The traditional scenario plays out something like this: the firm invests several hours discussing business challenges with a sales rep in order to choose the appropriate solution(s) and to create a game plan for launch and implementation. The sale is closed and the solution is deployed. “Holler if you need anything,” says the vendor. Then, communication goes dark until something goes wrong or someone needs help.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with this approach, but there isn’t necessarily anything right either.
Our economy and enterprises are increasingly more global. They are evolving to a service-oriented model, where customers are demanding better and more reliable services. 24/7 support and 99.9% up time are becoming standard. In addition, the BYOD revolution has shifted expectations, so support is expected to include any device, anywhere.
Today’s software and other technology solutions can positively impact the firm far beyond the initial intended purpose of the solution. However, in order for this opportunity to be realized, the vendors and service providers need to work closely with the customer to help them take full advantage of the solution and their investment.
So, what is the purpose of a Customer Success Manager (CSM) and what does that mean for the law firm? The CSM is the voice of the customer and is responsible for maintaining customer satisfaction and maximizing user adoption. The CSM also works to measure the value of the product/service on a regular and consistent basis.
It’s the difference between having access to someone to take care of specific issues versus engaging with an advocate of the product/service and establishing a productive vendor-customer relationship.
There are many benefits to the vendor company when a CSM is in place, including a two point increase in net retention, equal to 20% in equity value. But, how important is this function to a firm? Below are several benefits that CSMs bring to the law firm.
1. Firms get more value in return for their investment. One of the primary responsibilities of a customer success manager is to help the customer utilize the product features to the fullest extent possible. When law firms work with their vendor’s customer success team, they work together on a plan that will guide them through all of the product features. Additionally, training is conducted gradually in order to achieve fuller utilization of the solution at each level of the law firm.
2. Success is more attainable. When the firm makes the initial investment in the vendor’s solution, they typically have certain goals in mind. The customer success manager works toward those goals to make them more attainable and easier to achieve. The customer success team has experience with common obstacles and challenges and can provide best practices tailored to the firm to keep the project on track.
3. Results are measurable. Remember the old adage, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” It still holds true today. If the firm does not measure the technology or service being implemented, there is no quantitative way to determine if it is working. Is the problem getting better or worse? Success metrics have the answer. The CSM works closely with the firm to define and measure the activities or results that are key to successfully achieving the desired goals. Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are the quantifiable measurements to reflect the success or lack of thereof.
4. Product improvements follow. Customer success managers have a personal stake in the firm’s experience using the solution, so they constantly have their ears to the ground, listening for potential improvements to suggest to the development team. They make sure that the firm’s voice is heard when it comes to critical product upgrades and improvements.
5. Engagement exceeds expectations. After the solution has been implemented, it is critical that the technology or service be put to good use. The customer success manager plays a very important role in making this happen. CSMs work with the firm to identify areas where user engagement opportunities exist. When engagement doesn’t meet expectations, the CSM is able to work with the firm to create a plan that will address user adoption. If there are no areas of concern, the customer success manager will continue to advance users to attain the best utilization of the solution.
Have you worked with a customer success manager as part of your interaction with your legal vendors? How has it helped the firm? Share your comments below.