John Ragsdale, Distinguished Researcher and Vice-President of Technology at TSIA, recently rejoined The Professional Services Pursuit podcast from Mavenlink. This episode sheds light on what professional services organizations should be focusing on in 2022, including rethinking client success and improving adoption rates.

Regarding this year’s priorities, John revealed, “2022 is the year that the rubber’s gonna meet the road because clearly there are some huge opportunities for automating the entire quote to cash cycle. You’ve got a new set of marching orders, a new set of priorities. And probably some new roles, some new technologies, a lot of new metrics we’re gonna have to be worrying about.”

According to John, services leaders should be focused on customer adoption and enabling customer value as their number one priority, stating, “Customer success is not a department, it is a philosophy and it’s a corporate culture. I think that more organizations are understanding the critical role they play in enabling the success of customers, and professional services in my mind are front and center to making that happen. I think we’re gonna rethink almost everything we do in implementing, integrating, and customizing technology to generate rapid value realization and success for customers.”

This increased focus on client success also means a different way of approaching projects, with John saying,, “I worked for CRM vendors back in the late nineties, early 2000s, and you would go through that two-year sales cycle, sell the product for over a million dollars, and then you would implement it. The day you went live, you were gone from that site. What they did with the product after that was not my problem, and if the customer didn’t get value, ultimately that was on them. And that meant much more than half of the software sold was shelfware, never even got implemented, and the customer paid 100% of the price upfront. And whether they got value or not was their problem to deal with. Now the customers are doing ideation and a large percentage of new capabilities in every software release is generated by customer demand. So the customer is in control and they really expect you to understand the outcomes they expect to get.”

Part of reframing client success for a professional services organization means driving an ongoing increase in client adoption, but today’s companies need to change their approach to make this happen, with John revealing, “We’re going to have to change the way we assign consultants to projects, and how we measure the success of them on the projects. I think we’re probably going to be screening for a lot more communication skills and business acumen than just technical and project skills. And absolutely a lot more survey work and interviews about ‘what did you like, what didn’t you like? What could we have done better?’ Which unfortunately isn’t even done half the time now. According to our benchmark, only 35% of professional services organizations have a methodology for developing PS offerings that are specifically intended to increase the adoption of products by customers.”

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