How to Use Customer Success Software to Learn More About Your Customers

When most people think of Customer Success software, they think of things like:

🔁 Automated playbooks and workflows

📈 Health Scores and custom reports

Tech-touch relationships and scaled CS

But one huge advantage people don’t talk about enough is how much you can learn about your prospects and customers using a Customer Success Platform (CSP). The amount of quality, clean data at the fingertips of CSMs and C-suite leaders is remarkable if they have this technology in place. A CSP can turn customer-facing professionals across pre-sales and post-sales teams into in-the-know, proactive partners for each account.

No one understands this better than Katie Bugas, former CCO at Triptease and a valued member of our Success Network, and Ruth Cockshott, a Senior Sales Engineer here at Vitally who helps our prospective customers navigate Vitally trials. These two leaders talked me through what kind of CSP data they use to better understand their customers and learn information they’d otherwise have to do without. 

Here are the four main things Katie and Ruth can do:

📊 Identify trends within different segments and demographics

Yes, a CRM can generate reports and a homemade spreadsheet can house customer data — but data stored in these locations so quickly becomes outdated on a customer-by-customer basis, making any sort of aggregated analysis (like looking at all customers who spend $10k-$20k each year or all customers in Europe) impossible at worst and inaccurate at best.

On the flip side, a CSP keeps account information and activity so up-to-date (more on how that works in a bit) that trend analysis is easy. Here’s what Katie says: 

“Using a Customer Success Platform to look at different cohorts of customers and identify trends within them is a great use of time. Without that information, you’re not really able to spot patterns that would allow you to implement processes and reverse engineer ways to overcome problems.”

Plus, CCOs and VPs of CS aren’t going to be able to join 30 customer calls a week and manage their team of CSMs or AMs effectively. The ability to get a quick, asynchronous pulse check on every customer and every segment is invaluable.

☝️ House everything in one place

Knowing your customers well becomes significantly easier when information about them isn’t scattered across half a dozen different platforms and instead is accessible in one, central location. 

Let’s say you have 20 clients up for renewal this quarter in your book of business. Without a CSP, you (and the leaders around you) may not even know that, and if you did, you’d still have a fragmented view of what’s going on within each account. Manually, you’d have to dig for answers to questions like: 

  • What’s their product engagement been like lately? 
  • Have they been responding to emails? 
  • Have they been paying invoices? 
  • When did they last have a QBR
  • Did they take an NPS survey recently? 
  • Have they submitted any tickets with your support team this contract cycle?

This information is still findable without Customer Success software, but you’d likely need to bug several different people for data, manually generate reports for each account using the platforms at your disposal, and spend significant time piecing together the story… for all 20 accounts… and that’s just for this month’s batch of renewals. 

In short, there’s not enough time in the day to make this make sense. But a CSP with solid integrations can bring everything under a single pane of glass to clarify what’s happening in each account. 

Renewals are just one example of many. There are other routine CS motions where a CSP helps throughout the customer lifecycle, too:

Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs)

Preparing for a QBR is time-consuming if you’re answering the laundry list of questions above and putting together a slide deck and proving your product’s value and ROI. Top CSPs will largely automate this process for you or provide QBR prep templates that take the legwork out of preparing for routine meetings. 

Scaled CS

A dated approach to Customer Success at a growing organization looks like this:

  1. We grow our customer base. 
  2. We celebrate.
  3. We add headcount to accommodate this growth.
  4. We go back to step 1.

But rather than constantly playing catch up and trying to keep retention where it is with endless headcount expansion, a CSP actually makes it possible to live up to the modern catchphrase of “doing more with less.” With so much clean customer data in one place, CS Ops leaders are able to automate emails, reminders, and other time-consuming customer communications with confidence that the tool will only use spot-on accurate data, thus reducing the need for more people.

“A CSP takes a lot of the more mundane, monotonous tasks off of the team,” Katie Bugas shares, “and this allows them to be more strategic and forward-thinking with higher priority accounts.”

Seamless Handovers From Sales <> CS 

Ruth Cockshott, who leads prospective Vitally customers through 14-day trials, leans heavily on Vitally during the Sales <> CS handover if trial users become customers. Our CSP enables her to transfer everything she’s learned during the pre-sales experience to her post-sales counterparts.

She says it best:

“We create a Doc for each account going through a trial, and it acts as a mutual success plan. We link to training material, help articles, and contact information — and we include things like their sandbox login details, the URL for their trial, compliance documentation, and a list of integrations they've said they want to test. This is then the same document I share with the post-sales side if they close to help get that customer and new CSM up and running.”

Related: How Sales Teams Can Use Customer Success Software to Drive Revenue

This brings us to the next, less obvious way to learn about customers using a CSP before they’re even customers: during the trial itself.

🧠 Become experts on every trial experience

For some context, our Sales Engineering team runs two kinds of trials with prospective Vitally customers:

  1. A trial where prospects poke around in a sandbox with dummy data
  2. A trial where prospects integrate their existing systems and customer data

Each trial is available for 7-14 days, and if a prospect tries both the sandbox and the personalized trial, Vitally sees a 72% win rate. (And it’s still a 61% win rate with just the latter.) In short, trials have a significant impact on closed-won revenue, so these two-week sprints matter.

Without a CSP, Ruth and her teammates wouldn’t be able to see if trial users are importing data into Vitally from their various sources. 

Or if they’ve started building a health score. 

Or if they’ve been logging in regularly. 

Or if they’ve experimented with any integrations they’ve talked about testing.

It’s very meta, but according to Ruth, “Using Vitally myself gives me an incredible window into what's going on within each trial of Vitally.” She went on to explain how she’s built herself a custom dashboard with health scores for each of her trial customers to indicate how well the trial is going based on what past behavior has led prospects to become customers.

Rather than hopping on check-in calls and asking things like, “Did you ever have the chance to set up the Zendesk integration?”, Ruth and her teammates drop quick emails asking more personalized questions like, “I see earlier this morning you got the Zendesk integration successfully set up. How’s it working for you so far?”

CSPs take traditional trial experiences and make them exceptionally personalized.

💬 Distribute (and track) quantitative information at scale

So far, we’ve focused mostly on the quantitative data you can learn about customers with a CSP, but we’d be remiss not to mention the qualitative. Because after all, the customer <> CSM relationship is a human-to-human connection, and rarely is NPS or past expansion data enough to tell the full story of an account’s sentiment. And certainly answers to, “Do they pay invoices on time?” or “How many past QBRs have they attended?” don’t complete the story either.

That’s why at Triptease, Katie Bugas and her team set up a Slack channel called #pulsecheck. After a meaningful customer interaction, CSMs would literally drop a “pulse check” on their account into the notes of the CSP (so it’s there for the future), and they had an automation that would funnel those short notes to #pulsecheck in Slack so CS leaders could watch for trends across the business and understand the latest positive or negative sentiments.  

Knowing your customers = growing your business 

Using a CSP isn’t just about looking like you’re on the ball in front of customers; it’s about delivering an excellent, empowering experience they couldn’t find elsewhere. 

“At past companies, I couldn’t see what my customers had integrated or what features from our product they’d actually tried out,” Ruth shares. “But now, I know that information. And because of that, I’m able to deliver a more tailored, knowledgeable experience in this ‘CSM of the pre-sales world’ role that I’m in.” 

Katie echoes this same thing: “If your company is going to succeed, and you're going to scale in the way that companies hope to scale, you're not going to be able to do it without a CSP. Customer Success is a revenue-generating function, and you’ll stay reactive without the right technology in place.”

We’ll leave you with that. 

Want to know more about your customers? Take a tour of the Vitally platform or schedule time with our team to learn more.

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