Mar 26, 2021

Read Time 4 min

How to prepare for customer success software implementation


Implementation doesn’t have to be a dread-inducing undertaking that makes you contemplate if it’s even worth purchasing a new tool or switching platforms. We’ve all experienced or have heard secondhand of a software implementation gone wrong – whether it’s perpetually delayed timelines, data mapping nightmares, or miscommunicated requirements – which stirs those uneasy and queasy feelings at the very thought of the task.

The good news is most of these hindrances and headaches can be avoided with simple, upfront prep work. As the Implementation Team Lead at ChurnZero, I’ve seen what makes a successful implementation…and what doesn’t. I’ve managed over 130 ChurnZero-specific implementations and countless other onboarding experiences in previous roles. Most often, problems arise when the proper scoping hasn’t been done before starting the implementation – making it susceptible to assumptions, ambiguity, misunderstandings, and unknown needs or conditions. Waiting until you’re in the midst of the project and up against a deadline to mitigate these tasks is when the friction and frustration set in.

To ensure you encourage your CSMs to adopt Customer Success software, I’ve put together an implementation readiness checklist. While this list below may not be comprehensive from all angles, it’s a great jumping-off point.

1. Unique account identifiers

Customer Success software aggregates data from multiple systems (like your CRM, product, billing, and ticketing systems) to provide a holistic view of your customers. To map together the data from these disparate systems, each of your customers needs to have a single unique identifier that exists across all of these systems.

consistent account ids for customer success platform

You should confirm with your prospective Customer Success provider which of your existing systems require a unique identifier to ensure the data can be mapped properly.

2. Time and resources

No matter what tool you purchase, you need to allocate time for data implementation. Make sure you align with your prospective provider’s sales team to define the implementation timeline, so you’re accurately prepared. There’s work needed from both your tool and team to ensure that the data finds its way properly into your Customer Success software.

If you need support from your CRM Admin or a Product Developer, make sure that you scope and plan their time accordingly so that you can hit the ground running when your implementation timeline begins.

Some providers charge for implementation, so you want to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.

3. Native integrations

Does your current CRM integrate with the tool you’re looking to purchase? What about your ticketing system? Financial system? Email? NPS?

The more native integrations you have, the quicker your implementation will be as these are the systems with existing connectors that your team regularly uses.

Are all the systems you’re planning to integrate on the cloud (i.e., not self-hosted or on prem)?

Make sure that you review the documentation on WHAT each of the native integrations offer. If you have an essential object from your CRM that you need to see in your Customer Success software, it’s always worth scouting this prior to purchasing.

4. Integration points outside of native integrations

It’s highly unlikely that the Customer Success tool you purchase will have native integrations with every single software you use. If they do, then 100% purchase them right away.

More realistically, you’ll need to involve members of your development or engineering team to get your product usage data into your Customer Success tool.

Have you had a call with the prospective Customer Success software provider and your developers to understand what this lift entails? You should always scope this effort prior to purchase.

5. Parent-child relationships

Do you have Parent-Child relationships in your CRM or in your product? Have you scoped what this would look like in the Customer Success software you’re purchasing? Every software handles this functionality differently (if they can support it at all), so make sure you verify that the software can support it.

6. Account fields

Do you have a data source that can identify essential Account fields, such as Start Date, Next Renewal Date, Total Contract Amount, and Churn Date?

7. Contact fields

Do you have a data source that can identify essential Contact fields, such as Email Address, First Name, Last Name, Title, and Contact Role?

When assessing the Contact Role field, denote the differences between the relevant roles you want to track, such as Billing Contact, Executive Sponsor, Contract Signer, Primary User, and Standard User.

In the future when you’re ready to build engagement automations (let’s say around a renewal), you’ll most likely want to reach out to the Contract Signer and the Primary Contact. Having a role on the contact field allows you to do that properly.

8. Upcoming data projects

Are you planning any massive data overhauls over the next six months, such as switching CRMs or a brand-new product rollout? Consider waiting until after a data-intensive project is completed to purchase a Customer Success tool as these changes could cause substantial configuration rework or software limitations caused by new data structures.

While your implementation considerations will depend on the functionality and nuances of both your product and the product you plan to purchase, the factors listed in this article are relatively product agnostic and common among all Customer Success tools. By answering these questions, you’ll ensure your readiness to have a pain-free, smooth implementation.

If you liked this article, you might also like: The five biggest Customer Success software implementation mistakes—and how to avoid them.


Subscribe to the newsletter   

Empowering your customer success team through community

Has your customer community lost its spark? Teams are often eager to launch this new initiative, however, sustaining that same enthusiasm in the months ahead can be a challenge. “It's one thing to create excitement and another to keep people’s attention,” says Shauna...