How Fitbit’s step-mechanics apply to Customer Success

In a previous video, we talked about how Fitbit teaches you (almost) everything you need to know about Customer Success. In that video, we talked about the high-level concept of “Customer Fitness.” Beyond the conceptual-level, we can learn a lot about Customer Success from Fitbit’s core mechanic: taking steps.

While there are a lot of other activities you can track on your Fitbit, steps is the core. If you walk 10,000 steps per day, you’re generally going to be in good shape. As you can see from my screenshot, I kicked butt on my step goal on Saturday, but I’m going to need to do some serious stepping this afternoon to hit my goal.

The parallel for your business is: logins (a.k.a. daily activity). Logins is the core customer activity that drives your customer’s health. At Sparked, we’ve worked with many types of businessess over many years, and we can tell you conclusively that more frequent activity is a universally a good thing. There are a couple of edge-case exceptions, but boosting daily activity should be the primary objective for your Customer Success efforts. If you’re just getting your Customer Success efforts off the ground, start with boosting daily activity.

By framing customer fitness around daily activity, you’ll be able to discover many of the blockers that are preventing your customers from using your app more actively – just as the Fitbit frames personal fitness around stepping, which helps you figure out why you’re sitting on your butt all day long and how to buck that trend.

In fact, you can visualize daily activity just like you look at your steps in Fitbit. Here’s a graph from the Sparked CustomerFit™ product, which, as you can see, is very much inspired by personal fitness trackers. Using a graph like this, it’s easy to see (and to celebrate) your daily success. Don’t underestimate the motivational value to yourself and your team of celebrating your successes. Fitbit is built around daily motivation and your Customer Success efforts will benefit from it as well.

Now, there are a lot of ways that you might formulate your Customer Success strategy, but if you start with what we call the “Fitbit feature set,” or tracking and celebrating daily activity – you’ll be well on your way to a more fit customer base.

How Fitbit teaches you (almost) everything you need to know about Customer Success

Today’s topic is how personal fitness trackers, like Fitbit, teach you almost everything you need to know about Customer Success.

The key insight in comparing Fitbit to your Customer Success efforts is the very simple concept of “fitness.” When you buy a Fitbit, you’re interested in improving your health – in becoming more fit. And the Fitbit gives you all kinds of ways to track, measure, and evaluate your own personal fitness.

As a Customer Success leader, your task is figuring out how to attach a Fitbit to each of your customers. But of course you wouldn’t use a real FitBit (that would be creepy). Instead, you want to track, measure, and evaluate the behaviors within your product that add up to being a fit customer for your business.

At Sparked, we boil customer fitness down to two key behaviors:

  • logging in often
  • and spending more

These are the two behaviors that drive the success of most businesses (yours may be slightly different).

Of course, customers who login often and who spend more are also likely to be getting more value from your product. At the end of the day, bringing value to both the business and to your customer is what Customer Success is about.

In sum, just as getting fit is your end-goal when you buy a Fitbit, creating more fit customers should be the end-goal for your Customer Success efforts.

Sparked Customer Fitness Feed – 3/30/16

The Sparked Customer Fitness Feed delivers *AWESOME* articles from around the Web to help customer success teams build a more fit customer base. Fit customers login more, spend more, and love your product more. Unfit customers don’t use your product and eventually churn out (gasp!). Let’s get’em fit.



WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2016

The Tools Early-Stage Startups Actually Need to Understand Their Customers

After 18 months of struggling to get traction with two product ideas, Segment started its turnaround. What followed was a two-year stretch of growth from four to 60 people, thousands of new customers and $44 million over several rounds of financing. View the full article

Customer Retention and Loyalty is Everything in the Information and Media Industry

Digital technologies have fundamentally changed the way that information is shared and consumed—profoundly impacting the Information and Media industry. For the past 15 years, Information companies have been making the switch from print to digital. The switch has driven innovation in advertising, a convergence of content, software and devices, but, most importantly, a transformation of business models. View the full article

Growth through retention? Berlin SaaS leaders weigh in

We’ve recapped the first ever Berlin SaaS Meetup, where a panel of Berlin founders discussed retention, growth, and their own trial-and-errors on the road of entrepreneurship. View the full article

Are You Competing on Customer Experience to Keep Up, Get Ahead, or “Leave a Dent”?

Three years ago, MassMutual embarked on a journey to reconnect with its customers. This 165-year-old financial services firm realized that “you can’t spray paint excitement” on largely set-and-forget products. View the full article

How Customer Segmentation Can Save Your Sanity AND Drive Consistent Growth

One of the biggest factors that has led to the explosion of the Customer Success movement is the growing recognition that there’s no one-size-fits all strategy for meeting your customers’ needs. As you get to know your customers, you’ll find they each have different personalities, budgets, levels of engagement: that’s obvious. Each customer could conceivably use your product in drastically different ways. View the full article



Curated by Jeff Nickerson and the Sparked team. Got feedback? Send an email to customerfitness@sparked.com

Sparked is the least expensive and quickest-to-setup solution for customer success teams. We help you cultivate fit customers. Give it a try.

Sparked Customer Fitness Feed – 3/23/16

The Sparked Customer Fitness Feed delivers *AWESOME* articles from around the Web to help customer success teams build a more fit customer base. Fit customers login more, spend more, and love your product more. Unfit customers don’t use your product and eventually churn out (gasp!). Let’s get’em fit.



WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016

SaaS Q&A: How do you deal with Happy Churn?

Happy Churn – The good kind of churn? The name would suggest so, but the reality is that Happy Churn can cause significant issues when it comes to growing your SaaS business. Consider it a red flag for some bigger underlying problems. View the full article

Customer-Quoting Teams Build Better Products

Last week, I went to a conference that lost power because – wait for it — it rained in San Francisco. Attendees foraged for breakfast yogurt by candlelight and gathered kumbaya-style around the speakers, who were awkwardly shouting wisdom. For about two hours, it became more camping party than tech event. View the full article

Easy-to-miss customer success blunders that can cost you customers

In this guest blog, Niraj Rout, Founder at Hiver, shares some small, but costly blunders that companies make in managing customer success. View the full article

Build Your User Base with These Human Behavior Hacks

People are unpredictable. And they are animals.These two tenets are often overlooked by startups trying to appeal to customers based on rational assumptions. Remember, people buy expensive wine they know nothing about. They place value on what their peers value whether they want it or not. They won’t shell out $2 for a useful app, but will take a $30 cab ride to get to work. And this behavior is only intensifying as more options become available faster. View the full article

Hinge’s “good churn” connects 50,000 dates a week, and more unlikely startup lessons

Almost no company could give me a lesson on love and data better than Hinge, one of today’s most popular dating apps. View the full article



Curated by Jeff Nickerson and the Sparked team. Got feedback? Send an email to customerfitness@sparked.com

Sparked is the least expensive and quickest-to-setup solution for customer success teams. We help you cultivate fit customers. Give it a try.

Why Customer Success is a good idea for hardware companies

How can a hardware company benefit from a Customer Success initiative?

In this 2-minute short, we’re going to talk about how a hardware company can benefit from running a Customer Success program.

For this one, I’m going to share a personal story.

A couple of months ago, I bought an Arlo security camera from Netgear. There have been a number of break-ins on my block and I wanted to make sure we had footage of our front porch. Now the Arlo is really neat b/c it’s wireless and you can install it anywhere.

After a few days with the Arlo, I was hooked. I saw raccoons sneaking around my porch at night; saw a package arrive at my door when I was at work; and could tell that my 5 year old had arrived safely home from school.

After a few days, I bought another Arlo – this time to watch my baby girl while she slept. I know that’s a little helicopter parent-ish, but I’ll own up to it; I thought it’d be great to be able to see her napping while I’m at work. So I dropped another $150 on another camera.

Then, a few days later, the battery on the first first one died. It had only been 7 days. A few days later, the batteries on the 2nd one died. I got 7 days of battery life on each camera. The batteries cost $2 each – and the unit takes 4 batteries. So, that’s $8 in batteries every week or $416/yr. The reviews on Amazon say that the re-chargeables last only a day. Plus, I’d need to climb up to my roof to replace the batteries every week.

I was bummed out. That was a month ago. Here’s what my Arlo home page looks like. And here’s what my email from Arlo looks like. You see that I went from about 100 motion alerts a day to virtual dead silence.

What I see here is a perfect opportunity for Customer Success. My battery died just a week after initial installation – and I haven’t streamed video from the cameras in over a month.

This is a clear opportunity for bringing customers back from battery death. A simple play would be to add me to a drip email campaign that shows me how to optimize battery life. Even better, if they want to spend a little, they could offer a coupon for buying another set of batteries. As someone who purchased 2 cameras in the span of week and then used the product for only seven days, there’s certainly an opportunity to help me get more value from the product – and then once I’m seeing value, to up-sell me to more cameras and or their subscription plan.

So that’s a simple example showing how a hardware company can benefit from running a Customer Success program.

How do I create plays for my Customer Success playbook?

This video reviews how to create plays for your Customer Success playbook.

To review, a play consists of 3 elements:

  1. a trigger condition
  2. a tactic
  3. and a customer cohort

For a refresher on Customer Success plays, see this post: What is a playbook for Customer Success

The best starting point for building your Customer Success playbook is to document your current tactics for retaining customers, expanding deal size, and driving more value to customers. These existing plays will form the core of your playbook – as it’s likely that you’ve already had some success with these tactics.

Then, if you’d like to expand the number of plays in your book, you can brainstorm new plays using the following framework:

  1. plays by Lifecycle phase
  2. plays by customer segment
  3. plays by customer-action or event

Let’s look at some examples. Note that I’ve omitted the trigger/tactic/cohort structure from the following list as it’s intended to give you some ideas which you’d then put the play structure around.

Lifecycle plays
Onboarding phase

  • Welcome email
  • Kickoff call 1 month checkin call
Training phase
  • Email with feature documentation
  • Webinars or in-person meetings to discuss functionality
Adoption phase
  • Checkin call if usage is light
  • Training email if usage is light
  • Added to nurture campaign if usage is good
  • Case studies email
Renewals phase
  • Checking support tickets to make sure they’re resolved
  • Sending a ROI presentation deck
Expansion phase
  • Checking usage data to discover unused features
  • Passing along opportunity to sales

Segment plays
Segment: high risk in United Kingdom
Play: UK-specific content recommendation email

Segment: very high account value low usage
Play: customer success manager conducts site visit to refresh customer about high value features

Segment: C-level users with low usage
Play: call to user to discuss top features
Alternate play: share insights: “I looked at your data and found…”

Segment: best users (high value and high usage) Play: ask for share to friend / recommendation / tweet
Alternate play: send t-shirt or mug

Event-based plays
Event: customer has not completed on boarding after 2 weeks.
Play: Setup process is restarted by customer success manager

Event: sudden decline in usage Play: alert sent to account manager who calls them to discuss product.
Alternate play: “do you need help” email

Event: activity using the product over the past two months
Play: account manager sends email to recommend features not yet being used

Event: activity using the product over the past six months
Play: ask to become advocate by tweeting, FB sharing, or recommending to colleagues

Event: not using top 4 content areas
Play: email about top content areas

Event: number of active users per account drops below 50% per week
Play: nurturing campaign to all users in account

Event: >10 support tickets in last two months
Play: call from account manager to discuss issues

Event: champion has not logged in in >1 month
Play: account owner calls champion

Event: renewing in <60 days and high risk
Play: account owner calls champion

Note that combinations of the above strategies may also be appropriate (such as events per segment). Hopefully that gives you a really good starting point for creating plays for your customer success playbook. See you next time.

A playbook for Customer Success – Why do you want one?

A playbook for Customer Success was defined in our last video.
To review, a play consists of:
  • a trigger condition
  • a tactic
  • and a customer cohort
For example:
A simple play could be to do a check-in call with high value customers, when they haven’t logged in in 30 days.
So, why is it a good idea to have a playbook?
Glad you asked! A few – really compelling reasons –
  1. A playbook codifies your company’s best practices about how to retain customers, expand deal size, and to drive more value to customers
  2. By codifying and then automating these processes, you can effectively scale customer success
  3. And perhaps most important, when you’re running the same plays in a consistent manner, you can A/B test the effectiveness of each play… so that you eventually weed out the plays that don’t work and share the ones that do across the organization
The alternative to a playbook is usually a series of ad-hoc efforts that are applied irregularly throughout the business, which doesn’t lead to much of a feedback loop or continual improvement.
So, you can see why playbook are a really good idea for doing well at customer success.

What is a Customer Success Playbook?

A Customer Success playbook is a set of instructions that can be followed by either a person or an automated system to retain customers in certain situations.
The playbook specifies:
  • a trigger condition
    • a tactic
    • a customer cohort
For example:
Let’s say you want to set up a play for high value customers who haven’t logged in recently.
So, your trigger condition is:
  • customer hasn’t logged in in >30 days
    • tactic: make a check in call
    • cohort: customers with MRR of >$5000
Making a phone call is an expensive retention tactic, so it only makes sense to run this play on high value customers. The playbook might have different instructions for lower value customers.
Let’s use the same trigger condition: the customer hasn’t logged in in 1 month.
Your playbook could say:
  • customer hasn’t logged in in >30 days
    • tactic: add to “feature highlights” drip campaign
    • cohort: customers with MRR of <$99
The term is inspired by sports, like football, where the coach has a playbook with all of the team’s plays in it. And that’s what a playbook is for customer success.

Sparked Customer Fitness Feed – 3/11/16

The Sparked Customer Fitness Feed delivers *AWESOME* articles from around the Web to help customer success teams build a more fit customer base. Fit customers login more, spend more, and love your product more. Unfit customers don’t use your product and eventually churn out (gasp!). Let’s get’em fit.



FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2016

Deep Linking’s Role in the Mobile Growth Engine

Rosalia Quam-Wickham from Branch Metrics discusses how “deep linking” is critical to driving growth and engagement in your mobile app. View the full article.

7 Steps to Measuring the Success of a Feature

How do you know if your app’s new feature is improving user experience, driving engagement, and improving retention? Use this framework to find out. View the full article.

Every Mobile Customer Is Unique — And So Are Their Customer Journeys

When someone first downloads your app, visits your website, or stops by one of your brick and mortar locations, that’s an opportunity. Engage them successfully and you could make a sale, even gain a loyal customer. But if they don’t like what they see or how they’re treated, you may never see them again. View the full article.

5 Ways to Make Growth Less Painful

The CEO of Lego, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, once said, “I think it is a golden rule in business that most companies don’t die of starvation, but die of indigestion.” View the full article.

Customer Retention and Loyalty is Everything in the Information and Media Industry

Digital technologies have fundamentally changed the way that information is shared and consumed—profoundly impacting the Information and Media industry. View the full article.



Curated by Jeff Nickerson and the Sparked team. Got feedback? Send an email to customerfitness@sparked.com

Sparked is the least expensive and quickest-to-setup solution for customer success teams. We help you cultivate fit customers. Give it a try.