Listen & understand: retooling your approach to outstanding customer experiences

Tina Fan | December 5, 2018 | Articles

Whether a long or short sales cycle, once a customer signs, it’s easy to skip project planning and jump into full force execution. This can be great in an attempt to quickly obtain results, but there’s still a get-to-know you phase that many companies fly over, particularly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies where the product roll-out feels more turnkey. It’s essential, though, to continue the nurturing phase post-sales and turn on a high acuity of customer engagement. How do you actually do this while still hitting sales targets and simultaneously onboarding new customers?

Redefine “Customer Experience”

In SaaS, the customer experience is made up of the interactions with the company, software, and people. For example, a cohesive experience should include a smooth transition from sales to implementation, from implementation to customer success and support – all while having a main point of contact who knows your account and all of the action items and requests. No small feat!

We need to view customer experience as an ongoing relationship. And in order for the relationship to be effective, a partnership must be created and fostered between the SaaS provider and the customer, most of which takes place after the sale. In SaaS, where platforms continuously evolve and improve, it’s not just about getting the customer up and running during the onboarding process, but empowering them to adopt new processes and features after the initial go-live. This is a new way of thinking compared to the on-premise world where there are large, scheduled upgrades that force customers to adopt new processes and features.

Win-Win Solutions Have Higher Adoption

After years as a management consultant at Accenture and Acquis, I had a unique opportunity to see the relationship from all the various angles including customer business owner, customer support organization, software vendor, and consulting partner.

I’ve taken this experience to influence how we do things at SimpleLegal, addressing some of the common gaps in regards to the interactions and overall customer experience. Here’s what it boils down to:

    1. Act as a true business partner, not a vendor. Customer engagement and success isn’t just meeting status quo as a transactional vendor or software provider. Reset your mindset to a consultative partner approach. This means you – and your team – spend the first stage with new customers understanding and collaborating.
    2. Practice your listening skills and dig into the why, not just the what, of your customer’s goals and pain points. This will enable you to dig deeper and better assess, plan, design, and collaboratively recommend best practices and implant solutions that work and are maintainable for all parties involved, rather than teeing up a one-size-fits-all approach. In addition to knowing why, there can be multiple design options so helping the customer understand the pros and the cons, as well as long term impacts of each design option, is critical in order to make the right decision. Solutions that factor in the goals and effort of the various audiences are the ones that get adopted.
    3. Authentically embrace your customers’ success as your success. Remember that changes take time and buy in, so it’s important to continue to nurture the partnership by managing the business needs of the various stakeholders. It means having Implementation Managers and Customer Success Managers that are hands on and can help the customer be successful through product and industry knowledge, project and change management, as well as an understanding of the company’s operating culture. It also means being transparent with and challenging the customer when working together.

Work Together for Success

Infusing a partnership mentality and consultative approach into customer experience is a must for enterprises and startups alike. At SimpleLegal, I’m proud of how deeply our teams take responsibility of our customers’ success, acting as an extension of their team and getting to the core of what they do, how they do it, and why they do it all.