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Defining onboarding phases for highly configurable multi-module products

Explore the rationale of packaging services products and the essential elements needed to package them efficiently based on customer needs.
April 25, 2024
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Mohamed Imrankhan

During a recent Preflight Conversation, Loren Shelley, an Implementation Consultant at Foothold Technology raised a common challenge: streamlining implementation programs for unique customer requirements and prioritizing initial time to value with different modules for go-live.

Is an à la carte approach or bundled options a viable solution? What packaging strategy would best balance sales facilitation with meeting diverse client needs?

A panel of Preflighters convened to discuss the challenge and proposed ideas and strategies to address it.

The rationale for productizing service packages

As the sales cycle advances, customers transition from assessing product features to evaluating broader business impacts and implementation risks. 

Customer-facing organizations, such as services and customer success teams, play a crucial role in addressing these concerns and providing necessary support. 

It is essential to evaluate both product and company maturity to determine the most suitable service offerings. Jeroen Bos, Director, Professional Services at Personio, discusses the rationale behind services offerings and how to determine which offering makes the most sense for a customer.

Why do you want to package your services?

Maximize product adoption: Bundling services enhances the value proposition, increasing the likelihood of product adoption.

Drive up-sell and cross-sell: Structured service packages facilitate additional up-sell and cross-sell opportunities throughout the customer lifecycle.

Minimize churn risk: Comprehensive support and assistance address potential issues, minimizing the risk of churn.

Maximize CSAT: Bundling services offers the services that best suit the customer’s needs, thus enhancing customer satisfaction.

What are you trying to achieve?

Minimize time-to-value (TTV): The primary aim is to accelerate the time for customers to derive value from your offerings by adopting a phased implementation approach focused on prioritizing core functionalities and delivering incremental value.

Minimize time-to-revenue (TTR): From the company's perspective, the key goal is to minimize the time-to-revenue. The sooner customers begin using your software and start getting value out of it, the quicker revenue streams are generated.

Accelerating time-to-revenue also enhances the predictability of revenue streams, contributing to a more stable and sustainable revenue model for the company.

How to package your services

From effort-based to outcome-based: As organizations mature, their approach to service offerings evolves from a focus on providing consultancy or advisory hours based on effort towards delivering specific outcomes for customers. 

Initially, companies may offer flexible resource pools to address customer needs, but as services are packaged, the emphasis shifts towards achieving tangible results aligned with customer goals, such as accelerating time-to-revenue and value realization.

From insurance policies to value drivers: In this evolution, services or customer success offerings transform from being perceived solely as insurance policies for customers to becoming essential value drivers. 

Rather than merely offering support, the goal is to actively contribute to achieving outcomes that enhance the customer experience and drive business results. 

This shift reflects a deeper commitment to customer success, aligning service offerings more closely with broader objectives such as maximizing product adoption, minimizing churn, and optimizing revenue generation.

Key 'ingredients' for packaging your service offerings

Jeroen delves into essential ‘ingredients’ or elements for packaging your service offerings effectively.

1. Assess your historical data

Common customer use cases: What are the most common customer use cases? 

Patterns in the product usage: What sort of features are used the most, and used the least?

Customer support trend lines: What are the common issues customers come across when they are using your products?

Product feature requests: What does the product roadmap look like? What are the most requested features? 

This aids in identifying customer needs and challenges, enabling you to customize your offerings accordingly.

2. Determine your GTM Strategy

Choose a strategy that aligns with your company objectives.

Customer segmentation: What are the different customer segments you target and their unique characteristics or needs?

Market maturity: How would you characterize the level of competition and saturation within your market? Are there any emerging trends or shifts indicating changes in market maturity?

Strategic sales motion: What strategic sales approaches do you employ? Is there a preference for mid-market commercial enterprises, or is it a blend of various market segments?

Company ‘big bets’: What are the key dimensions driving the company's trajectory for the next few years, and how will they influence portfolio restructuring?

3. Effort-driven add-ons

Training and education: Enhance service value with comprehensive training and educational resources, such as personalized online courses covering advanced features and best practices tailored to each client's specific needs.

Go-live support: Ensure a seamless transition with dedicated support during the crucial go-live phase.

Post go-live hypercare: Post go-live hypercare involves providing intensive support post-implementation. This ensures optimal user adoption and satisfaction, with dedicated on-site support teams addressing any immediate issues.

Advisory hours: Offer expert guidance and strategic advice through flexible consultation hours tailored to your customer's needs.

Ultimately, determining how to package services involves crafting ‘recipes’ or customer profiles that balance standardization with flexibility, ensuring that offerings meet customer needs while providing options for customization.

A few possible ‘recipes’

When considering how to package services, you can approach it from various perspectives, such as service level, product or feature, customer lifecycle stage, customer size, market or industry, and customer initiative.

1. Service level: You can offer different service levels, ranging from self-service options where customers handle most tasks themselves to consultative approaches where you guide customers through processes, to a white-glove approach where you handle everything for the customer, known as "hands-on keyboard" work.

2. Product or feature: Start with the core product or feature set and then include additional features or services as needed. This approach ensures that customers have a solid foundation before expanding into more advanced functionalities.

3. Customer lifecycle stage: Tailor your services to meet the specific needs of customers at different stages of their lifecycle. For existing customers, focus on upselling, cross-selling, and reducing churn, whereas for new customers, concentrate on onboarding and initial setup.

4. Customer size: Consider factors such as the revenue, number of employees, or number of agencies the customer has. This segmentation allows you to offer services that align with the scale and complexity of each customer.

5. Market or industry: Different industries may have unique requirements or regulations, so packaging services to address these specific needs can be beneficial.

6. Customer initiative: Align your services with strategic initiatives that customers are pursuing. This approach helps to demonstrate the value of your product or service in achieving their broader business objectives, gaining buy-in from executives and economic buyers.

By considering these various perspectives, you can tailor your service offerings to meet the specific needs and preferences of different customer segments, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and driving business success.

Building an à la carte package

When faced with the dilemma of packaging services for clients with multiple program types, the question arises: should the services be packaged based on the specific program type or consider the company as a whole? 

This uncertainty stems from the need to balance tailored solutions with streamlined offerings. For instance, if Program Type A and Program Type B require different sets of services, the challenge becomes whether to offer separate packages or incorporate the additional feature as an à la carte addition.

Starting with a core package that optimizes value, then offering supplementary services allows the emphasis to transition towards selling value through program types, rather than individual services, ensuring a unified approach to meeting client requirements.

Provide clients with a base model featuring customizable options. Segment packages into small, medium, and large categories, each offering a predetermined number of features. 

You can also try different pricing tiers based on the level of implementation support, ranging from high touch to self-guided options. This multi-tiered approach empowers clients to tailor their packages according to their specific requirements while offering flexibility in pricing based on the level of service desired.

Document your service offerings

Having a dedicated website page or document showcasing common program types and their corresponding recommended services can be beneficial. 

It provides prospects and customers with a familiar framework to understand which service aligns best with their needs. Including explanations for why certain services are recommended for each program type helps justify the packaging and offers transparency to customers.

This approach allows individuals to browse through various program types and identify the closest match to their own needs. They can then customize the package by opting out of certain modules that may not be relevant to them. 

Similar to product pricing pages, this document or webpage can serve as a comprehensive resource for understanding the available service offerings and their respective benefits. It enhances clarity and streamlines the decision-making process for customers.

Elevating customer success in the sales process

In the sales process, Customer Success (CS) assumes a critical role in instilling confidence in support capabilities. 

Clients often recognize the value of a robust support network, viewing CS as essential partners in their journey towards success.

To ensure successful customer engagement, you must integrate service or customer success managers towards the end of the sales cycle.

While not consistently present, CS participation in key presentations or meetings underscores the depth of ongoing support available. 

This involvement reinforces the commitment and expertise within the organization, highlighting the diverse roles contributing to client success. It is crucial to understand each client's unique culture and communication style, and offer tailored guidance for the success of each implementation. 

The focus should be on driving adoption and achieving client-defined outcomes, supported by personalized recommendations and comprehensive assistance. 

Offering customized onboarding for companies with unified feature access

In a scenario where a company offers access to all their features to all clients, the focus shifts to customizing onboarding processes based on each client's unique needs. 

Rather than selecting specific features, the goal then becomes to ensure comprehensive coverage initially while remaining flexible to provide additional services for evolving needs over time.

Moreover, categorizing associations by their maturity level or lifecycle stage can enhance the effectiveness of service packaging. Through a maturity assessment, associations can pinpoint their current stage and identify areas for growth. 

Tailoring service packages to each stage allows for targeted support, such as foundational services for early-stage associations and advanced services for mature ones, aligning offerings with specific needs and aspirations. 

This approach empowers associations to concentrate on critical areas for growth, fostering long-term success.

Creating a customer journey map to understand your customer’s needs

Creating a customer journey map is a valuable exercise, especially for organizations in their early stages. It provides a structured framework to understand the customer experience, identify pain points, and uncover opportunities for improvement.

Nancy Raia, Customer Success Manager at TRUCE Software, emphasizes the importance of creating customer journey maps for early-stage companies to gain valuable insights into customer needs.

Meticulously mapping out the customer journey and focusing on risks, opportunities, and stakeholder involvement helps the company significantly enhance implementation efficiency and communication management. 

Securing internal buy-in and concentrating on outcomes results in smarter approaches to customer interactions and the establishment of long-term relationships. 

This strategic shift not only ensures continued progress toward desired outcomes but also positions the company for potential customer expansion and referrals in the future.

Establishing a "forcing function" to prioritize proactive tasks

Balancing reactive customer demands with proactive initiatives like customer journey mapping presents a significant challenge in customer-facing roles, perpetually immersed in firefighting mode. 

Stakeholders often sign off on deals only to disappear, leaving teams stranded in tactical resource management. To address this, proactive approaches are prioritized, advocating for early stakeholder engagement to align decisions with their objectives. 

In companies where conflicts between program team decisions and stakeholder goals arise, transparent communication is essential. Collaborative problem-solving becomes key in such scenarios. 

Documenting expectations and escalation paths upfront fosters smoother collaborations and ensures accountability, aligning efforts towards proactive customer engagement.

Engaging stakeholders in customer-facing roles with project objectives

Get stakeholders involved by having top executives talk directly to team members. They can do this with short videos made by client executive sponsors. These videos explain why the project is important and what you’re aiming for. These videos, integrated into Learning Management Systems, ensure mandatory stakeholder viewing.

In successful projects, top leaders help engage everyone by giving live talks and sharing videos that explain why the project is important. These videos are added to an online system to see who watches them and make sure everyone knows what's going on.

To make sure everyone is accountable, you can put these videos in a system that tracks who watches them. This helps everyone understand the project goals and prevents any misunderstandings.

You must also make it clear what you expect from everyone involved and explain how much time and effort they need to put in. This helps everyone take responsibility and work together smoothly throughout the project.

Crafting a Scope of Work (SOW) for your implementation

Using a Scope of Work (SOW) is crucial for defining project boundaries, deliverables, and service levels, ensuring clarity and preventing scope creep. It serves as a detailed agreement between you and the client, outlining responsibilities and expectations. 

Referring back to the SOW helps manage expectations and hold both parties accountable. Limiting customizations and clearly documenting them in the SOW is wise, preventing misunderstandings and ensuring adherence to agreed-upon terms. 

An introduction and project planning call before the kickoff helps you clarify goals and expectations early on, improving the onboarding process's success. Focusing on understanding stakeholders' goals and aligning conversations with their desired outcomes is crucial during this call. 

Simplifying the plan into actionable steps with clear timelines and responsibilities ensures better coordination and accountability among team members, leading to a smooth onboarding process focused on achieving predetermined goals and milestones.

Do you encounter challenges with implementation or customer onboarding at your organization that you'd like to discuss? Join the Preflight Community to exchange insights and strategies with fellow members!

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Madhushree Menon
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

Madhushree Menon is a content marketer at Rocketlane. She mainly focuses on SEO blogs, but also dabbles in other forms of content. A true Hufflepuff at heart, she loves to binge-watch anime, explore new cuisines, and learn new languages.

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