In this edition of the Launch Station, we talk to Irit Eizips, CEO, CSM Practice, on the First Value Delivery framework and how it can be used to identify quick wins for value delivery. CSM Practice is one of the first CS strategy consulting firms globally, and Irit has been a part of the Top 100 Customer Success Strategists since 2013. She has extensive experience in customer retention, upselling, customer value strategies, and methodologies.
Here’s what Irit talks to us about in this insight-packed session:
- The most common mistake CS teams make
- Time-to-First-Value and how to identify the right outcomes for it
- Best practices to prioritize the right results for customers
- A handy framework to prioritize the best onboarding outcomes
- Recommendations and advice for CS leaders
Summary and Takeaways
Here are some of our favorite bits from the thoughtful and actionable insights that Irit brought to the podcast:
- CSM teams need to be proactive: By merely reacting to the customers’ needs, you limit maximized value to what they know.
Clients know that they don't know everything — they might know about the business and where they want to go. Still, as an onboarding and implementation expert, you know what works, what doesn't, the potential risks associated with the project, etc., based on your extensive experience with similar customers.
- A CS mistake that has the most negative impact: Letting the customer decide the SOW independently.
When you let the customer decide the scope without your inputs, they often forget to focus on the end-user, making adoption much harder. As a CS leader, remember that your job is not over till the end-user sees value. Scoping is where you can add the most value from your experience with other customers and your product/service.
Become a trusted advisor to the customer in picking the correct scope. The right scope will help them succeed in getting all the features and functionalities, and also the change management and training that will enable the end-users to easily consume the new process, feature, or technology.
- Tips to get scoping and minimize Time-to-First-Value:
- Have a list of operational successes and business outcomes that might be applicable for any customer. Further, divide them by impact and level of effort to implement them.
- Create a success playbook — maybe even during the sales cycle — that maps the business outcomes, the value KPIs that the customer cares about, and the outcomes that help reach each goal. This can help them plan, at the scoping stage, the outcomes you can improve upon over their lifecycle, etc.
- Instead of the big bang approach, navigate the best approach to prioritize perceived value in the lowest time. It helps to look at approaches in four quadrants:
- Quick wins: low effort, low customer impact
- Home runs: low effort, high customer impact
- Long term wins: high effort, high customer impact
- Nice-to-have: high effort, low customer impact
- Don’t just stop at quick wins. Low-effort, high-impact (or home run) outcomes can help get customers to perceive value. Pro-tip: Give them a list of 10 quick wins and home runs they could select from for the first stage.
- In some cases, it's not about the module or process but the cohort. Take a subset as a proof of concept and get the first value quickly delivered for them before you expand and proceed.
- Tips for prioritizing onboarding outcomes:
Small incremental changes are more effective than large disruptive ones in getting your solution to stick. An excellent place to start is understanding if something is an existing process and then pick a change that nudges a current process differently or repairs or improves it.
- Pick incremental and existing over something disruptive and new. It helps to look at onboarding outcomes, too, as existing in four quadrants considering how resistant users would be to change and the risk attached to the change:
- Low resistance, low risk
- Low resistance, high risk
- High resistance, low risk
- High resistance, high risk
- Pick a low-resistance and low-risk outcome to introduce your technology so that when you get to high-risk and high-resistance outcomes, customers are already familiar with the technology and just need to learn the process. For other outcomes, think about activities you can set off in parallel so you can set your customer up for long-term success.
- Best practices for ROI and Value Delivery:
- Before you begin, document the baseline and understand the current state of affairs. Start by defining the success indicators for any initiative. To do this, you can get qualitative inputs on pain points or issues. Or, you could talk to people to benchmark quantitative aspects such as time taken to perform certain tasks, etc.
- Stagger ROI and weave quick wins through more significant changes.
- During onboarding, have thoughtful change management whenever you get an incremental value delivered so that the end-user is adopting it at the right time.
- Customers renew based on perceived value and not necessarily value realized. Create a formal process where you articulate every business value realized, get it validated by the customer, and document and share with the customer team. While a quantitative ROI is better, even a qualitative acknowledgment of value in the first year can leave you in a good place for renewals.
- Charging a customer for onboarding: Unless your onboarding processes take less than an hour or are just starting, you should charge your customers for onboarding. Even self-serve models often have add-on paid sessions or reviews with experts.
- The ideal TTFV for modern SaaS: While this depends on the complexity of the project, here are some ballpark numbers:
- For self-serve solutions: 10-14 days at most
- For more complex implementations: Approximately eight weeks
- CSM best practices:
- Build a maturity model to help customers see where they currently stand and where you can take them.
- Don’t push feature misses, bugs, and technical issues for the post-handoff stage. Have meetings well before handoff with the right audience so you can have a more strategic discussion with the executive committee later.
- Formalize as much as possible through templates, processes, and talk tracks for your CSM team. A sound talk track will include a list of questions to ask, answers to FAQs, and follow-up questions for different stages and cohorts.
- Advice for new CS leaders:
- Nail the onboarding experience; use your experience to advise customers on what works, what doesn’t, risks and pitfalls, etc.
- Speak to your customers to get inputs —in their vernacular — to help you serve new customers better.
- Use an onboarding Health Score that can be helpful during handoffs.
- Ensure that you are transparent with the customer and show them exactly where they are on the onboarding journey. Make onboarding data visible to the customer and break down the silos between onboarding and adoption. Invest in a tool; using spreadsheets and presentations is not scaleable.
Book recommendation: It’s your ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff