Health scoring programs give you a clear picture of how strong your customer relationships are at any given time —- except when they don’t.

Just about every customer success professional has watched a customer with a good health score suddenly churn. Alternatively, you might deal with a lot of false positives, flagging customers who are perfectly happy with your services.

After putting in the time to track engagement metrics and predict user behavior, seeing your health scoring program fail so spectacularly is enough to tear your hair out.

If your customer health scores seem to be missing the mark, chances one of these issues is the culprit.

1. Using the wrong benchmarks

Most health scoring programs use a simple red, yellow and green grading system. It’s a straightforward way to tell which customers are in a good place and which ones are at risk for churn.

But what separates a “good” health score from a “bad” one? If you haven’t defined what those signifiers mean, then you can’t be sure they’re telling you the full story.

Let’s go back to that customer who canceled seemingly out of nowhere. They could have had a strong health score because they were using the platform almost every day. But active users aren’t necessarily happy users. Maybe they were searching for specific features and coming up empty. Perhaps they struggled to get certain tools to work, requiring more time and bumping up their user activity.

One-dimensional health scores don’t offer much insight into the customer experience, so it’s important to set the right benchmarks that accurately align with user sentiment.

2. Getting too complex, too quickly

Overly complicated health scores can be just as unhelpful as ones that are too simplistic.

When you add too many variables from the outset, it can be impossible to tell how those factors influence health scores. Taking a slow and steady approach, especially if you’re just getting started or have had a bad experience with health scores, is your best bet.

Don’t add a new variable into the mix until you can already determine the impact that existing criteria have on health scores, customer sentiment and predicative indicators. Will that take more time? Absolutely, but your health scores will be spot on.

3. Treating health scores as risk indicators

A lot of customer success teams see health scoring programs primarily — or even solely — as risk indicators. While flagging churn risks is certainly a major perk of customer health scores, that’s only scratching the surface of health scoring’s benefits.

A health score should tell you so much more about your customers: Where they need help, where you’re missing upsell opportunities, which customers can be converted into brand advocates, etc. It’s no secret that it’s easier to sell to existing users than bring in new customers. Be sure you’re taking full advantage of your health scores’ insights to identify opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.

When you follow the churn-risk approach, you put customer success managers into reactive mode. They’re likely waiting for a red score to pop up before reaching out. Not good.

A strong health scoring program will help customer success teams proactively engage users and know when to extend a helping hand, highlight a new product or, yes, do some damage control.

4. Neglecting customer success team insights

Health scores don’t negate the importance of your customer success team’s firsthand experience. Any customer health score strategy worth its salt will incorporate hard data and analytics with more subjective insights.

You might find that what your customer experience managers are seeing and hearing doesn’t always line up with your health score information. You can’t dismiss one side or the other. Your health scores could be flawed. CSMs might have a bad read on the situation. In either case, any discrepancy needs to be examined to find out where the real truth lies.

5. Giving customer success teams unclear insights

Combing through health score data can feel like digging out of an information avalanche for customer success teams. With less time than ever to spend on each account, customer success professionals need to cut straight to the point.

Bombarding staff with charts and data will only overwhelm them. You need to place actionable insights into their hands without making them work for it.

Take another look at what your health scores represent. Would a CSM know how to respond to those scores in different situations?

If the answer is “probably not” or “I’m not sure,” then you need to rethink your approach.

Cards on the table here: It takes time to get health scores right. But if you put in the work, you’ll build lasting relationships with customers who adore you.