Post-Sales Organizations are Broken

Why does the journey from new customer acquisition to the renewal and expansion of the relationship involve five or more different departments?

While it makes sense to have specialized teams to sell and service customers, the way these teams are organized is broken.  Organizational silos create barriers to customer success by inhibiting the levels of coordination and cooperation necessary to retain and grow customer relationships.

Do you remember the game telephone?

One person whispers a message to the next person and he/she whispers it to the next person and so on.  By the time the message is passed to the last person the message has changed from the original.  This same phenomenon occurs when multiple departments engage and serve customers.

The hand off from one department to the next creates gaps between expectations set and how they are met.

Are post-sales teams working towards the same goals?

Good communication is key, common goals and objectives are imperative. Distinct organizations may be motivated to achieve different and possibly conflicting outcomes.

If Sales is motivated to book new license revenue but not incented to think about retaining the customer relationship could this lead to potential issues?  The short answer is, yes.

The key is to align all customer interactions to the attainment of common goals – both short-term and long-term.  Each step in the customer lifecycle must contribute to a common outcome such as the retention of a customer relationship (or protection of revenue) and no individual or department should be rewarded simply for the achievement of interim milestones (e.g. closing a new deal).

New Customer Success roles are not enough

Efforts to add success mangers, onboarding teams, or renewal and expansion sales roles are stopgap measures to address some of the inefficiencies of siloed post-sales organizations. These stopgap efforts are not enough.

The Bottom Line

Post-sales coordination and cooperation is the key to customer retention and relationship revenue growth and provides opportunities to achieve greater staffing efficiencies.  If you cannot achieve the necessary level of inter-department cooperation within your current post-sales organizational structure it’s time to tear down your silos.

 

Check out Are You Organized for Customer Success – it reviews our findings about current post-sales organizational structures and offers some insights about what you can do to address these issues.

Where Customers Look for Support Information

Vendor web sites have become a secondary resource to general web searches when customers need help. Historically customers have rated the quality and effectiveness of information found on non-vendor web sites very low, but this trend has shifted with more customers indicting that the information they find through general web searches to be relevant to their needs and effective.

When customers find information on other – non-vendor sites, it diminishes a company’s ability to leverage the service interaction as a means to strengthen its relationship with customers. Without a concerted effort to expand and improve the quality, relevance and findability of the right services content through the support web site vendors risk losing the advantage they once had in retaining control of the on-line service experience.

Where Customers Go for Technical Support Information

Self-help Resources Most Frequently Used

Featured : Customer Perception and Expectations of Self-Help and Social-Support

Vendor web sites have become a secondary resource to general web searches when customers need help. Historically customers have rated the quality and effectiveness of information found on non-vendor web sites very low, but this trend has shifted with more customers indicting that the information they find through general web searches to be relevant to their needs and effective.

This study examines the expectations and perceptions of individuals that use self-help resources to resolve technical support issues.

 

 

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Sales Engineers and Technical Support Staff Cooperation

Sales and Support staff often work with the same customer accounts, but not always in coordinated and cooperative ways.  ServiceXRG has identified three resource alignment methods used today to describe how technical resources from Service and Sales work.

Independent

 

Technical resources exist within both Sales and Service organizations. Technical resources operate independently from one another with objectives that are not typically coordinated and may conflict (e.g. Sales provides services otherwise entitled through a service contract).

 

Cooperative

Technical resource from Sales and Service are organized within a single customer facing organization or are aligned by similar or common engagement polices and performance metrics.  Coordinated customer engagement for larger accounts is common.

 

Coordinated

Customer facing technical resources exist within a single department with coordinated responsibilities for both pre-sales and post sales technical engagement.  Skills specialization may exist, but account engagement is coordinated and all touchpoints are aligned to meet common performance objectives.

 

ServiceXRG has examined the current state of service organizations and the forces at work that are driving organizational transformation. ServiceXRG examines how the isolated service silos of the past are evolving in to unified service entities focused on Customer Success. For more information about the full study see the following:

The Transformation of the Service Organization

The Demand for Your Support is Larger than you Expect

The demand for support by your customers may be far greater than current transaction levels suggest. In the figure below, ServiceXRG illustrates the service opportunity as the difference between customers that currently seek support and those that do not but could benefit from support.

This gap suggests that there is a significant unmet need for support.  This is a potentially daunting scenario.  Imagine that customer demand for support would grow by over 100%.  Perhaps the more important consideration is the impact that lack of support will have on customers’ likelihood to remain customers.   An unmet service need can result in a customer defecting to another product or situations where they stop using your product.  Both scenarios will impact the potential for recurring revenue.

This chart signifies an opportunity for technology vendors to provide more value to more customers through on-line and mobile service interaction.  It is cost prohibitive to provide these extended services though assisted means; thus the web and mobile channels offer the best way to interact with more customers and positively influence their perceptions and encourage positive behaviors such as writing positive reviews, new purchases and continuation of existing relationships.