Customer Health Score: Advice from Three Customer Success Experts

Customer success teams measure and track many key metrics. From SaaS platform usage to NPS, they are always analyzing data to maintain a pulse of customer health and happiness. Many of these stats will also go into an overall account metric known as Customer Health Score.

Wootric recently hosted the San Francisco Customer Success Meetup and the focus of the evening was Customer Health Score (CHS). Three experts shared their techniques for constructing and measuring this metric.  Loni Brown from Entelo, Jeff Johnson from Splunk, and Jon Turri from offered several tips and insights to setting up a Customer Health Score program and the intricacies involved.

Interested in viewing the whole Customer Health Score panel session? Watch the video here

What is Customer Health Score (CHS)?

Customer Health Score is a metric designed to predict a customer’s likelihood to stay a customer  – or churn. Loni started by providing her explanation of what CHS is, “a metric that provides insight into what is happening in your customer accounts early enough that you can be proactive.” Formulations of CHS can be simple, but are often complex.

That description works well, but there isn’t an industry standard for Customer Health Score, which may be confusing and overwhelming for some customer success teams. The panel agreed that variables and the weighting formula for CHS vary based on the company and industry. It depends on what is indicative of success for your customers.

What Goes Into a Customer Health Score?

Each of the panelists has had to identify and gather the metrics available to them, then single out the most indicative numbers to create a formula for their score. This means the first iterations are often messy and need regular adjustment until the method produces results that are consistent with how CSMs see their accounts.

When creating your score, it’s good to isolate 4-6 indicators for CHS. Loni mentioned that the Entelo CHS score card includes eight different numbers, though she allowed that her formula is very comprehensive. Among other things, the Entelo CHS includes Net Promoter Score (NPS), the number of support tickets per user, usage of the tools on her platform, and success milestones. Entelo is a recruiting platform so in their case, success milestones include personnel hires their clients have been with the help of Entelo.

Jeff added, “Support cases are important, but they don’t always mean something is wrong” so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you add them to your formula.

The panelists discussed the subjective components of their CSH formula, suggesting that only 1-2 of your included metrics should be subjective, but that they can be quite important. For instance, Jon adds “Relationship strength is the highest weighted metric for us.”

After initially setting up your Customer Health Score formula, it’s important to give it 6-10 months without changes, or you won’t be able to track it accurately over time.

Tracking Customer Health Scores

A favorite tool for tracking CHS is Gainsight, used by 2 of the panelists. It imports metrics you’ve indicated as important and allows you to weight each parameter, culminating in a unique formula for your each customer’s CHS.

In Gainsight, you’ll see accounts that are Green, indicating good health. They could be an opportunity for an upsell or additional revenue. Yellow, which are accounts that might be experiencing a problem. Red accounts are in poor health and are at risk of churning.

Loni uses Wootric to track Net Promoter Score. She imports this NPS data into Gainsight via Salesforce for the benefit of her success team and her CHS calculation. (Having her NPS data in Salesforce benefits the sales team, too. For instance, if a client could be a potential advocate, exporting that to account and contact records in Salesforce makes it easily accessible to the client’s sales manager.)

Setting up your NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn eight ways SaaS companies are leveraging Net Promoter Score for customer loyalty and growth.

A good indicator that your formula is working is to check positive and negative accounts and be sure the metric matches what is happening with the client. For instance, if a customer hasn’t taken training, submits multiple support tickets, and hasn’t been successful with your product it makes sense they would be in poor standing.

Optimizing your CHS can be great for revenue opportunities. Loni stated “Sales can come to me and say ‘we are trying to make quota, do you have any accounts for us?’ and I can print out of a list of green accounts and hand them over knowing they are good prospects for upsells.”

When our host was asked by an audience member what impact panelists had seen on churn and expansion revenue, Jeff answered, “You’ll see an immediate impact when taking immediate action.”

Set Up Customer Health Alerts

Once you’ve chosen the metrics for your score, you’ll want to add alerts to your system that notify you if and when something happens. Jeff says “If anything should be a fire alarm, build it into your logic in Gainsight. Think about what those fire alarms are.”

Jon cautioned, “The CHS Scorecard won’t give you everything….you have to have an escalation process in place.”

For example, if your NPS for a particular account goes from promoter to detractor you’ll want to have a CSM address the account. This means the overall scorecard could be showing a positive account when there is a problem, so it’s still important to look at every metric on a client’s card to make sure it is in good standing.

Taking Action on Customer Health Scores

The next step after setting up your CHS alerts is to create playbooks to work from when there is an alert or an account drops from green to yellow or red. This gives CSMs valuable information to work through any problems and put the account in good standing when possible.

Jeff suggested that you focus efforts on getting yellow accounts to green. A healthy account is six times more likely to rebuy or upsell than one that is “okay, ” he says. The effort you put into getting an unhealthy red account to an “okay” yellow account may not be worth it.

As the company grows, your CHS program should as well. At there are thousands of customers/students who use the program. Because of this Jon has learned to use segmentation. He tracks a CHS for new customers going through onboarding and a CHS for long term customers.

In one last bit of advice, Loni’s recommends to “Make sure the team and company are bought into the score or people won’t act on behalf of it.”

Thanks to our panelists, it’s clear how valuable and productive Customer Health Score can be for Customer Success teams. It can take effort to determine the right metric for your company, but the result can be an excellent program that decreases churn.

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