In this edition of the Launch Station, we have Chitra Madhwacharyula, Director of Customer Success, Couchbase. Chitra is part of the Customer Success Top 100 Strategists 2020 list. She has over 15 years of experience in professional services and customer success roles in organizations such as TIBCO, LinkedIn, Ayla, and Couchbase.
Here’s what Chitra talks to us about in this episode:
... and more.
We kicked the episode off with a conversation around Chitra’s early experiences with creating packaged offerings for customers. During her stint at TIBCO, Chitra and her team noticed patterns in requirements, use cases, and modules across customers from different domains and industries. At this point, they began building reusable and deployable modules and offering them as packages to customers — instead of building them out individually for each of them. Doing so helped on two fronts: It made solutions cost-effective for customers and allowed the Customer Services team to standardize systems and processes at their end.
Here’s a quick summary of our key takeaways from the conversation:
The best time to think about productizing service offerings is when you have a complete understanding of your customer journey from start to end. This way, you know exactly when and where services can augment the product offering and fill gaps in deployment or customer understanding.
These productized services should be designed to help your customers at every step of the journey. For example, packages could serve multiple objectives such as building awareness (e.g., discovery workshops to help map business needs), streamlining onboarding, and even helping with ecosystem planning and expansion.
Look at consulting as a tool to help you scale, as separate from sales or service. Besides being an additional revenue stream, an in-house consulting function can help you build and demonstrate authority in your domain.
As a customer service professional, you are your customers’ best advocate. The perspective that CS managers gain from experience with varied customers can be tremendously helpful in creating concrete solutions that benefit your customers and your company.
Even if you have a robust professional services offering, partner networks can help expand and enhance your offering. This is especially true when you want to expand your presence in regions or technologies where you don’t currently have one. One way to do this is to lay down a defined/limited scope for your services and bring in partners for complementary services.
While this depends significantly on the offering, here are some guidelines:
Build services with the intent to maximize efficiency and scale — not to increase service revenue.
Building services only when they are essential, for example, if your product/user journey is complex or if you are in a domain that your customers don’t fully understand.
Customers push back when they don’t see or understand the value they can gain from your services. It becomes easier if you introduce services upfront so they can be factored into overall costs. In cases where you know that customers will not be successful without certain services, it helps to include the related training and consultancy as a mandatory requirement in the contract.
The best way to avoid any customer resistance is to make sure that customers see you as their trusted advisors.
Most companies carve out the budget for promoting consulting services (through PR, blogs, etc.) out of the overall customer success budget.
However, the sales and service teams talking directly to the customers can have a more significant role to play in promoting consulting as a service.