Adopting new technology is a challenge for any organization; adopting new technology to support Customer Success is no exception. Utilize these 5 lessons learned to be ahead of the game.

Unique to Customer Success technology adoption is the relative immaturity of both Customer Success organizations and technology compared to other business functions. This combination can cause complete misses and perhaps even worse misses that appear salvageable only to limp along and underperform for years.

 

Leverage our Customer Success and Customer Experience Assessment Tool for a detailed list of Customer Success assessment questions.

 

To avoid an unsuccessful Customer Success initiative, consider the following lessons learned:

 

  1. DEMO to a Wide Audience

     

    The most painful mistakes are the public ones.

     

    Finding out post implementation that a product does not do what was expected can be a difficult experience. Customer Success organizations by their very nature are interdisciplinary and require buy-in from multiple functions.

     

      As tempting as it can be for a Customer Success leader to own its own technology acquisition, it is important that other functions be consulted throughout the acquisition process.  Likewise it is important the tool users, Customer Success Managers (CSMs), are heavily involved in product selection to ensure that it is user friendly.

     

  1. Phase Adoption – Basic Usage then Advanced Usage

     

    A recent client adopted a new Customer Success platform and saw immediate benefits. Within the first six weeks the client was able to gain better insight into its customer health – number of licenses used, usage of specific product features, etc.  They were thrilled with their new knowledge and began to score customer health to help forecast renewal risk.  It was only several months later that they fully realized the value of triggers (identifiers when the customer was not using the product as intended) and updated their renewal risk model to incorporate trigger information.

     

    The lesson here is that you cannot fully adopt a new customer success system all at it once.  Stagger adoption, at least into two buckets – basic and advanced.  Once basic adoption is complete (1-3 months) move to advance adoption.  Seek additional training at the start of each phase – you will learn things you didn’t learn during the previous training.

     

  1. Define Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) Upfront

     

    When planning a Customer Success implementation clearly define expected objectives and key results upfront.

     

    Most Customer Success projects include Return on Investment (ROI) as a key objective.

     

    How will implementing Customer Success technology improve ROI?  Will it decrease churn, increase cross-sell/upsell, improve efficiency, bolster referrals? What are the key results expected to achieve the objective in the short-term and long-term? Will increasing usage (number of licenses) translate into decreased churn? Will promoting specific features (additional trainings) generate additional cross-sell/upsell?

     

    Defining specific OKRs enables you to clearly evaluate competing products and select the most appropriate technology.

 

  1. Create a Project Charter and Ensure the Team Has a Project (Mobilizer) Champion

     

    A customer success project charter serves as the foundation of the project, it contains the project mission, values, team roles and responsibilities and important metrics. Defining the project metrics helps to solidify project goals

     

 

Creating a project stakeholder map and identify a project champion helps to align the entire organization round the project. It sets boundaries up front for time expectations for each resources and helps to visualize the  how the team will work together.  Most importantly it identifies a project champion.  This must be someone in the organization that has the experience and clout to drive the project to success.  A good project charter will provide direction to the organization and empower the project mobilizer to achieve results.

 

  1. Don’t Adopt Customer Success Technology Until the Function Is Ready

     

    Building a well-defined Customer Success motion is an integral part of any companies’ revenue protection model.

     

    Acquiring a new Customer Success tool can catalyze this function.  However, integrating a Customer Success tool to your current CRM without developing a proper Customer Success function is a waste of money.

     

    It’s important to holistically assess your Customer Success function before implementing new technology.  Do you know the answer to the following questions –

     

    • Can our CEO and senior leaders clearly articulate our Customer Experience aspirations? How that will impact our growth rate? This vision is articulated into 3-5 strategic thrusts for the coming year that align various functions on Customer Experience excellence

       

    • Do we have an end to end view of the Customer Journey, from the time they begin considering alternatives, the buying process, usage, and any challenges they may run across? Do we understand each touchpoint in terms of customer expectations, pain points, delighters, and overall importance to their journey?

       

    • Is our customer success budget in line with our industry? Do we invest enough in developing process and establishing performance conditions? Can we demonstrate the ROI of our team? Can we confidently estimate this quarter’s renewal rate, and have defined processes to identify and respond to customers with risk signals?

       

If you could not answer any of these questions it’s best to complete a Customer Success diagnostic prior to embarking on any new CS technology acquisitions. For a more detailed list of Customer Success assessment questions, download the Customer Success and Customer Experience Assessment Tool.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Looking for a unique, facility for your next executive off-site? If so, book a 1-2 day meeting at The Studio, located in Dallas, TX. Our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matthew O'Connor

Collaborates with clients to identify and capture revenue growth opportunities.

Matt helps clients develop sales and marketing plans, and mobilize key revenue growth initiatives. Matt delivers analytical rigor, effective communication, and a bias towards action to all client engagements. He applies a hands on approach to project management and implementation.

 

Prior to Joining SBI, Matt previously worked as a management consultant at AlixPartners and A.T. Kearney. He has experience in mergers and integrations, operations, and technology across a variety of industries including Retail, Transportation, and Aerospace.  Matt has a bachelors in Business Administration from Babson College, and a Masters in Business Administration from INSEAD.

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