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In this Podcast, Client Success from a Business Outcomes Perspective, we discuss…

1:17Introduction of Content That Will Be Covered
4:15Client Success from a Client Perspective
5:01Our Two Areas of Service in This Practice
7:25Service Areas Broken Down
10:36Is ACM Completed During or After the Project?
18:57How is Success Measured?
22:25NPS Score
24:40Client Champion


Danny Ryan:It’s Thursday, April 2nd. Today, I talk with Bruce Harple and Bob Morris about client success. I hope you enjoy. Today I’m with Bruce Harple, the VP of delivery from ThreeWill. Bruce, how you doing?


Bruce Harple:I am doing well Danny. Thank you very much.


Danny Ryan:Great. I’m also here with Bob Morris. Bob is executive director for our client success practice. How are you doing Bob?


Bob Morris:I’m doing great Danny.


Danny Ryan:Everybody’s got their blurred backgrounds. Are we ready to do this or what?


Bruce Harple:We are ready man, let’s rock and roll.


Danny Ryan:This is the new normal, right? This is how we see each other nowadays, is virtually yes. So today I’ve got a great topic for us to talk about and that is client success. I just wanted to drop in and have a chance for us to drop in on this conversation and learn more about what this means to our clients and sort of how we’re in 2020 creating this new practice and what our plans are for that practice. So let me kick it up. Bruce, you can take it from here.


Bruce Harple:Yeah, I’ll get this kickoff. Yeah. So client success is something certainly that both Bob and I have just a tremendous amount of passion around. We really truly care about our customers and we care about making sure they’re successful and the interactions we have with them and the services we provide for them. In fact, we’ve got so much focus on that that’s why Bob now heads up our client success practice. We’re really putting a lot of energy into that. Bob got passion around that. So what Bob and I wanted to do today is just kind of talk about client success, kind of what that means to ThreeWill. Bob’s going to talk a bit about his practice and the focus of that practice and how we apply that to projects and creating solutions for customers.


Bruce Harple:Really just, we want to focus on kind of the end to end process of the way we engage in customers and how that really is changing. Really makes sure we ensure customer success and client success at the end of the project. Now I want to spend some time just talking about, how do we measure client success, right? There’s a lot of ways people out there in our industry measure client success. I want to talk a bit about how we measure that success and how we kind of look at our relationship with our customers and are we succeeding and truly helping them to be successful and achieving the outcomes they’re trying to achieve. So, I’m going to kind of let Bob kind of kick us off because we’re really excited about the client success practice that he has started up and we’re really excited about the things that’s going to do for our customers. How that’s going to bring added value to the way we engage with our customers. So, Bob, why don’t you kind of just start walking us through that practice and your vision plans and what you’re going to be doing.


Bob Morris:Yeah, Bruce I’d be happy to. I guess one way to look at the conversation here is that client success as Bruce you mentioned can be viewed from different perspect ives. I think probably what I’m going to focus on here in this initial part of the conversation is standing in the shoes of our clients. How do we think that they view success and what kind of services are we able to bring to bear from this practice to promote that? Really for us standing in the shoes of our clients, success is all about business outcomes. Because it’s the business outcome that drives the value that clients receive from their investment in the technology initiatives where we’re involved. So it’s a mindset where when you’re talking about technology strategy, you really think of it as the means rather than the ends in the strategy.


Bob Morris:Because the ends of course, again, or the business outcomes and the logical question they of course is well, how do you do that? How do you actually make that a practical reality? Really what we’re trying to do is just encourage a common vision and communication between business and technology leadership. And then once we have that communication and a shared vision on what needs to be achieved for these business outcomes, then we spend a lot of time focusing on promoting user adoption of the technology, the human factor of it. Because after all, really the value you get doesn’t come from completing a technology deployment. It comes from people having the ability to use that technology and be proficient with it. So that’s kind of the idea of what client success is from client perspectives.


Bob Morris:To drive that we have some specific services in this area that we have to really cover kind of two main areas. One is some of these services will provide in conjunction with engagements where we have other ThreeWill practices involved. So I’m talking about transformation and innovation practices and those are things that generally involve applying best practices to some very core areas that are common between those engagements. So I’m talking about project and program management testing and our global delivery team and all of those areas that have been traditionally very strong for ThreeWill and had gotten really good feedback from customers on our professionalism in those areas. The other area has to do… It can be in conjunction with other engagements for other practices but also can be standalone engagements we have with our clients. This area really relates to having a deep direct focus on client success via these human factors that I’ve talked about earlier.


Bob Morris:The broadening that we apply to this is adoption and change management. That’s actually a name I think that Microsoft has been promoting a lot and of course we’re Microsoft partners. In fact, Microsoft has been giving a ton of love to this idea of adoption and change management lately. There’s a ton of content and guidance out there that Microsoft provides on this and really the services in this area that we’re providing really help our clients wade through all of that available online content and guidance to make it very relevant to what they’re trying to do. In fact, all the consultants we have in this practice that are delivering ACM services have Microsoft’s latest certification they call it a service adoption specialist certification. So we’re pretty excited about this and I think a lot of the questions that we get early on are it all sounds reasonable and good, but what specifically are you guys doing?


Bob Morris:Really, the specific services here and you guys feel free to jump in and ask questions about any of this stuff. Really, they break down into four main areas. All of these areas have to do with having a very intentional plan and executing that plan for user adoption. So the areas are discovering assessment, design and development, execution and what we call a value expansion. In discovery and assessment, really that’s what drives… The services in this area drive our design of the overall strategy. So typically this would include a planning workshop, one or more of those and some assessments. Planning workshops will include things like defining what a sponsor’s vision is, identifying the key stakeholders, key business scenarios and user personas for the technology. And then it also includes what does a successful ACM program look like as a walk through.


Bob Morris:I think a lot of people may have some older modes of thinking may be about particularly technology people. This is not a knock, it’s just sort of normal. The past normal is we’ve got this really cool technology, we’re going to focus on getting it deployed. We’re really smart. That’s how we’re able to do that. By the way, we’ll provide some training and then we’re done. That’s not really what this is all about. The ACM program I’m talking about is completely parallel but different than what the technology team is doing in their deployment. The assessments I mentioned have to do with… Depending on how large the program is, you may want to assess your change culture and the adoption readiness of the culture that you have. It’s important to know that so that you tailor these programs specifically to what your organization needs.


Bob Morris:I mentioned stakeholder analysis, identifying the stakeholders, particularly in large deployments. You have to be intentional about how you communicate with and handle some stakeholders because they are critical in the success of the overall project. And then the last part is pretty traditional and that is understanding the training needs for a project. When we talk about training here, I think it’s really important to understand that particularly programs that involve some pretty broadly available technology. So if we’re talking about Microsoft 365 and the different applications that are there, things like teams and things like that. There is a ton of standard training available for that. What the adoption program is trying to do is identify based on those key scenarios, what’s the key training we need? What are the key areas we need to focus on? A lot of times it could even be customized training based on okay, you used to do things this certain way for this key business process now you’re going to do it this new way with this new technology. So it’s not just a generic instructor type led training.


Bruce Harple:Bob here’s a question. Yeah. As you go through a project, right? Where we’re doing solution development of some kind for a customer, we’re trying to create a solution and get a solution deployed. So is the ACM, these services, like the discovery and assessment, is that something that you kind of do when that project is done? Or is this done in parallel? I mean, how does this kind of play into integrating with the project as it’s executing?


Bob Morris:Yeah. No I’m glad you ask it Bruce. So two things having to do with an ACM program and the timing of that related to the technology deployment. One is that we know that the most successful ACM programs start at almost the same time as the technology deployment. In other words, the planning for the user adoption is taking place in parallel based on what’s happening on the technology side. There’s sort of a feedback loop between the two things and there’s a really strong relationship between whoever’s responsible for the adoption program and whoever’s responsible for the technology program and that deployment. So beginning those things nearly at the same time upfront, super critical. That’s why we think we have a pretty good value-add in this area because when we are delivering this in conjunction with our other practices, we’re in lockstep with what those practices are doing and so it’s really easy to be coordinated.


Bob Morris:One other thing on timing I was going to mention, and this is something that Microsoft preaches quite regularly in the adoption change management discussions. And it has to do with when people get value or organizations get value from their technology investments. Again, the old thinking was that the focus needs to be on getting the technology deployed, do a little bit of training and you’re done. And when you think about it at that point in time an organization hasn’t derived any value from that investment. Rather, the value is occurring after that’s over with. It’s a function of how well people are able to adopt that and be proficient with it. So this adoption and change management program, it really needs to go well beyond when the technology deployment occurs. So did that answer your question, Bruce?


Bruce Harple:Yeah. Yeah, sure did. Yeah. Because I know for us, we used to be excited every time we get done with the technology development and deployment part of a project, right? We kind of celebrated it and declared victory when in fact that’s only part way through the journey, right? Of helping the customer really get that value realization from the investment they’re making.


Bob Morris:Yeah. If it’s okay, Bruce, I’ll just wrap up. I mentioned before the four areas of these services and it’s all related to the process that you’re talking about, Bruce, in fleshing that out all the way through. I mentioned discovering assessment and design and development. The design and development piece, as I said before, it’s developing plans based on what we learned in the discovery phase. These plans all relate to the same sort of topic areas already mentioned. So obviously there is a formal ACM implementation plan or plans for stakeholder engagement, early adopter and champion programs. Really the emphasis and focus of this whole ACM effort is on the people aspect of this early adopters and champion programs are a key success factor that both we and Microsoft see in any of these kinds of efforts. Awareness and communication, training, success measurement, resistance management, those are all plans that we have.


Bob Morris:Really they’re all geared towards the concept from a user’s perspective. Because anybody familiar with some of the traditional organizational change management frameworks, they’re all geared to what’s in this for me? How does the change affect me as a user or a person involved in this? That’s what it’s all geared towards. Once you have those plans, it’s a matter of execution and we can help with that too. Execution typically means delivery of some of the things that are identified in those plans. It could be delivery of communications. We could be helping with the communication template. It could be delivering training. As I said before though it’s not really just about instructor led training. It’s a lot of developing content that might be customized cheat sheets and things like that, that are relevant to a particular organization and a particular technology.


Bob Morris:And then the last bit is value expansion, certainly not the least important, even though I’m mentioning it last. Because that’s where you’re doing health assessments. One of the things that I sort of skipped over real quick, just a minute ago was I talked about success measurement that’s built into this. So this isn’t kind of a pie in the sky thing that’s very subjective. Really we try and make it objective and we really try and make it based on metrics. Microsoft has some very good tools that are available for free through Power BI and dashboards to be able to measure this and show the impact you’re having with this kind of a program. So being able to leverage those things and to use it not only as you’re doing the deployment, but after the deployment by doing periodic health assessments. So all of that, it kind of is the full picture of what we normally we do in an adoption program. It’s all geared towards, again, the outcomes that the business wants. So I don’t know, Bruce, can you think of anything else that maybe we didn’t mention?


Bruce Harple:Yeah, the only thing that comes to mind Bob and you and I’ve talked about this, as it relates to kind of the way we deliver and looking at that full lifecycle that not only includes the technology limitation, but that adoption and change management. When we talked about client success, right? I think the culture at ThreeWill and the one thing I love about ThreeWill. I think everybody at ThreeWill is driven and motivated by making sure our clients are successful. I think for us we don’t always focus on clients success or success from a ThreeWill perspective, right? We don’t kind of dwell on that.


Bruce Harple:I think we really focus on making our clients success, making sure they’re successful because at the end of the day, if our clients are successful we’re going to be successful, right? I think that’s just baked into our culture and the way everybody approaches projects and where they approach the relationship with customers. I think that really drives our success. Not that we intentional try to do that. I think it’s who we are.


Danny Ryan:I think Bruce very early on in the company, I know one of the pivotal books for Tommy and is the Seven Habit book and the concept of these are so overused, almost want to come up with a new term for it. But the idea of both parties can win, how do we set that up? I think that that’s been one of the underlying philosophies that we’ve had as an organization. If we focus in on helping our client be successful, then we’re going to be successful. I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been in business for close to 20 years right now is that we’re not… If we do that then things will be okay in the end. So you will run into… Granted you will run into people who will take advantage of that.


Danny Ryan:Part of my job is identifying those people. There will be people, if they’re not playing a win-win and they’re playing win-lose, then that’s some of the situations where we need to recognize our sponsor is not truly looking out for the interest of the both parties. That’s something important for us to identify as an organization. One of the things I wanted to… And maybe just… I’m going to relate this over to some recent opportunities that I’ve been working on. So as you guys know I typically work with new clients and as new prospects are coming in to ThreeWill and sort of get… They come in and one of the things that I’m looking for is to hear what makes this project successful?


Danny Ryan:I really try to cue into that because it’s not the same for… Success can be defined in a lot of different ways. Typically, it’s adoption. Some of the times a successful project is you didn’t overrun the budget or there can be a whole number of different things that can define what success is. Like a recent project for us was one that they had executive presentation that needed to be done on this date and we needed to show we delivered by that date. That was success. So what I ended up doing from the very beginning was how do we create a plan that gets us set up to be able to be… The executives are going to do a good presentation and a part of its success was everybody’s going to keep their job.


Danny Ryan:It’s like you’re cuing into these things is important. I guess a part of what I’m saying is listening… Success is not the same for everyone and you’ve got to listen to understand what success is and you’ve got to get all parties involved as well because we’re dealing with large organizations, multiple teams. We love to have one business sponsor, but the fact is this is usually being decisioned by a group of people and everybody in that group might have a different definition of success. So I think it’s great that we’re focusing in on this and I think this is a whole… Us focusing on this again will keep us striving as a business. But one of the things I’ve noticed is you can’t make this assumption that everybody defines success the same way.


Bruce Harple:Yeah, that’s a good lead into kind of what I wanted to go through a little bit. If you’re talking about what does planned success mean to ThreeWill, right? What I’m going to do is just kind of talking about some of the metrics and some of the things that we use. But then at the end, just kind of… I’m going to give you my personal view on how I look at client success, right? And to prepare for the podcast, I kind of looked up a definition of client satisfaction, right? Went out to the web and pretty simple one, it just says client satisfaction. Really, it’s a measure of how your products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectations. Yeah, I really liked that for one. And Dan, you and Bob know there’s a lot of times when we’re on calls with new clients and I introduced myself in my role, I always say that my role is to make sure that we deliver the solution that the customer expects, right?


Bruce Harple:Hopefully, we meet or even exceed those expectations. So I felt pretty good actually when I read that definition, I’m like, “Gosh that’s what I tell clients.” Dang. Yeah. That’s pretty broad based write a definition but I think at the end of the day it is all about meeting their expectations and Bob defined it as business outcomes, right? Which is the same thing, right? You really want to make sure they meet their desired business outcome. That’s customer expectations. But some of the metrics that we look at, and Danny, this is evolved over the years as you know. I’ll talk quickly about each one, but the concept of NPS scores NPS net promoter scores. Customer satisfaction survey, being a customer reference or what we call a client champion and we do retrospectives, right?


Bruce Harple:I’m going to touch briefly on each of those and really kind of at the end cut in my personal view of what I look at, right? As it relates to client success. NPS scores, right? It’s answering that single question, right? Which is how likely is it you would recommend this company, ThreeWill, to a friend or colleague. That’s the question. That’s the million dollar question. That’s on a scale of one to 10 and you kind of come up with a calculation, you identify those people who are promoters at the end of that scale. And then there’s the distractors at the low end and kind of the differential between the promoters and distractors is really kind of where your score lands. Ultimately though, I mean if you look at NPS scores, I mean it really ultimately is a measure of customer loyalty, right?


Bruce Harple:If you’re thinking about customer loyalty, I mean that’s how influence is that customer going to be in choosing your… In our case, our services over our competitors, right? So we have high customer loyalty than our existing clients are likely going to continue to do business with us even if there’s competitors involved, right? Even if our pricing might be higher, maybe, who knows? But they’re loyal to us because they believe in us, they trust us and they know we’ll help them be successful. Right? So, that’s a little bit about NPS scores. Customer satisfaction surveys, as Danny knows, we’ve done those in the past and it’s really just a series of questions that really just leads up to almost a very similar question. Would you be a reference for us? Would you refer us to a colleague or champion?
Bruce Harple:Ultimately, our goal is to build out client champions, right? A client champion is really for us, someone who’s going to refer us to someone else, to another colleague in business or organization or even for us to friends and acquaintances, right? Ultimately what we’re after is, is client champion. I mentioned retrospectives as well. I mean we’re an agile scrum shop and we apply it to everything we do. We’re constantly trying to get feedback from customers, trying to understand how we can improve or how we can inspect and adapt and improve what we deliver and how we deliver to our clients, right? So a lot of metrics out there, but for me, right? Personally, the things I think are most important is A, will that customer, will they be a client champion? Right?


Bruce Harple:Will they be a reference for you? Will they refer you to a friend or a colleague? That’s huge. I think the other one is customer loyalty. I talk about, and Bob knows this, I’m talking about with our team, if the customer calls you back and quote unquote asks for more, right? So they ask you to fulfill other business requirements or to solve another business problem, man, that’s customer loyalty did. That’s success, right? You know that we made that client successful.


Danny Ryan:Love that stuff, right?


Bruce Harple:Yeah. And then the last thing for me is who does your customer call? Who’s your client call when they have a problem to solve, right? Even if it’s a problem they know you can’t solve or your company can’t solve. If they’re calling you and say, “Bruce, I’ve got this problem. I don’t think it’s in your sweet spot, but I know you can help me,” right? “You’ll direct me to who can help me.” When your customers are calling you to solve other problems that they know you can’t directly solve, but they know that you will help them figure out who can help them solve that problem. Those are the calls you want to get. Those are the calls we cherish and love to get.


Bruce Harple:So at the end of the day, one of the things that, Danny, Bob, you guys know that we talk about is for ThreeWill we’re small enough to care about our customers but big enough to deliver. It is. It’s all about caring. We also talk about, we take on our client’s problems as our own and that we’re passionate about that, as we talked about… We want our class to be successful and we take it personally. We take on their problems, like are our problems.


Danny Ryan:That was a really great overview Bruce. As you were going through that, something occurred to me, which is it’s… This year with our… We’re going through a book called or we went through a book called The Four Disciplines of Execution. There’s a concept of having a wildly important goal and this year we’re focusing in on client champions. What occurred to me, I just had never thought of it this way, is that I read the book about NPS several years ago and then we read the book about 4DX. And then what we’re doing this year, actually I’ll let client champion is, is someone who really takes that NPS score to heart. It’s like they’ve done it. Not saying like, I’m going to just fill out a survey and say, “Yeah, I would recommend you to someone else.”


Danny Ryan:It’s actually, they did it. They took the actual step, which I think is a great. Surveys everybody gets… You’ll get 10 surveys, you’ll get several surveys and it’s very easy to click. Yeah, you guys are awesome. But then the key thing with this is saying, I’m I willing to transfer the trust that I have with you as an organization and take the risk to refer you off to either someone inside of my organization or somebody that I know. And as you know, you can get burnt by that, right? Have you ever referred somebody and they didn’t do a good job for the friend? That is not a good situation to be in. So great overview of this. So anything else to maybe just to wrap us up, Bob.


Bob Morris:Yeah, well I was just going to make an observation. We’ve kind of talked about two sides of the same coin here regarding client success, but I think both sides, it’s all about people. In both conversations from Bruce and I, we use the word champions. Champions really are what make us successful in the way that you guys just talked about it. Champions really make our clients successful when it comes to their initiatives. That’s probably the core philosophy of this practice is it’s about the people. Of course, nowadays in the new reality that we’re in, that’s even more true and we really think we can bring a lot of value to our customers with those.


Danny Ryan:That’s awesome. Thank you guys for taking the time to do this and really appreciate it and thank you everybody for listening and have a wonderful day.


Bruce Harple:All right. Thanks everybody.


Bob Morris:Thanks guys.


Danny Ryan:Thank you for listening to the Work Together Better podcast. We’re available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn if you’re looking for a partner to help you craft a modern digital workplace in the Microsoft Cloud, please come by and see us at That’s the number three spelled out Thank you and have a great day.



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