Net promoter score. Customer churn rate. Monthly recurring revenue. These are all high-profile customer success metrics, prominently featured in most posts on the topic. There’s no denying these metrics have value – but do they really tell the whole story?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) like net promoter score and churn rate tell you if there’s a problem or if your company is doing well overall. But to figure out what to do next, you need to dig a little deeper. Look for metrics that give you more insight into how customers are using your product and any trouble they might be having. Once you know the details, you can plan an effective, data-driven course of action.

We put together a list of seven customer success metrics to help you investigate the reasons for a problem or success. Track these KPIs to get a more complete picture of customer satisfaction.

1. Product activity coefficient: Detect at-risk customers

Product activity coefficient shows you how often a customer is using your product. Low activity means the customer isn’t using the product regularly. They may not be seeing the value they expected when they purchased it. If a customer doesn’t believe your product provides value, they’re at high risk for churn.

Metrics like daily active users (DAU) or monthly active users (MAU) aggregate usage information from across your customer base. PAC examines individual customer behavior so you can pinpoint specific customers who might be at risk of churning.

Customer success metrics like product activity allow you to be proactive. If a customer is inactive, you can reach out to see what the problem is and offer solutions to help them see your product’s value.

The timeframe for measuring activity will depend on your product. You could calculate how many days in a month the customer is active, or how many weeks in a quarter.

Pro tip: A high product activity coefficient means the customer likes your product and sees what your company has to offer. They might be open to an upsell, or you could interview them and feature them in a case study. See what’s working well for them so you can replicate it for other customers.

Feature adoption rate tells you the percentage of customers using a particular product feature. The goal of tracking this metric is ensuring that customers are getting value from your product.

When you release a new feature you think most customers will benefit from, you want to make sure they’re using it. A low adoption rate means customers aren’t seeing value from your product updates.

Calculate feature adoption rate by dividing the number of customers using the feature by the total customers using the product:

[(#) customers using the feature / (#) total customers] x 100 = Feature adoption rate (%)

An example of this would be when we released Geckoboard’s Slack integration. We knew this feature would be particularly beneficial for teams without a shared office space, including remote teams. We tracked adoption rate over time to see whether customers were recognizing the value of the new integration.

You can monitor feature use with a product intelligence platform like Mixpanel or Amplitude.

An example A/B test from Amplitude shows product usage by feature.
An example A/B test from Amplitude shows product usage by feature.

Pro tip: If you have a low adoption rate that doesn’t improve over time, work with your marketing team to promote the feature, or give it more prominence in demos and product documentation updates. You could also build “new feature alerts” into your product using a digital adoption platform (DAP) or send out email and social media announcements detailing the new feature and its benefits.

3. Qualitative feedback: Ask open-ended questions

Interviewing and surveying customers gives you more in-depth insights into the problems they expect your product to solve. It also allows customers to voice any concerns about your product or company. Using this information, you can identify potential churn risks and offer extra customer support before serious problems arise.

Qualitative feedback supports a “voice of customer” approach to customer success, which is when you collect data by reaching out to the client directly. After all, no one knows the customer’s wants, needs, and concerns better than they do.

Combine structured feedback, such as a customer satisfaction survey (CSAT), with open-ended questions and interviews. Interviews, in particular, are ideal for collecting qualitative feedback because you have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and collaborate with the customer to find a solution.

Document and tag issues the customer raises. This will make it easier to count and track repeat problems. If you see product-related issues come up multiple times, work with your product team to find and solve the root cause and prevent future customers from encountering the same problem.

Pro tip: You can use a survey to collect qualitative data. Follow the best practices in this resource to build an accessible and comprehensive feedback form.

4. Expansion MRR percentage: Balance upsells and downgrades

Expansion MRR percentage shows how much of your monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth is from upsells or add-ons instead of new revenue.

This customer success metric helps you see what you’re doing right. Expansions come from happy customers who like your company and product enough to make additional purchases. While MRR alone highlights the success of your marketing and acquisition efforts, expansion MRR percentage shows you how satisfied your current customers are.

Find your expansion MRR percentage by dividing revenue from expansions by total monthly recurring revenue and multiplying by 100 to get a percentage:

[(#) expansion revenue / (#) total MRR] x 100 = Expansion MRR (%)

A low expansion percentage may mean your customer acquisition efforts are effective, but you need to step up your customer success efforts.

Keep in mind that you should also track expansion MRR as a raw dollar amount. Expansion MRR percentage might look especially low if you’ve had an especially good month for new business, or unusually high if you don’t add much new business that month. Tracking both the revenue amount and the percentage will help you accurately determine how much new revenue is coming from existing customers.

Pro tip: Reach out to customers who purchased add-ons, especially if they’ve upgraded more than once. Happy customers might be willing to be brand advocates. They also might be willing to share what they like about your company and product. You can use what you learn to update your customer success strategy.

5. Net MRR churn: Monitor revenue changes

Net MRR churn shows how much revenue you lose from churn. It offers more insight than customer churn, which only looks at numbers of customers lost. Net MRR churn highlights whether you’re losing small or large accounts.

Unlike gross churn, net MRR churn also factors in expansion revenue, so you can monitor whether churn is balanced by upsells. This draws your focus to the company’s sustainability as a whole: Are your current customers happy enough that add-ons outweigh lost revenue from churn?

Negative churn (making more revenue than you lose) highlights positive customer success efforts because it means revenue from expansions and new customers outweighs cancellations and downgrades. High net MRR churn might indicate a problem both with customer retention and current customer satisfaction levels. Check out this resource to help you calculate net MRR churn for your company.

Pro tip: Monitor net MRR churn along with customer renewal rate to get a complete picture of monthly churn, continuing revenue, and revenue from expansions.

6. Customer effort score: Streamline customer experience

Customer effort score (CES) measures how complicated or difficult it is for customers to contact your company and resolve their issues. If it requires a lot of time and effort to get support, customers will likely get frustrated. A high CES could result in a low customer satisfaction score, and it might indicate a customer at risk of churning.

As Luis Hernandez, VP of customer success at Geckoboard, puts it, “It should be both very simple for customers to connect with your business and each interaction should result in a positive experience [. . .](CES) lets you know if the channels you have for customers to get in touch (and vice versa) are the right ones.”

Send out surveys after customer support interactions. Ask customers to rate the time and effort it took for your team to resolve their problem.

Nicereply customer support follow-up email
Nicereply customer support follow-up email
Nicereply sends follow-up surveys after support calls.

Track CES along with CSAT to see how your customer support team is doing as a whole and highlight areas for improvement.

Pro tip: Ask customers if they tried using your self-help materials to solve their problem before contacting customer service. Their responses might illuminate weak spots in your knowledge base.

In addition, track the number of tickets submitted for topics where you already have self-help documentation. If customers are going through customer support when they could be resolving the problem quickly through self-help materials, you might need to reorganize your knowledge base to make resources easier to find.

7. First response time: Make a good first impression

First response time measures how long it takes the customer support team to respond after a customer submits a ticket.

“At Geckoboard, we have found that timelines and speed has a direct correlation with satisfaction. A first response perceived as fast can set you on the right track for a positive first impression,” says Luis Hernandez.

A quick response confirms for the customer that you got their ticket and are looking into the problem. The quicker you respond, the better, but average first response time varies for different support channels. Customers typically expect a reply in a day or less for emails or online form submissions, but an hour or less for social media questions.

Watch for response trends by tracking first response time for individual tickets and average response time across your team. Monitor CES at the same time to highlight areas for improvement throughout your customer support pipeline. A long first response time may indicate issues with your channels for submitting tickets, or it might mean you don’t have enough customer support staff.

Pro tip: Set up an automated response process so your customer receives an immediate notification when you start processing their ticket. An automated response doesn’t count toward your team’s first response rate, but it helps reassure customers that you are looking into their concerns. Monitor first contact resolution rate to see how efficiently your team is following up after the automated response.

Keep customer success metrics top-of-mind with a data dashboard

Once you’ve identified your top customer success metrics, the next step is to share the data with your team. Create a customer service dashboard so you can monitor KPIs in real time. Display the dashboard in your office or share it to the team Slack channel to ensure it’s readily available for all team members. Data dashboards’ real-time tracking is especially useful for metrics that change quickly, like product activity coefficient and first response time.