User Adoption Insights From Tri Tuns

Putting the Customer back in ‘Customer Success Management’ (CSM)

Customer Success Management - Start with customer's perspectiveI spent some time over the weekend reading various blog articles and LinkedIn discussions about Customer Success Management. I also watched various online video presentations from CSM conferences and corporate websites. At first I was struck by all of the great issues and questions that illuminated the amount of work and complexity involved in creating an effective CSM organization.

And as I continued to watch I noticed another theme emerge. Nearly all of the discussions and videos were focused on how to make sure the vendor, was successful.

But wait, isn’t CSM supposed to be about helping the customer be successful?

Many CSM experts talk about what the vendor wants out of CSM

For the most part, many of the emerging CSM experts are talking about how to maximize customer renewals. They talk about topics like, “Should CSMs have a renewal quota?” and “How should CSMs interact with the sales team?” These are all important and valid discussion that you need to have when building your CSM team.

But they are also very internally focused questions. They are all about what the vendor needs to do to so that the vendor benefits.

You can’t stop the discussion here. Actually, you shouldn’t even start the discussion here.

…with very little talk of what will actually make the customer successful

Think back to the reasons you even first started thinking about setting up a customer success management team. It was because your customers were not being successful with your product, which, in turn, led them not to renew.

Before you will have any hope of ever solving the renewal problem, you need to solve the customer success problem. This requires that you understand both:

1. The reasons why your customers are not using your product

2. What actions you – and the customer – need to do to change this

Once you do this, then you can turn to the internal questions about to structure and manage your CSM organization.

Do you have a Customer Success Management program? If not, why not? If so, how has it affected your customer churn? 

Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.

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Is it in the system? Require IT use at each project approval stage

The other day I was talking with a woman at a large non-profit that is trying to improve their enterprise knowledge management efforts. She said that they are using a CRM system and SharePoint to manage information related to all of their internal projects. The CRM is used to track all of the people involved and track key activities and SharePoint is used for sharing and storing all project specific knowledge content.

The problem, as you would expect, is that very few people were using either tool. Sure, there were some pockets of success, but for the most part each individual or team would just do their own thing. Obviously, this did little to preserve knowledge and make it accessible for future use.

She needed help and asked me what she could do to increase effective use of the systems.

Do you have different approval stages for your business projects?

When we were talking about how they manage their internal projects, she indicated they have various formal project reviews and approvals required for a project to proceed to the next stage. The reviews are primarily to manage quality and were required in order for the project to get funding. But they didn’t actually check to see if internal processes were followed or if people were growing the institutional knowledge of the organization.

Make complete & accurate IT use a condition for project advancement

Require IT use at each project approval stage.One of the easiest things you can do to help increase effective IT user adoption is to integrate it into the workflow and approval process of your normal work activities. This can apply to internal projects as well as sales reviews.

To be effective, define very specific, measurable system use requirements that must be met in order to gain approval.

This could be things like requiring all related contacts and accounts (specify required fields) are entered, that all major pre-requisite activities are entered (specify required vs. optional activities), and that any required documents are entered. 

Also, make sure that all naming conventions and status fields are correct. This is not just an opportunity to make sure information is entered, it is also an opportunity to maintain the quality of the data.

Include timely system use in individual performance reviews

If you want to encourage regular, timely use of your systems (instead of just ensuring data is entered immediately prior to an internal project review), think about including a quick audit of created dates as part of your project approval process. If an individual did not enter the data within required timeframes  -- and thus deprived other people the ability to make use of the data in a timely way --  you can identify them and then take appropriate action. 

For example, I know of a sales professional at one organization who made his numbers, but didn’t enter the information in the required timeframes. As a result, he was ineligible for a major sought-after reward, namely attending the President’s Club celebration.There are lots of ways you can encourage (or discourage) effective system use as part of your regular business processes. How can you do it in your organization?

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IT User Adoption – a Question of Motivation

This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years. 

In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?

Watch video here.

How do you motivate people to use your IT system?

Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees. 

As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”

Would WIIFM motivate this employee?

Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”. 

Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.

So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.

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Watch out, SaaS vendors…your customers have a BS detector!

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.

Do you have a Customer Success Management program? If not, why not? If so, how has it affected your customer churn? 

Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.

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