* This article is part of a White Paper called “The Most Powerful Practices to Guarantee Customer Success in Enterprise Business Software.”
SaaS EAS customer success, as already defined, is the joint responsibility of the vendor and the business that has purchased the solution.
Both entities make an investment of reputation, money and time in the endeavour and thus it is only natural that they strive to hit all the goals they set for themselves.
Customer success can come if and only if employees understand the solution provided by the enterprise software, master all of its essential features and prefer to use it over cobbled together self-created workflows.
1. There is Lack of Perceived Value by the User
Implementing Enterprise Business Applications are all about perceived value. When a business makes the initial purchase, it does so based on hope of successful adoption.
Subsequent renewals are decisions made on experience. Not all EAS solutions can generate results right away. Most of them need complete adoption and steady usage over a period of at least 3 to 6 months to reflect improvements.
The catch 22 situation is the fact that vendors may not have that time and they need to prove the worth of their software right away. Another complication is the reliance on selfcrafted workflows.
An employee who has been working with Excel sheets for 10 years may not like punching in customer information through a CRM, even though the automation and organization make it the more convenient option.
Habits are again built over a minimum of 66 days and an EAS solution has to stick around and be popular to reach that level of daily commitment. Thus vendors must allure users with instant gratification through a process called activation in order to boost their ‘perceived value’.
Real-life Illustration: This challenge is prevalent in software solutions, like in SharePoint Online, for example. There are a myriad collaboration tools in the market and SharePoint can display its true mastery when it is integrated with Microsoft Project for a 360 degree holistic approach to administrative tasks and information sharing.
It is difficult for employees to understand the appeal of the flexibility that comes with SharePoint when they can share files easily and quickly through Dropbox.
Most SharePoint vendors stress on the collaboration aspect of the tool to draw in users and drive home the convenience and advantages of having the ability to create intranet portals for employee usage and extranet portals (websites) for the prospects and buyers. The UPS Store is a classic example of this challenge wherein their first outing with SharePoint was through the website and it gradually spread to document sharing and management as well.
2. Complicated Navigation
Most EAS solutions in the cloud try to keep it easy. This is especially the rule with companies like Salesforce. However for the tech giants who diversify into the virtual ecosystem out of a need to keep up with the market, the complexity in terms of navigation is not mitigated in the online avatar.
It is a carry-over from the desk-bound on premise version. This confuses employees of SMBs who are not well versed with using large scale EAS platforms.
Real life Illustration: Oracle PeopleSoft is a popular HCM (Human Capital Management) platform. It is used to recruit new talent, forecast future HR requirements and in short monitor the administrative tasks related to the workforce.
A common grievance that keeps popping up with PeopleSoft is the confusing interface. A specific instance involves the salary details of various employees. Managers often expect to find this data under ‘Compensation’, but in some versions it is archived under ‘Workforce Administration’.
It is also tedious to manage the customized reports library.
3. High Cost of Employee Training During Onboarding
Complete adoption can only come as a result of a full understanding of features and the ability to drive innovative solutions to unexpected problems.
However for some EAS solutions the platform can manage a large number of activities and impacts many divisions across the business. The features list is rich and often difficult to grasp.
There are only a limited number of 3rd party instructors and certified trainers in the market who can impart the needed knowledge confidently. And hiring them is expensive to say the least. Businesses with tight budgets struggle with online videos and user guides undermining the productivity of the teams all across the board.
Real life Illustration: SAP AG has entered the SaaS market quite late and has a real dearth of certified and validated trainers capable of walking a venture through an all-in-one package like ByDesign. Since ByDesign offers end to end integrated solutions, this means that the company goes through a slump in most of its major departments until the employees can master the software on their own.
4. Low Knowledge Retention
Employees using business software typically have a low knowledge retention level. Unless the information is continuously complemented and reinforced with the help of content or onscreen guidance till the new neural pathways set themselves into habits.
More importantly, not all users assimilate information at the same speed. Those who master a solution are sometimes reluctant to pay it forward, especially if they are requested to help peers.
As a result some sections of the workforce tag themselves as prepared to adopt the platform completely while others lag behind causing all around frustration and loss of productivity.
Real life Illustration: This issue is particularly glaring in the case of a relatively easy to grasp application like Salesforce. It is one of the most widely used CRMs because of its simple, intuitive interface and a plethora of useful features.
Employees who are tech savvy, especially the millennials tend to master Salesforce within a shorter period of time as compared to their senior counterparts. Their familiarity with SaaS applications and smart devices gives them a head-start.
5. Low Productivity During Onboarding
Onboarding is a delicate time for both the business and the vendors. A small mistake at this juncture has the potential to result in cancellation and wasted of time and money of both parties.
In fact experts say that users take the decision of ‘adopting or rejecting’ a SaaS application during the onboarding process itself. Poor onboarding support and lack of available training can lower productivity significantly and frustrate users.
CSMs must offer EAS administrators with all the right resources to make on-boarding as smooth as possible. This includes comprehensive customized demos, chat and phone support.
Sometimes employees end up depending upon peers to master a new solution and with no proper platform to document answers to queries and clarifications to confusions, they constantly bother them with requests for help. This is disruptive behavior and sours the attitude of users towards what they perceive as a bothersome deployment.
Real life Illustration: SuccessFactors is a talent management SaaS application that works wonderfully well with the HCM offering from SAP to bring employees and managers from all divisions of a business to the same page.
Without the integration to the HCM module of an ERP, the full potential of SuccessFactors in creating a unified ecosystem of easily accessible information and business decisions is not realized.
However this integration is quite tricky. IT departments have a tough time handling and prepping existing data for migration to the unified system. During this period, employee productivity also falls as the integration creates a massive dashboard with a plethora of confusing options.
The best solution is a phased approach to onboarding where small groups of test users experience the new system and suggest tweaks to make it more user-friendly. A phased roll out eliminates the risk of a business wide operational stalemate.
6. Poor Predictive Analysis Results in Higher Churn
This challenge is active solely on the vendor side of the equation.
SaaS has matured. Customer retention and revenue is no longer the holy grail of judging customer success.
Other important KPIs like the achievement of activation, regular use, recommendations and business growth of the customer are also considered when judging the probability of renewal.
However some vendors may not update their approach and they ignore important risk indicators like a sudden drop in software usage. When no corrective action is taken and the CSMs are not authorized (or empowered) to reach out to the EAS administrators with an offer of support, churn is the inevitable result.
The vendor loses business and the company loses faith in EAS solutions. This is detrimental to the image of the whole industry.
Real life Illustration: SugarCRM is an open-source codebase that is customized to create niche specific applications. Thus many small companies use it to create products which can serve the needs of a particular industry.
These ventures do not spend time setting up CSM capabilities or workflows that are triggered by signs of distress. Fit Sales was a CRM solution built on Sugar that suffered heavy losses and fell out of business because of its inability to predict churn, offer solutions and build customer success.
7. Poor Communication between EAS administrators and CSMs
As a broader version of the previous problem, inadequate interaction between EAS administrators and CSMs may also destroy chances of customer success.
The job of an administrator is to tailor the information provided by the CSM and set up an adoption and innovation program centred on the EAS solution. If this communication is not as expected, employees will never know how to optimally leverage the software and the vendor will be in the dark about user problems and adoption challenges.
Real life Illustration: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is another CRM solution that is considered a behemoth in the market. Its users strongly appreciate its flexibility, but latency (delays) has always been an issue.
Upgrades do not reach all customers simultaneously and there is a lag between the improvements made to the software and its introduction and adoption within a business. Since many independent contractors sell
Dynamics licenses and they aren’t all fastidious about customer success management and communication, inadequate interaction remains a potential point for disenchantment.
This article is part of a White Paper called “The Most Powerful Practices to Guarantee Customer Success in Enterprise Business Software.”
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The eBook covers a range of topics including:
Chapter 1: 7 Back-Breaking Obstacles You Must Overcome to Ensure Customer Success in Enterprise Business Applications.
Chapter 2: 10 Most Powerful Practices to Guarantee Customer Success in Enterprise Business Applications.
Chapter 3: 5 Tried and Tested Tools to Improve Enterprise Software Onboarding & Adoption.