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Guide to Scale Professional Services with Customer Success

Guide to Scale Professional Services with Customer Success

Introduction

Professional Services (PS) has a few more miles on the clock than Customer Success (CS). Still, both are critical components for increasing income, particularly in SaaS, consulting communications, or technology. So-called "fast-growing" organizations in these industries and elsewhere are beginning to recognize and appreciate the value of combining the two roles, blurring the barriers between departments. It's a way that allows clients to get to know the people who are helping them reach their goals. Implementations, particularly in the worlds of SaaS, Software, and Tech Consulting, can be complicated - self-serve is simply not an option - and delays, poor outcome realization, and miscommunication can prevent or delay upsell, and, in the worst-case scenarios, increase the likelihood of churning.

What are Professional Services?

Many businesses do not have a professional services department, but they do have a training department, success engineers, onboarding teams, project managers, or other service groups. These teams share comparable objectives and metrics. Please substitute the closest kind of team in your firm for "professional services" to keep things simple.

Professional services teams, provide consumers with some type of service. These services could be one-time-only, such as onboarding and implementation, or continuing, such as training and project management. They are typically called in at the start of the customer relationship (or even at the end) to establish what the customer needs from a tactical and technical standpoint. They are then in charge of devising and implementing a strategy.

Suggested Read: How to Align your Professional Services and Customer Success Better?

Almost all services have an expected timetable, so meeting timelines for milestones and the entire project is one of the most important goals for a professional services team. There may also be a time-to-value target, which is the time it takes for a customer to receive value from a solution. Customer satisfaction is frequently used as a metric of professional services performance, and most companies conduct surveys after each big project.

The Differences between Professional Services and Customer Success

image showing differences between professional services and customer success

Rather than a project or a product, Customer Success focuses on the strategic partnership. Success is entrusted with continuing the relationship that the salesperson formed with the buyer, identifying the business results that person expects to see over time, and creating strategic goals at the start of a client relationship. Customer success often develops a connection with the administrator or key contact after deployment, which can be more tactical. Customer success is focused on offering value throughout the whole lifecycle.

Customer success and professional services roles differ primarily in their focus, notably during the onboarding phase of the customer lifecycle. While both teams should work together to get consumers off to a good start, professional services teams focus on tactical project management and Customer success establishes long-term connections. Professional services may intervene within a client relationship to supply additional services, features, or projects, while success remains focused on strategy.

Essential Points in Aligning Professional Services and Customer success

The introductions should be made by Customer Success.

If customer success is in charge of maintaining relationships with customers, it stands to reason that they'd be the ones to bring attention to the key stakeholders in both your clients' and your own organizations. Customer success should be the ones to explain who will be delivering the results for the clients, and hence bring in professional services. Why? It distinguishes Customer Success from Professional Services in customers' eyes, keeping the former as the value layer, and clients are aware of who to contact for what. Furthermore, it separates support items from Customers; that is the function of support, and if Customer Success becomes mired down in issues, NPS is likely to suffer, and implementing customer success will be pushed aside by firefighting.

Customer results should be discussed together by Customer Success and Professional Services

This is a requirement for planning since you'll want to communicate in the customer's language so that CustomerSuccess can tell whether things have been provided as the customer perceives them and when to intervene. It also aligns both teams so that the connection can be collaborative, and PS will be more likely to keep CS up to date as delivery progresses. Any customer success requirements, such as when to identify upsell/cross-sell opportunities or how to best deploy professional services in the future, can then be addressed in a timely manner. When customer success representatives are not present to watch, they are more likely to overlook crucial locations highlighted by PS at kick-off, resulting in underserved areas.

CS is value, PS is delivery, but the value will not be built-in until there is a partnership. Previously, when CS was primarily accounted for management, the interaction between them and the customer centered upon anticipated income prospects. The revenue potential is now more commonly regarded as a byproduct of CS providing value, with any intended revenue retention or expansion occurring naturally. That value layer should be embedded in the delivery component; if there is a mismatch between CS and PS, the result is frequently that PS isn't offering value, as they see delivery as a job done. The customer isn't concerned with obtaining the service; instead, they want to know that it solved their problems. PS can get advice from CS on whether or not value delivery is on track.

Pains of Professional Services with Subscription-based Businesses

Your PS organization is sure to go through some growing pains. Overburdened resources, increased customer demands, and novel ways of communicating with customers are just a few examples. You must first be aware of these hurdles in order to overcome them. As a result, we've created a list of common problems that plague you.

Pains of professional services image

Onboarding

Customer Overload: In the customer lifecycle, onboarding is a crucial step. Clients will have a strong foundation if they have a great onboarding experience. When switching from legacy to subscription services, you may be expected to enroll more clients with the same amount of resources and, in many cases, at a lower cost. Using technology to implement a completely automated or blended onboarding strategy can free up your time while still giving clients the attention they need.

Higher Expectations: Purchasing subscription services provide the advantage of a quick time-to-value. Your clients will want to get up and running as soon as possible, and they will anticipate a quick, low-effort engagement to do so. If your team is designed to provide large, specialized installations, finding the right combination of productivity and service level may require some additional strategy and technology.

Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Onboarding

Expectations & Outcomes

Bad Handoffs: If you're serious about becoming customer-centric, you'll require better team alignment. During handoffs, this entails exchanging customer goals, milestones, and other data. Every team suffers from a lack of insight without this open flow of information, and the client suffers as a result.

Customer Sentiment Data is Scarce: You are unsure about the customer's feelings during the project or after it is completed. If you're lucky, you'll receive a survey after the project is completed, but odds are you won't.  While it may not have mattered in the past, knowing how your customers feel is critical to the success of your services. You may proactively repair poor sentiment and utilize positive sentiment by asking for customer sentiment, whether through NPS/CSAT surveys or in-person encounters.

Proactive vs. reactive: Responding to escalations can be time-consuming. You can work proactively to reduce fires before they start by monitoring customer health, resulting in happier customers and more time on your hands to devote to valuable tasks.

Demonstrating Client Value: Instead of focusing primarily on internal achievements such as meeting utilization or project profit targets, prioritize client results. They won't completely appreciate the value of your services unless you can measure or illustrate what you've helped them achieve.

The Customer Experience

Tracking Post-Project Success: You finish a project on a high note, but the client leaves a few months later. What went wrong? You can see if a project had a positive or bad impact on customer health and react accordingly if you continue to measure customer health after it is completed.

Using Advocates: Having satisfied clients is excellent, but if you stop there, you're missing out on a huge chance for growth. Increase growth without increasing customer acquisition costs by leveraging client references and reviews.

Understanding Customer Needs: Recognize the situations that cause a customer to expand. You can promote your solutions proactively and capitalize on the opportunity if you know what to look for.

3 Objectives to Help Your Organization Advance

It might be difficult to adopt new methods and mindsets. You'll need to create new frameworks, expand your technological stack, and encourage team adoption—not to mention find the time and money to do it all! We've grouped critical PS efforts that drive customer-centric activities into three primary goals, so don't worry. They'll lay a solid foundation for you so you can deliver Customer Success at scale.

First and foremost, expand your onboarding alternatives.

Sort your customers into categories depending on how much outreach they need to get going.

Implement a 'tech-touch' strategy to provide SMB customers with a low-cost, standardized onboarding alternative. To establish a mixed method for medium-cost, typical onboarding packages, combine Many and personal outreaches.

Enhance the project experience for enterprise customers with complex or bespoke implementation requirements.

Deliver customer outcomes rather than initiatives.

In the sales cycle, teach your sales staff how to gather a customer's goals.

Handoffs across center teams revolve around the achievement of client goals.

Create a system for evaluating the impact of service engagements on a customer's goals and overall success.

Tip: The Effective way to Sales, Customer Success, and Implementation Handoff

Continue the customer journey after deployment is complete.

Create focused service offers to address frequent client problems. Gather information that will enable you to spot opportunities to market these targeted services to your consumers ahead of time. ​​Collaborate with the sales team to develop a procedure that will allow you to take advantage of these opportunities with the least amount of friction.

Three Ways to Put Customers First

Putting your customers at the center of your business is not only good for them, but it's also good for your bottom line. According to Deloitte research, customer-centric businesses are 60% more lucrative than non-customer-centric businesses. That's understandable: when you get the result you wanted (or better), you go back to the same store—and tell your friends. The modern PS's task is to provide a customer-centric service without adding more time or employees to the process. That, we believe, is why some businesses are hesitant to make this major transformation in their operations. You don't have to be shy, though. There are existing automated technologies that can help you place clients at the center of everything you do without adding to the process's complexity.

Here are three options.

1. Dismantle the Barriers Between Sales and Services

Starting with the initial interaction with your staff, provide clients with a terrific experience. Educate sales professionals on how to effectively engage project teams as content providers. This speeds up the proposal process while also improving accuracy. Starting on Day 1, these modest efforts will go a long way toward creating a better customer experience.

We've noticed a shift toward fixed-bid, repetitive projects. Allow your sales team to create work plans, request resources, create budgets, and timeframes using pre-built PS templates without involving your marketing team. Combine this with proposal automation to provide your sales teams with even more power in engaging with delivery teammates. When done correctly, comprehensive proposal automation guarantees that the appropriate teams are notified or involved at the appropriate times.

Your employees will have more time to respond to client requests instead of searching for the correct forms thanks to branded templates and pre-approved content. We've seen this shorten the sales cycle by up to 25% and eliminate the need for services teams to spend billable time creating project plans.

2. Prioritize knowledge management in your projects.

Employees can spend up to 20% of their time, or one day each week, searching for knowledge, according to studies. The focus of your project team should be on swiftly providing what the customer requires, not on searching through shared folders for instructions.

Knowledge management, we feel, is the key to customer success. Customer support teams develop a knowledge framework that allows them to effortlessly generate, organize, and share knowledge articles, as well as better service their clients.

Consider applying the same idea to your internal delivery teams, making project-specific knowledge accessible and shareable from the PSA platform. Simply said, people give better service to your clients when they have access to the tools they need to execute their jobs.

3. Provide assistance to Customer Success Managers Look around the corners

You must understand your consumers' thoughts in order to assist them in becoming more successful. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys provide useful information, but they are frequently administered too late in the process to help customers achieve a better outcome. Customers should be contacted frequently and repeatedly so that you may adjust your strategy if necessary.

It's also simple: send out surveys at key project stages to collect critical client feedback on your delivery, engagement model, or resources. Customer success managers may either address the problem before it affects your customer connection, or they can do more of what's working.

You may use the same approach to collect staff feedback, giving you a complete picture of both the consumer and employee experience.

Introduction

Professional Services (PS) has a few more miles on the clock than Customer Success (CS). Still, both are critical components for increasing income, particularly in SaaS, consulting communications, or technology. So-called "fast-growing" organizations in these industries and elsewhere are beginning to recognize and appreciate the value of combining the two roles, blurring the barriers between departments. It's a way that allows clients to get to know the people who are helping them reach their goals. Implementations, particularly in the worlds of SaaS, Software, and Tech Consulting, can be complicated - self-serve is simply not an option - and delays, poor outcome realization, and miscommunication can prevent or delay upsell, and, in the worst-case scenarios, increase the likelihood of churning.

What are Professional Services?

Many businesses do not have a professional services department, but they do have a training department, success engineers, onboarding teams, project managers, or other service groups. These teams share comparable objectives and metrics. Please substitute the closest kind of team in your firm for "professional services" to keep things simple.

Professional services teams, provide consumers with some type of service. These services could be one-time-only, such as onboarding and implementation, or continuing, such as training and project management. They are typically called in at the start of the customer relationship (or even at the end) to establish what the customer needs from a tactical and technical standpoint. They are then in charge of devising and implementing a strategy.

Suggested Read: How to Align your Professional Services and Customer Success Better?

Almost all services have an expected timetable, so meeting timelines for milestones and the entire project is one of the most important goals for a professional services team. There may also be a time-to-value target, which is the time it takes for a customer to receive value from a solution. Customer satisfaction is frequently used as a metric of professional services performance, and most companies conduct surveys after each big project.

The Differences between Professional Services and Customer Success

image showing differences between professional services and customer success

Rather than a project or a product, Customer Success focuses on the strategic partnership. Success is entrusted with continuing the relationship that the salesperson formed with the buyer, identifying the business results that person expects to see over time, and creating strategic goals at the start of a client relationship. Customer success often develops a connection with the administrator or key contact after deployment, which can be more tactical. Customer success is focused on offering value throughout the whole lifecycle.

Customer success and professional services roles differ primarily in their focus, notably during the onboarding phase of the customer lifecycle. While both teams should work together to get consumers off to a good start, professional services teams focus on tactical project management and Customer success establishes long-term connections. Professional services may intervene within a client relationship to supply additional services, features, or projects, while success remains focused on strategy.

Essential Points in Aligning Professional Services and Customer success

The introductions should be made by Customer Success.

If customer success is in charge of maintaining relationships with customers, it stands to reason that they'd be the ones to bring attention to the key stakeholders in both your clients' and your own organizations. Customer success should be the ones to explain who will be delivering the results for the clients, and hence bring in professional services. Why? It distinguishes Customer Success from Professional Services in customers' eyes, keeping the former as the value layer, and clients are aware of who to contact for what. Furthermore, it separates support items from Customers; that is the function of support, and if Customer Success becomes mired down in issues, NPS is likely to suffer, and implementing customer success will be pushed aside by firefighting.

Customer results should be discussed together by Customer Success and Professional Services

This is a requirement for planning since you'll want to communicate in the customer's language so that CustomerSuccess can tell whether things have been provided as the customer perceives them and when to intervene. It also aligns both teams so that the connection can be collaborative, and PS will be more likely to keep CS up to date as delivery progresses. Any customer success requirements, such as when to identify upsell/cross-sell opportunities or how to best deploy professional services in the future, can then be addressed in a timely manner. When customer success representatives are not present to watch, they are more likely to overlook crucial locations highlighted by PS at kick-off, resulting in underserved areas.

CS is value, PS is delivery, but the value will not be built-in until there is a partnership. Previously, when CS was primarily accounted for management, the interaction between them and the customer centered upon anticipated income prospects. The revenue potential is now more commonly regarded as a byproduct of CS providing value, with any intended revenue retention or expansion occurring naturally. That value layer should be embedded in the delivery component; if there is a mismatch between CS and PS, the result is frequently that PS isn't offering value, as they see delivery as a job done. The customer isn't concerned with obtaining the service; instead, they want to know that it solved their problems. PS can get advice from CS on whether or not value delivery is on track.

Pains of Professional Services with Subscription-based Businesses

Your PS organization is sure to go through some growing pains. Overburdened resources, increased customer demands, and novel ways of communicating with customers are just a few examples. You must first be aware of these hurdles in order to overcome them. As a result, we've created a list of common problems that plague you.

Pains of professional services image

Onboarding

Customer Overload: In the customer lifecycle, onboarding is a crucial step. Clients will have a strong foundation if they have a great onboarding experience. When switching from legacy to subscription services, you may be expected to enroll more clients with the same amount of resources and, in many cases, at a lower cost. Using technology to implement a completely automated or blended onboarding strategy can free up your time while still giving clients the attention they need.

Higher Expectations: Purchasing subscription services provide the advantage of a quick time-to-value. Your clients will want to get up and running as soon as possible, and they will anticipate a quick, low-effort engagement to do so. If your team is designed to provide large, specialized installations, finding the right combination of productivity and service level may require some additional strategy and technology.

Resource: The Ultimate Guide to Customer Onboarding

Expectations & Outcomes

Bad Handoffs: If you're serious about becoming customer-centric, you'll require better team alignment. During handoffs, this entails exchanging customer goals, milestones, and other data. Every team suffers from a lack of insight without this open flow of information, and the client suffers as a result.

Customer Sentiment Data is Scarce: You are unsure about the customer's feelings during the project or after it is completed. If you're lucky, you'll receive a survey after the project is completed, but odds are you won't.  While it may not have mattered in the past, knowing how your customers feel is critical to the success of your services. You may proactively repair poor sentiment and utilize positive sentiment by asking for customer sentiment, whether through NPS/CSAT surveys or in-person encounters.

Proactive vs. reactive: Responding to escalations can be time-consuming. You can work proactively to reduce fires before they start by monitoring customer health, resulting in happier customers and more time on your hands to devote to valuable tasks.

Demonstrating Client Value: Instead of focusing primarily on internal achievements such as meeting utilization or project profit targets, prioritize client results. They won't completely appreciate the value of your services unless you can measure or illustrate what you've helped them achieve.

The Customer Experience

Tracking Post-Project Success: You finish a project on a high note, but the client leaves a few months later. What went wrong? You can see if a project had a positive or bad impact on customer health and react accordingly if you continue to measure customer health after it is completed.

Using Advocates: Having satisfied clients is excellent, but if you stop there, you're missing out on a huge chance for growth. Increase growth without increasing customer acquisition costs by leveraging client references and reviews.

Understanding Customer Needs: Recognize the situations that cause a customer to expand. You can promote your solutions proactively and capitalize on the opportunity if you know what to look for.

3 Objectives to Help Your Organization Advance

It might be difficult to adopt new methods and mindsets. You'll need to create new frameworks, expand your technological stack, and encourage team adoption—not to mention find the time and money to do it all! We've grouped critical PS efforts that drive customer-centric activities into three primary goals, so don't worry. They'll lay a solid foundation for you so you can deliver Customer Success at scale.

First and foremost, expand your onboarding alternatives.

Sort your customers into categories depending on how much outreach they need to get going.

Implement a 'tech-touch' strategy to provide SMB customers with a low-cost, standardized onboarding alternative. To establish a mixed method for medium-cost, typical onboarding packages, combine Many and personal outreaches.

Enhance the project experience for enterprise customers with complex or bespoke implementation requirements.

Deliver customer outcomes rather than initiatives.

In the sales cycle, teach your sales staff how to gather a customer's goals.

Handoffs across center teams revolve around the achievement of client goals.

Create a system for evaluating the impact of service engagements on a customer's goals and overall success.

Tip: The Effective way to Sales, Customer Success, and Implementation Handoff

Continue the customer journey after deployment is complete.

Create focused service offers to address frequent client problems. Gather information that will enable you to spot opportunities to market these targeted services to your consumers ahead of time. ​​Collaborate with the sales team to develop a procedure that will allow you to take advantage of these opportunities with the least amount of friction.

Three Ways to Put Customers First

Putting your customers at the center of your business is not only good for them, but it's also good for your bottom line. According to Deloitte research, customer-centric businesses are 60% more lucrative than non-customer-centric businesses. That's understandable: when you get the result you wanted (or better), you go back to the same store—and tell your friends. The modern PS's task is to provide a customer-centric service without adding more time or employees to the process. That, we believe, is why some businesses are hesitant to make this major transformation in their operations. You don't have to be shy, though. There are existing automated technologies that can help you place clients at the center of everything you do without adding to the process's complexity.

Here are three options.

1. Dismantle the Barriers Between Sales and Services

Starting with the initial interaction with your staff, provide clients with a terrific experience. Educate sales professionals on how to effectively engage project teams as content providers. This speeds up the proposal process while also improving accuracy. Starting on Day 1, these modest efforts will go a long way toward creating a better customer experience.

We've noticed a shift toward fixed-bid, repetitive projects. Allow your sales team to create work plans, request resources, create budgets, and timeframes using pre-built PS templates without involving your marketing team. Combine this with proposal automation to provide your sales teams with even more power in engaging with delivery teammates. When done correctly, comprehensive proposal automation guarantees that the appropriate teams are notified or involved at the appropriate times.

Your employees will have more time to respond to client requests instead of searching for the correct forms thanks to branded templates and pre-approved content. We've seen this shorten the sales cycle by up to 25% and eliminate the need for services teams to spend billable time creating project plans.

2. Prioritize knowledge management in your projects.

Employees can spend up to 20% of their time, or one day each week, searching for knowledge, according to studies. The focus of your project team should be on swiftly providing what the customer requires, not on searching through shared folders for instructions.

Knowledge management, we feel, is the key to customer success. Customer support teams develop a knowledge framework that allows them to effortlessly generate, organize, and share knowledge articles, as well as better service their clients.

Consider applying the same idea to your internal delivery teams, making project-specific knowledge accessible and shareable from the PSA platform. Simply said, people give better service to your clients when they have access to the tools they need to execute their jobs.

3. Provide assistance to Customer Success Managers Look around the corners

You must understand your consumers' thoughts in order to assist them in becoming more successful. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys provide useful information, but they are frequently administered too late in the process to help customers achieve a better outcome. Customers should be contacted frequently and repeatedly so that you may adjust your strategy if necessary.

It's also simple: send out surveys at key project stages to collect critical client feedback on your delivery, engagement model, or resources. Customer success managers may either address the problem before it affects your customer connection, or they can do more of what's working.

You may use the same approach to collect staff feedback, giving you a complete picture of both the consumer and employee experience.

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