Engagement & Working with brand new customers

Christian Baliko
Christian Baliko Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited October 11 in Customer Journey
I have got a question around working with SaaS Enterprise software customers and would like to hear some feedback from other CSMs working in the same space.

In the organisation I work for, Customer success is executed via customer success plans (CSPs), customers pay for in advance. Usually, the scenario is that once the sales department seals the deal, the consulting team starts implementing the software. It is only after the completed implementation that a CSM gets the new customer handed over and starts working with them.

Basically, my question is, where and how do you start working with a brand new customer if they have just implemented a software? Please note, image everything was 100% delivered they have asked for that was initially specified in the project agreement, and they are entirely satisfied. Again my question, what's the process or next step to basically drive meaningful engagement to identify the need of the customer?

If somebody could share or provide insight into their practices, that would be much appreciated!

Thanks,

Chris

Comments

  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited January 2022
    Hi @Christian Baliko,
    Our process is to engage through stakeholder feedback -- a short questionnaire in which stakeholders (by persona, that is decision makers, business influencers, administrators, end users, champions, power users, etc) provide their assessment of what's working well and what needs to be improved. Most of the process is automated, but you can't (and shouldn't even try!) to automate relationships as there are fabulous opportunities in this process for CSMs to strengthen the relationship by (1) asking for their feedback in a "humanized" way (vs. all the digital pollution we get bombarded with), and (2) following up to address what you heard.  Driving these interactions along the customer lifecycle is key, so the right context is there to ask the right questions and drive the right discussions at the right time. 

    Of course the details are critical, so I invite you to read these articles providing comprehensive detail on the "how."
    1. https://waypointgroup.org/stop-chasing-renewals-heres-how-to-keep-customers-engaged-so-renewals-and-more-will-just-come/
    2. https://waypointgroup.org/nailing-the-handoff-part-one-onboarding/

    It might seem like "extra work" but please believe me when I say this is data that every company must have anyway if you ever want to get some work-life balance by getting proactive (not to mention the acceleration in NRR growth, reduction in CAC, and cost savings through focused productivity that translates straight to the bottom line).

    Note that an additional benefit to the approach is a robust Voice-of-Customer dataset that would not only be trustworthy (straight from the customers' mouths), but also should represent the buying behaviors (since it's stakeholder focused).  With those insights it's easy to identify those recurring patterns that are creating issues so that they can be stamped out to prevent an issue like that from ever happening again. 

    I know there's a lot to digest here and my only desire is to make sure you have what you need without wasting your time,  I'd sincerely appreciate your thoughts and opportunity to provide more detailed assistance (templates, KPIs, resources, decks, etc)... 

    /Steve
  • Christian Baliko
    Christian Baliko Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited January 2022
    Thanks so much @Steve Bernstein for your detailed reply and the links you provided. Much appreciated! I agree with everything you said, especially with the stakeholder questionnaire in order to identify what's working and what is not. 

    Can I ask you a follow-up question?

    In the organization I work for I am dealing with large ERP systems for the Event management industry - We basically work with Stadiums, Convention centers, Government, Universities and so on. We typically schedule a set of review calls 3 months prior to the client's renewal. The review itself is what we call a BPR (Business process review) which has the goal to determine if the client's business processes are still aligned with what's configured in their software, and whether they are opportunities to optimize work processes.

    So It's usually quite a lengthy process that can take up to 3 weeks because as a CSM we interview each and every department and key user that uses our software. The end result of the BPR is a list of recommendations, generally speaking key points that we CSMs use to build a new roadmap for upcoming 12 months working with the client. I am not sure if you are doing something similar.

    A challenge that I often see is, once we have work items identified and present them as our recommendations, how do we get our client to tell US the CSM to what work items to prioritize? In the end, our goal is to build a roadmap for the next 6-12 months. And there could be disagreements between departments, and what makes sense to the client doesn't always makes sense from a customer success deliver point of view. Of course, a roadmap is never static and might change at any given time. But there needs to be starting point that makes sense for the client and the CSM. On top of that, there is only so much you can deliver for a single client at any given time, especially if you handle 10-15 clients at once.

    Let me know if you have any additional thoughts on this topic or have any other links or information to share. I'd appreciate. 

    Christian
  • Steve Bernstein
    Steve Bernstein Member Posts: 132 Expert
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited January 2022
    Hi @Christian Baliko,
    Thanks for the reply!  To properly prioritize (and I hope I'm understanding your question properly), we generally use this approach:
    (1) collect the feedback as you indicated, then
    (2) the CSM prepares/updates the Joint Success Plan based on what was heard,
    (3) in the BPR be transparent and share what was heard during the interviews via a summary of what seems to be working well and what needs improvement, from both your perspective and from the customers' perspective (it's useful to include benchmarking as well... how do they compare to other accounts?)
    (4) In the BPR review the updated JSP and agree/align on the proposed priorities and assign owners and dates, including from the customer side, and agree on the cadence to review and update the plan, holding individuals accountable for task completion.

    I'd love to hear what the community has to say about this as well and hope we can continue the discussion... let me know how I can assist,
    /Steve