What does success look like? This is the question we always start with at PAIRIN when we begin working with a new customer. As a social impact company, we try to look at the whole picture, what needs to happen in the short term, what needs to happen in the long term, and the actionable steps we can take to help our customers achieve their goals.
How We Approach Success
The traditional model we’ve seen play out in the tech industry time and time again, is a company introducing their product, providing only technical training, basing their success on one stakeholder’s version of success and then moving on to the next opportunity. In my role at PAIRIN, I work with customers on their large-network implementations of our platform and products by overseeing the process from start to finish and beyond. Our process involves understanding the organization and their network, what it is we’re solving for them and how we can best leverage the technology to support their existing processes. It is imperative to consider all types of stakeholder – decision-makers, alongsiders, and the end beneficiary. By understanding the various stakeholder perspectives I can then determine what change levers we need to pull that will support change.
As we onboard new customers, we have three main points of focus:
- Creating meaningful relationships with all people affected by our product
- Aligning on the problems that must be solved and what success looks like
- Demonstrating PAIRIN’s company value of remaining curious
To create meaningful relationships, we always do a stakeholder mapping exercise to not only determine the project team, but to identify champions and potential detractors. Without the right people involved, we will never create lasting change.
To align on the problems to be solved, we work together to develop objectives as well as qualitative and quantitative success metrics so we’re aligned on what we are working towards and can celebrate success together.
And last but certainly not least, we aim to understand our customers, their processes and where our product fits in so we can be a valuable consultant. To be the best partner, we ask important questions such as: What is the ecosystem we’re walking into? What technologies have failed previously? What methods have been successful? Who are the different people/groups that have been part of successful project roll outs?
Putting Process into Action
Over the past year, we kicked off an implementation with the Baltimore City Public Schools to utilize the My Journey platform to help students plan their academic and career path. The online tools then guide students toward personalized post-graduation opportunities such as colleges, trade schools and potential career paths.
Mavis Jackson, Director of College Readiness at Baltimore City Public Schools and the project lead, said, “It has been such a pleasure working with Allison in our student plan implementation. The experience was beyond a vendor school district experience. Allison spent a significant amount of time getting to know our team, listening and hearing our needs, and then helping us to build our platform. Allison heard all of our concerns, thinking, and voices and used that information to tailor her presentations to our district. The experience was much stronger than the traditional customer support. There were instances when Allison presented to various central office staff and she was able to answer questions from a district perspective because she actively heard what we have been saying over the last year. There were even people on our team that wondered if she was on our staff because she could speak to our district nuances in both presentations and in answering questions. The overall process was like one big elephant, but Allison helped me to take one small bite at a time. I appreciate her and her team.”
When we work with partners, our main goal is to create a meaningful relationship beyond the business. We invest our time getting to know them and their teams by asking about their individualized needs, actively listening to each voice in the room and addressing any concerns and to help build a platform tailored to their specific needs.
Together, we also identify objectives and success metrics, and then check in frequently to make sure these success indicators remain consistent over time or are adjusted as needed to sync with new priorities.
After implementation, we continue to communicate on a regular basis and also have a formal yearly discussion to revisit and reevaluate our initial success metrics to make sure we’re evolving with our customer. We’ve found that resurfacing our metrics to stay top of mind allows us to see how stakeholders effectively implement our product and make changes in real time, so we always provide value.
The Importance of Continuous Discovery
Our core value of remaining curious is not only one of our areas of focus, but is truly the core of what makes our customer success process different. Our relationship extends beyond what we’ve mentioned above as our discovery phase with our clients never ends. We want to know everything about our clients, beyond just what we need to make our product implementation successful. The more we know our customer inside and out, the better we can serve them in the long run, and in return, it can be helpful for them to hear our “outside” perspective. For us, it’s more than a contract, and we’re happy to advise in a variety of situations.
At the end of the day, our mission is to make everyone’s journey personally relevant and equitable. We do this by unifying workforce and education with technology to help ensure every person reaches their potential. This mission is ultimately what leads to customer success.