December 13, 2014
With the ever-growing trend of businesses offering technology as a service, many existing customer support organizations are reinventing themselves as facilitators of “customer success.” These companies still offer support services to fix problems as they crop up, but their main priority has shifted to improving the value they bring to their customers and increase adoption and retention.
In our webinar, "The Key Capabilities of Customer Success", TSIA's VP of Customer Success and Support Services Research, Judith Platz and I explored the idea of customer success as a broad capability many businesses already possess, and how company charters can be reprioritized from the role of a support organization to one that promotes customer success.
Here’s a recap of the key points, in case you missed it.
How are your company priorities outlined in your company charter?
We surveyed our attendees about their organization’s current goals:
Here we see that things are already moving to where customer success organizations are being asked to pick up subscription renewals more often.
It is generally expected that expansion is not the top priority in the average company’s charter.
udith Platz, TSIA’s vice president of research, customer success and support, tells us that in an atypical example in her previous experience, expansion came first and renewal came second. According to her, this was because her organization already knew the customers through frequent communication about their needs. They were able to find out how these customers were consuming technology, allowing the company to anticipate their needs, which ultimately led to more sales and renewals.
In our survey, there were more people saying expansion is not their charter’s top priority, and that can be generally expected, but overall we can see that the order of importance linked to customer success is broadening past adoption alone.
In our latest book, B4B, we introduce critical concepts about how the technology industry is changing in the way customers consume technology. There is more of a preference for on-demand, pay-as-you-go services, and customers are showing a higher interest in the value the technology will bring to their operation, not just the technology itself, which translates to customer success.
But how do we measure our own success in terms of improved adoption of these products and services? To decide that, we must first find out what specifically defines “adoption” for our particular organization. Is it number of users? Number of features used? The volume or quality of data?
Once that has been decided, we must work backward through the steps necessary to achieving that goal. In order to successfully track our path, it is absolutely crucial to measure our results. We asked our listeners if they’re currently monitoring their adoption rates.
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If your primary goal is adoption but you’re not set up to monitor it, your outcome value is breaking down from the very beginning. Measurable results, such as benchmark reports, are the breadcrumbs on your way to success, and without them, you’ll be lost.
We are moving from a world where we only had to be very good at building interesting technology to needing to wrap services around that technology, while also being available to support it if it breaks. In order to not stretch support resources too thin and continue to focus on the customer success function, the product itself must be more intelligent about what it recommends the customer do when they get stuck.
If you’re seeing that customers are having difficulty with the adoption of a specific aspect of your solution, it might be time to ask the question, “Is this feature useful?” In addition, your customers might be using only 30% of your product’s features, which can undermine the customer’s perception of the value they are receiving and hinder your adoption rates. This is why you must continually initiate communication with your users to find out what is and isn’t truly useful. The best people to have this conversation with are your power users.
While an average or casual user may stick to using a handful of features, your power users will push the technology to its limits, learn it inside and out, and often be the first to come across problems that need fixing or offer suggestions for better ease of use. It is these hardcore enthusiasts that will be giving you the most valuable information for how you can make your technology easier to adopt for both power and casual users alike. The reports generated from this type of in-depth customer feedback are crucial when measuring your adoption rates and choosing the next steps in product development.
The key to higher adoption rates is not necessarily about the shiny new feature; it’s about the overall function of the great technology you’ve already put on the table and how easily the customer can consume it.
Access the "Key Capabilities of Customer Success" webinar to learn more about how you can transform your customer support organization into a customer success organization.
Thomas Lah is executive director of TSIA. Since 1996, he has used his incisive analysis, strategic thinking, and creative solutions to help some of the world’s largest technology companies improve the efficiency of their daily operations. He has authored several books, including, Bridging the Services Chasm (2009), Consumption Economics (2011), B4B (2013), and Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business (2016).
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