Updated: Jul 3
You want to set your customer up for success. Simple, you’ve got a customer success department, so they can handle that little problem. Wrong. The differences between customer success and professional services are becoming less and less pronounced. Success has to be at the heart of your customer relationship even prior to its inception.
Consider success as the experience that the customer has along the way and map where it will be garnered across the timeline for your relationship. Know where it will be built from Pre-sales - Sales - Delivery - Customer Success - Account Management
Let’s zoom in on success in three of those key areas.
Customer Success actually starts at the pre-sales phase and it is key in defining what behaviours you want to encourage. You can do this in a variety of ways:
Standardize Onboarding - we know there’s not a one size fits all approach to onboarding for many companies but if you’re going to scale you’ll require certain tolerances in order not to over-customize or over-service your onboarding. Arming pre-sales with a set of onboarding packages not only helps diagnose the approach to take, but both the customer and the internal delivery team are on a page. It can also set up repeatable parameters so you can likely onboard faster and to a higher volume of customers, rather than burning time on super bespoke implementations.
Delivery / Pre-sales Meetings - if you don’t have a dedicated pre-sales support team then you’ll likely have to have your delivery team requiring regular downloads from pre-sales. Formalise this process so there’s a distinct set of meetings prior to signing the client in order to plan and forecast the work required. Complex deals will require this in order to drive effective and roadmapped handovers.
Transitions - from pre-sales to sales there needs to be clear transitions and hand-offs with distinct processes for data and information sharing. A client won’t want to be repeating themselves to each new team they encounter, a common reason for low NPS scores.
Want to discover more methods of setting up pre-sales for success? Download our playbook for the full list.
This might sound obvious but all key customer stakeholders need to be at the kick-off meeting, including the executive sponsor.
The kick-off meeting provides an opportunity to set the tone for the forthcoming engagement and on-going governance, whatever form that governance might take (potentially fashioned around one of your standardized onboarding packages). These could be:
Weekly Status Reports
There is further opportunity to demonstrate your delivery and company competencies by coaching the customer through the onboarding process. You’ll want them leaving confident in having selected your product or services, which will likely elicit positive behaviours from them throughout the delivery timeline, for example providing you with more time with them if required.
Again, the customer should never have to repeat their challenges or desired outcomes, so during kick-off re-outline the business case thereby providing additional confidence and bringing all key stakeholders on both sides onto the same page.
The final parts that should be established with the Kick-off are:
Defining the roles & responsibilities for the project on both sides.
Understanding the scope and highlighting “expectation gaps” which might need to be managed.
Confirm delivery plan.
Confirm key delivery dependencies.
Understand how the customer defines value in their own words so you can operate towards delivering the outcomes they truly desire, and not just getting to “delivered”.
Now for the transition to Customer Success (CS):
Agree internally as to when CS gets actively involved and what the project should look like at that stage - note this should be during delivery, not after, so there is not an air gap in handover and CS is aware of any challenges that have already arisen.
When offering professional services, CS should shadow parts of engagement to not only understand what has been delivered but perhaps more importantly why it was being delivered in the first place.
Akin to delivery, CS needs to know the customer definition of value realization, but in this instance see whether the goal posts have shifted during the post sales implementation.
Customer Success can educate (or re-educate in some instances) on resources available to the customer whether that be further training, additional support or toolkits; agree on what are the best ways to continuously provide ongoing value to the customer.
So in this battlefield, it's not about one department vs. another. All key areas need to work seamlessly together to achieve success the customer can see throughout their journey.