Top 5 application events to track for customer success in B2B SaaS [2021]

Nick Kang

Nick Kang

5 min read

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Application events are actions done by your user inside your application. This can include signing in, sending a message, or using a feature.

Tracking application events is a vital to customer success. It gives you the ability to quantify how your customers feel about your application.

You may already be tracking application events. If not, some notable services include Segment, MixPanel, and Amazon Pinpoint.

In this article, we'll list the application events most helpful the customer success:

1. Signed in

The sign in event tracks who and when a user signs in to your application.

You can calculate many high level metrics with this event.

Account level usage is a sign of stickiness

In B2B SaaS, you'll have an account comprised of many users. By measuring sign in events, you'll be able to track weekly/monthly unique users and sign in trends.

Unique users also let you figure out adoption within the account's company. Higher adoption rates mean sticker accounts. This is a positive indicator to customer success.

Account segment level usage measures your ability to solve business problems

An account segment is a group of similar accounts such as by pricing plan or use case. Example account segments can be Enterprise, Free Trial, and Tech Industry.

By tracking Sign Ins, you'll also be able to track account segment usage. Users are part of accounts and accounts are part of account segments.

Account segment usage is important to customer success. It shows you if the application is addressing the groups business use case.

We recommend creating an account segment for each business use case. Tracking this usage can show you how well you're solving the use case.

Falling account segment usage may mean diverging expectations for your application. Speak with your customers to see if their use case has changed.

Low account segment usage can come from a communication problem

One reason we've seen for low usage has been poor communication on solving their use case. Customer success can address this from three angles:

  • Collaborate with sales to develop a list of use cases your product solves. Make sure both sides are consistent on their communication to the user.
  • Collaborate with design and engineering teams to tweak the in-application onboarding experience. Consider creating an onboarding workflow for each business use case.
  • Improve your support guides. If you don't already have one, consider creating a knowledge base for your customers. The most popular one's include Zendesk and Intercom. There's also open source alternatives such as BookStack.

Monthly active users

Monthly active users are the number of unique users who signed in within the past month. Your company is likely already tracking this. Otherwise, almost every analytics tools should be able to track this.

Customer success should work with other units to address changes in active users.

2. Account added user

Account added user tracks when an account adds a new user seat. This is useful to customer success in B2B SaaS that have the concept of user seats.

Tracking added users helps customer success track onboarding

You'll track application events on a per-user basis.

With this, you'll be able to track new customers as they learn your application. What features do they use? How often do they sign in in the two weeks? Do they open support tickets? Do they interact with their co-workers? Tracking application events lets you answer these questions about each user.

Every time an account adds a new user, you should kick off a new onboarding playbook tailored for their use case. The playbook can be as simple as sending a welcome email to as hands on as scheduling in-person training. You should iterate on this playbook.

The more users from a company using your product, the better the product stickiness. This leads to higher renewal rates.

3. Account removed user

Like adding a user, you should track when accounts remove a user.

Customer success should create a retention playbook for declining usage. You'll want a retention playbook for each business use case.

Falling user count is a signal to add accounts to your retention playbook

Declining account level user counts is an sign that the account is at risk of churning. Customer success should add accounts to a retention playbook once an user count falls by 20%.

Common actions in a retention playbook include:

  • setting up periodic feedback discussions,
  • implementing a customer loyalty program, or
  • developing a customer education program.

4. Feature used

Features are individual tasks that your application can perform. Tracking every feature can be cumbersome. Customer success should focus on the features affecting upsell and retention playbooks. These are the core features that users user to complete their business use case.

Core features can show you who is getting the most value from your application

Core features are the 1-2 features that your customers use your app for. Some examples include:

  • Invoice creation and invoice approval in an Invoicing SaaS product
  • Hotel bookings in a Hotel Management SaaS product
  • Employees managed and dollars processed in a Payroll SaaS product

Accounts with high core feature usage are getting the most value from your service. Customer success should pay attention to these accounts. These accounts are more likely to upgrade plans. They're also more likely to serve as reviewers and references.

If usage drops, customer success should look at other indicators to get to the root cause. Some other indicators customer success can look at are:

  • active user count
  • support tickets
  • invoice payments

If there's no clear pattern, usage drop can also be internal to the account's company. Try scheduling a 15 minute call with your account to talk about this. Some internal reasons can be:

  • changing use case
  • slow period
  • product champions left company

Try to associate a dollar amount to core feature usage

Tracking B2B SaaS products where there is a dollar amount attached to usage is easier. You can set alerts based off quantifiable changes.

For quantifiable usage, we try to tier the health tracking:

  • Healthy accounts are at 75%+ their average usage
  • Ok accounts are at 50%-75% their average usage
  • At risk accounts are below 50% their average usage

Add accounts to your retention playbook once they are below 75% average usage.

High basic features usage indicates receptiveness to upsell

Basic features are 1-3 features that are available to basic tier accounts. These basic features also have a premium counterpart in standard plans. Examples include analytic features, usage limits, and support offerings.

Heavy basic feature usage is a strong indicator that the account is open to upsell.

New customer success teams should calculate a application-wide baseline usage for each feature. Accounts that are above that baseline get added to upsell playbooks.

Experienced customer success teams should calculate account segment baseline usage for each feature.

Feature usage narrows down upsell and retention priorities

Tracking feature usage narrows down accounts that are will be receptive to upsell. It also alerts customer success of accounts at risk of churning. Tracking core and basic features lets customer success view account sentiment in real-time.

5. Module used

A module is a set of features used together to complete a business process.

Examples of modules include:

  • On premises data storage
  • API usage
  • Third party integration
  • Social media analysis
  • Email marketing

Module usage provides information about the business use cases your application solves

Tracking module usage is like tracking feature usage. It helps customer success focus on upsell and retention opportunities.

Module tracking provides information about the business use cases each account cares about. This lets customer success personalize communication for each account.

It is important to observe module usage leading up to renewal dates. Companies at risk of renewal will roll off usage to have no loose ends when they cancel. If you see this happening, it's vital to customer success to communicate with the account. Understand what is causing falling usage and work to prevent churn.

High module usage can signify likely renewal and upsell opportunities. Look at the modules these accounts are using and recommend complementary modules. Customer success should strive to ensure accounts maximize the value from your product.

Changing module usage patterns may mean a change in use case

If you see that an account's module usage is changing, it can mean a change in their business use case. Customer success should set up a call to confirm this and then provide resources for the new use case.

Changing use cases should also trigger adding the account to a new account segment.

Conclusion

This article covered application events that provide the most value to customer success:

  • Sign in
  • Account added user
  • Account removed user
  • Feature used
  • Module used

Tracking application events helps customer success quantify user sentiment. It gives customer success the knowledge to say the right thing at the right time for each account.

What events are your customer success team currently tracking?

Originally published December 28, 2020, updated January 1, 2021