Determining who the Users are
The first step is in reverse – taking a step back, to get into the user’s shoes and look at the process from their side. Questions to ask are along the lines of ‘who’ and ‘how’:
Who will be using the platform:
- How many users?
- What roles do the users have – are they managerial or staff, and do many of the users have the same role?
How will they be using the product:
- Is the implementation SaaS or on-premises?
- Will some or all the users be connecting remotely?
- Which mobile platforms will need to be supported?
- Is their usage concentrated in specific hours?
Questions like these are important to be able to determine the roles and authorizations within the platform. For the vendor, obtaining this information helps raise issues such as requirements to create new roles, security concerns with remote access, load on the system and other issues that affect configuration and usage.
Creating a Strategic Customer Success Plan
Although each customer has their own requirements and processes to which the vendor has to adapt, in our extensive experience serving global customers, we have found the following methodology provides the framework for a successful partnership.
Designating a CSM
This step provides the most impact – designating a Customer Success Manager (CSM) to each customer, has significantly increased the measure of success. Although the CSM is not able to fix every issue, they are responsible for ensuring that a solution is found, providing a single point of contact. Users can rest assured that they have a champion who is proactively looking out for their interests and enabling smooth operations.
The CSM ensures that issues are dealt with quickly, and is able to answer requests for more training and advocates for the customer in the vendor’s product enhancement roadmap. The designated CSM does not preclude ongoing CSM support for implementation and usage issues, but acts as the coordinator for issues and communication, bringing in technical experts, trainers, and others as needed.
Annual Implementation Plan
The CSM is also responsible for an Annual Implementation Plan, which summarizes the objectives and plan of the coming year, with the goal of maximizing usage of the system. This plan also includes insights from System Utilization reports which are generated a few times per year, to indicate how the system is being used and if adjustments are required.
Achieving a positive relationship with customers is often challenging; building and maintaining a strategic Customer Success Plan can go far to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship, with the vendor accepting feedback to improve the product and the relationship, and with dedicated personnel who champion their customer within the vendor organization.
Additional ways to promote a positive customer-vendor relationship are discussed in our next post Improving Adoption of Software Solutions.