How a customer expert designs a tech rollout plan
“Please say, ‘track a package’, ‘schedule a pick-up’, or ‘main menu’ to go back to the previous menu options.”
In the era of the disembodied, robot voice on the other end of most customer service help lines, the chance to talk to a human can be frustratingly elusive –– especially when you’re troubleshooting or getting new technology up and running. Though some issues can be easily resolved with a quick Google search, others, such as deploying new tools in your workplace, might need an extra touch. After all, who wants to be stuck reading from a potentially outdated PDF or scouring the online help center? A not-so-nice experience trying to set-up and use a new tool can make or break adoption, and compromise the reputation of a product.
The implementation of new workplace technology is only as good as the prep work that goes into the rollout strategy ahead of a launch –– and the success of the tool hinges on this as well. What’s the secret to keeping customers happy and engaged? Asking a lot of questions –– and truly listening and responding to the feedback you get from them.
No one knows this better than Quentin Bosman, Manager of Enterprise Customer Success at Envoy, and resident customer success manager (CSM) rollout playbook expert. CSMs are the post-sale partners to our customers and help to:
- Set up the product
- Train various teams on how the new tool matters to their work and how to use it
- Make sure customers continue to see value in new products, features, and enhancements
In this Q&A, Quentin shares why proactive communication is crucial to building and maintaining trust, the power of collaborative goal setting, and why CSMs should always be the first to know about product changes and enhancements (and communicate them to customers as soon as you do).
Due diligence: How to communicate and evolve onboarding processes based on customer feedback
What are some of the ways you go about facilitating the feedback process from customers about their journey to getting started with their visitor management or delivery management software?
QB: Very directly! Beforehand, I ask them if the project plan aligns with things they have done in the past. We tend to ask them a couple of questions: What are some rollouts of other tools that have worked well, and what rollouts haven’t been so successful in the past?
What’s really important during this information gathering period, though, is not to only go over the line items in a project spreadsheet, but to cover the concepts that are being broken down. This onboarding phase is all about change management: this is about making sure that every single technical background aspect has been thought of and is done so that it doesn’t get in the way of deployment later. It needs to be right, tested, and approved by everyone. The concepts behind the action items are just as important as the action items themselves.
With adding any new workplace technology tool, there are so many people in different roles that you need to introduce the product to. You need to think about this impacts everyone’s existing workflows, and how to best get them onboard. You can’t just drop a new tool in someone’s lap and say, “You need to learn this.”
What are some of the most common issues that arise in this discovery process? Are there common themes that have come up in this feedback? It sounds like this is a two-fold process: taking a proactive approach to anticipate everything that could go wrong, and also conveying the details on how you use the product.
QB: Yes, and this comes down to who is in the room: wrangling your key stakeholders and gauging their level of interest, involvement, and objections. For the security officer, for example, I might need to try and win them over more than the workplace technology team about having the newest, hottest thing. If those people are part of your implementation team, they’re always going to have that objection. Whether or not the rollout goes well, that is so subjective. That’s why we need to align with the key stakeholders, and address their objections ahead of time.
Creating continuity: When does customer success get involved?
Walk me through the CSM process in these two scenarios: talking to people who are in the evaluation stage, and helping those who have already signed up.
QB: Typically CSMs are post-sale. We schedule an internal kick-off with the customer’s dedicated account executive. We want to understand exactly why they are adopting the tool, how they envision using it, who will be using it, and ideal rollout times –– all the fun facts.
The other scenario is when we want to show them the value of dedicated customer success before they sign up. These topics will be what we talk about in our annual business review (ABR) and our quarterly business review (QBR). It’s also where we lay out the cross-functional opportunities internally, such as becoming a future beta tester for products in development. It’s also nice because they now have a face to the name and to the organization, and we have established continuity.
So what comes next after establishing on onboarding framework? The QBR process?
QB: We want to learn and share out what the metrics and data points are from customers so that they can best use the product. The QBR combines this with taking a look at how we did on delivering on the goals set from last time. This could be an implementation, training, or feature usage goal.
For example, if we want a recruiting team to have a stellar experience with the product, we would look at:
- How many invites were sent via recruiting?
- Which recruiter or coordinator hosted the most on-site interviews?
- How many visitors went through the interview candidate flow?
- Who is using QR codes?
- How many survey responses have we received from the interview candidate flow?
- How fast are people signing in?
Do you have any surprising stories or curve balls you have encountered in the rollout process?
QB: One of my customers was doing a rollout in multiple locations in Europe. I had an amazing deployment plan. Despite this, I discovered that their WiFi had different regulations than our visitor badge printer did, which halted deployment. This was a good lesson on taking more time up front to go through a discovery phase of any oddities. Customers know their business and operations best, so this experience resulted in making sure I found out what the operations landscape is right away, i.e. “What are special things that I need to know about your set-up?”
What’s one piece of advice you would give to customer success managers?
QB: Another important lesson learned: deprecations (technology retiring) are important for CSMs to be aware of. We have insider knowledge that is valuable for customers about the product.
Small changes to the product could lead to big changes for customers. A best practice: establish relationships with your product team to learn the story behind why a product or feature change is happening directly from product. When you know the story, you can better manage the customer relationship and communicate with more transparency.
Relationship building 101: Creating a framework to best help customers succeed
What do you keep in mind to set yourself up for success with customers and with other teams?
QB: As the face of the company for the customer, CSMs never want to have customers tell them about product issues. We’re the product experts, so we look to the product team to be open and transparent about releases. We need to know when they are queued, in beta, and out for general release.
CSMs are relationship masters, but we also crave process, transparency, and clarity. That’s the ideal working relationship: one that prioritizes transparency in communication. There’s more of a connection than just the product. Treat your customer like a partner: they need to feel like I understand their goals and struggles. CSMs are the direct path to the product designers and engineers. They need to trust that I’m their advocate, that I understand their pain points.
I’ve said it plenty of times but I’m so thankful to work with such a diverse, creative, and thoughtful team. We have a level of trust and respect for each other that allows us to move fast and collaborate on important projects and initiatives. This team is so good at putting themselves in the customer’s shoes and really advocating for their success, it’s incredibly refreshing.
What are some of the main reasons you decided to pursue a career in customer success?
QB: I love ‘herding cats’: project management was the initial draw. You get to work with so many different customers that use the same things in different ways. Everyone has different use cases and struggles; so many different kind of people use the product. I wanted to be a part of the solution, hearing the stories from customers about what they go through and align with them on figuring out how to solve those problems.
As a CSM, you are the frontline for the customer, so people want to build processes with you internally, and that’s another aspect of the role I like. Solving complex problems while managing relationships –– in customer success, you get it all.
What are some of your favorite ways to use digital visitor management, or that you encourage customers to embed into their own system?
QB: One of the things that stood out to me when I first encountered Envoy was being able to specify my pronouns when I got pre-registered. To me, as a cis-gender male, I never felt objectified in that way or felt that self-identifying was a burden for me. But what that option told me was that the company I worked for cared about those things. That left an impression on me.
I’m invested in thinking about how we make our technology be a part of the thing that makes people sign the deal. Envoy shows value as a recruiting tool, because the pre-registration email sets expectations while also surprising and delighting candidates. It’s an extension of your brand. The email let me know what to wear, business casual, which was great because I didn’t want to wear a suit. Or, here’s a Lyft code to take a Lyft to your interview so you can arrive on time.
Some of the questions we suggest customers ask are, “Are you flying in from out of town for your interview?” If so, they can offer to hold their luggage behind the desk. Accessibility considerations, such as where to put maps to help visitors find your office is another important way to make your visitor process better and more attuned to different people. I’d love to see more accessibility requirements built into the product, like identifying where ramps are when you enter a building to be ADA accessible. Envoy allows you to be very thoughtful in the way you carry information from your company to another.