16 Customer Success Metrics and KPIs to Track in 2021

I questioned success my whole life.

It was a very abstract term for me to define, and even harder to achieve. I always kept asking myself, “what defines success?”

Thankfully, I don’t need to ask the same unnecessarily philosophical questions doing my job. That’s because at some point some genius people decided to find metrics to measure success.

And today in this guide, I will cover the essential customer success metrics and the KPIs that you need to track for a better CS operation.

Let’s dive right in and start with the basics 👇

What Are Customer Success Metrics? 

Customer success metrics and KPIs are the metrics marketers and their managers can track to see if they are working effectively, how well a customer is doing with product adoption, retention, and recommending the product to others. They are fundamental to establishing processes that will maximize the lifetime value of your customer relationships. When properly tracked, customer success metrics can give you insights into critical areas like customer churn, adoption rates, product satisfaction, and more.

What Are The 5 Most Important Metrics For Performance of The Products?

The significance levels of product performance metrics vary depending on the business focus. However, here are the 5 most important metrics for the performance of products:

  • Product technical performance metrics such as defects, downtime, response time
  • Product business performance metrics such as monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • Customer engagement metrics such as NPS, average session time, and customer satisfaction score
  • Lead management metrics such as lead generation and sales funnel conversion.
  • Customer ROI (Return On Investment) such as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Lifetime Value (LTV)

How Do You Measure Customer Success?

Customer success is all about knowing what you want to track for success.

Within Customer Success and especially in SaaS customer success, there are several metrics and key performance indicators that you should track. The most significant ones include churn rate, Net Promoter Score (NPS), Average Revenue Per Customer, etc.

There are various methods to draw numbers and data for customer success KPIs and metrics. For example, SaaS companies, in particular, can achieve customer engagement data and measure customer success with several methods such as:

Onboarding

The user onboarding period, for a business, is one of the most critical times in the SaaS customer life cycle. During this period, customers decide to purchase your product and start getting value from it or abandon it forever. 

Using customer onboarding to see the drop-offs and who are more likely to convert into paid customers can be a valuable benchmark for early customer success. 

Onboarding tools can help you build product guides with minimum effort, without any coding.

Join 2,000+ teams creating better experiences.

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Free-to-Paid Conversion

Upgrading from free plans to paid ones is a strong indicator of successful customer success and account management. As this ratio increases, there are surely improvements provided by the effort of the CS team.

16 Customer Success Metrics & KPIs You Need to Track

1- Customer Churn Rate

Customer churn rate (sometimes referred to as customer attrition rate) is used to capture the percentage of customers who no longer use your product or service. For example:

  • Canceled subscriptions
  • Closed accounts 
  • Loss of recurring value
  • Loss of a recurring business or contract

All companies must measure customer churn rate simply because it’s a key performance indicator of your customer success strategy.

churn customer success metric

How To Calculate Churn Rate

For churn rate calculation, whether monthly or annually, take the total number of churned customers over a period of time and divide it by the total number of all customers in that period. 

The total number of churned customers / total number of all customers = Customer Churn Rate

Note that for all businesses, particularly for SaaS companies, keeping customers paying and reducing churn is crucial for growth.

2- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

Monthly Recurring Revenue or MRR is a normalized calculation of a business’s predictable revenue on a monthly basis. MRR is a critical metric for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or subscription-based companies. SaaS companies track their MRR for financial forecasting and planning, as well as measuring growth and momentum.

MRR provides accurate, predictable, and largely consistent financial projections, helping companies estimate and plan their businesses accordingly. Also, MRR is a key indicator of growth for SaaS companies and is critical especially if backed by investors.

How To Calculate MRR

Monthly Average Revenue per User (ARPU) * Total Number of Monthly Users = MRR

For MRR calculation, take your Average Revenue per User (ARPU) on a monthly basis and multiply it by the total number of active users on a given month. 

3- Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

Average Revenue per User (ARPU), also known as Average Revenue per Unit, is the average revenue received per user over a period of time. It is a metric commonly used by SaaS, digital media, social media, and telecommunications companies. ARPU allows businesses to gain a deeper insight into:

  • Profit generation capability
  • Understanding customers
  • Financial forecasting
  • Comparison to competitors

How To Compute Average Revenue Per User

ARPU is calculated by taking the total revenue and dividing it by average users during a period. The selected time period is usually monthly because many businesses that use the ARPU metric work on a monthly paid subscription model.

Total Revenue / Average Users = Average Revenue per User 

4- Net Dollar Retention

Net Dollar Retention is the metric that calculates the revenue change that is generated by existing customers. It is one of the most crucial customer success KPIs. NDR is used to further describe the changes in recurring revenue over time according to upgrades, downgrades, and churn. 

To put it differently, Net Dollar Retention measures how much money you’ve gained or lost from existing customers. Examples for it include:

  • Upgrading an existing subscription plan,
  • Paying for additional features, storage, functionality,
  • Churning,
  • Downgrading.

How to Measure Net Dollar Retention

NDR = (Starting MRR + expansion – downgrades – churn) / Starting MRR * 100

5- Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Net Promoter Score or abbreviated as NPS refers to a measurement that evaluates customer satisfaction and loyalty. NPS is measured based on the answers of a survey that asks customers how likely they are to recommend your service or product on a scale of -100 to 100. 

Participants of NPS surveys are expected to explain the reason for their scores. This allows businesses to analyze the underlying issues of negative customer experience. As a critical customer success KPI, Net Promoter Score provides valuable customer feedback and helps to measure quantitative and qualitative data to improve upon. 

net promoter score customer success

How To Measure Net Promoter Score 

To calculate NPS, you need to conduct an NPS survey asking customers one question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product or service?” Once the participants provide their answers, you need to group them as customers that give a score of:

  • 0-6 are classified as detractors
  • 7-8 are group as passives.
  • 9-10 falls under the name of promoters.

After the survey scores are grouped, you can calculate the NPS. The NPS calculation is done by subtracting the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors. The result gives your business’s Net Promoter Score.

The percentage of promoters – (minus) percentage of detractors = NPS

6- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Customer Satisfaction Score, often mistaken for Net Promoter Score, is a metric used to see how satisfied your customers are with a specific action they, the company, the product performed. Although customer satisfaction score was the go-to metric to measure customer satisfaction, after 2003, NPS started getting more and more attention and eventually became more popular.

The main difference between the two is that the customer satisfaction score seeks to see how happy the customers are with your product or service, while the net promoter score’s main subjective is to show customer loyalty.

Another difference is the fact that the customer satisfaction score encompasses a short period of time while calculating the net promoter score can be more beneficial in the long run.

How to measure Customer Satisfaction Score

If you were to run a question or questions with your customers on a scale of 1-5 or “not satisfied at all – extremely satisfied”, to measure the CSAT, you would take the 4-5 scores or satisfied-extremely satisfied scores, divide it to the total number of responders, and multiply it by 100. This way, you would get the percentage of your satisfied customers.

(Number of satisfied customers / Total number of responders) * 100 = CSAT

7- Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is one of the most important customer success KPIs you should be already tracking. It is the percentage of customers that complete the desired action. It shows how successful you are at converting prospects into paying customers or taking the desired actions. Conversions vary depending on the business goals. Here are the most common conversion examples:

  • Making a purchase
  • Subscription to a paid plan, mailing list, etc
  • Registering on a site
  • Upgrading a service
  • Submitting a form

How to Calculate Conversion Rate

Conversion rate calculation depends on what defines a conversion for your business. For example, the conversion rate for websites is calculated by dividing the number of conversions over a period of time by the total number of people who visited your website or landing page during that time frame. Then, multiply it by 100%.

(Conversions / Total Number of Visitors) * 100% = Conversion Rate

(Conversions / Total Number of Leads) * 100% = Conversion Rate

8- Customer Health Score 

Customer Health Score or Customer Health Scoring is a metric that is used to measure SaaS customer success. It is the process of scoring customers based on their likelihood to grow, renew flat, or churn. Customer health scoring systems vary from company to company and assessing customer health scores is critical for customer success teams. Often, customer success teams don’t know which customers to help, and they over-service to the loudest accounts that are likely to churn anyway. 

When established, monitored, and responded correctly, a customer health score can help customer success managers and teams to identify the risks before they arise and unhappy customers. This way, they can minimize the churn rate.

How to Measure Customer Health Score

In order to measure customer success, you need to formulate a customer health score. For example:

Frequency: How much time do users spend on your product?

Breadth: How many users in a specific account are using the product?

Depth: How many of your product’s or service’s key features are being used?

Apart from these, you can measure your customers’ growth as well. 

9- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value (CLV or CLTV, LTV) is one of the essential customer success metrics for any business to track. Customer lifetime value is the expected total revenue or net profit that you can expect from a single customer to bring to your company throughout the whole relationship with the customer.

In simpler terms, customer lifetime value is a metric that shows:

  • How much a customer is worth to your brand and their value
  • How much money you should be investing in customer retention
  • An insight into whether or not a customer is likely to become a repeat customer

Assessing CLV is crucial to invest in the right customers that are more likely to bring value to your brand.

How to Compute Customer Lifetime Value

You can calculate the customer lifetime value by taking the average purchase value and multiply it by the average customer purchase frequency. Then, multiply the outcome value by your average customer lifespan. The result provides an estimated revenue that one customer is expected to bring to your company.  

10- Customer Retention Cost (CRC)

Customer retention cost is also one of the most fundamental customer success metrics to ever exist. Customer retention cost or CRC is a metric that shows the total cost of retaining an existing customer. Businesses shouldn’t rely solely on acquiring new customers each month. If your marketing campaign turns out ineffective, then you might risk losing revenue. 

Therefore, a loyal customer base is a cornerstone for financial stability and your business’s long-term health. By measuring your CRC, you can make smart moves on how much you should spare for your marketing budget and keeping loyal customers.

How to Calculate Customer Retention Cost

To calculate your customer retention cost, you should audit all your expenses of your customer success efforts. Your customer success efforts to audit include the expenses spent on payroll for customer success and customer service teams, engagement and adoption programs, professional services and training, and customer marketing.

Add these expenses into a sum. Divide that value by your total number of customers. The result will give you your business’s customer retention cost.

Customer Lifetime Value = (Customer Value * Average Customer Lifespan)

11- Qualitative Customer Feedback

Qualitative customer feedback might not really be a metric, but it enables you to achieve valuable data and insight into why customers provided negative or positive feedback about your service or product. With qualitative customer feedback, you can answer critical questions such as; 

  • Why has a customer given you a low NPS?
  • Why have they decided to abandon their shopping carts?, etc.

You can collect qualitative feedback using open fields in feedback forms. This way, your customers can explain why they have given a specific score. Once the qualitative customer feedback data is collected, it can be analyzed using text analytics.

12- First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR)

First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) is a metric used to see whether your customer support inquiries can be resolved on the first contact with the customer. Although this metric is more closely related to customer service than customer success, it plays a role in customer success in the bigger picture too, not to mention improved customer loyalty. It is also an important measurement to see whether it is the support team or the product itself that hinders the solution to be found on the first contact.

How to measure First Contact Resolution Rate

To measure your first contact resolution rate, you must first understand the inner workings of your customer support team and customize the criteria accordingly. The questions that need to be asked at this point are:

  • What defines a first contact resolution?
  • Is my support team established enough to resolve issues on first contact?
  • If a customer got in contact with another department or person from the company, does that count as first contact?
  • Do calls that were ended due to wait time count?

And other questions, depending on your workspace and company structure.

13- Customer Effort Score (CES)

Customer Effort Score is a metric used to measure how difficult it is and how long it takes for a customer to perform a certain action with your product or with your company. For example:

  • How much effort goes into setting up your product?
  • How much effort goes into signing up to your platform?
  • How much effort goes into getting customer support?
  • How much effort goes into a purchase or a return?

Are all questions that the customer effort score metric can feed on.

However, although this metric seems to be a reliable one, business experts recommend using it in tandem with a net promoter score survey for more objective answers and results.

How to measure Customer Effort Score

You can easily measure the customer effort score of any action by conducting a survey and dividing the sum of positive responses by the total number of responses.

Total sum of positive responses / Total number of responses = CES

14- SaaS Product Usage Rate

Product usage rate, as broad a term as it is, can in fact showcase great insight for product improvements and consequently customer success. Moreover, since SaaS customer success encompasses getting users to use the full product, this metric might just be the underdog of all.

Depending on the nature of your product and the parts of it you especially want to check usage rates, the elements of product usage rate can be:

  • Usage frequency
  • Usage of specific tools and/or features
  • Usage duration

Although this is very similar to customer health score, the major difference is the fact that product usage rate has more to do with actual usage rate of a product than churn prediction that customer health score focuses on. One might say that product usage rate is a primitive version of the CHS that essentially has more potential of supporting other similar metrics.

How to measure Product Usage Rate

Since Product Usage Rate is a rather simpler metric, it is easier to measure it. However, before measuring it is important that you decide on a time interval (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) that you want to observe the metric in. After that, all that’s left is to see how many users visit what parts of your product and for how long.

15- SaaS Average Session Duration

Just like product usage rate, average session duration is also a somewhat “raw” metric, but it is in no way unimportant.

Average session duration or app is the type of metric that, as the name gives it away, looks into the amount of time your customers or users spend on your product. By looking into this metric, you can not only see how much time is spent on your platform but also which specific sections are viewed longer or shorter by your customers.

How to measure Average Session Duration

Being a pretty simple metric, average session duration is measured by dividing the total seconds (or minutes) of all sessions at a specific time by the total number of sessions in the given time period.

Total seconds of all sessions / Total number of sessions = Average Session Duration

16- SaaS Monthly/Daily Active Users (MAU/DAU)

Monthly Active Users or MAU is a metric that works best for SaaS companies, and especially for the ones in a growth phase. Since monthly active users are the lifeblood of any small to medium-sized business, it is of utmost importance to keep track of them and move in the growth plan accordingly. It goes without saying that you can’t focus on delivering your customers to success unless you know how much they interact with your product – if they interact at all.

It is also recommended to include daily active users (DAU) into your calculations. By creating a ratio between MAU and DAU you can see whether your users are actually interested in your product or just have sudden urges to check out your product and never show their face again.

How to measure Monthly/Daily Active Users

To get value out of calculating your monthly/daily active users, you need to first determine what defines an active user. For example, an active user on Twitter can be one that likes or retweets while an active user on Canva is someone who creates designs.

Your activity criteria can be but not limited to:

  • Vitising certain pages,
  • Sharing or liking content,
  • Completing a task,
  • Creating content, or even
  • Scrolling all the way to the bottom

The formula to find out your MAU/DAU ratio, on the other hand, is pretty simple:

Daily Active Users / Monthly Active Users = DAU/MAU Ratio

The higher the percentage, the better your platform/app/tool is performing. So work it up, people.

Conclusion

Customer success metrics and KPIs are vital parts of a successfully running business and key to keeping customers happy.

Trying to find the underlying issues behind increased churn rates and loss of customers can be challenging. However, when systematically evaluated, these metrics uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your company, product, or service.

Once you find out the underlying problems, customer success, and support teams, as well as the managers can better focus on developing effective strategies. Keep in mind that every improvement requires a vision, in this case, provided by CS metrics.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the most important metric for customer success?

The most important metric for customer success can be considered the churn rate, as it is the department’s duty to fight churn and eliminate reasons leading to it.


How can I measure the effectiveness of customer success?

Various metrics, such as churn, retention, MRR, ARPU, and NPS can be used to measure how customer success department performs.


What metrics are customer success responsible for?

Customer success is responsible for metrics such as NPS, churn, and ARPU in most cases.

Suzan Çalcalı

Suzan is the Customer Success Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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