Written by Craig Dalton, VP of Customer Experience and Jerry Manas, Director of Customer Experience for the new Customer Success Center
No matter how effective, configurable, or powerful a software product may be, if users can’t learn to adopt to it quickly and painlessly, its value will be diluted. This is where innovative enablement can make all the difference, boosting success and accelerating the ROI of your purchase exponentially. Innovative enablement includes the learning and knowledge support systems necessary to smooth the path forward and turn users into product experts. What makes it innovative is the degree to which it offers just-in-time learning through a variety of media channels.
We recently launched the Planview Customer Success Center, which is a good example of innovative enablement because it serves as the single place to find training and help content, best practices, and other valuable resources for all Planview products – Planview Enterprise, Troux, and Projectplace. Our vision has always been to better help our customers achieve higher and faster business value from Planview solutions, and feedback has been extremely positive.
When purchasing software, it is imperative that the software company includes a sound approach to innovative enablement, ideally with a full success platform. With this in mind, it’s useful to understand what that means, in terms of three lenses:
- What the state of the art is regarding innovative enablement
- What an ideal platform for customer success should look like
- How the learning content is organized with regard to your implementation
State of the Art Success Model
The science has been rapidly changing in the areas of customer success, enablement, and self-service. Following are a few findings from our research, which shaped our goals for our new site and things you will want to consider during the software adoption process:
- The trend is moving from support to success models, which go beyond passive support mechanisms to serve as a strategic enabler of customer growth, maturity, and success.
- Aside from immediate help via phone, people crave self-service information so they can quickly find what they need.
- Users want to access just the information they need when they need it, as opposed to “too much too early.” This is what we mean by “just-in-time learning.”
- Users want advice and true thought leadership, not just software, so making advisory and research content easily is vital.
- Mobile accessibility is critical in today’s day and age. If people are using software products on mobile devices, they should also be able to get related help and enablement content on those same devices.
- People learn in different ways. Thus it’s important to offer omni-channel content, in the form of how-to text, screenshots, overview videos, e-learning modules, and more. If someone searches or navigates to a topic, they should see all related content.
- The ability to review help site analytics is vital to identify what people are searching for and where additional content is needed. New content must constantly be added.
Holistic Success Platform
To enable these vital capabilities, a holistic success platform is needed; one that offers a powerful search, easy navigation, and a variety of ways to display multi-media content. In our case, this list became a very tall order for us to achieve, as presenting complex information in an accessible way is no easy task. We were fortunate to find a product we could build upon that was state of the art and highly configurable. We were also fortunate that our user experience design team at Projectplace are some of the best in the business, so we leveraged them heavily, which is probably why many of our early-preview customers commented that the site has the simple, but elegant look and feel of Projectplace. We also engaged a Customer Success Inner Circle, made up of 20 customers, to validate the design.
When purchasing software, be sure that the vendor not only offers training, but has a holistic platform that offers a wealth of multi-media content, easy to find articles and how-to steps for the product’s functions, and plenty of best practices and examples of the software’s reports and analytics. Not only the content, but the layout and accessibility of the site is critical for adoption.
While the platform and content are important, just as critical is how the content is organized. The best success systems organize the learning content by easy-to-find topics that align with how you’re implementing or using the end product.
In our case, portfolio and resource management are complex topics, and there are many ways we could have organized the wealth of information we had. We chose to go with functional topics (or personas), and sub-defined those topics using the portfolio management capability model that our Rapid Portfolio Management (RPM) implementation methodology already used. It was logical and most customers were already familiar with it, plus it aligned our success model with our implementation model.
For each capability, we offer all the information that applies to that capability, including how-to topics, product help, e-learning, best practices, analytics, and more. In our Learning Center, we also offer specific learning paths that align to various personas. In addition, we offer a Planview Enterprise Fundamentals section for those just getting started. And for those who are responsible for implementing our products, we also included an abundance of white papers, adoption artifacts, PMO templates, and more.
Your Customer Success Journey
In essence, an effective innovative enablement model provides a wealth of omni-channel content in an easy-to-use customer success website that’s designed for just-in-time learning. It can have a significant positive impact on the adoption and ROI of your software solution, and should not be overlooked or dismissed as a nice-to-have.
We introduced our new Customer Success Center at the annual Horizons customer user conference in Austin, TX, and the feedback was extremely positive. Customers were given early access to the site and got a chance to experience the site and ask questions. However, we realize this is the beginning, not the end of our journey.
As we roll out the site to all of our customers, we now have a platform to build upon, and improvements will happen daily. And, truth be told, we’re as excited as our customers about the possibilities! If you’re a customer, visit the Planview Customer Success Center at success.planview.com and login today to discover what’s new. If you are not a Planview customer, you still have access to valuable public content.
Are software organizations meeting the challenge when it comes innovation enablement after software adoption? Share by leaving a comment below.