Today we’re joined by Maheen Memon, the Director of Customer Success at Nulogy. She’s sharing the second of a 2-part series on how to prepare for a customer success platform. Enjoy!
By Maheen Memon
Welcome to the second part of my series on whether or not you are ready to invest in a customer success tool. You can read my first blog here where the focus was on internal preparedness. This blog will be addressing the importance of validating external preparedness and then exploring how the right technology foundations are critical to a successful end product.
Do you have Executive Buy-in?
It might be clear to you and your team that a CS tool is needed, but how committed is your executive team to seeing this vision through? Have you taken the time to ensure your executive team has bought into the fact that your CS organization needs a system to manage your day-to-day activities? The ability to track day-to-day activities such as engagement touch-points, support tickets, and usage stats provides key metrics that drive strategic planning. When building your case to have a CS tool, it is helpful to focus on how the tool will support the scaling of your operations and help drive data driven discussions regarding your customer base. You will be moving away from ad-hoc customer happiness conversations that so many CSM teams get trapped into, toward discussions that are based on data and performance metrics and provide meaningful insights about customer health.
Do you have Budget Approval?
So you have executive buy-in, great! Next up is converting executive support into explicit funding and commitment. Have you secured budget approval for your CS tool? Was this budget forecasted in your annual planning? Make sure you have a line item on your budget going forward for maintenance that corresponds with your projected team growth. The cost for a CS tool can vary depending on which provider you choose. As a gauge for what level of spending is acceptable, look to adjacent departments (e.g. Sales, Support, Product) and find out how much they are spending on systems and tooling. Since CS is responsible for a large portion of existing revenue, you should be in line with what other departments are allocating on tooling as well. Don't forget to factor in implementation costs for year one.
Have you secured Implementation Resources?
Ok, you’ve secured the budget, now it’s time to make sure you’ve engaged the correct support departments. If you’re in a larger organization, watch out for policies and guidelines that require you follow a specific process. See if your company has an IT department or a Project Management office. You will need integration support from your IT team at a minimum, and likely project management support as you proceed with the implementation. These items are often an afterthought and could delay your CS tool implementation from weeks to months if proper planning is not done up front. Work with your engineering team to get alignment on resourcing for your tool roll-out. Bringing implementation partners to the table early on makes sure you aren’t surprised with last-minute costs and builds up your deployment coalition.
What data do you need to feed to your CS Tool?
Customer Success is heavily dependent on information from multiple sources so standing up a solution without examining integrations would be a big mistake. Here are some key systems you should look to integrate with to maximize your CS Tool:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tool
Ideal integration: Bi-directional
Description: These systems drive sales departments and provide a single data source for all your customer information including your key contractual details, current engagements and customer contact information.
Support Ticketing Tool (help desk, incident management)
Ideal integration: Inbound only
Description: Your help desk/support team swear by this system as it provides a dashboard to manage customer issues and problems alongside contractual SLAs; understanding the current state of support and trending is key to driving customer health metrics and understanding their state of mind.
E-mail (cloud, exchange, or basic email)
Ideal integration: Bi-directional
Description: E-mail is still the de-facto mode of communication with SaaS customers. Having integration will allow your team to collaborate on engagement cycles and consolidate touch-points in a central location.
What about other systems?
There are also a variety of other systems that you need to consider integrating with your new CS tool. Do not forget about your marketing automation systems, analytics tools, billing systems and community management platforms. You want to make sure you look into whether it’s easy to integrate select data, but don’t delay your project just to integrate “nice to have” data sets. Certain CS tools have some of these capabilities already built in (for example marketing automation) so there might not be a need to integrate. Ideally aim for real-time integration as batch processes are error-prone and can lead to confusing reporting cycles for users.
What about security, privacy and quality protocols?
If you aren’t aware of the importance of cybersecurity these days, then you really need to start keeping up with the news. All that is needed is one exploited security hole or an unchecked backup and you could end up throwing away all of the efforts of your difficult implementation. Your customers have expectations that you protect their privacy and information and for larger clients it’s likely that you are contractually obligated to as well. First, check to see if your company has an information security policy or a security team you can liaise with to help shore these gaps. Next, be aware of the regulations in your industry and see if there are certifications (SSAE16, ITIL/ITSM, ISO 9001, PCI) that your vendor should maintain to ensure these protections. Too many acronyms? Try finding legal help to ensure you aren’t stepping into a nightmare.
So there you have it, if you have internally validated your approach, sought appropriate external support, and verified the solution is built on healthy technology foundations, you are off to the races and ready to invest in a CS tool. You are now taking the first digital step in making your Customer Success team more scalable to service your customers in a more prescriptive manner while having all the key data and insights at your fingertips. Good luck!
Are you ready for a new CS tool but need help mapping out the conversion process for your company? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that can help you do the planning that you'll need to be ready for your new CS platform. For more information, please visit TheSuccessleague.io