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Guide to:
Conductiong Success Analysis
Customer Interviews

The key to solving churn is consistently driving customer results. The purpose of the Success Analysis is to correctly understand why customers succeed. This guide explains the process of interviewing successful customers to gain essential insights.

The Success Analysis involves just two key elements:

1. First identify successful customers.

Be careful because the instinct is going to be to tap customers who are happy or who have a good relationship. But neither of these are relevant. Remember that happy customers churn at the same rate as unhappy customers. 

What we are looking for are customers that have achieved measurable results. Some of them might actually be in the "unhappy" column. 

Look for customers that:

  • Have a renewal history

  • Have achieved measurable results that are important to them

  • Have successfully leveraged the core product capabilities

  • Regularly rely on the product for important business functions


Spend time vetting a list of at least 10 of these successful customers. The objective is to schedule 5 customer meetings.

2. Second, investigate their success deeply.


This isn't just an interview, it is an investigation into exactly why customers succeed and involves more than simply asking the right questions. It is necessary to prove and explore the customer's answers to uncover the full picture of their path to success. This is because most interviewees don't instinctively think of some of the most important elements in their success.


1. Gather Key Customer Information


Create a spreadsheet that will be used to schedule the success interviews, and include some key information to assist in preparing for the interviews: 

  • Company Name

  • Point of Contact (Name/Title)

  • Product Type (What products they have purchased from your company)

  • Industry (What industry they operate in)

  • CSM/Account Manager



2. Schedule The Interviews


Once you have your list of clients to interview, begin reaching out to schedule 45-60 minute interviews. Not all of the clients you have selected will be able to schedule an interview, so this should give you enough options to be able to complete 5-7 interviews. If you can’t schedule enough interviews from the initial list, then you may have to identify additional successful accounts.

  • We recommend that someone other than the CSM/Account Manager conduct the interview.

  • The CSM/Account Manager should schedule and attend the call. This will increase the likelihood of the appointment being held and allow the CSM to handle any requests brought up by the customer during the call.

  • The appointment should be 30-45 minutes, and the customer's time should be respected.

  • The request to the customer can be made in any way or forum that is convenient. Below is a sample email request.


Sample Request Email...

Hi [Customer],

I hope things are going well. I’m reaching out because our team is working on a project to increase our understanding of our customers and how to make them more successful. As part of that, we are conducting interviews with our most successful clients with our product and you were one of the first to come to mind.


The interview will be used exclusively for internal purposes, and none of your responses will be shared outside of the company. Would you have 45 minutes to discuss your business and how you have been getting results within your organization?

Thanks,  [CSM]



3. Conduct the Interviews


The next step is to interview each customer to investigate their pathway to good results. The interview questions suggested below help guide your customer quickly to the essence of their motivation for both choosing your solution originally and also why they are continuing to renew. 


The interview agenda below is intended to make these interviews not only painless but very interesting and enlightening!


Customer Success Interview Agenda


1. Kicking Off The Call


  • Begin with the CSM/Account Manager greeting the customer and introducing the interviewer.

  • They should thank them sincerely for their time and hand off to the interviewer.

  • ​The interviewer should start by explaining the purpose of the interview: to better understand how our most successful customers achieve results, so that we can improve how we support all our customers.

  • Explain that these insights are for internal use only and not be used for marketing, or any other external purpose. 

  • If you are recording the session, be sure to get the customer's permission.

2. The Conversation

The interview is a conversation, not a questionnaire. The goal is to identify insights and go beyond the customer's first answer to any question by probing for more information and explanation.


The discussion should be guided by 4 high-level questions:​

  1. What key results are most important to them?

  2. How do they measure their results?

  3. How good are their results?

  4. What did they do to get results?

Get underneath the generalities to the specifics

Customers will generally answer your initial questions with broad, abstract statements. But the goal is to define the precise results that matter to the customer clearly,  and the specific actions they have taken to achieve those results.

There is a simple but effective method for penetrating vague statements and that is to keep asking for more detail. This is often called the "5 Why's" method. The interviewer simply keeps asking some form of "Why?" continually until the interviewee provides the essential detail. It has been suggested that you can't do this more than 5 times without getting to the point. 

For example:

  • The customer says that their goal is "To gain better insights by connecting our marketing and sales data".

  • The interviewer responds with, "That's interesting. Why is that valuable?"

  • The interviewee responds, "It will improve our sales performance."

  • The interviewer responds with, "Specifically which area of performance are you looking to improve?"

The same method works well for "How?" questions.


For example:

  • The customer says that a key action was "We made sure to get staff buy-in for the initiative."

  • The interviewer responds with, "That's difficult to do. How did you get everyone onboard?"

  • The interviewee responds, "We showed them the product and explained the benefits."

  • The interviewer responds with, "Specifically how did you go about that process?"

3. Wrap up

  • Respect the customer's time, and wrap up the interview by thanking them sincerely and offering to help them in any way.

  • Collect and post notes and interview recordings in an accessible location.

  • Follow-up with the CSM/AM regarding any issues that came up in the interview to ensure they are addressed.

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