Rolling out collaborative tools successfully is hard. I saw that firsthand through years of specialist consulting before joining Huddle.

Over the course of three articles, I’ll be sharing a little insight into the important lessons I learnt. Our Customer Success team uses those lessons to deliver successful collaboration projects for our customers, where many have failed before.

There’s a curiosity in the world of enterprise software. Companies take every lesson learned about human behavior, user experience and social dynamics and willfully put them to one side. Instead, they plan, sell and deliver blindly to a template ‘CIO’ role that they have constructed.

This is the story of SharePoint, Microsoft’s commercially lucrative but woefully inadequate collaborative technology which holds a dubious dual crown: fastest growing MS product in history with $1bn in sales by March 2008, and lowest usage per sold seat (reported as 22% by the IDC in October of the following year). We believe it fails in real life because it is a piece of software that focuses almost solely on the needs of an administrator, completely blind to the needs of the end user. At Huddle, we work with intelligent, responsive CIOs who take the needs of business users as the primary consideration and then balance those against the critical factors of security, reliability, cost-effectiveness and strategic fit. It is our job in Huddle Customer Success to deliver each CIO a compelling case for change which is wholeheartedly backed by the business and proven with test users.

So how do we achieve adoption rates over 95% at Huddle while meeting those same stringent administrative requirements? Here’s a three-point starter:

1.       Start with the front line
Our starting point in Customer Success at Huddle is the customer front line, because that’s where the big wins are. Do you want 10 executives collaborating successfully, or 1,000 front line staff? Winning over the front line is half science, half hearts and minds. Save each end user 15 minutes a day, and you have your champions and business case made for you.

How do we do this? Hard work, early in our engagements. With the permission of our new customers, we telephone end users to check and double check the use cases shared by the customer’s buyers and decision makers. Can this business process change really save that amount of time per week? Are there other pain points that are more pressing? If you had bought Huddle, what would you pick as the quick wins? The sharpest insight does not always come from the top of the organizational chart.

2.       Treat people as individuals, not as job roles
People want the technologies in their personal lives to be straightforward, simple and time saving. Unsurprisingly, the same is true at work, yet so little focus is given to people’s individual, specific needs. The question we ask individuals from the front line of new customers: how could we save you personally 15 minutes every day? (Once we know for one individual, there’s a good chance we can find 100 other people with the same specific problem.) If not, rinse and repeat until you find the gold.

3.       Win over the executive team with stories from their own people
Presenting a vendor deck with powerful examples, use cases and statistics is a great start. But nothing compares to the power of teams presenting to their own management. When you run an effective pilot or first phase, you should have at least 3 front line champions who are willing to present the outcomes to management themselves. That’s powerful: it’s hard for a decision maker to argue when their own people tell them they’re more productive than ever before.

Here is our favored structure to collect that pilot information:

Collaboration software rollout - pilot structure

That gives a flavor of the basic principles in our approach. Next time, I’ll share how we sourced a team that outperforms its peers, and how we measure and reward performance.

I love seeing people Huddle successfully. So if you haven’t seen Huddle in action yet, try our popular demo. If you have questions or suggestions, I’m always delighted to hear. You can contact me at john.furneaux@huddle.com

John Furneaux


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