It’s the end of a quarter as I’m writing these lines. If you’re CS leader, that likely means your to-do list includes:
- Monthly reporting
- Last Q retro deck prep
- Next Q planning & goal setting
This is my personal Everest BUT it’s funny how every time I’m internally screaming with anxiety, I somehow make it to the other side right on time.
And because we’re all in this together, I’ve decided to lay out the process I follow to figure out my team’s OKRs.
Customer Success OKRs should derive from your company-wide OKRs -- that’s how you know your efforts are aligned with the company’s vision and direction towards growth.
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about customer success OKRs, including 10 examples you can incorporate into your CS planning today!
This is what a customer success OKR looks like
Now that you've decided to set customer success OKRs, it's time to get down to business.
Here's what one looks like:
You can't get anywhere unless you know where you're going. A good way to start is by defining what success looks like for your team:
- What does CS need to accomplish in order to hit higher level company goals?
- What metrics need to be improved for next quarter?
- What indirect actionable items will help you achieve X outcome?
For example, an OKR might be to "Increase customer engagement" and the corresponding key result/KPI might be to achieve "10%+ growth in user sessions per month” by “Launching an in-app engagement campaign”.
OKRs help bridge this gap between KPI reporting and deeper analysis by providing concrete goals for each area within CSM teams' purview--and creating accountability around meeting those goals!
The difference between OKRs & KPIs
A common misconception is that KPIs and OKRs are interchangeable terms. They’re not.
While KPIs can be useful for measuring important CS aspects, they don't provide the same level of insight into what's working and what's not.
OKRs are goals that you set and work towards achieving within a specific timeframe. They provide customer success teams with focus and direction regarding their strategies.
For example: improve customer retention rates by 10% by the end of Q4, or launch customer engagement initiatives by the end of Q1.
On the other hand, KPIs are individual metrics used to measure progress against customer success OKRs.
The main difference is that customer success OKRs establish the direction for CS strategies, while CS KPIs measure progress towards customer success OKRs.
How to set OKRs for a customer success team
OKRs are a tool that helps you focus on the most important things. To be effective, they need to be measurable and have a time frame.
Here's the short version on how to set OKRs for your Customer Success team:
1. Have a conversation about the goals. Sit down with your team and discuss what success looks like for them this quarter. It's important that you're on the same page before starting this process because otherwise, it will be hard for everyone involved to stay motivated throughout their workday.
2. Draft the OKRs and share them with the CS Team.
3. Brainstorm on the implementation initiatives of OKRs.
4. Decide on the measurement method of each OKR.
10 Customer success OKR examples for inspiration
Objective #1: Offer a smooth onboarding experience
The aim is to enhance the process of introducing new customers to the product or service. This stage is crucial as it lays the foundation for the entire user experience. A smooth and user-friendly onboarding process is crucial in ensuring that users stay engaged with the product. To achieve this, you need to focus on specific initiatives and objectives.
The desired outcomes may include:
📈 A 5% increase in activation rate
📈 A 20% reduction in time to value
📈 and a threefold improvement in customer engagement scores.
To achieve these objectives, there are several best practices that SaaS customer success teams can adopt, for example.
- Create educational content to avoid confusion among new users.
- Provide a session with a dedicated onboarding specialist during the trial period.
- Optimize the user journey so that users get to the “aha!” moment faster.
Objective #2: Decrease our time-to-value
Making your product/service easy to use is the next step you need to optimize, right after onboarding them. This way, they will keep coming back for more and fully utilize the capabilities of your product to achieve their own goals. So
📈 Increase new user product usage by 15%
📈 Increase account expansions by 10%
📈 Achieve a 70+ NPS
Initiatives should revolve around awareness, re-engagement and evaluation.
- Ensure that all assigned users receive a minimum of three live touches.
- Create re-engagement messages for X different points in the customer lifecycle.
- Optimize the timing of the Net Promoter Score survey.
Objective #3: Delight our customers
This focuses on improving how well your business delivers on its promises to clients and how your customers perceive the experience with your product/service.
📈 Increase CSAT by 20%
📈 Reduce implementation times by 10%
📈 Increase average Customer Effort Score (CES) by 2 units
- Gather customer feedback and translate it into product improvement suggestions
- Create an implementation timeline with enforceable SLAs
- Set up an in-app micro survey in key steps throughout their journey
Objective #4: Optimize customer support
You'll want to make sure that this department has all its bases covered before setting these objectives--you don't want them getting overwhelmed. This usually revolves around ticketing metrics and speed.
📈 Improve median time to first assignment by 30%
📈 Closed conversations on first contact rate >70%
📈 Median ticket resolution times < 4 hours for high-priority tickets
- Create a support bot to automatically suggest solutions for basic queries
- Revamp saved replies with more information and instructions
- Enforce ticket SLA rules for better time management among CS members.
Objective #5: Scale customer success efforts
Constantly looking for ways to up your Team’s game is a must when setting up your CS OKRs. Especially if the team and clientele are growing steadily there comes a time when you need a plan to cater to increasing demand while avoiding internal chaos.
📈 Average customer health score > 8
📈 Average activity per user > 70
📈 High-value customer rate > 80%
- Implement a Customer Success platform to track customer health
- Create Customer Success Personas
- Create Customer journey maps
Objective #6: Develop a value-led growth strategy
This OKR is important because if tracked and worked on properly, will get your business sustainable and profitable. CS plays a crucial part in keeping customers satisfied by delivering value and helping them obtain ROI from using your product/service.
📈 Achieve renewal rates of 90%
📈 Boost NRR by 20%
📈 Achieve X CLV
- Launch consulting sessions for enterprise accounts
- Segment customers into cohorts and create separate action plans for each
- Develop a secondary onboarding strategy
Objective #7: Provide proactive customer success
If you achieve a combination of a low churn rate and an efficient customer acquisition strategy, you will be able to experience genuine growth by being proactive. That’s why it’s important to always account for churn in your OKR strategy.
📈 Reduce customer churn below 10%
📈 Reduce revenue churn by 20%
- Launch feedback post-onboarding survey
- Create a recurring “performance highlights” report to share with customers
- Re-engage inactive users
Objective #8: Grow expansion opportunities
Expansion revenue has an advantageous aspect in that the expenses incurred in upselling and expanding to current customers are lower than those of acquiring new ones. This is because you are essentially selling to individuals who have already demonstrated a willingness to purchase from you, as opposed to persuading new customers to invest in your product.
📈 Upsell X number of accounts
📈 Quarterly expansion revenue of $K
- Identify accounts with the potential to upgrade based on product usage
- Create an expansion email campaign
- Schedule consulting sessions to upsell them and suggest add-ons
Objective #9: Optimize revenue growth rate
This company-wide OKR should be tied to your team’s OKRs as well because it’s directly influenced by your customer success efforts.
📈 Decrease subscription cancellations by 15%
📈 Increase MRR by 30%
📈 Reduce contraction MRR by 10%
- Trigger feedback survey before cancellation to identify cancellation reasons
- Pricing plans revamp
- Boost acquisition during high seasonality
Objective #10: Deliver world-class customer success
OKRs are not only related to metrics and performance graphs - they could also refer to the human factor and be qualitative in nature but measurable nonetheless.
📈 Keep the Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI) of the support team at 8 or higher.
📈 NPS score > 80
📈 Keep account portfolios at ~X
- Launch CS training program on soft skills
- Gather team feedback from surveys and 1-on-1s to identify weak spots
- Hire 2 more CSMs
Mistakes to avoid & things to keep in mind
Don't set OKRs that are too high
When setting OKRs, it is important to establish challenging but achievable goals. Setting OKRs that are too high can lead to actually demotivating your Team, as they may feel overwhelmed and unable to achieve the targets set for them. I’ve seen it and it’s not pretty.
If the goals are set too high, employees may feel that their efforts are futile, leading to a decrease in morale and motivation levels. This can ultimately result in a decline in productivity and hinder the growth of the company.
Moreover, setting unattainable OKRs can also lead to a lack of focus on important tasks. Your Team may become too fixated on achieving these unrealistic objectives, ignoring other vital aspects of their job. This may lead in an imbalance in the company's priorities, leading to poor decision-making and a decline in overall performance.
Don't set OKRs that are too low
Setting OKRs that are too low can also hinder the growth of a company. Low goals may result in a lack of motivation and complacency among your team members, as they may feel that their efforts are not being recognized or rewarded.
When goals are subpar your Team may not be challenged enough to push themselves and strive for excellence. This could lead to a lack of innovation and creativity, which can hold back the company from reaching its full potential.
Moreover, low OKRs can result in a lack of direction and focus. Without challenging goals, there may be a lack of clarity on what the company is trying to achieve, which can result in confusion and indecision.
Therefore, it is essential to set challenging but achievable goals that motivate everyone to perform at their best while also providing direction and focus.
Don't set OKRs that are too vague
Vague goals do not provide specific targets to aim for, which can result in confusion and a lack of focus.
When goals are too vague, the Team may struggle to understand what they are expected to achieve, which can lead to a lack of motivation and engagement. This can ultimately result in a decline in productivity.
Furthermore, vague OKRs can make it difficult to measure progress and determine success. If they are not specific and measurable, it can be challenging to determine whether they have been achieved or not. This can lead to a lack of accountability and understanding of what needs to be improved.
To ensure that OKRs are effective, it is essential to set specific and measurable goals that are aligned with the company's overall objectives. Providing clear and concise direction can help employees understand what is expected of them and motivate them to perform at their best.
This can be a problem when you're just starting out with customer success and don't have much data or context yet. You might not know what's possible or realistic for your team in terms of customer satisfaction, retention or revenue growth. In this case, it's best not to make any predictions at all--instead, focus on learning more about your customers so you can create better metrics later on!
Be sure to set a time frame for each goal.
This can help you make more manageable predictions and ensure that you're able to track your team's progress against those targets. It also helps keep everyone focused on the same things over time.
Check in on your team's progress regularly
This can help keep your OKRs on track by making sure that all of the goals are being met, and it gives you a chance to celebrate any wins along the way.
Be sure to keep an eye out for goals that might not be working
It's possible that some of your initial predictions won't pan out as expected, or maybe one team member has been doing most of the work but others aren't contributing as much - This could mean that something needs to change with how you're measuring success, so be open to adjusting your OKRs if needed!
Remember that OKRs are meant to be flexible
This can help you stay nimble as your team grows or changes over time—just make sure that everyone knows what's expected of them so they don't feel like they're constantly chasing their tails!
Make sure your team understands the purpose behind OKRs.
If they don't know why they're doing something, there's a good chance they won't do it well! Keep in mind that your team is likely to change over time. You may want to review your initial set of OKRs at least once per year and adjust them as needed based on what's happened since you first created them.
Don't be afraid to step back and evaluate what's working in your team
Use this information to create new goals or re-calibrate the methods that will help you reach them better!
Customer Success OKRs are a great way to align your team around the key metrics and goals that will help them deliver more value to customers. By creating a set of customer success OKRs for your team, you'll be able to create a more cohesive and focused culture that focuses on delivering a great customer experience. Focusing on the right metrics, you'll be able to more clearly define what success looks like for your team and how they can achieve it.
Finally, you'll be able to use customer success OKRs as a way of measuring the impact that your team has on your customers. By tracking key metrics over time and using them to compare against your goals, you'll be able to see how much value each person on the team is delivering for customers.