Ever since 3Squared was set up 18 years ago, customer experience has been at the heart of everything we do, but we are always looking to strengthen how we interact with our customers to ensure world-class customer service. Rather than just being viewed as a supplier who provides add-on services, we want to become an extension of our clients’ teams so that we truly make a difference to their business. To achieve this vision, we recently made some changes to our customer journey.
The idea was to make our offering even more customer-focused by providing clients with onboarding, training and extra support so that they fully understand how our products work and get the most out of them. To make those changes happen, we created a dedicated client engagement department consisting of key contacts who are fully committed to delivering exceptional customer service.
We spoke to James, co-founder and Director and team members, Becky, Kathryn to find out more about the recent changes and what clients can expect from 3Squared moving forward.
What did the customer journey at 3Squared look like before making the changes and what made you think that you needed to place a bigger focus on customer experience?
Before we created a dedicated department, client services was very much a joint effort between teams. The idea to create a client engagement department came from the directors and was in response to our clients’ needs for more supportive services both during and after implementation. Initially, I took the role of Client Services Manager with support from other teams, this went on for around a year, and within that time the demand for training, detailed engagement and onboarding grew substantially. We knew then we needed to create a dedicated team with James, 3Squared’s Commercial Director leading the Client Partnership department. With such a high demand for business change and training support, we quickly realised that we needed another team member with expertise in these areas to push us in the direction we wanted to go in. It was then that we recruited our new Client Engagement Manager, Kathryn.
Can you explain more about your role as Client Engagement Manager, Kathryn? What does it involve?
I joined 3 Squared as a Client Engagement Manager alongside Becky in November. I joined the team remotely but was given clear direction of what my role would be. Becky has an in-depth knowledge of 3Squared products and services so when I joined, I wanted to underpin the great service we deliver with my training and development expertise. As a team, we are responsible for strategising our client engagement approach and the onboarding and training packages we will deliver.
What do you think is the most important aspect for a customer on the customer journey?
For me, the most important aspect of the customer journey is having a key point of contact and building that relationship. I think that it’s really important for clients to have a person they can approach and who stay in regular contact with, to discuss any issues or concerns. For me, open, regular communication allows us to deliver the very best support and it makes the difference between us being just a supplier to a trusted partner.
People are what make businesses. When clients implement our products, engagement is often overlooked, and their efforts are focused on the technical functionalities. It is our job to work with clients to identify their end users’ needs and personalise our engagement initiatives and systems training to maximise their interests. Having a client engagement team that understands the business needs and the technologies is key to delivering an excellent, seamless, customer journey.
What does the new onboarding process look like?
It’s very much based on the framework that we used to work to. Past experience has taught us how to make the onboarding process much smoother. A lot of it now includes training and business change elements, as we’ve seen demand for these services increase so much and it’s such an essential part of the process.
We’ve been actively involved in the changes taking place within a business, so we wanted to put this forward as a key part of our onboarding offering.
We could technically deploy a software product within a few weeks and give it to people to download on their iPads, but the whole engagement around that is what was lacking in our previous process and didn’t play to the key strengths of apps and also getting end users to use the RailSmart suite to their full advantage.
Engaging with people alongside the product is often overlooked even by clients when they implement systems – they don’t always know how to engage people in their own business in their own culture. Our job is to strategically dissect that for them and direct them in the best way to do it. A lot of that is about creating a vision and capturing the hearts and minds of people so they do engage with the products and the sponsors that initiated the products so that they get the best results out of them.
How has this collaborative mindset helped to establish a standardised process for customers?
It’s the way we’re designing how we do business. We’ve done this to establish a process for clients to ensure they get maximum use out of our products. We’ve added extra tools to our suite of products such as a learning management system to help customers with the onboarding and to support them going forward. We want to have the best relationship that we can with our clients, and this is where Kathryn and Becky excel: they manage these relationships amazingly.
How has the onboarding process evolved? Have you been involving some of the clients in the process as you’ve been going along?
Yes, we carried out an engagement survey for us to recap on the lessons we’ve learnt and developed a framework that takes clients through the onboarding process. We’ve also created an early life support and client relationship life cycle ‘Keep-in-Touch’ framework which we’ve launched off the back of the survey results. We’ve invented a whole new approach to how we will engage with clients to give them structure and an idea of what to expect.
One of our clients put it perfectly when we were in a meeting a few weeks ago, they said: “we don’t want you to be a supplier, we want you to be a trusted partner”. I think it’s really important that we are viewed as a key partner helping them through the changes they are implementing. This is especially important for larger clients who have RailSmart products in every area of their business. A lot of them have our whole suite of products, so to them, we are their trusted partners. Other clients are looking to us for help and so we want to be the first point of contact when they think about anything software-related within their business – we want them to approach us first and see if 3Squared can help. The client relationship side of things is one of the key ways we can get there.
What is your commitment to clients?
Creating the virtual campus, which was launched last year, was part of the process – we’re actively putting together new resources and refresher sessions etc. to help clients with onboarding. It’s our commitment to our clients to ensure they get the optimum resource and learning from the team.
How will the onboarding process continue in a post-Covid world and how will it bridge the gaps?
From a learning perspective, we’ve had to adapt our ways of working to this new world because of Covid and with so many people now working from home. Whether through Microsoft Teams or distance learning systems such as our very own RailSmart Virtual Campus, we’ve now got a pack of resources ready to go. When the world embarks on its ‘new normal’, our efforts will allow us to deliver onboarding face-to-face, but also utilise the resources we’ve created to offer a blended learning package to any client we take on.
What does the future look like for 3Squared customers? What would be the perfect experience look like?
We want the onboarding process to be as seamless as possible. We want to provide a really supportive process where we guide the client all the way through – from the moment they sign the contract through to implementation and the ongoing relationship to build on that initial success.
By doing this, we want to ensure our satisfaction scores are improved year-on-year and at the optimum level. The aim is to deliver world-class learning resources to our clients so that they really understand our products inside and out.
From a relationship perspective, rather than clients thinking “let’s turn to 3Squared our ‘external partner”, we want them to think “let’s reach out to Becky and Kathryn, who are part of our systems delivery team” – we want to become part of our clients’ business. We are a devoted partner helping to create a true foundation for a strong, collaborative relationship.