The Very First Question a Customer Success Team Needs to Ask
If you are like many customer success managers, you are probably extremely focused on the question, “Will our customers be successful with OUR software”. You and your team probably ask yourselves what you, as a customer success professional, need to do to ensure the customer is successful using your product.
But there is a more important, more fundamental question you need to ask first. That is, you need to ask, “Can our customer be successful with ANY software?”
Shifting this focus is very important. By asking if the customer can be successful with any software, you are identifying if the customer has within its internal organization the knowledge, skills, experience and capacity required to truly get maximum business value from its software investments. You are identifying if the primary problem you need to solve first is related to your customers’ organizational capacity to adopt and benefit from any technology or if the major challenge is specific to your system. Once you understand this very important distinction between the customers’ ability to achieve success with any software versus their ability to achieve success with your specific software, you can focus and prioritize your CS efforts on the right things.
Here’s the problem…
What may come as a big surprise to you, is that most buyers of software don’t actually know how to get their organizations to drive change, get their staff to effectively adopt software, and ensure they get the full business outcomes they expect. The issue is not the software, but a lack of knowledge, experience, and expertise in driving new behaviors and ways of working across the organization to get full value of the software. When we train the buyers of software on user adoption techniques and practices, they are amazed at how many things they are doing wrong that actually prevent their success in getting value from software. The vast majority of these issues are people, organizational, and process issues and are NOT tied to any specific software.
Here’s the solution…
Here are some questions you can ask your customers (or potential customers during the sales process) to identify if the biggest blockers of customer success are tied to your specific product or are related to the customers internal ability to absorb technology within their organizations:
- What do you do internally to drive adoption and business benefits realization when implementing any new system? Do you have a defined user adoption program and methodology?
- How do you ensure systems are quickly adopted and that you sustain effective adoption 3, 5 and 10 years down the road?
- Across your portfolio of software applications, what percent of them are delivering the full business benefits and outcomes to your organization? How many of them would you consider an amazing “success”? What makes them a success?
- What prevents you from getting more value from your existing IT investments?
- What will you do to ensure that your investment in our system is a success and delivers all of the business benefits you expect to achieve?
- What would you like our help with to ensure that your investment in our system is a success and delivers all of the business benefits you expect to achieve?
What to expect…
What you will most likely hear from your customers is that they have a lot of systems that are NOT successful. They probably have a lot of systems that are underused and/or underperforming. There is probably a lot of value leakage in their existing IT investment portfolio. While many of them probably do some limited version of “change management” (typically focused around the go-live date) few of them will probably have a structured, ongoing program to sustain effective system use (and business outcomes realization) over a 5 – 10 year period.
When asking these questions, you will probably start to get a sense that many of your customers are unlikely to be fully successful adopting and getting value from ANY system, not just your system. Before you waste a ton of time, resources and effort trying to narrowly focus just on the success of your product, you will likely need to help your customers recognize that they need to address this fundamental capability gap within their own organization first. They will need to spend time on the basics of software adoption, and then adjust their own internal efforts to get more value from their software investments. Only then will they even have the potential to get full value from their investment in your system.
Interested in learning more?
Tri Tuns provides a variety of Customer Success and Software Adoption training and consulting services to help buyers of software get full value from their IT investments. Contact us to learn how we can help you or your customers increase their potential for software success and develop their own software adoption programs that will deliver success.
Come join us for our fast-paced, insightful, unplugged conversations with two leading “Jasons” in Customer Success. Jason Noble, a UK based visionary Customer Success executive and leader, and Jason Whitehead, a US based Customer Success and Software Adoption leader, discuss a variety of topics and issues of importance in the field of Customer Success. Each month we explore a new and important topic related to Customer Success, so be sure to join each episode in the series!