Have you ever noticed how many organizations jump to deploy software in hopes it will fix large organizational performance issues? They hope that providing tools - like SharePoint, CRM, ERP, and myriad social sharing systems - that enable collaboration will actually result in improved collaboration.
But spending a lot of time and money on a technical solution alone will not fix an organizational and people problem.
Don’t be silly. Nothing will fix Congress.
Regardless of your political views, the US Congress is a shining example of an organization which does not embrace collaboration.
There are deep differences in values, complex rules and processes that prevent collaboration, a complete lack of accountability, and misaligned incentives. (Let's be honest, most elected officials’ primary concern is their own personal career and desire to win re-election.) This means there is never a shortage of poor performance and finger-pointing.
In short, there are complex levels of organizational dysfunction that no amount of technology alone will fix.
Deploying enterprise collaboration software doesn’t mean your enterprise will collaborate
Enterprise collaboration technology does have the potential to add great value to your organization, and, in many organizations, it does just that. However, it is important to recognize that in order for people to actually change their attitudes and work behaviors to embrace collaboration requires that you look at the people and organizational realities - the actual social (non-technical) systems operating within your organization. If you don’t address these social (non-technical) elements no amount of technology will improve your organization.
Before your invest in collaboration software, ask yourself how your organization is like Congress
Before you even begin to define requirements and evaluate software tools, make sure you ask yourself, “How is my organization like Congress”? Identify all of the people, organizational, process, policy, and operational elements that will drive or prevent actual collaboration. Make sure you have mapped out a strategy – with resources – to address these elements. If you don’t know how to do it, be sure to get help from qualified experts.
Sounds like a lot of hard work? It is. And not many people have the knowledge, understanding and experience in addressing the non-technical aspects of collaboration. But if you don’t correctly handle these elements, your collaboration technology effort will fail before it even begins.
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In the olden days (you know, about a week ago), before the rise of cloud computing, software vendors could use a lot of big words, slick demos, and fancy marketing props to entice people to buy a system. They were selling hope.
Sales are easy. Customer Retention is hard.
And many vendors are feeling the pain. The above video from Adobe does a great job of highlighting the issue. SaaS systems, with low upfront fees and the relatively easy ability to switch to a completely different system, enables customers to learn for themselves what your system can deliver.
Subscription pricing means you need to prove your worth. Everyday.
The impact: every time you have a renewal sales discussion, your customer immediately knows if you are BSing them or not. And they won’t tolerate BS.
Ensure your customers' success if you want to keep them.
What this means is SaaS vendors need to ensure they stop BSing customers and start ensuring their success. Make sure your customer has achieved measurable business value from investing in your system. To do this, evolve your sales, implementation, and customer management processes.
Help customers address the two biggest issues they face – namely, driving and maintaining full, effective user adoption of the system AND realizing the clear, measurable business benefits. If you can’t do this, your only choice is to try to BS your customer.
Good luck with that.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.
Increasingly, investors and SaaS leaders are recognizing that customer retention is essential for their success. As a result, they are rushing to build Customer Success Management (CSM) programs that will help their customers maximize IT adoption and ROI from their systems.
However, they are facing significant challenges because Customer Success Management is new to most organizations and they are not sure exactly how to get started or what to do first. They don’t always know that right question to ask, how to allocate scarce resources, or how to prioritize their efforts to get the best results.
Investing in a CSM strategy will save you time & effort
The first place to start is to create a CSM strategy and road map. Your CSM strategy should identify exactly what you are trying to achieve, define how you will achieve it, specify who will make it happen, and provide a clear road map moving forward. Your CSM strategy will help develop a shared understanding and vision for what you are trying to achieve. It will also enable you to move forward with confidence while allowing you to avoid costly pitfalls and mistakes that can threat your CSM program before it even gets going.
So, how do you create an effective Customer Success Management strategy? Here are 5 things to help you get started. Keep in mind that this is often an iterative process, and decisions you make later on may require that you revisit some of your earlier decisions.
1. Define your goals
Not surprisingly, the first step is to figure out exactly what you want your CSM team to do and the results they need to achieve. This will set the goalpost from which you will determine the specific staffing, services, tools and methods you will need in your CSM team. It will also help you identify the budget you will need to allocate for building and maintaining your CSM capabilities.
2. Define roles, responsibilities and org structure
One of the first questions people ask is what exactly should the CSMs do and where do they fit within the organization? Should the CSMs be responsible for sales and renewals, or just for driving customer IT adoption and satisfaction? Do they report to sales? Do they report to customer service? Sales? And what authority do they have when it comes to working with other departments internally (like sales, product management, professional services, customer support)?
3. Develop CSM methodology, tool and processes
Once you have figured out what you are trying to achieve and how you will work internally, identify the specific tools and processes you will need to make it happen. This may involve internal-focused tools, such as having a way to identify and report on actual customer-use of your system, and externally-focused tools, such as creating a CSM consulting methodology / toolbox that you use when working directly with your customers. You may require a combination of tools such as IT systems (like the one offered by Apptegic), spreadsheets, presentation slides, email templates, report templates, and other such things that enable your CSM team to deliver a consistent, effective, high-quality CSM service.
When building your CSM strategy you only need to identify and prioritize the methodology and tool development requirements. You don’t actually create all the tools until after the strategy is finalized since it may go through a few iterations before you have final agreement on how to move forward.
4. Recruit and develop exceptional staff
Identify how you will recruit and develop exceptional staff. This may include identifying a high-level profile of the types of temperament, skills and required experience levels you will want for your CSM team. And, it should outline how you plan to quickly on-board the CSM staff, train them, and ensure they are able to get up to speed quickly.
Just a quick word of caution: at its core, CSM is about driving IT adoption of systems. In order to be effective, CSMs need to understand the root cause of IT adoption problems and have a firm grasp of the proactive steps you can take to increase adoption. This is knowledge and skill that, generally, are in short supply. You may need to provide additional training and development to help your CSM staff learn the skills they need to be fully effective in this role.
5. Manage the roll-out (internally & externally)
Introducing your CSM capabilities requires changes both internally to your organization and externally with how you interact with customers. Both can be major transitions and you will want to map out in advance how you will manage these changes.
For your internal roll--out, consider how introducing CSMs will change the way existing staff perform their jobs. Have you changed the job responsibilities of sales and service staff? Will having the CSM team impact revenue and renewal targets for sales professionals? How will you go about informing people about the new service? Introducing the CSM function will kick off a domino effect of changes to all other parts of your organization.
For your external (customer) roll-out, be careful how you introduce the CSM function to both new and existing customers. Take care to ensure you set accurate expectations about what the CSM team will – and will not – deliver to customers. Also, you may want to consider if you want to pilot the CSM effort with select customers before rolling it out to everyone.
Be part of the conversation. Join the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn