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Photo by Grant Ritchie

Developing a software implementation program can seem daunting, especially with growing customer expectations. If getting a product up and running is slow, for example, eager customers will quickly reevaluate competition. Customer risk management is key from day one of the customer lifecycles. Implementation challenges are compounded by the fact that customers want a product that is easily customizable, bug-free, and, of course, supported by amazing customer service – all this in an era when the term ‘customer service’ is increasingly becoming an oxymoron.

There are countless strategies in place for overcoming customer implementation challenges, yet many are not scalable or achievable. Here are six common mistakes to avoid if you want to convert your new customers to happy, lifelong product evangelists.

1. Making Promises Your Product Can’t Deliver

Beware of falling into the trap of overpromising. It’s easy for any Marketing team to fall into the temptation of using adjectives like “groundbreaking”, “revolutionary”, and “life-changing” to describe the product to potential customers. If your customers don’t experience the same value Sales promised them, they probably won’t stay onboard long. Before you begin selling, or if you notice a lack of consistent messaging between the teams, consider holding a meeting with a neutral party to ensure that your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success teams are speaking the same language throughout the customer lifecycle. If the product description doesn’t match what customer success delivers during onboarding, your company will suffer.

2. Not asking the right questions

Sales did their part, now it is your job in customer success to ensure the customer is able to both leverage the product and see the return on investment quickly. Contrary to many onboarding programs I have experienced, onboarding isn’t about training users on every feature of your platform immediately. Instead, an implementation program should include identifying at least one top measurable business objective for why the customer purchased the product, and focus on getting to the first quick-win to demonstrate product value. Once the key milestones are met, other important events like training and product certification can be addressed.

3. Slow Response Times

When a customer perceives that response times are too slow, there is a greater chance they will find another product to serve their needs. Responsive customer support is important at any point in the customer lifecycle, but it is particularly important during the onboarding process. I fondly remember a recent onboarding experience where my implementation manager made me feel like I was his only client by being so responsive and kind when I asked the ‘dumb’ questions. Be prompt and proactive when responding to customer support tickets to ensure brand advocates and lifelong customers.

4. Your Software is Too Difficult to Learn During Onboarding

User experience is always important, but it’s especially critical when you are talking about learning new software. Adoption is really about the user recognizing how easy the software is to learn and use while solving key challenges. If your product and onboarding are both difficult, there are thankfully many platforms on the market that can help your users learn your platform effortlessly. Consider adopting one that will suit your customer needs.

5. Ignoring Analytics

Analytics are a must-have. Begin collecting data on who is accessing your site and what they do with it from day one. Having user data lets you refine your product and onboarding program to better address your customer’s needs. Also, don’t forget to follow-up post-implementation with a survey to allow you to better understand what your customers are looking for in your product, in onboarding and beyond. If your product and service fail to meet customer needs, causes frustration or becomes cumbersome, your customers may conclude that the product is not a long-term solution.

6. Stopping at Onboarding

Once your customer is up and running within a reasonable timeframe, don’t neglect them until renewal time. Develop a strategy that ensures regular touch-points and milestones just like your onboarding program. This can include regular meetings with clear objectives, newsletters, online user community access, user reports, quarterly business reviews, annual surveys, and customer events. Your post-onboarding plan will allow your customer success team to develop a strong trusted advisor relationship with your customers, identify any challenges early on and set you up for a renewal process that will ensure a continued partnership.

Onboarding can be difficult, and no two implementations will be exactly the same. But on many levels, all successful product implementation strategies feature a consistent desire to discover and deliver the needs of the customer, honesty about the product being delivered, and a commitment to ongoing customer success.

I originally posted this article I wrote on the ClientSuccess.com website.

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