Oct 8, 2021

7 min

How to Map Your Customer’s Vector Path To Determine Whether They’re Heading in a Positive Trajectory

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How to Map Your Customer’s Vector Path To Determine Whether They’re Heading in a Positive Trajectory

58% of businesses focus their customer experience strategy on increasing value for their customers. This means understanding a customer’s goals and tailoring Customer Success strategies around what the customer wants to achieve. To do this, Customer Success teams are using Customer Success vectors.

Customer Success vectors tell you where your customers are heading relative to where they are today. As a relatively new concept, this article explains what a Customer Success vector is, before detailing how you can implement these vectors as part of your Customer Success strategy. 


What are Customer Success vectors?


Source

Customer Success vectors detail where your customers are heading, how long it will take them to reach their destination, and where they are currently relative to these goals.

For instance, let’s say you’re a growing business needing document management software to securely store your business documentation. You start as a company of 10, signing up every employee with a Google Drive account. At this point, Google Drive is serving your needs, meaning your customer satisfaction is high and the likelihood of churn is low. Yet, over time, your demands will change.

As your business grows, you’ll have more employees to sign up with a Google Drive account, plus the storage space you need will increase. This is where you’re heading. Google Drive must help you reach these needs for you to be successful. 

Mapping your vector path will show Google where you’re operating now (the number of opened accounts plus storage space), and where you want to be. Understanding this will allow Google to appropriately meet your needs at every stage of your journey with them.


Understanding Customer Success vectors as an upgrade to KPI metrics

Customer Success vectors come as an upgrade to snap-shot, in-the-moment KPI metrics. Measuring Customer Success using KPIs doesn’t tell you where your customers are relative to their goals. Your customers might have a high satisfaction rate, measured by calculating their customer health score, but that doesn’t mean this satisfaction will remain stable. That is, KPI metrics are lagging indicators. You need to supplement these with vector measurements.

A vector is a quantity that has direction as well as magnitude, especially as determining the position of one pointing space relative to another.” – Lexico, Vector Definition

Customer Success vectors are a fairly new concept, ultimately used to determine if you’re on track to hit the growth potential of your existing customer base. Let’s look at an example to understand how success vectors can supplement KPI metrics. 


Using Customer Success vectors to supplement KPI metrics 

Let’s consider the following hypothetical scenario. We have two customers, both are large enterprises signed up to use a given marketing SaaS product. Both customers have had good relations with the SaaS enterprise for years, and are comparable in size, geography, and stage. 

Customer 1: Is an e-commerce store, selling electronic goods. 

Key criteria for their high customer health score includes:

  1. A large number of opened accounts with the SaaS business. 
  2. Excellent B2B relations. 
  3. Excellent support statistics. 
  4. Ongoing project expansion. 

Customer 2: Is an IT consultancy firm, advising clients on how to use information technology to meet their business objectives.

Key criteria for their high customer health score includes: 

  1. A large number of opened accounts with the SaaS business. 
  2. Excellent B2B relations.
  3. Excellent support statistics.
  4. A track record of continual project expansion. 

These two companies have equal health score measures, however, they are dramatically different in terms of how the SaaS enterprise could assist them in meeting their growth goals. That is, these two customers were heading in different directions. 

Customer 1: Wanted to expand their product range and consolidate their business.

The SaaS enterprise needed to help customer 1 expand the reach of their marketing efforts for the different products introduced. 

Customer 2: Pushed for specialist marketing strategies to reach a niche customer persona. The customer provided specialist IT consultancy and wanted to refine their customer base. 

The SaaS enterprise needed to help customer 2 focus their marketing efforts to capture the attention of their target personas. This needed careful relationship management

As you can tell, customer 1 and customer 2 were heading in different directions in terms of what they wanted to achieve with the marketing SaaS business. This clear distinction would be lost with a single KPI metric such as a customer health score. 

If the SaaS enterprise applied an equal Customer Success strategy to customer 1 as they did for customer 2, it’s unlikely that customer 1 would receive their marketing needs to meet their goals. Customer Success vectors capture the information separating the two customers for different strategies to be applied. 


Breaking down the Customer Success vector into its constituent components

A Customer Success vector is a combination of a customer’s required outcome and their appropriate experience. Both represent the magnitude of work to be done to get your customer to their goal. 

Success vector = Required outcome + appropriate experience 


Understanding the required outcome 

The required outcome is what your customers want to achieve. 

For instance, let’s say you bought a flight ticket to travel from New York to San Francisco. In this instance, you want to reach your destination (San Francisco) safely. This is your required outcome.

To find out if your customer’s on track to reach their required outcome, you need to decipher the following:

  1. Whether your customer has success potential. 
  2. Your customer’s key success milestones. 

Let’s look at these factors in more detail. 


How to determine your customer’s success potential 

For you to even consider assigning a success vector to a given customer, that customer must have the ability to reach their required outcome using your product/service. This means checking off the following criteria: 

  • Technical fit This refers to the technical abilities, skills, and experience of your customer. I.e. is it technically possible for your customer to meet their desired outcome?
  • Functional fit – Is your product/service missing a key piece of functionality for your customer?
  • Resource fit – Are your accounts able to invest – beyond paying a fee – in what’s required to be successful?
  • Competence fit – Do your customers have, or will they have, the internal expertise to be successful? 
  • Cultural fit – Do your customers have the complementary beliefs, morals, and attitudes to establish strong B2B relationships?


How to determine your customer’s success milestones

Map logical upsell or advocacy opportunities as your customers progress towards their goals. These are called success milestones. 

For instance, a success milestone might be for the customer to sign up for a free trial, or a customer upgrading to a premium version of your service. 

You’ll want to make sure the mapped success milestones align with your customer’s required outcome. E.g. upgrading to a premium version of your offering might not be an appropriate success milestone. 


Understanding the appropriate experience 

The appropriate experience is what your customer takes away from your product or service. That is, how does your offering make your customers feel? Are your customers satisfied? What did your customers have to do to reach their goal?

Let’s come back to your New York to San Francisco journey. Your goal – where you want to go – is to reach San Francisco. Your appropriate experience is how you felt on this journey. Maybe you felt uncomfortable with little legroom. In this instance, although you reached your destination, how you got there wasn’t as desired, meaning your required outcome was not obtained.


How to visualize your Customer Success vectors 

Visualizing your Customer Success vectors will help you understand them. Your success vectors will fall under one of four categories, namely:

  • Positive success vectors: These represent accounts progressing towards their desired outcome. These are customers that meet their required outcome with a healthy appropriate experience to get them there.
  • Neutral success vectors: These are accounts that have stalled or are stagnated. You’ll need to get these accounts back on track towards their desired outcome. Think about whether your accounts are hitting their success milestones, and if they have a healthy appropriate experience. 
  • Negative success vectors: These accounts are not on track and require urgent intervention. They are moving backward from their desired outcome and are withdrawing their use from you. 
  • Ghost vectors: These are accounts that have stopped contacting you and are highly likely to churn. Thinking about these accounts means moving out of the realms of Customer Success. You need to be thinking about churn prevention strategies. Audit these accounts to decipher whether they’re worth the time and effort to keep. 

To visualize your success vectors and decipher which category they fit under you’ll need to represent these vectors on a graph, labeling the following: 

  • X-axis: A variable that captures magnitude – this is the work needed to get your customer to their goal.
  • Y-axis: A variable that captures where the customer wants to go – their desired outcome.

An example would be to measure the amount of time it takes the customer to move from point A to point B (to their desired outcome) on the x-axis. If a customer has a low appropriate experience, then this will demand more work to satisfy the customer, hence the vector magnitude will be greater. 

On the Y-axis we could measure revenue. The customer’s desired outcome, and each milestone taking them there, will be associated with a given revenue. Point A will be associated with a lower revenue than point B. 

The vector described is represented in the image below.

Source

Note the vector shown is a positive success vector. The customer is moving towards their desired outcome. A neutral vector is represented by a straight line. A negative vector is represented by a downward slope. A ghost vector can not be plotted as these customers have withdrawn their custom.


Measure your customer’s progression using Customer Success vectors 

Without Customer Success vectors you’re running blind. You can’t rely on in-the-moment KPI metric measures to determine the health of your customers. You’ll want to know how your customer is progressing with you. Success vectors give you this information, for you to align your Customer Success initiatives and get your customers to where they need to be.


Author Bio

process street
Jane Courtnell is a Content Writer at
Process Street. While earning my degree in Biology at Imperial College London, I developed an enthusiasm for science communication. I continued my studies at Imperial College’s Business School; and with this, began looking at how biology can be used to solve business issues, such as employee wellbeing, Customer Success, business operations, and business sustainability.

 


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