Ultimate Guide: Convert your Intercom into a Customer Success Tool

December 14, 2021

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How to optimize your customer data on Intercom to improve your Customer Success strategy?

Customer data should be at the heart of your customer success strategy

You are a B2B Saas in need of becoming more proactive. Improving your Customer Success team organization might be the solution. It does not have to be a mountain to climb though since there’s no necessarily need to implement a CS platform. This would require months to set up and a lot of money. Instead, consider focusing on the tools you already have at your disposal: your CRM and your support ticket tool is a great way to start!  

This guide is designed for B2B Saas using Intercom. We will show you how to best use Intercom within your CS strategy.

A Saas company is using more than 15 Saas on average (CRM, Support ticket tool, billing product etc). Once your Customer Success team grows, one of the key challenges you’re quickly exposed to is managing to have centralized access to all this information in one place. 

In addition, having a growing CS team means more accounts to handle, right? You certainly won’t have time to manually check all the different tools, compile all the info and make a report. That’s the exact reason why not using a Health Score or a warning system is a mistake. We can think of two reasons to explain it: 

  1. First, your team can’t be proactive without a clear overview of your customers' data & health. Your CSMs won’t be alerted in case of a drop of usage or a customer dissatisfaction. Instead, you will require them to go check all the different information regarding their clients. By the time you become aware of a problem, it already happened. And worse case scenario, your client has already noticed it as well. We are pretty sure you can imagine the struggle of being told about a problem by the client himself who expects you to fix it quickly, right? In these situations, you have no other choice but to be reactive about finding a solution.
  2. Second issue is that by working this way, you will never be able to scale your CS team. Isn’t it the ultimate goal for a scaling SaaS to be able to deal with more accounts with the same CS team? Instead, you will lose time in looking for and centralizing the information whereas you should focus on your accounts and spend time with them. 

These two issues have critical consequences on your CS strategy. It obviously becomes less efficient! Your CSMs take actions too late and have less time to interact with their clients when it is actually the top priority of this particular team: to make your clients’ experience exceptional. And for that to happen, they need tools built to help them achieve this goal in a minimum length of time.

If you recognize yourself in these words, don’t worry, we got you covered with a few ideas to implement! 

Many solutions exist, the obvious one is to implement a warning system to detect early signs of churn but it requires a lot of work, perfect knowledge of your Key Performance Indicators and an available data team, which we all know is a busy team by definition. You can also implement a CS platform, but such tools are often quite pricey and also require months to set up. 

Or, you can capitalize on the tools you already have to optimize your CS strategy, quickly and efficiently. Music to your ears, right? 

All the information you may need is already on Intercom. You and your team have learned to master it so you will save both time and money in optimizing it instead of implementing a new solution. We’re here to show you how to make the most out of Intercom for your CS team

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Intercom enables you to improve your CS strategy

Intercom will grant you direct access to your customers’ information and their account. You’ll also get to have a direct look at your company’s clients’ records which will be a big plus in analyzing and predicting clients’ behaviors and trends. 

Intercom has a lot of advantages from a CS point of view, a few of them being: 

  • Their customer data-centric approach, with a lot of data on each of your clients.
  • The possibility to have customer interaction.
  • The ability to integrate adds-on regarding your CRM, billing information, marketing, lead generation, etc. 
  • The freedom of action you’re provided with, with the possibility of creating customer attributes or even automatic actions for tasks of low-added value for example.
  • The tracking on how your solution is being used by your clients (with events, explained below), which is actually a key point for creating a proper health score.

In other words, you will be able to structure and centralize your clients’ data. Thus, you’ll get to better understand their behaviour and adapt your CS strategy depending on your findings.

8 tips to improve your CS strategy by structuring and optimizing your customer data on Intercom

1- Understand and define which data may be relevant to anticipate your customer behavior

A. Create your customer data on Intercom

Intercom is designed for you to have a large data panel on each and every one of your clients.  There are 3 data groups:

  • People data
  • Company data 
  • Events. 

Below is a screenshot of the Intercom interface: on the left are the People data and the Company data. Find the Events on the right. 

Let’s dig deeper and find out more about the 3 major data groups:

  • People data: These are the data assigned to each contact, whether it be a user or a lead. You have the default data that are only on Intercom (last seen, last contacted…) and the data you can add, either manually or thanks to an external integration (like Salesforce, or even Wootric). Learn how to do so right here! This group of data aims at selecting, qualifying, and quantifying your contact users.
  • Company data: These are dedicated to the companies. One company is made of one or more contact users (but one contact user can’t belong to more than one company). It allows you to dedicate an attribute to the whole company and not user by user. The plan for example, is the same for the whole company and so is the MRR or the current deal you’re trying to close. Some other company attributes, on the other hand, are just compiled user attributes, such as “last seen”. You can also add your own customized attributes here.
  • Events: These are for you to see how your clients behave on your platform. What do they do exactly? Do you want to know about how they scroll down on your platform? About which action they take, or any other interaction? The events basically allow you to track how your clients adopt the platform (a key component for a relevant health score). This will also  be particularly useful to your Product team. Let’s say you change the UI layout. A good way to check its efficiency is tracking where your users clicked? What’s the first thing they put their mouse on? Learn more about events right here.

If the difference between events and custom attributes may seem a bit unclear, do not hesitate to have a look at this!

B. Define which data is the most relevant to your CS Strategy

By working with many SaaS B2B CSM, we have identified 6 data sources representing the entire customer data. We thought it would be accurate to segment them based on the 3 main reasons why a customer would want either to churn or to upsell. 

Relation: what are all the interactions between your company/your CSM and his client?

  • CRM data
  • Marketing support
  • Ticket support

Adoption: how does your client use your solution?

  • Product usage
  • NPS

Value: How much value do my clients bring me? 

  • Billing
  • Nalia’s template to organise, quantify and monitor business expectations

The good news is, you have most of this data available on Intercom and it’s easily actionable for your CS strategy! Let’s dig in and get to the next points. 

2- Centralize your data on Intercom

The more you centralize your data, the easiest it will be for you to get visibility on your clients’ health. Try your best to compile the 6 data sources. 

Feel free to use apps in order to improve your customer knowledge. We’re thinking of Mixpanel, Hubspot, Salesforce or Chargebee. Each of them allows you to get useful insights on your client’s health. 

By creating attributes on Intercom, you will be able to push data there from your other apps such as your CRM or billing software and make them available for your CSMs to consult anytime they want on Intercom. Here for example, imagine having a client asking you about his invoices and telling you he doesn’t understand the amount he got charged with. His CSM wouldn’t have to go check your billing platform or ask the accounting team directly for one single question. Instead, all the information he’ll need will be at this disposal on Intercom.

3- Optimize your data on Intercom 

Having your data centralized on Intercom is nice but we are all about optimizing it. We got you covered here as well with some useful yet quite easy tips: 

  • Aggregate your contacts by company: If you are a B2B company, you work with businesses and not only contact users. Grouping your clients by company allows you to have a global point of view on your accounts’ health. A CSM knows their clients’ structures well. So they’ll have contact users for the boss, their assistant, the teammate that uses your platform the most, and so on. Only if you need to, you’ll be able to dig in contact user by contact user. This way, identifying potential challenges will be easier. In our example, there’s only a few chances the assistant will be the key to whatever you are looking for. So you won’t have to check every contact user of every account to get most of your answers. 

  • Set up a churn date or active attribute: In order for you to distinguish your past clients from your current ones, we highly suggest you add an attribute indicating the churn date of your clients.
  • Set up segments: Those are really important to identify different types of accounts. You have many different types, each of them whom you interact differently with. Setting up segments will allow you to communicate better to each category. It can be the case if you address different verticals. Let's say you work with key accounts, SMBs and freemium accounts. You won't deal with them the same way, right? Instead, we suggest you segment them depending on a relevant criteria such as their size and/or MRR so you can adapt your strategy. Learn how to segment users right here! 

  • Add attributes to filter your segments: You want to segment your users but you want to do it well! To do so, you should always use your users’ or companies’ attributes. The more you set up attributes, the most precise you can get when filtering. 
  • Track your customer usage thanks to events: Events are very easy to set up and require minimal work. They will allow you to determine the adoption level of each of your clients on your platform. This is essential for your CS team: tracking your product usage will give you insightful information to better understand your clients! Imagine requiring each of your CSMs to perfectly know their clients without making it possible to check how they actually use your product. 

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4- Automate some low valued tasks

  • Ask for CSAT at the end of your chat: Having your CSMs ask for feedback at the end of every conversation can have 2 negative effects: First, it’s a low value task and can be quite recondant. Are you even sure your clients will be 100% honest with you on how you answered their questions while you’re still on the chat conversation with them? Right, we thought so too. Instead, ask your clients for a review at the end of each conversation, automatically. Your team won’t lose any time doing it but you’ll still be able to track clients satisfaction and improve your process if needed.
  • Trigger automatic messages and create your own playbook based on customized attributes or events: it will save a lot of time to your CS team. Starting with customized attributes, you can send an automatic message to all the contact users related to that attribute. For example, Select all the clients you upselled with a particular feature. By triggering automatic messages based on this attribute, you’ll be able to send them once a month a note about how to best use the feature, and this without your CSMs doing anything special once the automatic message is set up. It’s the same for events: If you launched a new feature on your platform, save time by triggering an automatic message based on the event that a client landed on this new page. It will allow you to send particular messages to them and thus, anticipate their questions.
  • Use Series in order to build automated campaigns: this new feature is very useful to CSMs since it allows to trigger actions based on a particular criteria (like a health score below 30 for exemple). Thanks to Series, you’ll be able to implement customized and automated campaigns on all of your accounts. For instance, if you detect a low adoption score, you can automatically send an email to your customer in order to understand why they have stopped using your solution.
    By combining Series (click here for more details) with a health score, you’ll be able to turn your Intercom solution into a customer success solution.

5- Build a health score with your data

Why having a health score is a milestone for your customer success team to adopt a data-driven strategy?

You need to spend time with your customers, not spend time checking manually all the information on different apps. 

Once you’ve centralized all the data on Intercom, you should create a health score in order to know at a glance which customers are at-risk or healthy. Better understanding your customers will make you focus on the right ones at the right time and with the adapted speech. 

We will deal here with two ways of creating a health score: internal and external.

  1. Internal

Your go-to team here is the data team. Make sure to define all the objectives beforehand so that your health score will actually be precise and on point.

We define 3 different types of signals for your health score:

  • The relationship with your client: The interactions between the clients and you as a company representative. It can take many forms: the number of tickets opened, the open rate of your newsletters, the amount of calls they had with their CSM, the length of time between each call… Find the best metrics that will best describe the relationship you have with your clients. We know it can vary from one B2B Saas to another.
  • The adoption of your product: Put here all the interactions between your client and your product. We would suggest events on Intercom but here as well, it can take different forms depending on the metrics you already follow. We would suggest the number of times your client logs onto the platform, the time he spends on there and also on specific pages, the features he uses the most, and so on.
  • The value : How much value do my clients bring me as a company? Here, consider using financial metrics such as the MRR your clients represent or the amount of unpaid bills ; Or quality metrics such as your NPS.

Let’s start with a unified balance, meaning each signal equals 1. We suggest you iterate for a few weeks until you get comfortable with it before changing it. 

Once you’ve iterated enough, it’s time for you to make the analysis: are your churners the ones you’d predicted with your health score? If so, great! It means your system works.

If they aren’t, no need to worry. Simply change the equilibrium between your signals and consider changing a few of them: add or remove some and start again!External

If your data team is busy or if creating your own health score seems a bit complex, you can always ask experts to do it for you.

Why may it be relevant to work with external experts to build your health score? 

  • Building an operational and understable health score is complex and time-consuming. Companies don’t know which information to use and to which data it may correspond. Then, they don’t know how to rule all these features, nor where to add a threshold to get a relevant alert system. 
  • Data teams are usually very busy, and CS teams generally give priority to the product rather than the implementation of a relevant health score.

En utilisant un service externe, vous profiterez de leur expertise ce qui vous permettra de gagner en qualité et en rapidité. Certains experts vous proposent de faire un audit de vos data afin de comprendre en profondeur votre business, puis vous créé un score de santé très pertinent en moins d’un mois.  Indeed, they will pick the right signals for you, the adequate balancing and thus, create the right health score for you. 

By using an external service, you will benefit from an outside expertise and thus gain both quality and rapidity. Some experts offer to carry out an audit of your data in order to understand deeply how your business works and then to create a highly relevant health score within less than a month. Indeed, they will pick the right signals for you, the adequate balancing and, this way, create the right health score for you.

We noticed that more and more companies are looking for solutions to answer the need of having a health score, like Nalia.

6- Implement an early warning system to be more proactive

Before digging deeper here, let’s remind ourselves what a warning system is: it’s a procedure that will send you daily or weekly (depending on how you set it up) warnings about clients that may churn or be subject to upsells.

The main advantage is the time and productivity saving. Indeed, you won’t have to manually check all your accounts but instead, only focus on the one brought to your attention by your warning system. The main advantage is that you’ll be able to focus only on the customers that have been flagged. On average, a B2B SaaS will receive alerts on 12% of its customer portfolio each month. Thanks to this new information, CSMs will be able to spend more time on these accounts and will answer their problem before the client’s request. 

Here is a few tips if you want to implement a warning system

  • Define a set of metrics and write them down on a spreadsheet. Your metrics can be about customer success, product adoption, product use…
  • Define the thresholds for each metric: ask yourself what is the threshold for each metric below which we consider clients being at risk.
  • Update your spreadsheet weekly. You can actually do it manually or using Zapier.
  • Implement internal automatic mailing campaigns for each metric when it gets below the strategic threshold. This way, you will get alerted to anything of importance: Let’s say if your health score gets below 30%, you want to get alerted and understand why. 

As for building a health score, you can also work with an external solution to build your health score. It may save you time and improve the efficiency of your early warning system! 

It goes even further than simply implementing such a warning system. Adjust yourself to it and make it a new routine. Thanks to these alerts, make it a habit to only focus on the clients that really need you at a particular time!

Implement an early warning system with Nalia

7- Always update your data 

Consider checking your data again every 3 months and adapt your score at least twice a year.

Any internal strategic change or external event can have an impact on your score. Do not forget to take these into account when you reevaluate your data.

In addition, customer data evolves over time. We suggest you do a round of checking on all your attributes every 3 months, even if it’s just to verify they are all in accordance with your other tools and that they remain close to reality and to your context. In order to do so, we recommend a quarterly meeting with your Ops and/or Data teams. We also advise you to check the weight of your attribute twice a year.

8- Adapt your strategy thanks to these alerts & scale your CS team 

Thanks to this new information (your health score and your early warning system), you’ll be able to implement a new routine & improve your LT strategy.

A low-touch strategy is a one-to-many approach to customer success. It is usually used by companies with high numbers of customers, where each CSM manages hundreds of accounts.  With such an approach, your CSMs can’t have all their clients on the phone regularly and must lay on other criterias to keep track of their health. Being proactive means prioritizing your customers and being there at the right time for them. 

Technology is always cool, but it can be useless without a business process around it. To make it actionable, you need to engage a team around it and build a clear process. 

Now, it can be a challenge to organize your routine around it, so here are a few tips we thought would be useful for you: 

  1. Take 2 hours every week to get a first overview on your alerts and verify how relevant it seems
  2. Book one hour a day on your agenda to only focus on the alerts
  3. During this daily time, focus on: 
  • Treating your customer one by one
  • Taking around 5/10 minutes to dig in into each signals at a company level and at a user level
  • Mapping each user’s blocking point and what green lights you can play with for each of them
  • Creating a company-based and a user-based strategy to organize your actions
  • Applying your actions and keeping a record of them on the tool you usually use (Notion, SalesForce, Hubspot, ect...)

It's a proactive and more productive approach, enabling CSMs to:

  • Prioritize: No need to focus on your whole customer portfolio but only on the customers in need of attention
  • Anticipate: Be there for your clients even before they think they need you (and that’s when the magic happens!)
  • Adapt: Gain relevance when it comes to your customer relationships

You won’t even have to talk to all your clients on a regular basis. Just to those who have been the subject of a particular alert. The others are perfectly fine about not talking to you and manage your platform on their own. Only act when you get an alert and thus when your intervention is necessary. It will enable you to improve your low-touch strategy and to scale your team.

Now that your strategy is proactive (and no longer reactive) and that you focus on clients that really need you, you get more time to handle even more accounts! That’s what we call scalability and we truly think it’s amazing.

We got you covered! Do not hesitate to reach out to us so we can advise you on your Intercom data!

You can download the guide here:

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