• Mike Ryan

5 Risks that Could Stall Your Customer Success Program Implementation

Unmanaged or unidentified risks are one of the primary reasons for project failure. Customer Success (CS) implementation consultants rolling out new CS processes or implementing new software solutions should identify top potential risks, root causes and possible mitigations. While many times hindsight can show how the problems arose, it is better to plan for these risks before the project starts to reduce any significant business impact.


Let’s examine some of the most common risks that could stall your customer success program implementation.


Loss of Adoption Champion

Everything is running smoothly until one day you find out that your main point of contact at the company is gone. Many times, this happens with no notice, and this leaves you with no game plan and a project that is likely to be delayed.


Possible mitigation:

At the beginning of the project, it is always a good idea for the implementation consultant to get a lay of the land in terms of all the contacts within the organization who could have an impact on your project. This includes the project champion, as well as other key stakeholders who are impacted by its success or failure. Document these individuals along with their project role and contact information. Bringing these people together once a new adoption champion is hired is vital to revisiting why this program was important in the first place, potential ROIs, and possibly adjustments in workflows and project timelines.


Data Risks

This is one of the most common risks. Your team is ready to start the implementation, but the customer data that is needed to start the steps for system set up is just not available or ready.


Possible mitigation:

At the beginning of the project, the CS implementation consultant should outline the scope of the data to be included as well as the contacts within the company who own this data. Then, be sure that these contacts clearly understand the project requirements, the data needed, how the data is used and deadlines. It is also helpful to have sample data with the necessary unique identifiers as well as the required fields so there is no question on what is needed. If things really don’t come together as planned, however, sometimes the answer is to narrow the focus of how much data is needed for a pilot go-live. After the pilot go-live, your team can set clear estimates on when additional data sources will be ready.


Onboarding Risks

Onboarding risks happen when deadlines are missed and this could be for a variety of reasons such as data issues, lack of engagement, or no support from upper management. Maybe your main contact doesn’t return your calls, misses meetings and doesn’t answer emails. The underlying issues need to be determined first, but it is also important to re-set expectations about how to proceed.


Possible mitigation:

Following up to determine if the project is still in alignment with company goals, clarifying project scope, and re-establishing timelines could help reengage the client. It is also important to make sure project details and progress can be accessed by all stakeholders so that everyone stays updated and the project can progress.


Lack of Adoption Risk

After implementation, sometimes individuals within the organization don’t use the new solutions. This could be due to the employees not seeing value in the new processes, the executive sponsor not championing the new solution as needed, or the employees not feeling comfortable doing things differently.


Possible mitigation;

It is important to keep all stakeholders involved at all stages of the project. This includes the champion and implementation team, as well as the end users. Make sure you involve these individuals in the “why” of the project and the need for the business change, and any important milestones. Get feedback from these same stakeholders at every stage and be sure to incorporate their feedback into the process. Another key step is an effective training program to ensure end users know how the system works, their part in managing customers, and details about how these new processes will make their lives easier.


Solution or Process Not Working as Anticipated

If you see a rise in the number of high-priority customer support tickets, this is a pretty good indicator that the customer is not happy. This seems pretty evident, but no tickets could also be an indicator of a problem. This depends on the software being used and the stage of software implementation. Some software systems are complex enough that companies expect a certain number of tickets during implementation, and if no tickets show up, the implementation could be stalled. In either case, it is important to have visibility into the number and types of customer support tickets related to your project.


Possible mitigation:

Best practices would include a red flag when a predetermined level of critical tickets are reached or maybe when zero tickets are submitted - as well as a specific communication plan for each type of flag.


You can anticipate some of the risks associated with your project such as the ones outlined in this document, but of course, risks can change and unanticipated problems will arise. The key is assessing the situation, communicating clearly, involving the stakeholders and together, outlining a plan with specific steps and owners.

The author, Mike Ryan, is a Business Development Manager at nCloud Integrators, an industry leader in customer success strategy and implementation, with a track record of improving customer journeys at hundreds of customers every year.


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