How Contentsquare use Health Scoring to predict adoption and retention

Gareth Drabble


Director of Customer Success, Northern Europe


Gareth Drabble
Gareth Drabble

Episode Summary

Today on the show we have Gareth Drabble, Director of Customer Success, Northern Europe  at Contentsquare

In this episode, we talked about what led Gareth to Contentsquare, the recent acquisition of Hotjar, and what it means for Contentsquare, we then talked about how they plan to structure their customer success team as they scale, and what fuels its growth. 

We also discussed how rushing into a tech touch model wobbled Contentsquare’s retention rates, and dove into how they use health scoring to predict adoption and retention, and how you can replicate the model for your company too. 

As usual, I'm excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on Don't forget to follow us on Twitter.

Mentioned Resources



What led Gareth to Contentsquare. 00:03:22
Contentsquare + Hotjar 00:04:41
What is fueling the growth of Contentsquare’s customer success team? 00:07:19
Trying tech touch too early wobbled Contentsquare retention rates. 00:08:32
How to set up a customer health score for your company.. 00:13:40


[00:00:41] Andrew Michael: Hey, Gareth. Welcome to the show. 

[00:01:28] Gareth Drabble: Hey Andrew. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:32] Andrew Michael: It's a pleasure for the listeners. Gareth is the director of customer success for Northern Europe, Contentsquare , a digital experience analytics cloud that helps companies understand hidden customer behaviors and use those insights to drive more successful experiences prior to Contentsquare growth was previously working in digital analytics at Deloitte Digital.

So my first question for you to go with is what position were you playing at Leeds? 

[00:01:57] Gareth Drabble: Yeah, very good question. So [00:02:00] before I found the exciting world of software and that experience analytics, I was playing rugby. So I went through the academy system at Leeds and was a budding back row. But unfortunately there were people far bigger, far, quicker, far better than me.

So I wasn't able to make the stack up to, to fully go pro there's one loss that 

[00:02:23] Andrew Michael: lasted. Yeah. I noticed that on the on your LinkedIn profile is also quite obvious. I grew up in South Africa, played rugby as well, like all through high school. Like I was assigned. 

[00:02:35] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. Skinny. Want to be professional rugby player.

[00:02:38] Andrew Michael: I didn't read that. That's what I was checking. I know for me, it was always like, definitely like the tiniest person on the pitch, but nice. So yeah, you mentioned like you, you got into sort of this digital experience space, and I think that was the one thing that stood out for me. There was very interesting with your background is the different roles that you've had.

It almost seemed coming into Contentsquare. You came in as a domain expert, [00:03:00] somebody who had been working in the field and helping people improve their user experience using various methods, and then coming into constant square, like starting a customer success practice there with your domain expertise, your domain knowledge.

So I'm interested, like how did that journey evolve and how did it come to be? Like, what was it that sort of led you into this path into content? 

[00:03:22] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. Good. Good question. Contentsquares come in from. The background or been a UX agency or consultancy where we do, ad hoc projects for clients.

And we didn't have a subscription model. So over the course of the years, we've been on this journey to build a user interface that we can sell to our customers and to really grow and scale at a rapid. So I actually joinedContentsquare as an account manager and the job description at the time was look after four to five customers and manage the whole end to end relationship from [00:04:00] implementation, onboarding the analytics work, which is probably like my domain expertise and manage the renewals on the side of that as well.

But really what I. Contentsquare to me was the products and being able to get my hands on user piece of software that I really believed in. And that's what kind of led me that led me to. 

[00:04:21] Andrew Michael: Yeah, it's something like I've actually heard from a couple of other guests on the show where they started using a product.

The actual product itself became a domain expert and you had interest in we're super interested in the technology and that's what pushed them into it, fax it. Okay. I know the specialty. I know this product. Like I can help others do it and I can help others get set up and so forth.

A lot's changed since you joined? Like obviously now today as well as actually the day of recording is a day Hotjar and Contentsquare announced the acquisition. I know like Contentsquare's got some huge plans now for growing maybe quickly, like just share a little bit of news for us on what this means for Contentsquare and Hotjar.

[00:04:59] Gareth Drabble: Yeah obviously [00:05:00] a coincidence that you and I are having this conversation today w with your background at Hotjar the news is very hot off the press. So not an awful lot has filtered through to the teams. But from what we can see is, it's a super exciting opportunity for both companies really Oh, is that Contentsquare.

We see ourselves as being the market leader in that enterprise offering with a, with an experience on the ticks. Hotjar is almost a household name within e-commerce and absolutely is the leader in that SMB. What, where we see us combining forces to add a lot of value is trying to take over that mid market offering.

So merging a little bit of the Contentsquare offering with the Hotjar offering. I'm providing something that's a bit more targeted at that mid market range. 

[00:05:49] Andrew Michael: Yeah, it makes total sense to me as well after saying it's like you mentioned just before the show, it was not surprising in some ways, but it wasn't surprising and others as well, you could see, like it was a natural [00:06:00] fits and it sounds like there's going to be some exciting things coming up for the both of you and for both teams.

So pretty excited to see where this goes. There's also some. Big movement that you're trying to grow the team quite a bit. I swung the announcement what are the plans they're like, how does this affect maybe your org and customer success as well? 

[00:06:18] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. Good question. From about month six of being at content scrounge, I'm coming up to five years now.

We introduced the customer success manager role and ever since then, we've been on a journey to have helped make the products a bit more. Self-serve. Grow and scale the team and scale the offering that we have and we're on this journey. It's definitely not this finished article. So for me, the acquisition of Hotjar won't impact us an awful lot in the short to mid term.

We'll still concentrate on the core Contentsquare customer how we service the enterprise client. And our [00:07:00] strategic clients and focus on how we continue to best serve. 

[00:07:05] Andrew Michael: Yep. And in terms of the context of your actual team, that was also, I get my things. Aren't going to change much for the short term, which makes a lot of sense as well.

And you can play into each other's strengths, but for your plans for your organization now I'd like Contentsquare I see as well that you've got quite a lot of roles open when it comes to customer success on that side. So it looks like there's a lot of growth in the area. What is fueling this growth for your customer success team?

Like what is the plan. Thinking about structuring the team now, as you start. 

[00:07:35] Gareth Drabble: That there's an awful lot of work that we've done. We're on to our fourth reorganization of the customer success team in the past couple of years. One of the things that's probably changed most recently is we built a strategic success manager.

So these, this team will look after around four to eight clients each. And then we'll split that off to the enterprise success managers who manage [00:08:00] more around that 15 type of arc. So it's still pretty high touch, but it's allowing us to really focus and provides the best support that we can for our largest, most strategic.

[00:08:12] Andrew Michael: And maybe took us through that structural bit. So like your success org is mainly, obviously in called the square more enterprise level customers that you deal with predominantly . Is there like a makeup between high touch and low touch or is it like predominantly, just high touch model? Like how do you split up the customer success org?

[00:08:32] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. So today it's all high touch. If we're being perfectly honest over the next sort of 12, 18 months, we want to introduce more of a tech touch. And we try to do this a couple of years ago. We often have buzzwords for a year and Contentsquare and a couple of years ago, our buzz word was scalability.

If I had a penny or a son, probably time ahead, the word scalable or scalability said during a meeting, I'd be [00:09:00] a, I'd be a very rich man by now. So we try to probably scale the customer success. Team and offering a little bit too early, probably before the product was ready. And before. Yeah.

Tech offering of support was ready as well. Like we'd only really just launched our e-learning platform by that point. So we hadn't fully strapped stress tested it. We hadn't really checked that it was a adequate way to, for customers to onboard and really self-serve themselves. So we tried to go early and We learned from our mistakes.

We saw our retention rates wobble on the back of that. And we reverted back to what we knew, which was this really kind of high touch model. And then we've obviously developed a lot of learnings over the past couple of years. The offering that we have online now through our, and a platform through our community, it's not really.

And it now gives us the confidence to really push certain customers down that route [00:10:00] and provide a bit more of a specific offer. That is more mid touch rather than high touch. 

[00:10:06] Andrew Michael: I'm not attached to say giving a combo between the two. How big is the team now? The org now customer 

[00:10:12] Gareth Drabble: success. Oh, sweet.

We've got over 200 and end customer successful worldwide now. So I manage a team of 35 to 40 that cover that Northern Europe. 

[00:10:24] Andrew Michael: Oh, so it's definitely grown a lot, the last four or five years. Incredible. Thinking a little bit about Contentsquare as well. Like dealing mainly with enterprise clients when it comes to churn and retention what are some of the key metrics that you look at and what are some of the main areas where you focus?

So I think typically with enterprise clients, they are looking at longer contract deals. Like your retention is always typically a lot better, even if negative when it comes to churn. What are some of the things like the team focuses on in the customer success org and how you, how do you spend your days in customer success?[00:11:00] 

[00:11:00] Gareth Drabble: Yeah, so we spent a lot of time looking at our health score over the past, probably three years. And we started off with just an Excel spreadsheet where we pulled in all of the available. Pieces of data that we had about our clients and we spent months just playing with the algorithms. And like I say, algorithms that they really aren't that complicated.

It was just some logic within it with an Excel sheet. Yeah, exactly. And we just played around trying to create a one single health score metric. And we'd have a go at a model and we'd compare the scores to what our gut feel was about that customer. And eventually we got to a point where we were pretty confident that this was help us to predict actually it wasn't to predict churn initially it was to predict adoption.

So what we looked at was the top kind of 10, 20 healthiest, highest adopting customers. And what were the kind of characteristics that [00:12:00] defined. And then we mapped out the rest of the customer base and said, how far away from this, average of the top 10 are these clients and it gave us really good insight into how healthy are they.

And in which areas do we actually need to focus to help to drive that. And obviously intern adoption led to hyper attention within that base. And in turn that kind of ended up being our health score. And so for us key things that we look up adoption is number one. That's the way that we really understand how healthy a customer is.

And we break that down in a number of different ways. So we look at number of connections to the platform. And then we look at the different types of active users and we split that out by casual, regular and intense. And that essentially relates to casual being monthly, regular, weekly, and an intense being daily.[00:13:00] 

So that's particularly helpful. And then we add in like classic things, like number of support tickets, escalations NPS scores and all the kind of classic metrics. 

[00:13:13] Andrew Michael: Super interesting. Cause it's two sides of the fence. Previous sale was like business intelligence at Hotjar and pretty much the same sort of buckets.

We call them core like casual core and power users, but similarly like the frequency of usage being met. And we also started out looking at a health score. Retention predictor. So similarly, but a two or two, it was, and it started out an Excel just pulling out a sheets. And so I'm interested let's talk about that a little bit.

So somebody wanting to get a health score set up for the first time maybe walk us through step-by-step like, I know nothing today. I want to get a health score setup for my company. I want to understand either whether it being adoption or attention, what would be the first step I'd need to do to get something off?

[00:13:57] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. So the first thing that we looked at was [00:14:00] we actually built a success framework. So what are the characteristics of our most successful customers? And we bucketed them into four categories. So the first one being product fit. So this is around time to implementation. Number of integrations that we have the next is looking at the customer.

The adoption, do we have the right teams and people in place to, to use. Third's was valued. So how much incremental revenue have we helped to generate for our customers? And do we understand what their KPIs are and what we're really working towards? And then the final axes of that was intimacy.

So looking at the relationships that we have with execs, economic buyers key influences within the client's organization and how frequently we're meeting. 

[00:14:57] Andrew Michael: How are you automate? Was this being automated or was this [00:15:00] like a manual process that's being done by CSMs? Because it sounds like a lot of it is subjective as well.


[00:15:06] Gareth Drabble: So very good question. There's a combination of the, both of the tick. There's a combination of the two. So some of the data is automated. Like I said, it started off in XL. We now use customer success software to. And visualize and automate this for us. There are also triggers within that system where a CSM has to provide their subjective opinion about some of these things.

So it's a combination of what the data's telling us, but also that feel on the ground from the CSM of that gut instinct of what position are we in with this customer. 

[00:15:45] Andrew Michael: Yeah. And I think obviously it makes a lot of sense when it comes to high touch model to include some of these variables into the model.

Did you put any waiting on them? So like you mentioned four different areas was any specific, like waiting which you felt, or you realized it was more [00:16:00] impactful. And how did you go about putting that waiting system together? Was this something looking into the most successful customers and understanding that certain things had specific rates?

What does that 

[00:16:10] Gareth Drabble: yes. Yeah very good question, because we're actually revisiting the algorithm of our health score at the moment. So the current setup that we have is probably 18 months to two years old, and the weightings were based on what we knew. Back then, or what were, what was true back then?

And actually what we've realized is it's outdated. We put a massive waiting on adoption. We're actually now we're starting to feel that there are other components to this, that And give us a true indication of how happy and healthy the customer is. Or we need to incorporate those and make sure that there's the right balance and weights.

And for each of those we'll be playing around with these over the next couple of months to try and get something right by the key takeaway is your health score is never. [00:17:00] It's never finished. There's always tweaks and improvements and learnings that you can continue to add into that. Get something that works and that you're happy with, but don't think it's the finish article and you can forget about it, make sure that you continue to add your learnings and iterate on.

And what'd you go 

[00:17:17] Andrew Michael: ahead. Yeah. Make it work and make it better. I think that's one of the things that you could easily, over-complicate an exercise like this, but like I think I've seen and spoken to a few others on the topics. Like the simplest ones always win. And the ones that typically they're always the same story.

It started out in Excel and it was just like a basic formula. We tried to understand we scored certain variables. If they did X, then they got one point. If they did, why they got two points and looking at the total score you then as well, like mapping that out to things like retention revenue and seeing like the scores correlate with retention.

Did there correlate with revenue and adoption? 

[00:17:52] Gareth Drabble: Absolutely. So across all of these pillars now we now know. Yeah, for [00:18:00] a score less than kind of 55 is a red flag. So an overall score less than 55, that is a red flag and then a score of 55 or below in any one of these pillars is also red tag. The benefit of having this kind of framework approach is we've now learned that if the customer or low score is low, here's the playbook to go and get this back on track and the actions that you need to do.

So it's really helped to structure our thinking in how we analyze the risks in the accounts, but also know in here are the best practices to, to get this particular account back on track. 

[00:18:41] Andrew Michael: That's really interesting. And having that split focus in the different areas and having different playbooks then to tackle each individual problem.

That's very interesting. And then those specific playbooks, like how are they put together? And I'm guessing a similar fashion, just get something out and then iterate over time. But how did you set those up in the beginning? What was the inspiration [00:19:00] like how did you pull together the insights that you're learning from this.

[00:19:04] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. So I think we made a mistake with this initially in a couple of people sat down to write all of the playbooks for everyone and with the assumption that people were just going to adopt them. And and that would be the wave of the way forward. What we realized is you need you need buy-in from the team.

They need to really understand what is inside of the playbook. Why is it there? Where has it been successful before? And for them to have the confidence that actually this is the path and the truck that we need to follow. 

[00:19:41] Andrew Michael: Cool. Yeah, I think it's interesting as well from that side, just. It sounds so simple in practice, I think.

But a lot of times you dealing with customers with emotions, circumstances outside of your control. And it sounds magical just to have like a playbook that anybody in the company can pick up in any [00:20:00] time and run with it and know that this is something that's been effective and most likely will work as well in your scenario.

But it must take a lot of time and experience to get to that point where you've hit your head against the wall. A few times you've made many mistakes and then this comes down to the collective effort and knowledge of the team. Yeah, 

[00:20:18] Gareth Drabble: I th I think the playbook is it's more inspiration rather than a definitive guide that this will fix things.

They are an aggregated view of best practices that we've seen work elsewhere that we've tried to put in a logical and chronological order to address a particular issue or risk. Yeah. It's down to the CSM to. Look at what we're suggesting within the playbook and apply that to that particular client and the context and understanding that.

[00:20:53] Andrew Michael: Can I ask a question to ask every guest that joins the show? Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now that you joined a new company [00:21:00] churn and retenionnot doing great at that company. And the CEO comes to you and says, Hey, Gareth, like you're in charge. We needed to prove results fast. We have 90 days to turn things around.

What are you gonna do? The catches. You're not going to go say I'm going to speak to customers and figure out the biggest pain points and then start there. What you're going to do is just pick something that you've seen work in the past from one of your playbooks and run with that. What would be one thing you'd want to do to try and reduce churn quickly.

[00:21:32] Gareth Drabble: Can I accept, I won't speak to customers to understand what their pain points are, but ask that I can speak to customers to understand what value we're driving for them that it's either tangible or intangible for both happy and unhappy customers. Because I think that gives that will give you a really good understanding of.

What makes a successful partnership for both of you on the customer and how can you spot where the [00:22:00] gaps are for those clients, where that isn't the case and try and promote that particular behavior or activity. Is that allows, 

[00:22:09] Andrew Michael: you can worm your way out of this. 

[00:22:12] Gareth Drabble: Okay. That's the first thing I do. Like you really need to understand on the customer side, on the customer side, what value are we driving for them so that you can understand the narrative that you're going to say and put forward to those who potentially are on the right path.

Yeah, I'm going to lean back to my health score obsession and say, this is definitely some of the I'd want to understand what data do we have available at this company today that will indicate which clients are happy. Or unhealthy or whatever it might be. So once I've got those two things in place, the next thing that I do just to scrutinize which accounts are renewing in the next two, two to three quarters, and then overlay ACV, and [00:23:00] then the health score data, or that any kind of data that we've got that indicates that the health of that customer and then bucket clients into three.

So which clients are we confident at going to. And we don't need to put an awful lot of effort in there. Maybe we lean on the account management team to do some easy renewals for us to take some off our plate. The next would identify the. Clients that are at risk, but that worth saving, because they've either got high ACV or relatively high ACP on, they've got some indicators that we can fix things based on the data that we know.

And then unfortunately if churn is a real risk, then we're probably going to have to categorize a third category that said these clients are super low ACV. They're not going to impact our overall retention numbers for these quarter and realistic, really looking at the data. We've got little chance of saving them.

That means we can really focus our effort on [00:24:00] that second segment, where we go. They're at risk they're worth saving. Let's really focus on security. I need is your first segment and your second segment for the sum of the ACV to be above what your attention target needs to be for those for those courses to 

[00:24:18] Andrew Michael: see if she needed to depend to the third segment to try very nice.

I like that leaning back on the health scores again, let's last question that I have for you today is what's one thing that you know today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with your.

[00:24:38] Gareth Drabble: Yeah. Good question. I think it's exactly intimacy. So this is probably certainly a learning for me. Come in as a domain expert, I spent an awful lot of time working with the end users of. Our solution so that at the end users of Contentsquare and built [00:25:00] unbelievable relationships with them they knew exactly how to use the tool.

I was, we were pretty much an extended part of that team and that's how we were operating as a CSM team. But we weren't having enough strategic conversations with executives, economic buyers. So most of the time they weren't aware of all of the. And a resource that we're putting in to the kind of lower levels of the organization.

And really, you need to make sure that you have in those kind of value checking conversations with the economic buyer. So they're aware of the successes that you've had and the return on investment that they're getting from. 

[00:25:41] Andrew Michael: Yeah, makes sense. Definitely. I think this is something we see as well as and also growing the number of connections that you have really helps reduce churn on the other end.

Very nice Gareth, it's been a pleasure chatting today. I really enjoyed hearing how you built out the team at Contentsquare congrats as [00:26:00] well on the news today.

Very exciting stuff for you going forward and wish you best of luck now through this transition period. 

[00:26:07] Gareth Drabble: Thanks on to reenter the conversation creates a great chat. 

[00:26:11] Andrew Michael: Cheers.


Gareth Drabble
Gareth Drabble

The show

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.


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