Seven Engagement Practices for a Successful Sales-to-Service Handoff

Seven Engagement Practices for a Successful Sales-to-Service Handoff

BLOG

Seven Engagement Practices for a Successful Sales-to-Service Handoff

Whether Sales in your organization is the responsibility of partners or a direct sales team, those responsible for selling and closing new business create the first impression of your product or service. A successful sales-to-service handoff is essential to maintaining that positive impression and promoting long-term customer success. To accelerate time-to-value, sustain customer relationships, and lay the groundwork for recurring revenue, leverage these seven proven practices for sales-to-service handoffs.

Effective customer engagement begins with the Sales process. This is when your organization identifies each customer’s desired outcomes and aligns its product and available services to them. In a successful sales-to-service handoff, Sales and Service need to collaborate so they can ensure that customers can successfully onboard, adopt, and realize the value of their purchase.

 During the pre-sale process Sales should invite Service to collaborate to help identify needs and formulate the right solution for the customer. However, Sales does not typically invite Services into the Sales process and in this case, Services needs to advocate for being part of the pre-sales process. Through this collaboration there is higher probability that customers will get what they need to be successful.

 The collaboration and information transfer should be complete and seamless—during the pre-sale process the Service team should know everything about the customer that the Sales Team knows.  And customer should not be expected to provide Service with information they’ve already given to Sales.

 

These 7 practices are proven to ensure successful Sales-to-Service handoffs:

  1. Establish clear expectations for the roles of new-sales and post-sales teams. Ensure that motivations and incentives are equally focused on closing new business and retaining existing customers.
  2. Provide information to Sales teams about service programs available to help customers adopt and use products.
  3. Help Sales teams understand pricing and discounting policies, prerequisites, and any other considerations for frictionless service sales.
  4. Create Customer Success-focused engagement teams and resources to help customers understand not only the product features but how they can apply products to achieve their business objectives.
  5. Involve the Service team during the Sales process to help understand and validate that customer expected outcomes can be delivered post-sales.
  6. Formally transition newly acquired customers from Sales to designated Support or Customer Success resources.
  7. Begin a formal onboarding process based on expectations set in during the Sales process.

How effective is your Sales-to-Service handoff process?

We can help you make it better.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to engage and retain your customers. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

Ready to commit to a Customer Success strategy? Learn the 5 critical milestones.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult? This article introduces 10 ways to help Sales teams sell services.

read more

How to Measure Net Recurring Revenue

Net Recurring Revenue is a comprehensive indicator that reveals the extent to which you are retaining, expanding and growing customer relationship value. Examining the specific underlying elements that contribute to the calculation of Net Recurring Revenue provides the necessary insights to identify the root causes of churn, attrition and contraction. In addition, examining the reasons for revenue growth presents opportunities to embrace and expand practices that encourage expansion of relationship value.

read more

Treat Your Service Portfolio as a Product Line

Service and Success programs are a significant source of revenue. To assure that they yield their maximum revenue potential, treat service portfolios as strategic offerings in the corporate portfolio by assigning dedicated program management resources.

read more

SURVEY: Top Tech Service Challenges for 2021

SURVEY: Top Tech Service Challenges for 2021

SURVEY: Top Tech Service Challenges for 2021

Welcome to 2021!

2020 was quite a year!  What’s in Store for 2021?

What do you consider to be the top challenges for your service organization in the year ahead? Hiring, training and retaining staff? Transitioning to a subscription model? Implementing new service technologies? Redefining your service portfolio? Adopting success practices? Satisfying and retaining customers? Expanding revenue?

Take a minute to share your thoughts about the top issue(s) you are facing.  All responses are confidential.

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

BLOG

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

How much should you charge for Support?  It’s a driving question as your organization seeks to drive recurring revenue growth. And it’s a balancing act. Setting the correct price for your Support programs begins with a baseline understanding of what your market will bear. Ultimately, though, you must base your pricing on the type and level and entitlements you offer. Let’s explore a Support pricing model that’s been shown to work equally well for businesses and their customers.

Calculating Average Support Program Price

The average prices for Support programs range from 15.6 percent for a basic level of support to more than 26 percent for a high-end premium program.  Prices vary based on the entitlements offered and the ways that pricing is structured.  Here are a few considerations:

Net vs. List

Pricing may be based on a percentage of either a product’s list price or its net price after discounts.

Add-ons and Fixed Fees

Some Support programs consists of a fee tied to a percentage of either product list or net price plus add-ons.  Add-ons are often associated with optional entitlements such as named support resources (i.e., designated support engineers and/or account managers).

Adjustment Fees

The price of support in the first year is often not the price a customer will pay in subsequent years.  Support prices typically include annual adjustment fees to account for inflationary factors.

Pricing by Support Program Tiers

Support pricing is typically established by program level or tier.  It is not uncommon for support portfolios to consist of two or more tiers with names like Silver, Gold and Platinum.  Although support programs may sound alike, they often vary from vendor to vendor.  For the purposes of establishing baseline pricing benchmarks ServiceXRG has normalized support programs into the four distinct tiers described below.  Classification is based on the underlying program entitlements and not on the program names.

Support Program Tier Classifications

Average Support Program Price

Establishing Support Prices

The price of Support must be set at a level sufficient to cover delivery costs, yet not too high to discourage customers from buying.   Customers are likely to have preconceived ideas about how much (or how little) Support should cost based on their experiences with other technology vendors.  If your “gold” support is priced at 23% of product list price but other vendors price that level at 18%, customers may perceive that your prices are too high — even if you offer more for the price.

It is imperative that you price Support reasonably so that you can make a compelling case that the benefits outweigh the costs to the customer.

Making the Case for Services

Selling services demands that you establish a credible and compelling value proposition built upon the entitlements customers want and need from services balanced with a reasonable and justifiable price level.

We’re here to help.

Reach out anytime to start your own conversation about Support pricing, recurring revenue and customer relationship value. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Related Articles

How Much Should You Charge for Support?

How much should you charge for Support?  It’s a driving question as your organization seeks to drive recurring revenue growth. And it’s a balancing act. Let’s explore a Support pricing model that’s been shown to work equally well for businesses and their customers.

read more

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult? This article introduces 10 ways to help Sales teams sell services.

read more

Is It Time to Modernize Your Service Portfolio?

Modern, well-defined post-sales service portfolios that combine elements of Customer Support and Customer Success can significantly increase your ability to help customers use and apply products; reduce churn; and expand revenue growth. This article will help you to determine the type of post sales service portfolio you need.

read more

Customer Success Marketing and Portfolio Management

Technology service programs are evolving to offer new value and benefits such as use and adoption assistance and resources to help attain successful outcomes. As technology service programs change service marketing must evolve beyond selling the initial service engagement and focus on sustaining and growing relationship value.

read more

Treat Your Service Portfolio as a Product Line

Service and Success programs are a significant source of revenue. To assure that they yield their maximum revenue potential, treat service portfolios as strategic offerings in the corporate portfolio by assigning dedicated program management resources.

read more

Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

BLOG

Three Critical Metrics to Retain and Grow Customer Relationship Value

​If you inventory all the metrics used by your customer-facing organizations – Sales, Marketing and Service – you’ll find an impressive collection of data elements that describe how you interact with your customers. But with all your customer metrics, what do you really know about your customers? How do you assure that you can sustain and grow relationship value? These 3 critical customer relationship value metrics can point the way.

Marketing metrics describe the ability to reach and influence customers.

Sales metrics provide insights into the time and efficiency to book revenue.

Service metrics describe the volume, timeliness, and effectiveness of interacting with them.

Add to this the insights provided from customer satisfaction assessment efforts.  As an industry we have a lot of customer data, but does it tell us everything we need to know about how to engage and sustain long term profitable relationships?

We know how much effort it takes to reach and influence customers, the time it takes to convert prospects to buyers and the time, effort, and costs to service customers.  These are all important, yet too many customer metrics focus on the transactional aspects of the customer relationship—volumes, speed, and efficiency. Too few of them focus on examining the quality of our relationships.

Now we’re not saying you should stop tracking transactional customer metrics!  BUT consider adding the following measurements to examine the strength and quality of your customer relationships:

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #1: Adoption

Adoption tracking provides important insights into the frequency and extent of customer product use.  Customer adoption metrics answer questions such as: Are your customers using your products?  Are they using them to the fullest extent possible?  It seems counter intuitive that customers would not use what they buy, but for many reasons lack of license utilization or under utilization occurs.

Why Adoption metrics matter

If customers are not using what they have already paid for or are not able to apply products to their business, then future subscription renewals or license sales are in jeopardy.

What to measure

Whether through automated tracking or customer surveys, it is important to understand if, how and to what extent your customers use your products.  Consider the following metrics:

  • Adoption: The percentage of licenses sold that are being used.
    • Metric: % of licenses adopted
  • Adoption Extent (Feature Adoption): The features are customers using.  Are they using a basic set of available features or do they take advantage of advanced capabilities?
    • Metric: % of basic users
    • Metric: % of advanced users

How to use Adoption metrics

If you determine that customers are not using what they already have, the next step is to determine why.  Are products too complex? Do customers lack necessary skills? Are products not aligned to customer needs?  The sooner you understand the barriers to full adoption, the sooner you can take corrective actions through services, training, or product enhancements to drive higher product and feature adoption rates.

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #2: Success

Customer success tracking builds upon Adoption and examines the extent to which customers realize tangible benefits from your products. Customer success metrics answer questions such as: Do customers consider your products to be integral to their business?  Are they able to apply your products to meet their business goals and objectives?  The very health of your customer relationships depends upon your customers ability to apply your products to drive success with their business.

Why Success metrics matter

Even with 100% adoption rates, it is possible that customers fail to achieve the outcomes they want with your products.  Understanding the extent to which a customer can positively affect their business with your products is a critical indicator about the overall health of the relationship.  Customers that indicate positive impacts from products are far more likely to continue or expand their relationship with you.  Customers that fail to meet performance objectives are at risk of lower spending or ending their relationship with you.

What to measure

Success can be a subjective measure, yet the perception of success is the basis upon which real decisions are made.   Success measurement is most effective when there is a mutually established definition of success.  Companies that work with customers to develop success plans and journey maps with measurable outcomes can track progress to plan.  Success can also be measured as the return on the original investment in a product.  The most subjective metric is based on asking customers to express the extent to which they believe they have benefited from the use of a product.  Although not ideal, this approach provides insights to alert you to situations where negative perceptions may impact customer relationships.

Consider the following metrics:

  • Success Plan Realization: The percentage of an established success plan that has been realized.
    • Metric: % Success rate
  • Return on Investment: A tangible measure to indicate the payback from the investment in a product over an established timeframe.
    • Metric: ROI
  • Success Perception:
    • Metric: % positive impact (success rate)
    • Metric: % Neutral impact
    • Metric: % None or negative impact

How to use Success metrics

Getting customers to adopt products is just the beginning of long-term profitable relationships.  You need to be able to help customers realize tangible positive benefits from product use.  Regardless of how you measure success you must be cognizant of when you fail to meet customer expectations.  The very practice of measuring success suggests that you are attempting to establish a baseline understanding of what customers need or want from the use of your products.  When you understand customer expectations and detect that your products have not met them, you can examine the reasons why and develop corrective actions to increase success rates.

Critical Customer Relationship Value Metric #3: Retention

How many of your current customers do you keep? How long do you retain established relationships?  While adoption and success tracking provides insights into the health of a customer relationship, they do not explain all the reasons for churn in your customers base.  Retention examines the rate and duration that you sustain customer relationships and provides an opportunity to identify and examine the reasons for lost relationships,

Why Retention Metrics matter

For many companies most revenue comes from existing customers, thus keeping the customers you have is imperative.

What to measure

Retention is a straightforward metric when you establish a clear definition of what it means to retain a customer.  For our purposes retention is defined as active, revenue-generating relationships.  This is clear for subscription-based / SaaS relationships, but less so for relationships based on perpetual licensing.  When SaaS customers stop paying for their subscriptions they lose their ability to use the product or service they subscribed to.  Perpetually licensed software is different.  A customer can continue to use a perpetually licensed product but pay no maintenance fees, nor purchase any future products.  Retention examines the net number of revenue-generating customer relationships from one period to the next.

Consider the following metrics:

  • Customer Retention (perpetual and subscription): Revenue-generating relationships carried over from previous period (e.g. year to year or quarter to quarter).
    • Metric: % Customer Retention rate (relationships)
  • Net Revenue Retention (perpetual and subscription): Net value of existing contracts carried over from previous period, plus new revenue and less losses (e.g. year to year or quarter to quarter).
    • Metric: % Net Revenue Retention rate

How to use Retention metrics

Retention analysis informs about the stability of your customer base.  You can strive to get your customers to adopt products and be successful with them.  Even then, you cannot prevent all existing customers (or contract value) from going away.  You must however be vigilant and monitor customer retention rates and examine the reasons why you lose customers and revenue (e.g. you may keep a relationship, but at a lower value).  Only when you understand why you lose customers can you act to retain them.

Your Goals: Retention, Growth and Long-term Profitability

We know a lot about customers, but let’s make certain that we understand the foundations of successful customer relationships.  By measuring the extent to which customers adopt and use our products successfully we can identify situations where products fall short in fulfilling their needs and expectations.  With these insights we can take corrective action to minimize churn and identify ways to retain and expand existing relationship value.

We’re here to help.

Reach out anytime to start your own conversation about recurring revenue and customer relationship value. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Ready to commit to a Customer Success strategy? Learn the 5 critical milestones.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult? This article introduces 10 ways to help Sales teams sell services.

read more

How to Measure Net Recurring Revenue

Net Recurring Revenue is a comprehensive indicator that reveals the extent to which you are retaining, expanding and growing customer relationship value. Examining the specific underlying elements that contribute to the calculation of Net Recurring Revenue provides the necessary insights to identify the root causes of churn, attrition and contraction. In addition, examining the reasons for revenue growth presents opportunities to embrace and expand practices that encourage expansion of relationship value.

read more

Treat Your Service Portfolio as a Product Line

Service and Success programs are a significant source of revenue. To assure that they yield their maximum revenue potential, treat service portfolios as strategic offerings in the corporate portfolio by assigning dedicated program management resources.

read more

How to Define and Measure Self-Service Deflection Rates

How to Define and Measure Self-Service Deflection Rates

BLOG

How to Define and Measure Self-Service Deflection Rates

Using an accurate measure of deflection is imperative. If deflection is not measured correctly, it is easy to overstate the impact of self-help and service automation on assisted support demand. ServiceXRG has developed a proven reliable formula for measuring self-service deflection rates in your operations.

What is self-service deflection?

Self service deflection is the rate at which automated and self-help resources satisfy service demand that would otherwise be handled by assisted service staff. The average rate of case deflection within the technology industry is 23%. The attainable rate of deflection is highly dependent upon factors such as:

  • the maturity and complexity of a product
  • the skills of the users
  • the quality of tools and content provided by the service provider.

It is easy to overstate the impact of self-help, community, and service automation by equating their overall effectiveness with a direct effect on assisted support. Yes, many issues may be resolved through self-help and automated means. Yet not all are destined for or entitled to resolution through assisted support channels. For a case to be considered as successfully “deflected,” it must meet the following criteria:

  • The customer submitting the case must be entitled to assisted support.
  • An issue must be successfully resolved.
  • The customer submitting the case requires no further action from assisted support resources to validate or clarify the answer provided through self-help or automated means.

How do you measure self-service deflection rates?

ServiceXRG has developed the following approach to measuring self-service deflection rates. Each of the inputs for the deflection calculation are described below. Here are the steps:

  • Multiply the number of Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers for a specific period of time by the Success Rate: the rate that these customers indicate success in finding an answer using self-help resources.
  • Multiply this result by the Intent Rate: the percentage of entitled customers who successfully found an answer and indicated an intent to request assisted support if required.
  • Multiply this result by the No Further Action Rate: the percentage of entitled customers that successfully found an answer and indicated an intent to request assisted support if required and indicate that no further action is required to resolve this issue.
  • Target Value
Target value for deflection:

Deflection = Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers  X  Success Rate  X  Intent Rate  X  No Further Action Rate

I’ll now explain in greater detail some of the key terminology undergirding this formula.

Why does “entitlement” matter when measuring self-service deflection rates?

The idea of “entitlement” is critical to the accurate measurement of self-service deflection rates:

  • For a case to be considered successfully “deflected,” it must be submitted by a customer ENTITLED to receive assisted support. In other words, the customer had a choice and opted for self-help over assisted support.
  • A case cannot be deflected from assisted support if it is submitted by someone that is not entitled to receive support assistance.
  • Including visitors that are not entitled to assisted support in your deflection calculation will overstate the impact of self-help on assisted support demand.

How to determine customer “Entitlement” status

To establish if customers are entitled to assisted support, you must authenticate that they have engaged in a self-help event (e.g. support site and community visitors and those served through other automated means). Again, only customers entitled to assisted support should be included in your self-service deflection rate calculation.

Target Value for Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers:

Self-Help Service Events by Entitled Customers = The number of self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time for customers entitled to receive assisted support.

What is “Successful” deflection?

For a case to be considered deflected it must be successfully resolved using self-help resources or through unassisted automated means.

Customers will come to a support community or portal for a variety of reasons. They may come to view a discussion thread, read an article, browse documentation, view a video, or download a file. While this use of service resources is positive behavior, these “service events” do not always equate to a successfully resolved customer issue. Customers indicate that on average they find useful information 70% of the time when visiting a support website and 68% of the time when browsing support communities. “Useful,” however, does not directly translate into complete and successful answers.

How to measure Success rate

Success rate is the rate at which service events result in successfully resolved customer issues.

The best method for determining success is to ask customers directly. We suggest on-site pop-up surveys, post-transaction event surveys, and questions embedded in service resources.

In fairness, customer response rates to these types of data collection methods can be low. Nevertheless, customer feedback is essential to establishing the effectiveness of self-help resources and automated issue resolution tools.

Target Value for Deflection Success Rate:

Success Rate = Rate that self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time are successfully resolved.

The importance of “Intent” when measuring deflection

A deflection will occur when there is intent by the customer to seek assisted support to find an answer.

In situations where customers are “browsing” available support resources, but do not intend to seek support assistance, there is no opportunity to deflect from assisted support. Including “browsers” (visitors with no intent to seek assisted support) in the deflection calculation will overstate the impact of deflection on assisted support.

How to measure Intent rate

The best method for determining intent is to ask customers directly. We recommend on-site pop-up surveys or post-transaction event surveys to establish the reason for a community or support web site visit. Determine if the customer intends to seek assisted support if the self-help event is unsuccessful.

Target Value for Intent Rate:

Intent Rate = Rate that entitled customers indicate that their reason for using self-help or service automation is a first step in problem resolution and intend to seek assisted support if necessary.

“No Further Action”—the end of the deflection journey

For a case to be considered deflected, the customer must indicate that the answer found through self-help has completely resolved the issue and that no further action is required.

Some customers may successfully receive the information they are looking for but may still request assisted support to verify the answer. Customers that request assisted support to confirm the answer provided through self-help or automated means should not be included in the measure of deflection.

How to measure No Further Action rate

Determine if any further action is required to resolve a customer issue. We recommend on-site pop-up surveys or post-transaction event surveys to establish if a customer sought assisted support to validate, clarify, or confirm an answer received by an automated or self-help event.

Target Value for No Further Action Rate:

No Further Action Rate = Rate that self-help and service automation events within a specific period of time are successfully resolved andrequire no further action.

Implementing a Deflection Metric

Using an accurate measure of deflection is imperative for establishing the true impact self-help and service automation resources have on your assisted support demand. The inputs and process I’ve described above are stringent, yet necessary to developing effective Service and Success strategies in your organization.

We’re here to help.

Reach out anytime to start the deflection conversation. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Reduce your Support delivery costs.
Give your high-value customers the attention they deserve.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Self-Service Deflection — Maximizing the Use and Effectiveness of Self-Help and Automation

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems. Automate what you can, but don’t over automate.

Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness Through Automation

The goal of any service organization must be to achieve the optimal balance between cost efficient service transactions and comprehensive customer engagement that drives customer success.  Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems.

The key to achieving this balance is in the approach a service organization takes to truly understand customer needs and formulating the most cost-effective ways to respond.  Effective customer engagement may require a high rate of live assistance (personal-touch). Over time as the knowledge of customer issues is captured and the tools to help customers express their needs are available, service transactions can become increasingly automated (tech-touch).

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Here are 7 steps to consider for successful service automation:

1.    Define and document key service delivery processes.

Establish which processes are conducive to automation.

2.    Establish the Appropriate Level of Automation

Establish how much automation is appropriate for customer interactions. Factors should include the level of intimacy desired for customer transactions, they ability for customer to use automated systems and the availability of tools to successfully support automation.

3.    Evaluate Available Technologies

Technology is the enabler of service automation. Identify the technologies that can provide the capabilities necessary to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

4.    Focus on Content

Service automation is about understanding what customers need and providing them with an effective solution. Service automation relies on the technologies that facilitate the service delivery processes as well as the underlying knowledge and expertise that customers seek. Content development is a critical factor in service automation success.

5.    Define and Measure Success

Determine how successful automation will be measured.  Are you seeking cost efficiencies, revenue growth, service level performance or a target customer satisfaction rate?  Be clear about your desired outcomes with careful attention to optimizing the right balance between multiple performance objectives.

6.    Treat this as a Journey

Service automation and the creation of self-service offerings is an ongoing effort to identify ways to provide customers with the resources they need quickly and efficiently. An ongoing commitment to analyze performance and allocate resources is essential to maximizing the benefits of automating the service experience.

7.    Don’t Over Automate

Automate service transactions and processes but do not try to use automation as a surrogate for sustaining a customer relationship.  Sometimes direct personal interaction is essential.

Automating Service Delivery

This topic is explored in further detail in the report titled Automating Service Delivery. Log-in to download your copy of this 26-page report.

Relate Articles

Pin It on Pinterest