It is useful to think about Customer Success providing a roadmap and motivation to do more and Professional Services as the arm to help customers execute on that roadmap. If you are doing both, your customers are demonstrating commitment to your product and continuing to build on the value that your product provides.
So how do you do this well? If Customer Success is talking to customers with low usage, customers that are only doing the basics, doing quarterly business reviews or addressing customers that really want to do more but are not making progress, it is important to understand why this is. Customer Success can really help in this area– assisting the customer understand what is holding them back from doing more. Once you establish this and help the customer realize this, Customer Success can help with the plan to do more.
When the customer needs knowledge, time or specific skills to execute on the plan, this is a good opportunity to refer the opportunity to your Professional Services team.
- Knowledge – Professional Services assists multiple customers in execution towards their goals with your product. They have seen the details of what works and what does not in multiple situations. They are also experts in your product or service. The customer can benefit from this knowledge and can often learn a tremendous amount from the interaction. Especially when you introduce new features or capabilities into your product or service, the professional services team can help the customer figure out and implement those new features or capabilities.
- Time – This is often a major constraint for customers. Hiring professional services can be a great way for customers to achieve more in a shorter amount of time by supplementing their team with fee-based services. The customer might understand what needs to be done but needs some extra hands on deck to make it happen.
- Skills – In some cases, customers might not have resources with the specific, technical skills necessary. Professional Services and sometimes, additional third-party partners, provide the network of specialized skills to bridge the gap.
The greatest overlap between Customer Success and Professional Services is knowledge. If the solution is complex, with multiple alternatives and options driven by the specifics of the customers situation, it is often the knowledge depth and the complexity that requires calling on your Professional Services team. I agree with Dan’s last post: if Customer Success acts as a customer’s trusted advisor, the transition to Professional Services will be painless.
The Customer Success team’s role is to understand what you are encouraging the customer to do, diagnose what would prevent them from achieving it on their own and leverage your Professional Services team when in-depth knowledge, time and/or skills are required to get them there.