you need in uncertain times is an unpleasant surprise from a key customer. That means you have to keep your finger on the pulse of your accounts, regularly tracking customer engagement through an account health score.
So how do you do that? In this post, we’ll look at 3 ways to quantify account health, from the fastest but most subjective to the most comprehensive, data-driven, and time-consuming.
However you track account health, keep these best practices in mind:
- Repeat your assessments periodically while controlling for as many factors as possible, so you can establish a baseline and measure progress. Even the most subjective methods can be helpful if you ask the same people each time, given the same parameters and the same accounts.
- Remember that customer-centricity should inform everything you do. Tracking B2B account health can’t be a one-sided exercise; in addition to account revenue, you have to track how well your customers are performing in order to get a sense of how well you’re engaging and serving them.
- Define a replicable scorecard from 1-100, so everyone who works on account evaluation has the same basic criteria in mind. This will help create a shared internal language for your client management system, including, among other things, your gold standard expectations for client service as well as your action plan for underperforming accounts.
- Leverage purpose-built technology to add objectivity and data to your more subjective assessments. The best account health scores blend insights from customer-facing teams with insights from data collection and visualization.
And remember, the methods below aren’t mutually exclusive. Your ongoing evaluation of account health might include a mix of all 3, supported by your teams and your tech.
Method 1: Ask the Key Account Manager or Customer Success Manager
Pros: This is the quickest, easiest way to get a sense of account health.
Cons: It’s not very precise.
The fastest way to get a high-level read on your accounts is to ask the people who have direct customer contact. This could be key account managers (or strategic account managers, depending on the terminology your organization uses) or customer success managers. You might also reach out to the sales and customer service teams — again, anyone with frequent, direct customer contact should be able to give you, on a scale of 1-100, a general sense of the health of the account.
Since this assessment is already imperfect and subjective, it’s important to provide guidance to anyone who’s evaluating account health in this way. Let them know it’s a scale of 1-100, and you’re looking at the sum total of indicators such as:
- Overall customer satisfaction
- Likelihood of continued engagement
- Likelihood of increased engagement (upsells and cross-sells)
- Long-term outlook
- Likelihood to recommend your organization to colleagues
Start by asking individual team members to complete their assessment of a specific account. If you see consistent scoring among several individuals, that’s a good sign the scores are stable. If you see widely disparate scores from different customer-facing roles, it’s time to convene everyone to discuss the discrepancies.
Method 2: Look at Leading Indicators
Pros: With the right technology, objective data is readily available
Cons: While this method can show you if you’re doing the right things, it can’t tell you how well you’re doing them (or not)
Adding a measure of leading indicators is a more objective layer to add to your account health assessment. In the context of account health scoring, leading indicators are the behaviors that build customer engagement. These are the default leading indicators we track in Kapta, and include:
- Regular voice of customer (VOC) inputs
- Regular SWOT analysis
- Actionable account plans
- Frequent client check-ins
Combining Method 1 (personal assessments) with Method 2 (objective leading indicators) is a good way to gut-check both the health of the account and the realism of your people. That’s not to say they’re misleading you when they say their accounts are healthy. It’s just using data the way data was intended: To cross-check intuition against hard numbers. As always, both are important when it comes to understanding the strength of your customer relationships.
Method 3: Leading and Lagging Indicators
Pros: The most comprehensive and accurate view of account health
Cons: Requires long lead time and purpose-built infrastructure
The gold standard for assessing account health is to track both leading and lagging indicators. Lagging indicators go beyond checking the box (are you doing the right things?) to evaluating the output (how well are you doing them?). Lagging indicators are specific to each account, and would include both KPIs for your customers, as well as KPIs for your own organization. In other words, lagging indicators track how successful you have made your customers, and in turn, how much organic growth you’ve driven through your efforts.
With a customer-centric lens on lagging indicators, we’d track things like:
- KPIs for individual initiatives (varies by initiative)
- KPIs for your customer — revenue, impressions, etc.
- KPIs for your organization — renewed or increased SOWs, revenue growth, new business through recommendations within or external to your customer’s organization
Purpose-built tech platforms for key account management, such as Kapta, can track lagging indicators based on your readiness to do so and the data you’re able to collect frequently, reliably, and accurately. Kapta works with each client to establish and track specific KPIs for their accounts.
Account health scoring is critical for any B2B organization. Of course, it’s not enough to simply track account health — you also need to act on what you learn. If your accounts are scoring high, you need to capitalize on that by learning even more about your customers, and finding new and better ways to meet their needs so you’re not leaving money on the table. If your accounts are scoring mid-range or low, you need an action plan in place to correct the deficit, before it’s a crisis.
When you have a consistent, comprehensive, and accurate view of your accounts, you can make better plans — even in uncertain economic times. To see how Kapta can help you understand, track, and promote account health, schedule a personal demo today.