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.
The most mature professional services organizations and the ones who consistently deliver successful projects and foster long-term customer relationships, are those that offer high levels of organizational visibility across departments, have optimized business processes and integrated systems, focus on profit improvements, and have moved away from a one-time project focus to an increased emphasis on delivering great customer experiences for life.
These organizations have largely accomplished this by tracking 5 important and influential metrics for the professional services market. These metrics are not only imperative to a profitable business, but also critical in keeping customers happy through improved service delivery experiences. We recommend that all organizations who deliver projects to clients, start tracking these 5 key metrics immediately if you aren’t already:
1. Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant
Annual Revenue per Billable Consultant is a measure of a business’s total revenue divided by the number of billable consultants they employ. Understanding how much revenue each consultant is producing is a key indicator of financial success as well as consultant productivity, but it must be assessed in relation to labor costs. Revenue per billable consultant should ideally equal one- to two-times the labor costs of employing each consultant. Organizations with high annual revenue per billable consultant tend to do well because higher rates indicate better consultant productivity with respect to larger projects, more revenue in backlog, as well as more on-time and on-budget completions.
Tracking consultant productivity is key to improving customer success because you will have greater insight into when and how you should better utilize your consultants in order to improve their productivity and speed up project timelines and delivery.
2. Annual Revenue per Employee
Another core metric, Annual Revenue per Employee, is measured by dividing total revenue by the total number of both billable and non-billable employees. Similar to annual revenue per billable consultant, high annual revenue per employee is strongly correlated with profitability and efficiency. By measuring how much revenue each employee brings in relative to how much they cost, you can accurately determine the financial health of an organization. While not everyone on staff can provide billable services, it is important to be aware of the risks of too many overhead costs in relation to revenue per employee.
This metric can also be important for professional services organizations hoping to optimize business processes because business leaders can see departments where they may be spending too much money on employees, and can better re-allocate budgets to hire employees in areas that will make the business more successful. A successful business is one that has the right number of employees in each department in order to successfully manage client expectations and provide the support necessary to maintain loyal customers for life.
3. Billable Utilization
Employee utilization is defined by SPI Research on a 2,000 hour per year basis, and is calculated by dividing the total billable hours by 2,000. Utilization is central to accurately determining organizational profitability, as well as a key signal to expand or contract the workforce. By tracking work hours for billable employees, an organization can get a better picture of workforce productivity.
Your utilization rate tells you how much of your employees’ available time is spent on billable work. If this rate is too high, you likely need to add more resources. Too low and it means that you’re not bringing in enough work.
Tracking this metric can help you improve customer success because overworked employees are often tired, unhappy employees, and may even become so rundown that they are unable to perform to the best of their ability. On the other hand, underworked employees may become bored or uninterested in their work which can also affect the quality of the work they deliver. Both of these circumstances can be damaging to your organization’s reputation if the work your employees are performing does not measure up to customer expectations.
4. Project Overrun
Project overrun is the percentage above budgeted cost versus the actual cost of a project. This KPI is important because anytime a project goes over budget in either time or cost; it cuts directly into profitability. Whether a project goes over in either budget or allotted person-hours, it can limit future work and in many cases reveal internal efficiency or management issues, which also negatively impact bottom-line results. Project overruns are also detrimental to client satisfaction and even incoming sales opportunities.
By tracking project overrun, you can identify which projects are consistently going over budget, and identify ways to improve internal efficiency in order to manage projects better and stay on schedule. This will greatly improve your number of projects delivered on time, on budget, and to your customers satisfaction.
5. Profit Margin
Profit margin is the percentage of revenue which remains after paying for the direct costs of completing a project. Keeping profit margins high is essential as it ultimately drives overall revenue. Poor financial performance can often be directly correlated to low profit margins, as organizations are no longer able to invest in future growth activities.
An organization that has revenue to invest in the future growth of the company is one that can remain innovative, continuously enhance and improve their product or service, and foster long-term relationships with their customers. Tracking profit margin is therefore crucial to the ongoing success of a professional services organization.
TORONTO (PRWEB) FEBRUARY 14, 2019
Klient Software, a leading provider of professional services automation software that is easy to use and deploy and built 100% native on the Salesforce Platform, today announced new features for professional services teams and organizations focused on driving project and customer success.
“In today’s services economy, closing the deal is only the start of the customer journey and building successful customer advocates for sustained company growth,” said David Vanheukelom, CEO and Founder of Klient Software. “Customer success is rapidly emerging as a strategic differentiator and growth engine for both service and product based companies.”
The following new features empower services organizations with the right tools and insights to drive successful project outcomes for customers.
Communicating and collaborating with clients across the lifecycle of a project is critical to ensuring a successful customer outcome. Now with the latest release, Klient offers the industry’s most robust multi-channel and customer centric PSA available today.
Service organizations can now compose emails directly from within a project from anywhere to anyone by way of a simple email address, where all replies and threaded communication are tracked and stored against the project. Now services organizations can see at a glance a complete timeline of customer interaction, building upon the project timeline of all activity.
Additionally, we have enhanced the project status report to enable a one-button emailing of the status report as an attachment to any user, with configurable email templates. This builds upon the previous release of giving anyone with a URL link access to the status report for real-time project insight.
Advanced Resource Planning & Availability
No longer is it sufficient for services organizations to simply view what resources are scheduled on what projects. Historically, PSA tools offered limited insight into what the real capacity and availability of resources were, including the true big-picture of what is happening across the organization with other customer projects and commitments.
Now with the latest release of Klient Professional Services Automation (PSA), Klient PSA offers project and resource managers advanced insight into the availability and suitableness of resources for project staffing for customer success.
Resource Managers can see at a glance the availability of resources matching the needs required, but additionally can see the net-availability of available resources taking into consideration commitments of projects and placeholders on other projects, including inflight or pipeline projects.
Additional filtering capability allows resource managers to further refine availability and net availability including what project and assignment statuses should be taken into consideration.
Team Task Planner
No longer is a Gantt chart sufficient to managing and planning task deliverables and deadlines across many resources and projects. Services teams such as agencies often plan and assign tasks to the hour and require visibility into who is working on what at anytime across many customers.
In addition to the personal My Work page that displays an individual’s tasks in Kanban, Due Date, or Calendar view, the Task Planner offers a visual and configurable at-a-glance view by Day, Week, or Month of what everyone is working on, color coded by project for easy visualization.
Here users can drag-and-drop tasks between resources and assign tasks from the side panel of unassigned tasks, all while viewing at a glance resource availability and capacity.
The enhanced Task Planner offers unmatched planning capability to ensure task and resources are efficient staffed to deliverable on customer commitments.
About Klient Software
Klient provides next generation professional services automation that is easy to use and deploy and built 100% native on the Salesforce Platform. Klient helps companies transform service delivery and customer success with our intuitive and modern solution professional services teams and organizations, providing a single application to manage the performance & profitability of every project, delivering visibility across the entire business.