As an early stage founder, there’s a high chance that you’re spending a fair chunk of your time in business development. Hell, even as a founder of a more mature start-up, getting new customers through the door – or at least understanding how you can empower your sales team to do it better for you – is something you probably obsess about.
Which is why whenever you hear of the occurrence of churn, it hurts just that bit more than it should. It’s a very real backwards step in the often gruelling climb to try and keep proving to investors that the faith (and money) they’ve put in you is going to be paid back in spades. Churn that occurs in a flurry can ring alarm bells. Here are three key metrics that can act as leading indicators to churn can stop them ringing in the first place.
Time Spent Stuck In Onboarding
New customers often want results from your SaaS straight away. It’s the Customer Success Manager’s job to manage those expectations so that they don’t lose faith before they’ve even had a chance to see what’s possible with your solution.
Onboarding is often a critical and necessary step before the customer can see those results, particularly for complex, high-touch SaaS. While UX plays a big role in this, the overall experience the customer during onboarding is the CSM’s responsibility. If the customer is unable to proceed through certain steps, doesn’t understand how to use the application, or otherwise can’t get the results they’re after, the CSM should be jumping on the situation straight away and not letting it stagnate.
No. Of Times Escalation Was Required
There will be times that escalation is inevitable. It’s not always a bad thing. Escalations show acute failures in a process and represent opportunities to put in targeted fix that can prevent problems cascading down the track.
From the customer’s point of view though, escalations are ultimately dead time. They’re having to wait on the company to do something internally to resolve something. They don’t have any sense of how long this will take. Often they just go off what they need and their own deadlines.
While it is the CSM’s job again to manage those expectations, preventing them from happening in the first place is ideal. Examination of all internal processes within a company, and mapping of everything with a Service Blueprint can identify critical areas that are causing bottle necks that create escalation.
No. Of Reports Shared Across Departments
This is quite a specific metric, but one that I’ve personally seen as a CSM being quite a key factor in deciding whether churn does occur. To illustrate this, let me tell you a story.
I’d inherited an account that had been sold into more than a year prior. It was a significant account for the company as it was the early adopters who lent a lot of social proof that allowed other businesses within the network to join as well.
I’d kept a close eye on the activity. The users were in the platform everyday and using the application. Phone calls were positive; users were glowing about the value they were getting from it.
So you could imagine my surprise when visiting the client, they told me that they no longer wanted to pay for it. After digging a bit deeper, turns out that the boss in the head office had no visibility into what was happening with his workers who were using it. In their eyes, it was a monthly cost where they were getting no benefit.
What was even more astounding was that the users were continuing their old way of doing things, manually calling up the office to relay information instead of sharing the automatically generated reports out of the system to them!
This was an important lesson for me to learn as a CSM, as it taught me to not assess metrics at face value but to speak with the people who held the purse strings and called the shots. Now I always make sure to ask myself, “are people across the organisation getting value from this, or is it just one group?”
Don’t just focus on sales, founder. Churn might be less sexy but trust me, a nice, smooth sales curve up with no jagged drops from churn is the sexiest thing there is.