Discovery is a critical aspect of all of our customer interactions throughout our entire relationship, and one of the key factors that helps determine a successful outcome, whether that is helping a customer to purchase the software that is the best fit for their organization, or having a smooth implementation once they've moved forward with their purchase.
What do these three things have in common?
- You're not feeling well, and you have an important business meeting the next day, so you go to the doctor's office.
- Your car breaks down, on your way to your daughter's recital, so you take it to a mechanic.
- Your cable goes the day before the season premiere of Game of Thrones, so you have the cable company come to fix it.
In all three situations, you need a specialist to help resolve your issue so that you can make it to a important event. If the specialist shows up, takes a glance at you and says "here you go" chances are your actual problem is not going to get resolved. You don't want your doctor to say "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning" without first examining you to find out exactly what is wrong. The person providing assistance must first do discovery, to determine your unique needs, so they can provide the best solution.
Discovery is crucial anytime you need to understand the best path forward. How does discovery come into play during our own interactions with our customers?
When we begin the sales process, the first thing we will want to do is setup a discovery call to talk with the prospect about their software needs. This call is critical and provides the opportunity for us to get a deeper understanding of their requirements. We may already know that they're looking for financial software, but we need to understand a lot more before we can determine if our solution is right for their organization. Discovery, done correctly at this point in the process, helps to set the tone and can really save time as we align our products and professional services with the customer's needs at the start.
Built into our project plan is time for additional discovery. At this point, Soft Trac and the customer have already agreed upon a software solution, but we need to learn more. Now we are working with the customer to understand their existing workflows and processes, to talk with them about what is working and what they are trying to improve, so that we can incorporate these factors into the right setup and structuring of their new system. If we jumped in without first working with the customer to understand their critical needs and business processes, the end result would be poorly designed and not the right solution for their organization.
If an issue, or concern, arises after a customer has been using the software, again we will be leading with discovery so that we can fully understand the problem they are encountering to help them to best resolve it. The issue they are experiencing will determine the scope and depth of the discovery needed.
Regular Business Reviews
Organizations evolve. Their original needs are a starting point but things change, and it's our responsibility to help our customers continue to get the most from their software investment. We may need to revisit discovery to understand any new requirements, or business goals that have developed, so we can continue to advise and direct the customer in the best use of their software. Do they need a new module, or additional services? Perhaps, but first we need to circle back to discovery, so that we fully understand the situation and can provide the best recommendations.
While discovery is crucial, it needs to be done correctly. We need to truly be listening to our customers. We need to ask the right questions, but more importantly, listen to the answers. Fast Company has a great article by Harvey Deutschendorf, "5 Way to Improve Your Listening Skills ›", that covers some key points of effective listening.
We may also need to review, or analyze, supporting documents and files that provide additional details related to the situation. After reviewing, we may need further follow up conversations with the customer or other people involved in the process. Discovery evolves with each situation, but it is imperative to incorporate it into our processes so that we can have a successful outcome with our customers.
Soft Trac is a woman-owned business and accomplished team of nonprofit software consultants. We believe in making nonprofits "do good" better. For more information on any of the topics discussed in this blog or to learn more about the software products and services we offer, please CONTACT Soft Trac.