In this episode, we have Vishal Rana, VP - Customer Success at Snapdocs, talking to us about customer onboarding for enterprise customers. Vishal has been in the customer success space for around two decades and has been in the enterprise software space since 2012. He has led client services, professional services, and customer success teams at companies like Medallia and Segment.
In this episode, he talks to us about:
... and more.
The conversation with Vishal was filled with insights and many an aha moment.
Here’s what we walked away with from the discussion:
1. Investing in the Operations function for your customer success org has long-term benefits. CS Ops will act as the turbocharger for you as you scale.
2. Selling to SMBs Vs. Enterprises: While SMBs mostly want something they can set up and run themselves and do it quickly, the expectation from enterprises is different: they are generally more patient and are willing to pay. They want you to go with them every step of the way and map out what needs to be done; they have an entire team on their end to work on the implementation, and they expect the same on your end. It can take quarters to implement an enterprise SaaS fully.
3. Why escalations happen with enterprise implementations:
a. While enterprise customers are patient in terms of the time something takes, they want to see progress and want reassurance that you are guiding them. A big part of this is change management.
b. Most people don’t get that the customer is buying their expertise on how to use the software to change their business, as much as using the software itself, and this is where they go wrong. Enterprise customers want you to train and advice their teams, help them get the most out of it. You can’t just give them a login and expect them to know what to do.
c. The type of teams and the preparedness required to show up for these implementations are radically different too. Special attention is necessary for resource allocation on their end.
d. Everyone wants to grow super fast, and that’s where the mismatch between what is promised to the customer and what can be delivered arises. Sales, Product, Customer Success need to align on what they commit to the customer. The lack of coordination here is what causes the escalation. It’s the CS team’s responsibility, too, and they should educate Sales on what works and what doesn’t.
4. Using maturity models for implementation: A maturity model is when you think of how your product gets adopted and how your customer gets the ultimate value. You sell to customers at different levels of familiarity with tools and knowledge of their problems - which decides their maturity level. The customers have aspirations to get to a certain maturity level, and the Sales team is always trying to sell them that maturity level. The CS team has to educate Sales on how you can eventually help the customer to reach the optimal maturity level, and not right away.
5. The typical implementation process for an enterprise customer:
a. Implementation is just about 20% of the work; much more effort goes into planning, obtaining permissions, deciding on when to implement, getting the teams on both ends aligned on the implementation structure and process
b. Generally speaking, it starts with a kickoff meeting to go through what a customer's purchase is, set expectations on how the process will unfold, introduce the key people on the vendor’s side: who's going to do what, who they should email if they have a particular issue, um, define responsibilities, how often executive sponsors are meant to engage and what updates will happen, and really ask the customer to show up with the same thing from their side
c. Then spend time planning, understanding their calendar, when people will be around, and what dates need to be hit for different sprints.
d. Then, narrow the group into a smaller team. Get into the details, build the specs of what is to be deployed, and get the requirements from all the different stakeholders.
e. The customer success manager owns the outcome that the customer bought, and the implementation team is making sure that it's feasible, right.
f. The next step is working with the consumer tech team, testing, training, and going live.
6. What a post-sale onboarding team should look like:
a. The CSM is a business-focused person. They understand the customer's business better than anybody else in the org
b. The support team at the other extreme is meant to be the experts on your software. They are the foremost expert on what the intended behavior is. They have the tightest connection to the product and engineering teams. They know whether or not the software is doing what it's supposed to and how it should operate.
c. The implementation team is in-between. They are deployed in projects very specific to customer environments. And so they end up being the experts of the specific deployment and the customer's technical environment.
7. Setting goals for the teams involved in implementation: This starts with hiring people who have a tremendous amount of ownership, want to solve customer problems, and have high customer empathy. Tell the team what problem they solve. Have them think about what expertise they should have and what problem they should solve. When you define the team's purposes in terms of a problem, they have clarity on why they are involved and what they're trying to do, versus when you say ‘Your task is X.’ It also eliminates finger-pointing and encourages ownership.
8. Advice for first-time customer success leaders:
a. Pick companies that do something that you care about. If you're just going through the process because someone else told you to, it's going to be pretty obvious. It's hard to get other people excited to follow you, and customer success teams are rather emotional.
b. You should care about that problem because if you don't, people can tell it's hard to fake it.
c. Remember that they're paying for your opinion as much as the software. Don't just sit back and let the customer tell you what they want to do. Guide them.
9. Ownership of renewals: The reality is that everybody owns it. Sales owns it from the point of view of setting expectations. Product holds it from the point of view of making sure that the org delivers on promises. Your company needs to figure out who executes on paper. Vishal sees a lot more consumption-based software contracts where the fee is based on consumption.
10. Book recommendations:
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H Pink
- Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan and John King
- Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan
- Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck