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Managing the Emotional Journey of Software Implementation

Episode 9. Rule 9: Get Set for Success. Customer Success Managers aren’t just helping install a new tool; they’re your partners, your counselors, and your success coaches throughout every stage of the implementation life cycle.

There are very few people nowadays who haven’t been through some aspect of the process of implementing a new SaaS tool. Emotions can run the gamut from frustration and confusion to excitement and relief. The shepherds for these everyday journeys are the Customer Success Managers (CSMs).

For the first time in our The Platform Rules podcast series, Propel CMO Dario Ambrosini welcomed two of our very own Propellerheads: CSMs, Erin Gracyalny and Aaron “AC” Cloud. On Rule #9: Get Set for Success, Erin and Aaron dive into all the behind the scenes technical (and emotional) labor that goes into software implementation.

Click here to listen to the full episode, or hit play below.

“It's probably overwhelming for people buying new software to just dive right in and learn this brand new tool. Maybe they had something completely different and they're worried about what their end users are gonna think.”

Gracyalny is used to handling overwhelmed customers. Working at Propel, new buyers can fall along a broad spectrum of apprehension and excitement. Of course, the latter always tends to make for a smoother process. Or as Cloud puts it:

"There's a Christmas morning sort of feel in implementing a new piece of software for all of the potential efficiency gains, especially when you're replacing a manual process."

Both he and Gracyalny are prepared for any situation during those early conversations. There are always those who need a bit of coaxing, who are nervous about changing their routine, or others who are ready and invested right off the bat.

Cloud continues, “You're going to reevaluate your processes. You're going to ask people to make emotional investments and the higher you have buy-in, hopefully executive buy-in, on the project, the easier it will be to handle those hurdles as they come up from a human perspective.”

Sometimes overlooked, tapping into the human perspective of SaaS implementation is a vital aspect of a CSM’s role. And as in any human relationship—it’s all about communication. 

"There's a Christmas morning sort of feel in implementing a new piece of software for all of the potential efficiency gains, especially when you're replacing a manual process."

According to Gracyalny, “No matter which phase you're in, if you've been a customer for six years, if you're just buying it now, or if you're a prospect, definitely communication is key and it builds trust along the way. We want you to be able to trust that we're going to set you up for success.”

Once the process is underway, communication is essential for both CSMs as they determine potential for expanding on the product's capabilities beyond the initial request.

“​In our case, the CSMs, that's our job. We want to make sure that you are finding success with every part of your life cycle with the software.” Cloud said. “As you find success in one use case, you are looking for other ways to leverage that technology for other areas of your business, of your process,” Cloud said. “And if you think of it as a partnership, we can help you to find the ways that you can expand.”

Trust, communication, partnerships. At the center of all business is simply humans with human needs. CSMs seem to know this better than anyone. 

As Gracyalny says, “What should be the most important is making sure that we as a software service can actually give you what you want to see… People are not a big fan of change. But that doesn't mean that they can't like it once they try it. So I think just preparing your users is a huge step for that.”

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Digital transformation is all the rage, but there’s no clear definition of its scope and even less practical guidance about how to achieve it. To help manufacturing leaders navigate these uncertain waters, Propel has arrayed a roster of industry luminaries. Dario Ambrosini, Propel CMO, hosts product and other Propel leaders as they put forth a set of key tenets—The Platform Rules—to heed along your journey.

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