When you’re dealing with a SaaS start-up there is one thing that there is no shortage of: metrics. There is no shortage of data to crunch and extract meaning from. The larger your start up grows, the greater the variety of data that is available. Similarly, the longer it sticks around for, the more the metrics you should pay attention to gauge customer success evolve too.
The hardest part is knowing what data is irrelevant for the question at hand and when it comes to customer success, there is no shortage of red herrings. Below are some of the metrics that might seem like a fair proxy of customer health when in reality, they might only tell part of the story.
Number Of Log-Ins
This is a popular one. I mean, if the number of log-ins is increasing on average, then that means that the customer is getting more value out of the SaaS – and is therefore less like to churn – right?
Not necessarily. More log-ins could indicate that the customer is having to log back in multiple times because they’re being timed out, which is more so a question for the engineering team to fix. Perhaps they’re starting to log something on their mobile phone when they’re out and about and only get back to finishing it when they’re in front of a computer, meaning they need to log-in on multiple devices.
This metric generally goes up with increasing customers/users, but is not an accurate indicator of customer success.
Number of App Installs
For those who have a mobile app, app installs might seem like an important one. After all, if the app is being downloaded and installed more times, that means it’s appearing on more devices, which in turn means that more people are using it, right?
Wrong. Pull out your own smart phone. How many apps do have on it in the full menu? How many do you use on a regular basis? Depending on the age of your device, it probably also has regular sweeps it does to point out the apps you should consider uninstalling because you haven’t used them in a long time.
App installs should be looked at closely with something like session time. If both are increasing in lock step, then that’s a better indicator of customer success.
Number of Uninstalls
On the flip side of the coin, we have the number of uninstalls. This metric is more important in B2C apps than B2B, just because B2C apps tend to be targeted towards the general public a bit more. B2B apps are usually built to solve a very specific problem and as a result tend to have customer journeys that are a bit more complex. What this means is that once the app is entrenched in the user’s life, it takes something significant (like an aggressive competitor) to displace it.
So if you do rely on a significant number of app installs for the success of your start up and you’re seeing that uninstalls are increasing, it’s worth taking it with a grain of salt. Those users could be doing you a favour by disqualifying themselves as your ideal customer, leaving you with the main customers you have to keep happy.
Number of Invites
This is an interesting one. No matter if it’s B2B or B2C, having a robust internal referral system to pull more users into a SaaS is key in growing its user base. However like number of log-ins, number of invites can be misleading.
Think about it this way: say you’re having a birthday party. You send out 50 invitations and get 10 people who say yes, then 5 people who actually turn up on the day. Would you say you’re successful because you sent out 50 invitations? Of course not. You would look at the 5 people who actually turned up.
Similarly with a SaaS, plenty of people get invites but never accept. The worst enemy of a SaaS trying to grow is an overzealous email filter. Then for the ones that get through, the next gatekeeper is time itself. The person who’s received the invite might not have even seen the invite if they’ve been swamped. That’s why this metric isn’t great for measuring customer success.
Last but not least in this list is session time. A lot of start ups use this metric even now to show investors definitively that people are on average spending longer and longer on their SaaS. It must mean that they’re enjoying it so much they don’t want to leave!
Again, this isn’t necessarily true. It could be many things, a couple of examples being:
- The customer has logged in and stepped away from their computer, or they’ve got the app open (could be that the analytics is misreading session time as when the app has been opened),
- There’s been a UX redesign that’s actually made a key workflow more confusing and customers are looking for a way to complete the task “the old way” (is there an increase in calls to support that spikes up around the same time?),
You’ll need to dig a bit deeper to find the metrics that are the most meaningful for the customers’ success in your start-up, but hopefully this list has steered you away from some of the metrics you should be ignoring.