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[Guest Post]: Customer Success with WorkRails

by Andreas Knoefel

A New Reality

Change is indeed the only constant in the universe. Like Uber and Lyft disrupted the taxi service, Customer Success disrupts the delivery of services in a subscription-based economy and creates new Laws of Physics in our Customer Universe.

As I described in my series Crossing the Renewals Chasm, gone are the days where Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Training and Support had a different view, objective and incentive plan of the customer, just like the proverbial three blind men describing an elephant. Customer Success managers or CSM’s create a cohesive and permanent link between your solution and each and every customer stakeholder.

This cohesion is required as the shift from perpetual licenses to software leasing in the cloud has lowered the barriers to transition to a different solution and jeopardizes the next renewal. Continued productivity gains and solution success need to be shown by the CSM to the Buyer for renewal and expansion. Easy to procure and deliver services chunks, or “Servlets” become an important tool for CSMs to achieve and demonstrate ROI.

Traditional Services Delivery

As part of this transformation in customer engagement, the type of services and the delivery vehicles have changed as well. 10 years ago, you were limited to two choices:

  1. SOW delivered by the ProServ team.
  2. Training classes

Figure 1 below depicts the services delivered over time. After an intensive SOW and training in the first year, there are only reactive support calls in response to incidents.

Services in the Customer Success Universe

The Customer Success Universe has different and additional needs for services during the Deployment, Onboarding and Nurture stages of the customer life cycle.

Deployment

Customers have today different expectations and demand choices for the solution deployment. On one end are the traditional SOW-based deployments, typically seen with complex enterprise solutions.  On one end of this expectation spectrum you have DIY tutorials on Youtube or in PDF, seen mostly with Freemium offers. An optional but important choice to DIY deployments are matching well-defined mini-projects with clear inputs, scope, deliverables, and constraints. I call these mini projects “Servlets”.

Onboarding

Customers also expect a better end-user ramp-up experience, or onboarding. Onboarding via web or classrooms may be part of the subscription scope or offered  for additional cost and become another Servlet.

Health Checks

In a Customer Success model you must measure your customer productivity and satisfaction as close as possible and establish an early warning system for customers in distress. Health checks can be either an input to such an early warning system or an intermediate step to determine and eliminate root causes of distress, and become yet another Servlet in your services catalog.

Figure 2 below shows how Servlets are delivered at various stages of a customer lifecycle during the initial deployment and continued nurture.

Services in a Customer Success Economy

The deployment, onboarding and health check servlets differ from traditional SOWs in several aspects. The table below highlights these differences.

Challenges and Solutions

Of course, reality is on a sliding scale. MSA’ and procurement standards are not the enemy, but a best practice for any prudent enterprise. However, with higher frequency, smaller scope, and lower costs, new purchase flexibilities arise, as well as new challenges.

Servlet Management

For one, an easy and nimble management platform is required to define your outcome based servlets and present them in catalogs to your customer base. Handing out a PDF and then leading a customer through the same time-consuming procurement process of a traditional SOW is not economic and nimble enough to allow quick reaction to customer needs.

Delivery

A second challenge is presented in the Delivery of these Services. Your Professional Services Automation (PSA) and your Project Management (PM) solutions may require an overhead to setup and deliver an engagement that is negligible for a $50K – $5M SOW project, but quite impactful for a $5K configuration check. Yet both projects require  a platform to allocate resources, track progress, and monitor KPIs.

WorkRails Services Catalog – The Servlet Delivery Platform

I found in WorkRails a solution that addresses both challenges. The completeness of the solution and ease of use even opens the door to rely completely on internal or partner delivery resources while still presenting a cohesive and consistent experience to its end customers.