It is recommended to use a performance review to check up on the health of customer deployments of your product.
If you like Dr. Clayton Christensen’s notion of “jobs to be done” and have rolled out a policy built upon it, you should start inviting your customers to virtually sit down with you and your customer success team over a performance review online meeting. The first of these meetings should be scheduled around 6 months after your customer has finished deploying your enterprise software program or platform. If your product makes it through this first meeting with a passing grade (or hopefully honors), you and your customer should agree to repeat the same discussion every six months.
Structure the meeting just like a performance review. You should find your customers are receptive. If you are skeptical, just consider what you are offering from your customer’s perspective:
They are inviting me to sit down with them and give them a completely candid appraisal of how their product is doing given my needs and how my team is using the product after the sale has closed and we paid them.
Your customer won’t miss the fact your offer indicates total openness to hear the real truth about how useful (or useless) your product has proven, in real life, to be. The performance review meeting amounts to a priceless opportunity to collect high value data about the post-purchase customer experience. Not to mention the opportunity you will get to do your best to fix what can be fixed and to adjust customer expectations as required.
The performance review meeting should be planned. Is your product in use for the same job the customer originally intended? How is the customer measuring performance? If your product includes analytics, is your customer using the data? You need to leave the performance review meeting with answers to these questions.
On the topic of analytics, you would be surprised at how many customers fail to regularly refer to the pretty dashboards you have provided to them. Why? If the customer isn’t using analytics, have they given up on the project? Is there a past history of projects not meeting objectives at the customer’s organization? What does the customer’s management think about the health of the project and your customer’s effort to deliver?
As mentioned earlier in this post, you need to enter the meeting completely prepared to do what you reasonably can to fix correctable issues. It therefore makes sense for your customer success team to lead the meeting. But don’t forget to include the sales team, as well.
If your business model includes a recurring revenue component, either built on a software as a service (SaaS) model, or on an annual software assurance plan, you have a “level 3” need for these meetings. The outcome of the meeting will correlate directly to whether or not your sales team gets the renewal you need.
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