WHY IS Implementation Discovery IMPORTANT?
You’ve kicked off your relationship with a new customer, and now it’s time to get tactical. Implementation Discovery is a step that can sometimes be forgotten, yet is extremely important. It’s an opportunity to catch things that may have been missed during the sales and kickoff steps, and validate the KPIs you and your customer have agreed to. Consider this the first tactical, down and dirty, meeting. What do they have? What do they need? And what are our first steps to getting to first value quickly?
WHO NEEDS TO KNOW HOW TO CONDUCT AN Implementation Discovery?
Customer Success Managers are responsible for Implementation Discovery. Knowing what happens during this meeting is valuable for the Sales team, so that they can set expectations with customers. Product teams may also appreciate knowing how these meetings are conducted, and what information comes from them so that they can best equip CS with knowledge about how certain technical specs may impact implementation.
PUTTING Implementation Discovery IN CONTEXT
Implementation Discovery is the first meeting that happens without the executive sponsor. It’s the first real working session with the actual administrator (and, perhaps, power users). It happens right after Kick-off and just before Rapid Prototyping. It’s a critical link between relationship development and first experiences in the solution. Done right, you will have a clear understanding of how technically prepared your customer is for implementation. If this step is skipped, there is a greater likelihood of slowing down implementation, and attaining first value.
GUIDELINES FOR Implementation Discovery
As with each meeting you conduct with your new customer, you should have an agenda and set expectations for the meeting. Implementation Discovery is a one-hour meeting that happens shortly after Kick-off and the agenda includes four topics:
- Understand the Space
- Current Operational Capacity
- Validate KPIs
- Path Toward Enablement and First Value
Understand the Space into which Your Solution is Being Implemented
Begin by asking your customer to describe what they do and reiterate why they purchased your solution. Use these answers to probe further to:
- get a more complete understanding of their industry
- What do they do?
- Why do customers buy their solution?
- What tiers of service (and pricing) do they provide?
- identify and document key business cases that they aim to address
- understand how these business cases are currently being managed
- Who is currently working with these issues? What plans (if any) do they have to modify their approach and/or personnel?
Confirm Customer Operational Capacity
Implementation Discovery provides you the opportunity to understand how prepared your customer is to implement your solution. Take the time to collect the information you need about your customer’s current data sources and allocated resources. You should leave this meeting knowing exactly what they have and how they hope/plan to make these sources and resources available for implementation. This meeting also begins to frame for you the capacity your customer has (in resources, processes and available time) to move along the path toward implementation and adoption. While you may not know all the risks that exist in advancing toward Implementation, you do begin to gather this information here. You will have the opportunity later on (during Core Enablement) to share some of these risks with your sponsor.
During Kick-off you asked your customer to define what success looks like. It’s now time to validate the Key Performance Indicators that will accurately measure that success. This is your opportunity to validate the reality of these KPIs and the likelihood of attaining them. If you can validate that they are realistic, make sure they are
- Have a timeframe for assessment, and
- Identify who is responsible for determining whether or not they have been met
Don’t be afraid to drill down into these to get to the heart of what first value looks like for them, and identify exactly how and when YOU BOTH expect to attain it.
Define Your Path Toward Enablement and First Value
Knowing that your next meeting will be Rapid Prototyping, take the opportunity to identify the steps that will be taken going forward toward Enablement and First Value. Share your Customer Lifecycle with your customer so that they see where they are in it, and how they are expected to move forward. Explain that this is a map for them and for you that you will revisit regularly.
Agility is a core skillset in Customer Success Management. While you know where you expect your customer to go next and what outcomes they hope to achieve with your solution, you must also recognize that priorities shift. They shift because of strategic adjustments, personnel changes, pivots, and more. When this happens, you must be agile and shift with them. This requires revisiting KPIs and Lifecycle maps.
WHAT DO WE LEARN THROUGH Implementation Discovery?
Implementation Discovery is a key step that is often glossed over. It is essentially the time to understand how technically and tactically ready your customer is for implementation. Without this information, you may make assumptions that will only result in frustration and poor adoption. Knowing the current and real state of your customer (technology, personnel, capacity, etc.) will allow you to better set expectations and drive them effectively toward implementation and adoption.
Read more about the Blocking and Tackling of Customer Success .