Customer success is the new measure of business success. Today, our organizations are judged less on the services we provide, but more on how those services help customers get to where they want to be. Put another way: no one wants to buy only consulting hours. They are buying a solution to the problem they have.

Sales teams have known this for years, but now we need to spread that approach through all teams, getting everyone to work together to offer a great customer experience, and great results. However, many businesses think that making that shift is hard.

Professional Services Before Customer Success

Traditionally, tech-enabled professional services organizations have used a multitude of tools to automate the project. They’ve focused on how to optimize internal processes like reducing admin time spent on data entry, approval workflows, data transfer between systems, and resource utilization.

Don’t get me wrong; we need those tools. Effective, productive businesses rely on ways to save time and eliminate manual processing.

But you can do that already, right? True differentiation comes when you turn professional services automation on its head, and look at the outcome for the customer. Grass Valley, a leading tech provider in broadcast and media, did it and improved profitability by 18%.

customer centricity

3 Ways to Put the Customer First

Putting the customer at the heart of your business is not only positive for them, it’s better for your bottom line too. Research by Deloitte states that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies not focused on the customer. That’s not surprising: when you get the outcome you wanted (or better) you shop at the same place again—and you tell your friends.

The challenge for the modern PSO is to deliver an experience focused on customer success without adding more time or people to the process.

We believe that’s why some companies are holding back from making this fundamental shift in their business. But you don’t have to hold back. There are already automation tools available that help you put customers at the center of everything you do, without adding more bureaucracy to the process.

Here are 3 ways to do it.

1. Break Down the Silos Between Sales and Services

Provide a fantastic experience for customers, starting with the first engagement with your team. Empower Sales experts to efficiently engage project teams as content contributors. This accelerates the proposal process and increases proposal accuracy. These small steps will go a long way to providing a better customer experience, starting at Day 1.

We know there’s a trend towards more fixed bid, repeatable projects. Give your Sales team to generate workplans, request resources, build budgets, and timelines using pre-built PSA templates, without requiring the involvement of billable team members.

Couple this with proposal automation to further empower your Sales teams to engage with delivery colleagues. Done right, full proposal automation ensures the correct teams are notified or involved when they need to be.

Branded templates and pre-approved content mean your people have more time to respond to customer needs instead of finding the right forms. We’ve seen this accelerate the sales cycle by as much as 25%, and it stops services teams from having to allocate billable time to producing project plans.

2. Put Knowledge Management at the Heart of Your Projects

Studies show that employees can spend up to 20% of their time—which equals to one day a week—searching for knowledge. Your project team’s focus should be on efficiently delivering what the customer needs, not scanning through shared folders looking for how to do something.

We believe knowledge management is the key to customer success. Customer support teams typically rely on KCS methodology to create a knowledge framework that helps them create, manage and share knowledge articles easily and efficiently, and better support their customers.

knowledge management upland software

Imagine this same principle applied to your internal delivery teams, making project-specific knowledge available, and shareable, from within the PSA platform. Put simply, when people have access to what they need to do their jobs, they provide a better service to your clients.

3. Help Customer Success Managers See Around Corners

To help customers be more successful, you need to know what they are thinking. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys offer valuable insight, but they often come too late in the process to really help customers get a different result. It’s important to engage with customers frequently and repeatedly so you can shift course if necessary.

And it’s easy: launch surveys at project milestones to capture essential customer feedback on your delivery, your engagement model, or your resources. Customer success managers can take corrective action before it impacts your customer relationship—or they can do more of what is working.

You can use the same mechanism to capture employee feedback, providing a 360-degree perspective on the customer experience and employee experience.

Start the Journey

Serving customers is a journey. We can always do better, but we have to start that journey!

Take your professional services automation (PSA) to the next level. Go beyond the boundaries of pure project automation and look at other ways to do business better. Customer success is part of your digital transformation, and should be front and center of your plans for the coming year.

Let’s make next year the breakthrough year for your firm. Let’s make customer success more than an industry buzzword and instead make it the way we do business. Let’s be truly customer-centric and deliver an awesome, personalized service that helps our clients do amazing things in the world. Because that’s how business success is now judged, and it’s what you and your customers deserve.

 

Heather Black

About Heather Black

Heather Black is the Director of Marketing, Project and IT Management Solutions for Upland Software. She is responsible for helping define the market for Upland’s innovative PSA solution. Upland PSA is an enterprise PSA solution that puts the spotlight on customer experience, bringing together traditional PSA with customer sentiment, knowledge management, and proposal automation.