Even the most world-class Professional Services Organizations (PSOs) with the best project managers and service team members will encounter problematic projects every once in a while.
When this happens, projects can run over budget and clients can become frustrated if the service team doesn’t turn the project around and get things back on track.
If you find yourself with a project that seems like it’s derailing quickly, here’s some steps you can take to resolve the issues, get the project back on track, and deliver a successful and complete project that will keep your client satisfied with the service you provided:
1. Identify the problem areas
When a project starts to derail, the first step is to identify what the problem is. Maybe your service team has hit a roadblock where they’re waiting on a piece of information from the client. Or perhaps there is a technical difficulty that needs to be resolved by another department within your organization, such as the IT department. Maybe the project was incorrectly scoped during the sales process and your service team is unable to deliver a complete project with the allotted hours dedicated to project implementation.
Whatever the problem may be, identifying it allows you to step back and look for a resolution to the problem. This is where a project manager should take control and resolve the issues at hand in order to get the project back on track.
A Professional Services Automation (PSA) Software can help a project manager identify and resolve project issues, because it helps provide a clear picture of the entire project lifecycle. Part of monitoring a project for success requires tracking a project’s estimate-at-completion against its budget. Doing so, acts like an early warning indicator, alerting project managers when a specific aspect of a project may have taken more effort than intended. For this to be effective, however, project managers need to maintain accurate resource management projections and visibility into the project in real-time. Using a PSA software can easily enable a project manager to do this.
2. Resolve the issues by making necessary adjustments
When you’ve identified that there’s a problem with the project, the worst thing you can do is hope that it will correct itself along the way and everything will work out in the end. If it seems unlikely that a project will be completed on time and on budget, that will most likely be the case unless you step in early and make adjustments in key result areas.
Some project managers will assume that a tiny setback will not have a large impact on the completion of the project. This may be true in some circumstances, however, tiny setbacks can often add up throughout the lifecycle of the project which means it is the responsibility of the project manager to adjust for these discrepancies and keep the project moving along smoothly.
One tactical action that project managers can take is to identify the project’s key result areas, also known as critical success factors in project management. These are the big-bucket items that must be completed on time and to a high degree of quality in order to achieve project success. Much like an intricate game of chess, project managers can shift around priorities to accommodate for discrepancies in the project’s plan.
For example, if you know that a client is more budget-conscious than time-sensitive, you may be able to play around with resource utilization in project management. You might trim the team to stick to the budget but at the expense of time to market. If scope or quality are factors that can be adjusted, you may be able to make small reductions that don’t jeopardize the ultimate goal of the project while still achieving your key result areas.
3. Include the client in the discussion as adjustments are being made
There’s nothing that will frustrate your client more than being told at the last moment that the team has used up all of the allocated hours for the project and the work hasn’t been completed, especially if the client was under the impression that things were running as planned. If your client has a strict budget for the project or a non-negotiable date for project completion, they will not be happy if they find out at the eleventh hour that there are issues with the project plan.
As soon as the problem has been identified by the project team, and suggestions for making adjustments have been decided on by the project manager, the client should be made aware of the adjustments that are proposed and sign-off with their approval of the changes to the project plan.
This transparency provides the client visibility into the project and ensures that they are less likely to feel blindsided later on if there are unexpected costs associated with their project, or timelines have shifted.
4. Use data and insights from problematic projects to ensure future projects run more smoothly
Sooner or later every project team will face a problematic project. Hopefully by taking the steps above you can turn a project around and successfully deliver a project that meets your client’s satisfaction, however, the best PSOs will learn from their mistakes and use the lessons they learn from problematic projects to make future projects run smoother.
A PSA software with functionality for creating detailed reports of projects, can help PSOs plan for better success in the future by using project data to understand where improvements can be made. In addition, a PSA software with the ability to send surveys for client feedback and create communities for clients to have visibility into a project can help you get a better understanding of what your clients are looking for and how to do better in the future. Project Health Check Statuses will allow you to quickly see your most successful and least successful projects and empower you to make changes where needed.
Today’s professional services organization (PSO) landscape is changing—employees are harder to recruit and retain, a globalized marketplace increases competition for clients, clients want more for less, and management can no longer afford to be focused on short-term firefighting instead of long-term strategy.
As a result, PSOs are shifting from a project-focus to a customer-focus, with an increased emphasis on ensuring client satisfaction throughout the entire lifecycle of a project. This means keeping customers happy from the time the sale is made, right through until project completion and go-live.
But how do you know if your client is truly satisfied with the entire service delivery process? One way services organizations today are staying on top of customer satisfaction, is by using customer health check statuses throughout a project’s lifecycle, in order to monitor customer sentiment and feedback at every step along the way.
What is a Customer Health Check Status?
A Customer Health Check Status is a means of assessing the health of a project in terms of meeting customer expectations, staying on budget, achieving project milestones and timelines, etc.
Most companies will track customer health check statuses using customer health scores. While every company calculates theirs differently, the important thing is to have a health score methodology that helps your company align your customer success processes with the outcomes you’re trying to drive with your customer base. However, if you’re not using a health score calculation method that uses predictive analytics, you’re falling behind many customer success pacesetters.
Why is a Customer Health Check Status important?
While there are many reasons a PSO may wish to track customer health, TSIA typically views 3 use cases for health check statuses:
1. Predict Customer Churn
Helpful categories to look at here can range from detailed product adoption analytics, such as knowing how many times a customer is logging into your application, or even the process it takes to complete a task. You could also have extremely high-level categories, such as a report of how many times a customer has attended an education session or has consumed some kind of formal training.
Knowing these key metrics can help you predict if a customer is likely to continue adopting your product or service and renew with your organization in the future.
2. Predict Expansion
It is just as important to know when your customers need more help, and there is nothing wrong with selling them more technology and services during their journey toward accomplishing their desired outcome. Like a good doctor, organizations focused around Customer Success should think about prescribing the next logical step in their customer’s journey with the goal of achieving progress and ultimately some success against a quantifiable and measurable business outcome. In some cases, this would require additional technology and services from either your company, or another third party.
The question is, do you know when it’s the right time to do this, and do you have the predictive ability to do so? Customer Health Check Statuses can help with this.
3. Predict Your Customer’s Business Outcomes And Use Their Feedback To Improve
The next logical step in the customer success continuum will be to use predictive analytics and feedback methodology to dynamically engage with your customers along their journey. As their organization adopts your product or service, monitor their feedback and suggestions along the way and use the information they provide you as a way to improve and help their business achieve greater success in the future.
PSA Tools and Customer Health Check Statuses
In order to easily monitor customer health scores, more and more services organizations are selecting Professional Services Automation (PSA) tools with customer health check statuses built into the functionality of the platform.
For example, Klient PSA offers the ability to create and deliver project and customer surveys including NPS, CSAT, or free-form surveys to analyze client feedback and sentiment, learn from project engagements, and help build long-term customer advocacy to increase retention and expand selling.
It also offers health check statuses throughout the project so that project managers and customers can visually see if a project is on track. Plus, with customer and partner communities, Klient PSA users can easily collaborate and engage directly with customers and partners for project success. This includes the ability to share project status information, work directly on projects and tasks, enable partner time & expense entry, share client invoices and more.
By increasing communication between the customer and the services delivery team, and by offering opportunity for customer feedback at every stage of a project, services teams can ensure they are meeting customer expectations throughout the entire lifecycle of a project and fostering strong customer health scores.
How Customer Health Check Statuses can Ultimately Improve Services Delivery
By listening to feedback from customers and identifying areas where things didn’t go as planned, or where projects were misaligned with customer expectations, services organizations can adjust and make improvements for the future.
A strong customer-centric PSA tool can support this by offering integrated customer feedback to ensure the project team understands how the customer is feeling and can take action if the client is unhappy at any point throughout the project. Plus, forecasting and reporting functionality in a customer-centric PSA allows for informed decision-making that will empower management to develop a business strategy that will keep customers satisfied for years to come.
Services organizations depend on team collaboration for success.
Between connecting the Services team members themselves, to cross-departmental collaboration with other teams in the organization (Sales, Support, Accounting, etc.), to ongoing communication with the client, there is no shortage of people that need visibility into a project and its status.
A Professional Services Automation (PSA) software with functionality that fosters team collaboration can make it easier for Services organizations to support open communication with internal and external stakeholders throughout the entire lifecycle of a project.
Communication Among The Services Team Members
Services teams need to communicate and collaborate amongst themselves in order to manage projects efficiently and effectively.
PSA software offers features that make it simple for Services teams to create visibility within their department and increase communication. Some of these features include project management, resource planning, and time and expense management. A sophisticated Gantt chart with functionality including full inline editing, rapid task creation, drag-drop of task sequence, quick predecessor creation by wbs or task name, task scheduling directly from the Gantt, configurable columns display, split-pane, and much more deliver an exceptional experience for managing projects and ensuring teams are on the same page when it comes to project deadlines.
In addition, choosing a PSA solution that integrates with the tools that organizations are already using to communicate can drastically improve team collaboration. Integration with Slack for example, is becoming increasingly important for organizations selecting a PSA software, because it allows teams to manage projects and services directly from within Slack. A PSA like Klient Software, for instance, allows users to view projects and tasks, drill into project and task details including project profitability and financials, create new project and tasks, as well as enter time worked against projects and tasks directly from within Slack.
Communication Across Departments
The most successful services organizations also work hard to improve communication across various departments within the business. Repeatable project delivery success relies on close collaboration between the sales team, the project delivery organization, the finance function and the client. PSA provides a single, trusted platform to manage deal scoping, deliver projects and track financials that improves outcomes for all parties and builds stronger customer relationships.
A PSA built on Salesforce, for example, can boost communication and transparency between your Sales and Services teams. This can drastically improve project scoping and estimating. And, by integrating with various accounting and ERP applications, a PSA software can succeed in aligning the accounting department with sales and services as well.
Communication With The Client
Perhaps most importantly, communication with the client is imperative to driving repeat business and creating long-term customer relationships.
PSA software enables better client collaboration throughout the life of an engagement, significantly improving the likelihood of the project being delivered in line with customer expectations. PSA formalizes the process of engaging the services team in the sales cycle, which promotes confidence on both sides that the project will be delivered as sold. During the delivery of the project, customer communication can take place in real-time, quickly resolving issues as they arise.
Krow Software, recently announced survey functionality for their PSA solution which goes a step further in fostering collaboration between the project team and the client. With Krow PSA, you can now create and deliver project and customer surveys including NPS, CSAT, or free-form surveys to analyze client feedback and sentiment, learn from project engagements, and help build long-term customer advocacy to increase retention and expanding selling.
Why A Customer-Centric PSA Is Best For Team Collaboration
A Customer-Centric PSA is designed with customers at the core, providing a way for project teams to work with each other, and hand-in-hand with customers from sales through service delivery.
Klient PSA offers a modern and seamless customer experience, fully transparent communication between the project team and client to ensure alignment of expectations with real-time two-way communication, integrated customer feedback through survey tools and project health check statuses, and real-time integration with back-office systems for more successful project implementation and greater customer success.
Every business wants to grow quickly, but not all are equipped to support fast-paced growth while still operating successfully.
For services businesses, growing quickly is a great sign because it means the service you’re providing your clients is resonating with them, solving their problems, and they’re likely telling others they know that you can solve their problems as well.
However, if your services business doesn’t have the tools needed to handle fast growth, sooner or later the business will suffer because you won’t have the bandwidth to continue providing the same high quality service that made you popular to begin with.
So what are the top performing services organizations doing to tackle challenges, win business, and retain customers? What are they doing to support growth, optimize resource management, automate billing, and improve reporting? Here are a few strategies that services businesses can use to support growth and continue to succeed as they gain more customers:
Be Able To Effectively Manage Multiple Projects At Once
As your business grows, your employees are going to be busy and likely have multiple projects on the go at once. Having a tool that can help them manage these projects more efficiently will be key to their success.
A Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution will allow for better resource management, time & expense management, services CPQ, and team collaboration. All of which will empower your team to manage projects successfully and deliver services that will keep your customers happy.
Integrate And Streamline The Back-Office
When you add new services and billing models, you need a billing system that is agile enough to support them, while keeping billing cycles fast and efficient. Manual, inflexible back-office processes can only cause slow billing cycles, costly mistakes, and frustrated customers.
Ideally, you want a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system where sales creates new opportunities, a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution where your services team tracks and manages their projects, and then a fully integrated back office system that supports everything from the opportunity all the way through to customer renewal and revenue recognition that passes data seamlessly with your CRM and PSA.
Routinely Survey Your Customers and Ask For Feedback
Another way the best professional services organizations support fast-paced growth is by asking for feedback from their customers and using the information they collect from their responses to make smarter business decisions for the future.
With a PSA solution like Klient PSA your project teams can send surveys to their customers right from the platform, and their responses will be stored in the product as well.
By creating and delivering project and customer surveys including NPS, CSAT, or free-form surveys to analyze client feedback and sentiment, businesses can learn from project engagements, and help build long-term customer advocacy to increase retention improve customer satisfaction.
Is Your Service Business Equipped to Support Fast-Paced Growth?
If not, implementing a Professional Services Automation (PSA) solution with a wide breadth of features and functionality, as well as the ability to seamlessly integrate with the other applications your business uses, could help you grow with more ease and efficiency.
Schedule a discovery call with our Klient expert to find out.
More metrics are focused on customer experience than ever before. But if your overall marketing strategy isn’t designed around “customer experience” yet, you may have questions about how to get started.
Many experts have weighed in on the importance of customer experience in modern business. In this article, we’ll refer to a few published by Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Hubspot to better explain what it is and why it’s important.
We’ll explain what Klient has to offer to help your company deliver a positive experience for customers.
What Is Customer Experience?
Martin Zwilling of Forbes explains that while it used to be enough to focus on quality, value, and customer service, that isn’t the case anymore.
Today, the internet has turned the customer-company relationship into more of a relationship than ever before.
When organizations focus on individual touchpoints, they can falsely inflate their sense of a customer’s happiness. Instead, you need a comprehensive picture of the entire journey customers go through with your company.
So, if a series of individual touchpoints is not an accurate picture of customer experience, what is?
Hubspot’s Jason Bordeaux defines customer experience as “the impression you leave with your customer, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey.”
It involves many touchpoints, particularly between customers and your people or your product. But addressing one or two problematic touchpoints is not going to improve the customer’s overall impression of your business.
Why Is Customer Experience So Important?
The internet has changed the way companies interact with their customers in multiple ways.
There are more competitors available, and switching between them is easier since it can often be done with just a few clicks.
Customers also share their experiences publicly with friends, family, and any others through social media.
If a customer has a bad overall experience with your company, they can find another provider, switch to them easily, and then tell everyone they know online why they left you.
And they do.
Improving Customer Experience With Professional Services Automation
Delivering a consistently positive customer experience starts with having an easily accessible database of customer data.
Klient’s PSA software is intrinsically adept at capturing many types of information and bringing it together in novel ways. That includes information related to:
- Calendar management
- Document management
- Expense tracking
- Project management
- Resource management.
It’s also built on Salesforce Lightning, giving your employees the best user experience possible to encourage adoption through ease of use.
Having one centralized system to manage all of these touchpoints sets up your organization to improve customer experience in four key areas:
1. At the Sales Stage
Services will have better planning and forecasting abilities with Sales pipeline visibility. This allows the two departments to work hand in hand as prospects become customers. It also creates better services opportunities via forecasting and opportunities management.
2. During Project Execution
Service managers can use that visibility into the Sales Pipeline to better manage resources for the right project at the right time.
3. At the Expansion Stage
Klient’s PSA system also supports repeat and recurring billing, allowing for seamless repeat transactions.
4. Promoting Retention and Advocacy
The system also uses built-in customer surveys and a customer health check. That way, everyone stays aware of the customer’s account status. Tracking the customer journey has never been easier.
Shifting your organization’s focus to customer experience might seem like a hefty task.
Or, if you’re already working toward a great customer experience, you may need an additional tool to push the customer journey over the top.
With the right PSA system, employees will have an easier time handling prospects and customers. Leadership, too, will have easier access to the information they need.
This helps your organization deliver a single, memorable experience that makes customers happy — and keeps them that way.
As the world becomes more customer-centered, the need to foster customer success is more important than ever before. Achieving customer success means that your customers gain their desired value from your product or service, and can use it to meet their long-term goals.
In a professional services capacity, this often means delivering your service to the client in such a way that helps them achieve their goals with as few roadblocks as possible throughout the service delivery period. If you succeed in doing so, you will have happy and loyal customers for life. That means that aligning your business goals with those of your customers spells prosperity for your business for years to come.
However, this process takes dedicated nurturance of the customer relationship. And you will inevitably end up facing customer success challenges along your journey to complete customer-centricity. While problems are bound to arise, customer-centricity gives you the tools you need to effectively handle any issues and ultimately still achieve customer success.
Customer Success Challenges and How To Face Them
We all want to make our customers happy, but customer success challenges can arise for a variety of reasons. You may not have the right processes in place. You may lack the ability to gather data and draw insights that improve the customer experience. There may be a problem with the product itself. Your sales team may have scoped the project incorrectly and now the service you’re delivering isn’t matching your customers expectations. No matter the cause, your customer success team will always be on the front lines of problem-solving and will need best practices to rectify complaints.
Here are some of the most common customer success challenges your team may face and ways to overcome them:
#1. Poor Customer Visibility
From the moment the sale is complete, you need to monitor your customer’s progress with your product or service. You need to know if each customer is properly passing each adoption milestone. It’s important to monitor the details of their product usage, such as usage frequency and which features they do and do not use.
You should also monitor customer health scores and keep an eye on other KPIs, especially in the professional services industry. By taking the time to carefully monitor each customer, your team can watch over all your customer relationships, ensuring that no at-risk customer slips under the radar.
In a professional services capacity, having a professional services automation (PSA) solution like Klient Software can help you improve customer visibility through survey tools, and health check statuses, as well as detailed reporting to see how projects are progressing and aligning to the customers’ expectations. Since Klient PSA is also built native on Salesforce, your sales and services teams can work hand in hand to ensure that expectations are clear and projects are delivered according to scope.
#2. Gaps In Customer Nurturance
It’s imperative to nurture the relationship your brand has with each of your customers. If nurturance is inconsistent in its thoroughness or scope, customers can slip through the cracks, raising churn rates. You need to invest time in every customer and provide quality engagements. This is true whether you sell a product or a service.
Accounts should be tracked and routed to customer success team members or managers for proper engagement. Team members can track changes in customer value over time and evaluate if there are any concerning signs. This enables your team to give the correct amount of nurturance to every customer.
A marketing automation tool, such as HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot, can also help with customer nurturance. You can set up automated email marketing campaigns specifically designed to foster relationships with your existing customers, improve their awareness of your product or service, and ensure you meet their needs in the future as their business grows and evolves.
#3. Customers Are Not Seeing Value
When customers stop seeing the value of your product or the service you’re offering, they will most likely churn. While winback campaigns can be effective at times, the best solution to this problem is prevention.
Your business needs to deliver value constantly. Build value from the moment a customer makes a sale by identifying the value a customer is looking for and helping them achieve it. As adoption goes on, deliver expanding value in the form of new functionalities or features. And listen to feedback, as a customer’s goals can always evolve.
In professional services specifically, providing value for a customer usually means ensuring that the quality of service you promised them when they signed your proposal, is the quality of service you’re delivering to them. Your customer will also see value if the service you deliver to them is delivered on time, on budget, and according to scope. Most important, is that upon successful completion of the project, your customer can clearly see how this service solved their problem, and will help their business be more successful moving forward.
A PSA solution like Klient Software can help your customers see the value in your service, by empowering you to stay on scope, on time, and on budget, and provide the customer full transparency as you work through their project so they can see any reasons for delays, additional hours billed, etc.
Overcome These Customer Success Challenges & Watch Your Business Grow
Improving your company’s levels of customer success provides an opportunity to see strong, ongoing growth. Happy customers are loyal, and not only are they apt to accept upsell or cross-sell offers, but they may even give your business good word-of-mouth, which is invaluable for your brand’s reputation.
Once you center your company’s goals around those of your customers, you’ll be ready to exceed your customers’ expectations in terms of delivered value. And nothing’s more cost-efficient and beneficial than retaining customers.