Customer Success Metrics that Increase Executive Support

You need to have clear executive support if your customer success program is going to survive. What metrics and measures do you need to prove the short-term and long-term value of their customer success investment?

I have had many discussions with customer success (CS) leaders about the challenges they face setting up a growing customer success team in an organization that has never had a customer success program.

Executive support for customer success is essential

There are numerous examples where SaaS vendors invested in hiring a customer success leader to build a customer success practice, and then soon after that, they cut the entire customer success program.

Most organizations use the wrong metrics to measure customer success in the short-term

Some fascinating insights emerged.

One of the most interesting insights to emerge was the idea that building an effective CS program and being able to gather metrics that prove its impact and value on the organization’s bottom line, requires a long-term commitment.

Metrics To Use While Maturing Your Customer Success Team

It takes time to:

1) Establish a customer success team

2) Train the customer success team

3) Build an effective, cross-functional methodology that delivers impactful customer success services to customers

4) Get customers to change how they are using your product/software/system to get more measurable business value from it

5) Gather the metrics to show the impact based on the work of the customer success team.

Along the way

You will inevitably make mistakes and learn as you move from establishing a customer success team to maturing it into a high-impact organization.

You will need to help internal stakeholders (e.g., executives, sales, marketing, product development teams, etc.) understand the importance of customer success and how they need to collaborate differently so that your entire organization has a positive long-term impact on your customers’ value. This is essential to increase your organization’s bottom line.

Manage Executive Expectations

Executive Meeting

Many organizations reported that their CEO and other executives expected rapid results.

They looked to see fast improvements based on traditional customer success metrics (e.g., CSAT, NPS, MRR).

The reality is that it takes much longer to see results.

Many CS leaders stated it typically takes 18 – 24 months to get reliable measures and a solid baseline for these metrics.

Expectations vs. reality

Here is the challenge: Many company executives are tightly focused on quarterly measures, such as sales, profit, growth, etc.

Executives expect to see short-term numbers that prove their investment in customer success is delivering the outcomes the business needs.

So, what do you do when you have a program that requires a long lead time to deliver the results you need?

How do you get your executives to “keep the faith” and continue to support the development of your customer success program?

Differentiate metrics to manage expectations

Metrics and charts

One thing you can and should do very early on is to identify and develop separate management metrics for both the short and long terms to measure the performance of the CS team in the short-term vs. the long-term.

Long-term “Performance Metrics”

Many customer success leaders are familiar with the various long-term metrics they can use to prove the impact of the CS initiative.

Executives frequently rely on metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) to measure the performance of the customer success program. Customer success automation tools make this data readily available, further reinforcing executive expectations for quick results.

You need to be aggressive in setting the expectation that just because these metrics are readily available (often in real-time), does not mean that the executives should see improvements here in the same time frame.

It’s vital that leaders agree on a time frame for establishing a baseline metric values.

Leaders then need to agree on how much lead-time is required to build, test, and mature your customer success capabilities before these long-term metrics reliably show trends and changes you can use to manage the business.

These long-term metrics can be thought of as “performance metrics”. They give you insight into how your operations are running so that you can evaluate what is working and what is not. They provide evidence on which you can make important decisions for improvement.

Your short-term challenge

A more significant challenge is proving the value of customer success in the short-term.

You need a way to measure and prove short-term progress before your efforts deliver the expected long-term performance improvements.

You need a way to demonstrate to executives that you are on the right track. You need to maintain their confidence that you are building the customer success infrastructure that will deliver the long-term business results they seek.

Short-term “Trajectory Metrics”

One approach is to work with the CEO and other leaders to map out all of the actions and milestones you need to achieve to build the customer success infrastructure necessary to deliver the long-term business outcomes they desire.

You can define milestones or metrics for completing key actions such as:

  • Hiring a customer success team lead
  • Meeting with customers to identify the services your customer success team needs to deliver
  • Hiring and training your customer success team
  • Developing your customer success processes and playbooks
  • Implementing customer success automation tools
  • Establishing internal practices to have CS collaborate effectively with sales, marketing, and product management

Focus executives on the short-term, trajectory metrics

Get the CEO and other leaders to agree on priorities and realistic time frames for completing these actions. Make sure these accurately reflect any resource limitations and competing work priorities that will limit your time to do the required work.

Get the CEO and other leaders to agree to use these short-term, trajectory metrics, and NOT the long-term performance metrics, while you build your customer success infrastructure.

Remind the executives that the “trajectory metrics” are appropriate because they give the best measure of confidence that you are performing against the path they agreed to build the customer success capabilities required to deliver the long-term business results.

Maintain Executive Confidence & Support

By agreeing and focusing on these trajectory metrics, you give the executive team the confidence they need that their investment in a customer success program that will eventually deliver the business results they need.

When you are in the process of building a CS program, it doesn’t make sense to use long-term performance metrics when you are not yet delivering the full services that will have an impact on the outcome of these performance metrics.

What you need in this early stage is a way to measure your progress and maintain executive-level support for your CS initiatives.


The New SaaS Sales: Treat Perspective Software Buyers Like Investors, Not Customers

If you are a software vendor, consider this: What would it look like if you approached each sale like you were trying to raise investment capital instead of just selling a piece of software?

Knowing that most software buyers (ah, funders, in this case) have a wide variety of investment options available to them, does your organization represent the best overall software investment opportunity out there? Can your prospects find better, safer opportunities that will give them a higher overall return on their software investment dollars with lower risks?

Stop thinking of the people who buy your software as customers and start treating them like investors. They don’t just want software. What they really want is the best return on their software investments!

The old rules don’t apply!

Back in the days before SaaS, organizations implementing software treated their software acquisitions as a simple purchasing transaction. They were very focused on the costs of the software product. They focused just on the initial purchasing transaction, with little thought to the future.

When the SaaS business model first came on the scene, buyers continued to treat software acquisitions as primarily a purchasing exercise. They remained very focused on the overall costs, just now with the added benefit of shifting their cash outflows over several years. Over time they realized they could adjust their purchase quantities to reduce cashflow if they didn’t see the value in their purchase or if their needs have changed.

The new reality is that software buyers are making software investments, not purchases.

This awakening that buyers can focus on outcomes and value, and then adjust where they put their future software purchasing cash accordingly, is a massive shift in both mentality and fiscal practices.

With this shift, organizations are treating software buying decisions less like a simple procurement exercise and instead treating it more like an investment exercise. They are less focused on just the cost, and instead, they are more concentrated on the expected return and level of risk associated with the software investment.

Software buyers realize they are better off investing in a software vendor (notice I didn’t say application) that will deliver the most overall business value to them, even if the actual app doesn’t have all the bells and whistles found in competing systems.

New SaaS Sales

After years of over-investing in software, wasting lots of cash on software and integration costs, suffering low user adoption and having their projects considered IT failures that didn’t deliver the expected business value, savvy software buyers realize they need to change how they make software investment decisions. They know they need to do more than evaluate the technical fit of the application.

Instead, they need to assess the overall vendor solution — the software, implementation team, technical support, and customer success services – to determine which one is the overall best investment. In effect, what they are doing is evaluating the ability and probability that the software vendor as a whole will make them successful and solve their business problems. Only after conducting this holistic analysis and comparing it to a similar analysis of other potential vendors will organizations decide with which company to spend their software investment dollars.

SaaS vendors need to quickly wake-up to the implications.

Historically, most software vendors have been incredibly product-focused. To software vendors, their products are sexy. To software engineers, building a cool piece of functionality is fun and exciting. And to many software executives, services are necessary, but not fun, scalable or profitable.

In many software companies, there is a bias to investing in building new features and functions in the application instead of investing in services, support, and customer success. For many vendors, the thinking is that the quality and price of the product is what will make or break a sale. While this may have once been true, it is no longer the case.

With buyers shifting their focus to evaluating the overall vendor solution and capabilities, a continued bias towards product will be the road to failure. Software vendors need to recognize the shift in buyer preferences and adjust how they set priorities, allocate internal resources, and position and sell their products accordingly. They need to realize that just having a great product, without the support and customer success resources customers demand (and competitors provide), will not make them market competitive going forward.

Software vendors need to stop treating prospective customers like they are making a simple purchasing decision and instead treat them like investors who are evaluating the complete software investment opportunity. Software vendors that similarly approach each sale to raising capital, that is, focusing on the business outcomes, minimizing risks, and explaining how you maximize the return on software investment, will be hugely more successful than those that continue to focus their sales efforts just on product features and price.

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the approach the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving adoption. Most buyer’s organizations don’t have the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their success

Additional Resources

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Free Guide – Evaluating Competitive Customer Success Services

5 Must Do Steps for People-Centric Customer Success

When customer success (CS) first came into the mainstream, many vendors focused firmly on their product. They were very focused on specific features and functions. They spent a lot of time and effort explaining the product and its roadmap to customers.

From technology focus to a customer outcomes focus

Slowly, we are seeing a shift where CS teams are focusing on understanding the customers’ business objectives and desired outcomes. The current thinking is that by focusing on business outcomes, you can better demonstrate the value that the customer is achieving from the vendor’s product. This value discussion then will lead to increased upsells and renewals. This is an important and impactful shift. But it alone is not enough.

The critical area that has long been overlooked by CS teams (and their customers) is identifying and proactively addressing the required people-behavior shift that is needed to achieve success. Once desired business outcomes have been defined, CS teams and their customers need to put people at the center of their focus and efforts. They need to concentrate on helping users – people – change their behavior so that they are adopting technology in a way that will deliver the required business outcomes.

The people – behavior challenge

The biggest challenge on the critical path to customer success is not the technology itself. It is getting people to change the way they do their job on a daily basis, to embrace the system, and use it as designed and intended. It is figuring out how to make sure that current staff quickly shift their work behaviors and adopt the new system. And then it is about making sure that new hires rapidly adopt the new desired work behaviors so that they use the system in a way that creates value. And finally, the challenge becomes how to evolve and sustain effective user behaviors as both the technology product and the customers’ organizations develop. Without this ongoing focus on ensuring users deliver desired behaviors, the customers’ success will steadily fall over time.

Implications for Customer Success

What this means for customer success teams is that they need to ensure they have the expertise, experience, tools, and methodologies to help their customers address user behavior change and ensure software adoption over the long-term. All of the KPIs, automation, onboarding conversations, and QBRs will deliver little results over the long-term if your CS team cannot help customers solve their underlying business challenge – that is, driving effective user adoption that will yield the required business results.

CS leaders looking to develop people-centric customer success should do the following:

1. Map out the critical path that a customer must take from the time of first contact (pre-sales) up to the point of achieving their desired business outcomes. What specific behavior changes are required across the user populations to deliver this result? What do your CS services due to address these critical needs?

2. Ask yourself this question: If the system was already live, people had already been trained on the technology, and we still are not effective adoption, what else could we do to change users’ behavior? If you exclude changes to technology and additional system training and focus on peoples’ behavior, could you still drive success?

3. Increase the capacity to drive behavior change. Most CS leaders will find that their organization lacks the expertise, tools, and methods to identify the various factors that affect behavior and then proactively address these to drive desired behaviors across the user groups. If you lack these skills and processes in your CS team, how will you be able to help customers address this core need?

4. Once you have the right expertise on your team, look outside of what is typically done on IT projects to figure out where different actions, tools, and methods are needed to help users change their behavior and adopt the technology. Identify where you need to change how you engage with customers to get them to take the steps that will deliver desired behavior, and in turn, business outcomes.

5. Figure out how to scale your efforts. You will quickly realize that many of your customers probably lack the expertise, experience, and ability to drive software adoption within their organization. The biggest force-multiplier you will find is that by increasing your customers’ ability to drive adoption within their organization, they will remove a large amount of burden from your CS team. You will probably need to educate your customers on effective software adoption practices and methods. And you will need to figure out how to provide this type of education to your customers in a fast, scalable way.

The Success Chain team has worked with a large number of CS teams and the buyers of software to help them increase their ability to drive and sustain effective software adoption proactively. Our proven educational programs help buyers of software develop the skills they need to increase the effective use of software within their organizations. We also have corresponding programs for vendors that teach CS teams how to help lead their customers in developing successful software adoption programs. Please contact us if you would like to learn more and see how our scalable programs can work for you and your customers.


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 critical, more fundamental question you need to ask first.

You need to ask, “Can our customer be successful with ANY software?”

Shifting focus is critical

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 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 crucial 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 is the problem

Here’s the problem

What may come as a big surprise to you, is that most buyers of software don’t know how to get their organizations to drive change, get their staff to adopt software effectively, and ensure they get the full business outcomes they expect.

The issue is not the software.

The issue is a lack of knowledge, experience, and expertise in driving new behaviors and ways of working across the organization to get the full value from 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 prevent their success in getting value from software. The vast majority of these issues are people, organizational, and process issues. They are NOT specific to a given piece of software.

It doesn’t matter if it is a cloud system, on-premise, or a custom-built application. The crisis of effective user adoption is ubiquitous.

Here is the solution

Here are some questions you need to ask your customers to identify if the biggest blockers of customer success are tied to your specific product or are related to the customer’s internal ability to absorb any technology within their organizations:

  • What do you do internally to drive adoption and realize business benefits 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 software portfolio, what percent of applications are delivering the full business benefits and outcomes you expected? How many of the systems would you consider a mind-blowing business “success”? What makes them so incredible?
  • 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?
  • Where do you need our help to ensure that your investment in our system is a success and delivers all of the business benefits you expect to achieve?
Women Solving Problems

What to expect…

What you will most likely hear from your customers is that they have a plethora of systems that are NOT successful.

The vast majority of their systems are likely underused or underperforming. There is probably a lot of value leakage in their existing IT investment portfolio.

Many of your prospects and customers likely provide a limited version of “change management” (typically focused around the go-live date). These are probably the customers that report very few systems delivering full business value.

It will be the rare gem of a customer that has a structured, ongoing program to sustain effective system use (and business outcomes realization) over a 5 – 10 year period. These forward-thinking companies are likely the ones that report high success rates across their software portfolio.

The red flag for your customer success approach

When asking these questions, you will quickly see that many of your customers are unlikely to achieve great success getting value from any system, not just your system.

When you encounter this, you need to ask yourself if there is something magically different about your software. What is the magic that will lead customers to achieve success with your software when they have proven time and time again, they struggle to adopt and get value from any system?

If your software is sans magic then, you need to offer a different approach to helping your customer achieve success.

Otherwise, your system will quickly become just another underwhelming investment in your customer’s software portfolio.

Solve the first problem first

Before you waste a ton of time, resources, and effort narrowly focusing 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 organization first.

They will need to spend time learning the principles and practices of software adoption. Then they must adjust their internal efforts to get more value from any of their software investments. Only then will they even have the potential to get full value from their investment in your system.

Your customer will be amazed at how you helped them

Realizing this, you need to focus your customer success approach on building your customer’s capacity to adopt any system effectively. They will then apply this skill to adopt your system.

And then everyone wins.

There is also an added benefit for you from this approach. By enriching your customer’s capacity to adopt any system, you will tremendously differentiate your company and your customer success program from all of your competitors.

Your customer will view you as the coveted “trusted advisor.”

Your customer will give you rare references and reviews.

Your customers will renew and expand their accounts.

And you will amaze and delight your coworkers, managers, executives, and investors.

Everybody wins.

Learn more

Success Chain 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 internal software adoption programs and capacity that delivers success.


The Secret to Get Your Customers to Drive Software Adoption on Their Own

For years, long before the invention of SaaS, software vendors could make tons of sales by selling customers on the idea that software would solve all (well, most) of their problems. If you bought their system, all the great features and functions baked into their product would deliver exceptional results. Vendors had polished demos that looked great and made buyers salivate. And, in many cases, the software products did do some wonderful things.

Then along came the SaaS business model. The combination of cool functionality, a sleek demo (in a clean demo environment with pristine data), fast implementations, and cheap monthly pricing made sales take off. It was so easy to get started quickly and to switch from your current vendor. Everything was great and rosy. And then came renewal time and churn. Uh-oh!

Suddenly, SaaS buyers realized they were no longer stuck with software that didn’t live up to the hype and the promise. Buyers regained some power and quickly learned that if they didn’t get the results they expected from their SaaS purchase, they could just as quickly and easily move on to another vendor and try their luck there. And the vendor hopping began.

So, if companies are regularly switching software vendors, it begs the question, “is the software the problem, or is it the ability of buyers to get value in their organization that is the problem?

What all of this vendor hopping has taught us is that most organizations are very good at getting a system live. Still, they struggle with knowing how to get their people to use it internally in a way that delivers the expected business value and outcomes. The reality is, introducing new systems and processes into an organization adds a massive amount of change and uncertainty to the organization. And most organizations don’t know how to navigate this change and drive success.

In many cases, the buyer’s ability to drive adoption and success within their organization that is the issue, not the software. This is the core issue that SaaS vendors need to solve to reduce churn and expand accounts.

At Success Chain, we have worked with many software suppliers and software buyers to help them figure out what they can do to help drive better software adoption, organizational change, and behavior change so that organizations realize the full value of their IT investments. When we work with these groups and train their teams, they are amazed at how many things they are doing wrong that prevent their success. And when they learn how to drive software adoption, they are surprised at all the small, easy changes (and some big ones too) they can take to improve software adoption and business results dramatically!

This realization has significant implications for SaaS vendors. Since the area where software buyers are truly struggling is with change management and adoption, this is where vendors need to provide help. Vendors need to shift their efforts away from narrowly focusing on their specific product and services; instead, they need to educate their customers on appropriate change management and software adoption tactics and techniques that buyers can apply within their organization. Helping buyers maximize user adoption and achieve business outcomes is absolutely on the critical path to renewals, yet SaaS vendors often ignore this critical area.

If you are a software vendor, consider this:

  • How much easier would it be for you to reduce churn and expand your accounts if your customers were better able to accelerate and sustain the adoption of your software in their organization?
  • How much time and effort would it save your customer success, training, and support teams if your customers could do more of themselves?
  • How much easier would it be for your CS teams to have discussions with your customers about business outcomes and the adoption plans and activities they need to achieve these outcomes if your customer was already educated about the techniques they need to apply within their organization to achieve desired business outcomes?
  • Where else could you focus your valuable time, effort, and resources to improve your product or grow your company?

The challenge is that change management and user adoption is not typically a core competency of SaaS vendors. Vendors are often experts on their product and have little or no expertise (or interest) in providing software adoption services or resources. And they don’t have the ability to deliver the tools and customer education needed to solve this problem in a fast, easy, and scalable way.

Recognizing the tremendous need and challenge here, Tri Tuns has developed a creative solution to this problem. We have taken our proven software adoption training and updated it to be delivered in a fast, easy, scalable way. Our success program, gives software buyers the knowledge, tactics, and techniques they need to drive effective adoption within their organization. And since it is delivered via an online learning portal, it is available 24 x 7, wherever the buyer is located.

Imagine the possibilities of including access to online software adoption training as part of your new customer onboarding process? How great would it be if one of the first steps when you onboard a new customer is for them to get educated about how to drive their success? And since it is all online, this step can even be automated!

Want to learn more? Contact us today to learn how we partner with you to include our online software adoption training in your customer onboarding program.


What Customer Success and Software Adoption Teams Can Learn From Nature!

I recently watched this great video from Sustainable Human that tells the story about how reintroducing just 14 wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 had a profound impact on that natural ecosystem.

The video states that “We all know that wolves kill various species of animals, but what perhaps we’re slightly less aware that they give life to many others.” The ripple effects of introducing major changes, in this case, bringing wolves back to an environment where they have been missing for 70 years, had many positive, unintended impacts.

The video shows how introducing the wolves “radically changed” the behavior of the deer that had grazed away the vegetation across large areas of land. When the wolves came, the deer started avoiding specific areas of the park. In turn, the vegetation grew back, and other animals came to inhabit the park. Rivers also changed. The impact across the entire ecosystem was amazing, and the catalyst was traced back to just introducing 14 wolves back into the environment.

Similar things can happen in organizations when you introduce Customer Success teams (if you are a SaaS supplier) or internal software adoption efforts (if you are purchasing software). Creating groups likes these can, and should, shift the behavior across your organizational ecosystem. Creating a team, even a small team (remember, there were only 14 wolves), that is sufficiently strong enough and empowered to shift the way business is done can create new patterns of behavior across your entire organization. This can lead to new levels of success, beyond which you might never have thought possible.

But success is not guaranteed.? Wolves are a strong, powerful animal with the ability to shift the behavior of others. Your customer success team needs a strong leader with authority to make changes. The entire executive team needs to be open to questioning the way things currently work across the organization. And you need to look at all areas of your organizational ecosystem to see what else is shifting, or needs to shift, in order for the organization as a whole to thrive.


The World Cup, Software Adoption and Customer Success

The most amazing thing happened after the recent World Cup game. The Japanese spectators all cleaned up after themselves in the stadium. Many of them had even brought their own trash bags to make sure that they could leave the place spotless. When have you ever heard of such a thing happening at the sports events you have attended?

So, what do Japanese sport spectators have to do with software adoption customer success? The answer is they both depend on the behavior and showing respect for others. Let me explain. The BBC article about the Japanese spectators discusses how this is a cultural phenomenon. Japanese children are taught from an early age to be respectful and to pick up after themselves. This behavior is reinforced as they grow and continues even in adulthood.

The key to software adoption and customer success is creating a culture in your organization that rewards desired user behavior. It requires you to build a culture where everyone is focused on how they do their jobs and how they use the software to ensure that everyone across the organization can use the system as designed and intended.

Most organizations get into trouble with software adoption and customer success when they narrowly focus just on system functionality. They tend to ignore modeling, driving, and reinforcing the desired work behaviors. They ignore focusing on driving user behavior where everyone is conscious and intentional about using the software as it is intended.

The BBC article goes on to say:

“With constant reminders throughout childhood, these behaviors become habits for much of the population.”

The lesson here for software adoption customer success is that you need to constantly reinforce the behavior that you want with reminders. This critical effort is oftentimes overlooked in many organizations. Who’s job is it to model this behavior? Who’s job is it to give the reminders? Who’s job is it to actually identify the desired user adoption customer success behaviors?

Another interesting point is that this behavior is a source of pride for the Japanese spectators.

“In addition to their heightened consciousness of the need to be clean and to recycle, cleaning up at events like the World Cup is a way Japanese fans demonstrate pride in their way of life and share it with the rest of us” – explains Prof North.

How can you create a culture in your organization where it is a source of pride that everyone is using the technology well? How do you create a corporate culture that rewards desired behaviors? How do you create a corporate culture where people are encouraged to make sure that they not only do their job well but that they are doing their job, and using technology systems in a way that enables others to use the data and system to excel at their jobs as well?

We can all take a lesson from these Japanese spectators about how to improve software adoption and customer success. To be more successful, focus your efforts on creating a culture and environment that rewards desired user behavior. What steps do you take to create a culture that reinforces desired norms for effectively adopting systems and technology?

Create the culture of system users taking pride in creating high-quality data the is shared throughout the organization. Think of these Japanese spectators and engage your users around these behaviors and principles. Model the behavior that you want. Be aware and take note when you see people using systems and doing their job as intended. Publicize it across your organization when you see examples of excellence in using the software effectively. If you do, you will have much greater success from your software investments!


Learning To Drive Digital Transformation: Lessons From Roommates & House Guests

The rise of the digital workplace is changing how people collaborate and conduct work, forcing us to reexamine a lot of assumptions and rote behaviors. We need to rethink both how we work and how we impact others’ work.

This got me thinking that we can learn a lot about how to drive effective digital workplace behaviors by looking at how we deal with roommates and houseguests. Kind of an odd connection, isn’t it. Well, not really when you look at the underlying issues.

Over my life, I have had a lot of roommates and houseguests. I had roommates in college. When I was studying in England, I shared a flat with a bunch of international graduate students. In my twenties, I shared apartments with friends to save money. And I have had tons of people come and stay as houseguests over the years.

What is interesting in reflecting about roommates is that there are a lot of different types of people and how they approach living with others.

There are those who are extremely considerate and always clean their room and clean the common areas. And there are those who always leave dishes in the sink.

And what about houseguests? Oh, my goodness – what a range! There are those that you know they’re always going to bring a gift. There are those that are always going to clean up after themselves and be very considerate.

There are the ones who take the sheets off the bed and make sure that the place is in better shape than when they found it. And then there are the ones who always leave wet towels on the floor, the bed unmade, drop food everywhere, and then leave you with a big mess to clean up after they are gone.

What has been clear from these experiences is that roommates and houseguests each have extremely different ideas of what are appropriate behaviors, and they display far different levels of consideration for others. We see similar patterns when looking at the digital workplace.

Effective digital work requires that people adopt similar ways of working. They need to collaborate effectively using digital tools. They need to be aware of the interdependencies between how they perform their individual job and how they use software tools and the impact it has on the ability of others to also perform their job effectively.

Take, for example, something like Office 365 or a CRM system.

These technologies change how and when people need to work together.? To be effective, they require people to utilize centralized tools and adopt similar work behaviors.

People need to:

  • Share files in the correct location, with proper names, in order for others to access, collaborate, and utilize the materials.
  • Enter all required information in a CRM system in order to allow everyone across the organization to enter it.
  • Enter information with accuracy, clarity, and enough detail that anyone can quickly understand the full picture just from what is entered in the field.
  • Enter data and share files in a timely manner (ideally the moment it is generated) so that others can access the data they need, when they need it, to do their jobs.

How many times have you looked in a system and can’t find the file you need? Or looked in the CRM and found that most of the data is missing or wrong? How confident are you in using what is available? How much time do you waste trying to track down what you need? How is your customer experience impacted when you don’t have the information they already shared with your company because someone else didn’t enter it into the system?

Whether it is in the digital workplace, living with roommates, or being a houseguest, the key lesson here is that you need to focus on behavior and consideration.

  1. Pay attention to your behavior and how it impacts others. It is no longer enough to be a great individual performer if the way you work prevents others from their best performance as well.
  2. Be considerate of others. The way you do your job directly impacts how others do their job. If you are not collaborating effectively or using digital tools as defined and designed, then you are making more work for others.
  3. If you are a manager or a supervisor, it is your job to help drive the desired behaviors among your team. You need to clearly articulate the behaviors that are required from your staff.? You also need to reward people when they are considerate of others and work in a way that allows everyone to succeed. And you need to take action to correct inconsiderate or inappropriate collaboration behaviors.

Focusing on digital collaboration behaviors and ensuring all people are considerate of their impact on others’ work is essential to achieving success in the digital workplace.

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the approach the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving adoption. Most buyer’s organizations don’t have the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their own success.? This short video explains many of the methodological and structural problems organizations face when dealing with software.

If you are looking to help software buyers create their own internal software success programs, Success Chain can help. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


Why is User Adoption so Hard?

Most organizations are surprised by how difficult it is to get people to adopt new technology.

The worst mistake people make

The biggest mistake many organizations make is believing that people will have no choice but to adopt a new IT system because it will be mandatory.

Do people assume this in your organization?

You can’t mandate system use

Mandating system use is a common approach that is guaranteed to block the potential value and success of an IT system. The assumption is that if the boss tells them they must do it, then people will do it. Ha!

The truth is that people always have a choice in:

  • How they use a system
  • When they use it
  • How well they use it
  • How frequently they use it
You can't mandate behavior

Technology introduces LOTS of change!

Many organizations that struggle with adoption have failed to recognize that introducing new technology, even simple systems, creates a ripple effect of change throughout an organization.

Implementing IT systems require changes to:

  • Processes and policies
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Daily routines and habits
  • Performance expectations and evaluations

Manage the changes or else

Unless you identify and proactively manage change before, during, and after go-live, you will not see the levels of user adoption and business outcomes you want.

The IT system on which you spent valuable time and money will end up:

  • Sitting idle
  • Used in the wrong way
  • Barely used
  • Have bad data entered
  • No data entered
Barrier to user adoption

The hidden barriers to success

Most organizations fail to identify real and perceived organizational obstacles to adopting and using new technology because leaders:

  • Believe user adoption will “just happen” organically and they don’t need to devote time and resources to drive and sustain adoption
  • Don’t know how to identify potential organizational barriers to adoption
  • Think they know all the barriers without realizing they probably don’t
  • Do not motivate and rewarded people for focusing their efforts on anything beyond quickly getting the system live on time and within budget

Get the right approach to success

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the method the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving user adoption.

Many organizations lack the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their internal success. You need to move past traditional change management approaches and instead put in place a comprehensive effort focused on long-term, sustained user adoption.

You need to:

  • Remove adoption barriers that prevent stakeholders from using IT systems as designed and intended
  • Achieve a dramatic increase in adoption rates for IT systems
  • Experience significantly faster value creation and benefits realization from IT systems
  • Gain a return on your IT system objectives and investments
  • Be the role model and hero in your organization for having the knowledge and skills to drive short-term and long-term success with IT systems

When you have the right approach to user adoption, you will find that it is not that hard to deliver success. If you are not getting the results you need, it is time to develop new skills and approaches to solving the problem. You will be amazed at the results.


Get help

If you are looking to help software buyers create their own internal software success programs, Success Chain can help. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


How to Increase Customer Success and Reduce Customer Churn

Customer Success provides a solid foundation for a company to grow and scale with customers for life. In today’s competitive market, SaaS providers fully depend on upsells, referrals and renewals year after year. Most SaaS companies put all of their focus and effort into developing their product(s) and acquiring new customers and logos. The problem with this strategy, and why so many SaaS companies are becoming increasingly stressed about customer churn, is customer acquisition is just the beginning of a long-term service engagement with your customers. The services your Customer Success Managers (CSMs) provide as well as the quality and focus of their interactions with customers, can deliver unbeatable value and have a greater impact on your customers’ success than your product(s). You could have the best product in the world with all the bells and whistles, but it won’t give you a competitive advantage or loyal customers if the quality of your customer engagement is lacking or focused on the wrong things.

To start, there are three key focus areas for improving the quality and results of your customer success efforts and interactions as a CSM. First and foremost, you must understand, educate and reinforce with your customers (and most likely with your internal C-suite and colleagues) that Customer Success is not a short-term focus on your product’s features, functionality, and benefits. Customer Success is a proactively managed, long-term relationship strategy with your customers.

If your CS team is focused on your product rather than helping your customers overcome real and potential obstacles to using your product, then you’re not helping your customers be successful in a significant and valuable way. And they won’t be your customers for long, which brings us to the second key focus area.

The second key focus area is you need to remember that getting to “Go Live” is just a milestone. It’s not the end goal. Getting to Go Live is a small piece of a very large puzzle, so don’t get stuck there with your customers as a CSM. Let your IT team have conversations with your customers about the requirements and getting to Go Live. Your focus must be larger, broader, and more strategic than that. You need to be focused on what success looks like for your customers after Go Live and how you can and will facilitate their success in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Your customers’ success is your number one priority and focus, which brings us to the third key focus area.

Third, as a CSM, you are not there to troubleshoot and answer technical questions for your customers. You are not there to write “one-way, one-size-fits-all” communications about the benefits of your products. And you are not there to provide system training. Let your Customer Support, Communications, and Training teams provide that value for your customers.

Your purpose, as a CSM, is not to provide technical value. Your purpose is to provide business value by being your customers’ trusted advisor throughout their relationship with your company. For example, as their trusted advisor, you need to ask your customers about what their long-term goals are, where they are struggling, what’s changing in their environment, what’s their organizational structure/hierarchy, what do they value, recognize and reward, what are their processes and performance expectations just to name a few important questions. Have you ever asked your customers these questions? If not, why not?

This is all key information that you need to know as a CSM to understand how ready, willing, and able your customers are to successfully incorporate your product into their unique and most likely complex environment and daily routines. Would you know what actions to take or recommend based on your customers’ answers to these questions? If not, you’re not alone. Most CSMs are not focused on these key questions and focus areas, and as a result, they are missing key opportunities to accelerate their customers’ adoption, value, and success.