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It’s essential that all teams across your organization work together to ensure the customer is successful. Customer success should make up the DNA of your company culture, no matter the department. Customer success begins to be measured the minute the deal is signed. Your sales and customer success teams must ensure your new customers receive the promised value and results.
The Customer Handoff and Knowledge Transfer
Within your organization, it’s important to develop a simple customer handoff and knowledge transfer process between various teams, such as implementation, services, customer success, product, and even marketing. Once your handoff process is developed, it’s important to have clear goals and timelines tied to your customer’s objectives or milestones.
One major component of a successful customer handoff is the knowledge transfer. The knowledge transfer process will help your teams organize, create, capture or distribute important information about your customer’s goals and milestones. It will also help set your customers up for success.
5 Steps to Establish a Successful Knowledge Transfer
So what does a successful knowledge transfer look like for a SaaS business between your Account Executive and Customer Success Manager? There are 5 steps to establish a successful knowledge transfer:
1. Understand the Compelling Event and Timeline
It’s important that your sales and customer success teams understand the compelling event and timeline for each of their customers. Transferring knowledge about specific details around the compelling event and timeline will help set proper expectations for customer success. During the sales process, this was likely an important focus to ensure the contract was signed with plenty of time so implementation could be completed prior to the compelling event or timeline. Make sure your knowledge transfer includes the compelling event and timeline.
2. Learn How the Customer Defines Success
What’s your customer looking to achieve with your product or service? How does your customer define success? It’s likely that during the initial sales process, certain expectations were set – either directly or indirectly. It’s important to understand what commitments were made to your customer, what products or services were sold, what timelines were set, and any other promises that were made. It’s not uncommon, especially for quickly growing SaaS companies, to commit to certain new products or features or changes to satisfy the prospective customer. While that in and of itself isn’t a harmful thing, it can quickly escalate into a very bad situation if those promises don’t come into fruition—and on time.
3. Find Out Stakeholder Roles and KPIs
Your sales rep likely worked with many different individuals across the organization in order to gain approval of the contract and get the deal across the finish line. Now that the customer success manager is taking over the account, the sales rep needs to convey all information about stakeholders, their roles, how they’re measured in their respective roles, who was an influencer in the process, and who was a decision maker. Once those connections are made, the customer success manager must build high and wide relationships within the organization to grow the partnership and ensure success.
4. Look Out for “Gotchas” Inside the Organization
No matter how seamless the sales process may have looked, there are almost always some “gotchas” to watch out for during the knowledge transfer process. It’s important for your customer success manager to know if anyone in the organization was against the selection of your service (perhaps they favored a competitor, had a bad relationship with your organization in the past, or just didn’t like your offering). Beyond any negative relationships, the knowledge transfer should also expose any red flags that happened during the sales process that could reappear: lack of responsiveness, stakeholders going dark, inaccurate information, missed deadlines, and etc. If any of these things happened during the sales process, there’s a strong likelihood that they will happen again during the handoff/implementation process.
5. Know Your Customer’s Hot Buttons
Last but certainly not least, why did your customer actually buy your solution in the first place? What were their hot buttons or pain points? What did they absolutely love about your solution or services offering? Were there specific features that kept coming up in conversations through the sales process? Did any of the stakeholders work with one of your competitors that offered other features or value-adds. Or, even better, does your solution offer benefits that they haven’t had before? Perhaps 24-7 call-in support, a dedicated customer success manager, or key features that will make their jobs easier and more efficient? If your customer purchased your solution with these factors in mind, it’s important to ensure these are addressed. And if something goes wrong in the process, make sure to confront the customer immediately and make the situation right.
A Successful Knowledge Transfer Builds Trust
Trust is built when partnerships are established with transparency and an eagerness for customer success. To maximize the knowledge transfer, both parties need to foster a trusted work environment. As an organization, it’s in your best interest to take the lead in creating this environment. Trust can be built as a successful handoff and knowledge transfer occurs between your sales reps and your customer success managers.
For more information on how to develop strong relationships with customers, check out these recent ClientSuccess resources:
Learn more about how ClientSuccess can help your company develop a strong Customer Success methodology and strategy with easy-to-use customer success software by requesting a 30-minute demo.