Keys to aligning your organization to focus on customer success.
Customer Needs and the Customer Experience Cycle
The Success Experience
Most organizations spend a disproportionate amount of time working on the process to acquire customers but not as much time on the long-term success for them. Helping a customer realize value is typically the domain of the services and/or customer success functions within a company. But as with every other part of the customer experience, the whole of the organization plays a role in each step. Understanding what’s happening with your customer helps the organization align squarely behind the customer’s needs.
Implementation – Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
A funny thing can happen between the time a decision to implement a new solution gets made and the time it is rolled out. Sometimes, the project team will get bogged down in the ins and outs of bringing the solution to life and lose focus on why the project was being done in the first place. Keeping an eye on the business case and how you are tracking towards realizing value may be the most obvious best practice ever. However, I’m continually surprised on how many projects don’t do it well. The customer success focused organization explicitly leverages methodologies, builds in checkpoints, conducts executive reviews, develops internal quality assurance programs and communication plans to keep the organization apprised of progress and focused on what is most important.
Success isn’t judged by a successful project execution. While a project may be executed flawlessly, the customer may not realize value for months after launch. Further, post-launch, a risk much greater than any technical or project risk arises – low adoption. Just as the customers needed assistance understanding the value change will bring when defining the solution, organizations are equally challenged to assimilate all impacted people and fully leverage new tools, processes, and capabilities. Many software companies have adopted Customer Success Managers. That’s a critical step, but at Saggezza, we’ve tried to take it one step further by incorporating customer success managers and specialized resources into our services solutions. Whether that means offering data scientists or other specialized resources to work alongside customers in the critical early months after rollout, we believe providing a whole solution is critical to ensuring value is realized.
Bring new ideas constantly
As customers work their way around the success experience, the final milestone is Evaluate and Plan. Customers begin to reflect on the solution, asking,
“Have we gotten the value we expected?”
“Have we gotten the value your best customers have achieved?”
“What more should we be doing to maximize the value of our investment?”
Retaining business requires being proactive in how you, as the solution provider, help the customer answer these questions. Even when a solution has delivered on every aspect of the business case, the savings, revenue gain, or efficiency achieved from one project quickly becomes table stakes. New ideas are needed to propel customers back through the solution experience.
At Saggezza, we challenge ourselves to bring new ideas to our customers regularly. This is where having an entire organization passionate about customer success pays the most dividends. A services or customer success team cannot possibly deliver new ideas relevant to every customer. But if your whole organization brings ideas to bear, it’s a force multiplier for your organization. Activities like “Shark Tanks” or simply sharing success stories internally are a great way to stimulate innovation and help drive the cycle of continuously challenging the customer to take on the next thing. For Saggezza, it is part of our culture and I would argue a part of the culture of all best-in-class customer success organizations.