Differentiated Customer Success Management (CSM) Services

When speaking with Customer Success Management professionals, they consistently tell me they provide different Differentiated Customer Success Management services depending on the customer. Even basic customer segmentation has allowed them to prioritize their efforts and adjust their services to meet the specific needs of different customer groups.

Not all customers are equal

While all customers are important, they are not all equal. Some customers are more profitable. Some require more support and take more time. Some customers start small but with a huge potential lifetime value, whereas others may have limited potential.

When developing your CSM program, make sure you understand both the needs and the potential value of your different customers. And then prioritize accordingly.

Differentiated Customer Success Management for B2B or B2C

You will need to adjust your Differentiated Customer Success Management approach to meet the unique needs of B2B and B2C customers.

  • B2B customers often have less individual control and discretion when it comes to the systems and tools they use. In addition to individual user habits, you have to navigate a plethora of organizational issues, including internal business processes, incentives, policies, procedures, technical and data quality issues.
  • B2C customers tend to have a high degree of individual control and discretion when it comes to using your product or service. You may need to help them develop new habits that involve regular, sustainable use of your system.

Delivering B2B CSM services is more complex than B2C, but the revenue amounts at stake often make it a priority.

Differentiate size & budget

It will take some experimentation to determine the optimal size and budget for your CSM program. The type of Differentiated Customer Success Management services you deliver will influence the number of customer success management staff you need. It will also affect things like the amount of travel (face-to-face) service vs. the amount of remote (web and phone) service.

Many CSM programs start relatively small and then grow as the customer base grows. When you building your CSM program, be sure to include plans for how you will add additional capacity as your customer base changes and as their needs – and your software – changes.

Change your methods based on customer need and value

You can help customers be successful with your product or service in many different ways. For some customers, it may make sense to provide services that are largely automated and uniform. For others, especially those with a high potential lifetime customer value, you may need to provide more hands-on, customized CSM services. And, as your customers grow, you may need to adjust the level of service they receive.

Here are the top 35 questions you should expect your sales prospects to ask you when evaluating your customer success services!

Savvy software buyers know that the customer success services provided by alternative vendors and make or break their success. How do your customer success services stick up? Check out this free guide to learn the answers you need to expect your prospective customers to ask.? Are your customer success services competitive? When will you lose your first sales because your competitor has more effective customer success services?

Free Guide - Evaluating Competitive Customer Success Services
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Cloud IT Renewals Depend on Value Delivered, Not Costs

We are still seeing the impacts of the Cloud IT revolution. Cloud computing is changing many things about how organizations buy, deploy, use, and gain value from information systems. One of the most interesting and dynamic emerging trends is that for many organizations, the focus is shifting from the technology itself to the value the organization realizes from using the technology.

The move to “as a service” is also changing the way organizations make decisions regarding the initial purchase and the renewal of the software. If you ask someone who works in traditional service industries – lawyers, accountants, wait staff, bartenders – they will tell you that people decide to come back (renewals) based on the quality of the experience and the value the individual receives from their experience with the service.

This flips the traditional perspective of technology on its head. Once viewed and evaluated like a product you would purchase and take home to keep, technology is now viewed and evaluated as a service. Cloud buyers and vendors are slowly catching on to just how important value creation from the use of the software is for their success.

One software vendor I spoke to indicated that they were great at landing an initial sale, but they had over 50% turnover in their mid-tier market alone just because the system was not being used and therefore not delivering value to the client organization.

Will you renew your cloud subscription?

When you first decide to purchase a cloud IT system, you do so because of the promise and potential for you to realize the value in the future (after you start using it). Even with lower upfront costs, you probably put together a business case that defines your expected costs and expected return.

Before cloud systems became popular, many organizations only looked at their business case during budget discussions when making the initial system purchase. Once the decision was made and the money was spent, few organizations would come back to measure their actual ROI on their IT investment. There was little need to do so – after all, the money was spent and gone.

But what if you could get out of a bad investment before you spent all the money? With cloud systems, you can.

Cloud IT subscription-based pricing changes the buying decision process

Cloud IT, with its subscription-based pricing and defined contract periods, enables organizations to evaluate the value they are actually receiving from their cloud investments and pull out of bad investments. In essence, the contract renewal date inserts a logical breakpoint in the buying process. It also changes how you make buying decisions.

Cloud renewal decisions are different from the initial purchase decision

As I mentioned, the initial cloud buying decision is made based on expectations for future results. With no direct history with the system, you make your decision based on the word of others (the vendors, vendor-provided references, online reviews, etc.) and your confidence that you can get similar results.

Renewal decisions are made primarily on your direct experience. You evaluate your experience implementing the system, the level of adoption you have achieved, and any specific success metrics / ROI calculations. This experiential information then creates a context in which you evaluate the potential of the system to deliver additional benefits in the future.

Need to focus on cloud user adoption and ROI

So, what does it all mean? It means that clients (buyers) and cloud vendors both have a vested interest in making sure the cloud system is fully adopted, and there’s clear evidence of the value you received from the cloud system.

It means that having great functionality and a low price point is not enough to get you to renew your subscription if you aren’t getting any value. It means that there is a new standard for success when it comes to investing in technology solutions. And it means that you will need an ongoing program to drive user adoption, making sure you are getting the ROI you need.

After all, as soon as the system stops delivering the value, you will stop paying for it.

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.


Organizational Change Management (OCM) – Clarifying Change with an Action Plan

With Organizational Change Management (OCM) and the now-classic Seinfeldian “yada yada yada”, we have a phrase so many of us (still) use to headline a story and gloss over details is, like most comedy, a double-edged sword of both humor and truth.

Of course, the “yada yada yada” ceases to be funny when the all-too-common tendency to layout an OCM plan and leave out the details arrive on your desk in the form of a none-too-well thought out project, and you’re tasked with making sure it both works and is profitable.

That’s when this cartoon is also more painful than funny because now the truth is happening to you. This is why companies bring in third parties to drive OCM, better known today as Customer Success and Software Adoption.

Solving the OCM Problem, Delivering Customer Success

Third parties’ external perspective affords them the opportunity to assess the reality of the landscape and then build a logical, strategic, actionable plan. They eliminate the “yada yada yada” and put in real, detailed plans. They answer questions like:

  • How, precisely, will we get from Point A to Point B?
  • How will we identify the barriers to getting to Point B?
  • How will we structure this OCM plan, so you get the biggest bang for the buck?
  • Do we have the organizational capacity – infrastructure, personnel, and bandwidth – to measure and monitor progress toward the business goals?
  • If we moved ahead without a strategic OCM plan, what will a misstep cost? And is that something you can afford?
  • How will we make sure you get a short-term lift and long-term results?
  • How do we cut through the red tape and move ahead quickly in days in weeks, instead of months?

Real-World Example

Do the above questions sound familiar?  They’re from real situations we encounter all the time, and we find many clients are looking to jumpstart their organization’s internal changes (e.g., program implementations and technology adoption), usually with a deadline of yesterday.

For example, a recent client was about to launch a very expensive and very public (national) pilot program, simultaneously introducing the company’s new, proprietary software and changing their business model. They had a lot invested, and it’s not hyperbole to say the future of the organization was riding these changes. There was an incredible level of risk and uncertainty around whether or not people would use their technology and if they’d be successful.

They needed:

  • unknowns to became known
  • clarity about what issues were most pressing
  • a structured and benchmarked action plan
  • to know how best to organize and execute both the technology adoption plan and the re-org change management plan.

Being too close to their OCM project, being overworked just trying to get the system right, the client both couldn’t see the problem and didn’t have the time to figure out what to do. So in just a few days’ time, we delivered a Quick Start Strategy, replacing the “yada, yada, yada” and “insert miracle here” with:

  • precise, actionable plans of how to proceed
  • specific short- and long-term activities to achieve gains both short- and long-term
  • a sustainable success road map to guide them through the next phase of their program

In a nutshell, we helped them to take action to move forward so the whole company could move ahead confidently. As masters of their domain.

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.


Mark Twain – User Adoption Specialist?

Can Mark Twain Teach You Everything You Need To Know About IT User Adoption?

Recently I stumbled on a page of Mark Twain quotes. I realized that the insights and teachings of a man who died decades before modern information systems were even conceived might hold some of the greatest lessons for how to deliver successful technology adoption programs.

While Mark, who never had a smartphone (a term I am sure would have amused him to no end), who never faced a full email inbox, who never Tweeted (is that really a verb?), and who would probably laugh at the notion of an online social community, had some of the keenest insight about the nature of man.

Sadly, it is often a lack of understanding about the nature of man that leads many IT projects to plunge into great depths of despair and poor adoption.
Over the next few weeks, let’s take a look at Mark’s words in relation to IT user adoption programs.

When examined in the context of various aspects of effective user adoption programs, Mark shows us some of the common mistakes and misplaced assumptions that often plague many IT projects.

How can you use Mark’s insights to deliver a more effective user adoption program?

User Adoption Strategy

When talking with new and prospective clients, one of the biggest problems we see is that people often believe they already know all of the specific challenges they need to overcome in order to deliver effective technology adoption.

Given this, they believe that there is no need to spend time or money assessing the drivers or barriers of user adoption within their organization, much less devise an actionable strategy to move forward successfully.
Unfortunately, we have found, without exception, that there always critical items that are missed when you don’t investigate before you take action.

These issues typically take the form of either key factors that were missed or the form of faulty (unverified) assumptions that led to great mistakes and wasted time or resources later.

In Mark Twain’s Words

Before you assume you don’t need a user adoption strategy, consider Mark’s words:

  • “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
  • “Get your facts first; then you can distort them as you please.”
  • “It is wiser to find out than to suppose.”
  • “I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.”