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6 Steps to Rock Your Customer Success Software Implementation
At some point or another, we’ve all learned the hard lesson that rework is costly – whether it’s at the expense of your time, money, or sanity. As an Implementation Specialist here at ChurnZero, I can tell you firsthand that neglecting your Customer Success software implementation is a recipe for rework, or worse, abandonment.
Because Implementation can either drive or diminish the future value of your Customer Success software. Putting in the upfront work during this pivotal phase pays dividends down the road in the forms of higher product adoption, user satisfaction, and customer retention.
In this article, I’ll share six steps that our most successful customers follow during implementation. Assuming that you’ve already properly prepped for your Customer Success software implementation, I’ll dive into how to approach the technical integration piece of onboarding to ensure you get the most out your purchase, the process, and your vendor partnership.
1. Trust the process
Take the time to understand how your vendor’s implementation contact – whether it’s an Implementation Specialist, an Onboarding Manager, or a Customer Success Manager – recommends managing your onboarding. They know their tool best. Having worked with customers from across the business, they’ve designed the Implementation process to get you up and running as effectively as possible.
But don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way! If parts of the process sound like they might not be a good fit for your use case, approach the process with curiosity. The Implementation team is on your side and wants to get you launched as quickly as possible.
2. Communicate your goals
In advance of your first meeting with your implementation contact, take some time to think through and articulate your top priorities. If discussing goals is not already built into the onboarding process, make sure you share your goals with your implementation contact before moving forward. This allows everyone involved on your side and on the vendor’s side to work toward the same objectives. Instead of focusing on the “nice to haves,” you can direct your energy to the items that are essential to launch.
3. Establish your communication cadence with your implementation contact
Your implementation contact should be your lifeline throughout the onboarding process, and it’s their job to ensure you have a smooth experience. Establish a communication cadence with them to have a clear sense of when you will meet (or email) to discuss progress.
It’s also helpful in managing your own time to know when you’ll next catch up with your implementation contact. Following a schedule allows you to keep your communications consolidated, knowing that you have designated meeting points where you can ask any questions that arise.
If this is not already part of the onboarding process, have a discussion early on about how frequently you will touch base and how you will use that time.
4. Identify internal stakeholders who need to directly participate in the process and set expectations
Once you understand the process, the next big piece you need to square away is identifying who on your team actually needs to be involved in the onboarding of your Customer Success software. Perhaps you need your dev team to assist with pushing data, your CRM admin to explain how the data translates, or key members of your Customer Success team to identify what data points they want in the system.
Now go get them! Plan for those resources and the timeframes during which you will need their support and attention. The earlier you sift through who needs to be involved and work out internally how this work will be supported, the easier it will be to make swift progress.
5. Set internal timelines and have a system in place to hold your team accountable
As much as your implementation contact wants to help, they aren’t a member of your internal team. This means leadership is still needed among your own internal resources to get your Customer Success software up and running to your defined specifications. Any team effort requires coordination, and while your implementation contact can structure the process, they need your partnership to push your team forward to achieve your stated objectives.
Designate someone on your team to be responsible for circling the wagons and getting all the right people in the right meetings at the right times. This person should stay abreast of the team’s needs, wants, and questions to ensure everyone has a clear sense of direction, as well as the information they need to complete their piece of the puzzle.
Work with your implementation contact to identify what work they can help with and what work your team needs to complete on their own. Once work ownership is defined, you can set timelines together based on your “Go Live” targets, internal and external task durations, and your implementation contact’s recommendations.
6. Map out your processes on paper to prepare for the feature configuration ahead
With most Customer Success software, there’s some degree of work needed to ensure the system is customized with your data. This means your onboarding process will likely begin with your vendor implementing any needed integrations, so you’ll have some downtime before you can start configuring your software features.
While they perform the technical work of integrating your data with your new tool, you can also begin working with your team to map out your internal Customer Success processes on paper. Once you familiarize yourself with the functionality of the Customer Success software, you’ll know exactly what workflows you need to build to start immediately seeing value.
Invest the time to get your implementation right
How you approach your Customer Success software implementation sets the tone not only for the rest of your onboarding, but also for your team’s long-term relationship with the product.
Having overseen software implementations day in and day out, the number one piece of advice I can offer is to take the time to get it right – whether that’s your data, your integrations, or your workflows. Implementation is not a time to improvise or settle for “good enough” to get it out the door.
Afterall, you’ve spent time researching Customer Success software. You’ve spent time making your business case. You’ve spent time securing the budget. You’ve spent time vetting vendors. You’ve spent time purchasing the software. Don’t miss out on the full ROI and value you can get from the product because you didn’t give your implementation the time and attention it needs to set you up for success.
The steps that I’ve shared in this article are embedded within our own Implementation process at ChurnZero, and are what I attribute much of our success within Implementation to. I promise if you take on this process with dedication, curiosity, and a positive outlook – while following the steps outlined above – you’ll achieve product adoption that lasts while avoiding bigger headaches down the road.
To learn more about how to create the optimal onboarding experience, check out our roundup of top advice from Customer Success experts in our guide on crushing SaaS customer onboarding.