In our previous post we discussed the importance of creating a strategic customer support plan. Now we will look at a post-implementation approach that enables a positive relationship between the customer and the vendor, and ways to encourage better use of the product and adoption of the software solution.
New Release Updates
Sharing new features and fixes with the customer, and obtaining their feedback on how they are using the new capabilities is a way to create dialogue and to find out if product updates are meeting their needs. Demonstrating the ins and outs of new features helps to ensure that the features will be used correctly, and can increase usage of the system, and spike interest about additional features and capabilities.
Timing – How to get it Right
Other factors that affect customer service are related to response time. Answering in a timely manner, while always important, becomes critical when a problem surfaces. Closing the feedback loop is vital, especially if negative feedback has been received.
With a proactive approach, maintaining ongoing discussions not only enables taking care of small issues before they escalate, it also provides an opportunity to share successes – all of which encourages a stronger relationship.
Respecting customer schedules, such as national holidays, personal vacations and customs is another way to emphasize the vendor’s appreciation of their customer’s practices and culture.
Streamlining the Adoption of Software Solutions
Users acceptance of new software and subsequent upgrades will be enhanced if their first impressions are positive. Here are a few suggestions about how to make onboarding more efficient:
Offer tools that streamline the ramp-up, such as batch imports, wizards and similar tools that reduce repetitive manual tasks; these tools provide users with the feeling that the vendor is committed to a constructive user experience
Provide videos and other top-quality instructional materials that show users how to perform tasks, which also reduces the need for individual tutorials
Ensure that the technical documentation is complete, accurate and easy to follow
Improving the System based on Ongoing Feedback
As the product evolves the vendor should accept feedback from its users and wherever possible, integrate their suggestions. This doesn’t mean that every idea the customer puts forward must be developed, but it does mean that these suggestions should be evaluated and accommodated whenever possible.
The decision about which features to develop is a complex one for any software organization. It takes into consideration the product roadmap, the importance of a specific customer, and the complexity of the request, among other considerations. The vendor has to balance requests from multiple customers, with their own vision of where their product and company are headed. The Customer Success Manager (CSM) has an instrumental task here, to explain to the customer why a particular suggestion may not be applied as quickly as they would like.
Executive Business Reviews
On a different track, Executive Business Reviews (EBRs) are conducted with the customer’s C-level management to determine the customer’s business goals, requirements and future plans, as related to the software solution. These meetings can occur a few times a year to ensure that the business objectives are addressed, and that operations and plans are aligned. This is also an opportunity to share positive achievements and to see what has been accomplished.
The EBR provides an opportunity to ensure that teams on both sides know who the team members are, and their relationships (who reports to who) and their responsibilities. It enables the customer to demonstrate their trust in their end-users by championing their requests.
The EBR gives the vendor the perfect opportunity to find out about the features and functionality that the customer’s management sees as critical to be included in the product roadmap, and to find out about other issues that may not have been addressed.
Onboarding software solutions and gaining acceptance from users is a challenging process for the vendor and for the customer. When the vendor takes specific steps to streamline the implementation and onboarding with tools and training, and maintains ongoing, effective communication, these efforts go a long way to enable a smooth transition and positive relationship.