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By Gabe Miller-smith
April 8, 2016
With software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology, there are no long contracts or lock-ins that happen with client server software solutions. There is no hardware to set up and the implementation time frame is extremely rapid. Those are incredible positives for any business subscribing to a SaaS product. However, while fast implementation is great for customers to get up and running with a software-as-a-service company like Procore, it also means customers can leave just as quickly for other enterprise SaaS solutions if the company feels there is a superior value with someone else in the marketplace. That’s the inherent problem with SaaS. And that’s where the rubber meets the road for Procore.
For any SaaS company, when a client decides not to renew their annual contract, this is known as churn. Churn is a key business metric to determine the success or failure of various business processes.
For Procore, one of our key metrics is to keep churn low. We sell Procore on an annual license basis. We provide one flat fee for an unlimited number of users. If those users aren’t pleased with our software, those users can, and will, go somewhere else. We keep churn low by providing superior functionality in the product, but also, and arguably equal in importance, superior service. A product that works well, but isn’t used, will not be renewed. A product that has functionality but is difficult to use, will not be renewed.
For Procore, customer service is all about driving usage of Procore deeper into the organization. The result is that customers get great value from Procore and our interests are aligned with our customers. We want to keep improving the value and increasing the functionality that Procore provides because without great customer service, without training, implementation, and support that is second to none, Procore puts itself at risk of not renewing our annual contracts.
The combination of great implementation, thorough product training, and responsive customer support is what we call Customer Success. The Customer Success experience starts with implementation. Implementation is about change within an organization. “How can we show your company that Procore has an easier, faster, better way of accomplishing your day-to-day tasks?” Most businesses have established business processes and in most cases Procore is asking customers to alter or change some of those processes in order to gain greater efficiencies, cost savings, or faster turnaround time.
The Procore implementation team needs to understand how our customers work today, and what the bridge is to get them from their current process to a Procore enabled process. Doing so in some cases is a minor change, but in other cases may result in changes to workflows, and changes to reporting structures. The Implementation Manager for a Procore account needs to understand our client’s business first and foremost. They need to understand, “why is this client using Procore, what are the business goals and what is the timeframe for achieving those business goals?” In other words, what are the business’s success metrics for implementing Procore.
What is the timing of that implementation?
What are the key milestones after 30, 60, 90 or 120 days?
What will the customer be looking at eleven months from now to decide whether or not they are going to renew Procore in the twelfth month?
Those are the business metrics we need to establish up front with our clients and then work towards those during the process of bulk implementation and then post implementation as part of Procore’s Customer Success effort. In addition to understanding a customer’s metrics for success, was also provide them with insight into whether or not those metrics are being achieved. Our Implementation Manager will be able to share account health analytics with customers as they progress through implementation, showing them their organization's top users and tools and providing insight into how they can use the system more effectively.
Time to value is a key business metric for Procore. We want our clients to start realizing value from Procore as rapidly as possible. This is in marked contrast to competing vendors that see a 12 or even 18 month implementation as being perfectly acceptable. For Procore that doesn’t make sense.
A single user on a single project can start realizing value with Procore within hours of first using it. And we extend that view to how long it takes to implement. Our implementation team is constantly searching for ways to get our customers value earlier in the process. Our Implementation Managers will run our implementation as fast as the client can keep up. Larger organizations that have to undergo process changes simply have a lot of friction built into them, so we also have to be experts at change management in the change process for business whose processes will be affected.
Given the complex nature of implementing new systems or processes, we’ve built in additional resources designed to allow clients to make the transition into Procore easier. We provide Public Training Webinars every day of the week with a Procore expert. Each session covers a series of topics and tools, allowing participants to submit questions in real time. We also offer Procore Certifications where users can become Procore Certified “Experts.” All of the courses are self-paced, consisting of tool-specific training videos and quizzes to help support knowledge and retention.
Procore’s Customer Success Managers are the second step in the customer success journey. Customer Success Managers are tasked with helping clients after they have implemented Procore on their first few projects. They work to drive Procore usage throughout the organization and across all of the projects within a customer’s project portfolio. As a key to helping clients find continued positive results with Procore, Customer Success Managers have business reviews with clients where they review the milestones that were set up front in the implementation phase. These reviews also serve to inform companies about new features and functionality to ensure they are acquiring value beyond their original Procore purchase intentions. And then together, Customer Success Managers and companies adjust and extend their objectives for the customer’s continued use of Procore.
Backing up the customer success and implementation teams are the North Stars customer support team. They serve as the navigation tool to find one’s way to success. Procore’s support team is focused on driving usage. Because Procore is a collaboration and communications tool, we don’t charge per seat or for any extra users. This is virtually unheard of in the software world. We see that the main value of having Procore comes from everyone on the project teams involved as a user on the project, whether or not they are a direct employee of our customers. The Procore North Star Support Team is focused on helping any and all users get the most they can out of Procore. That’s why we follow different measures than you would typically find in other call centers like time per call or other “efficiency” measures. They are not measured by how quickly they help customers, but instead they are measured by how well they help customers. With three free methods of communication with the North Stars, email support, toll-free phone support, and live chat, we determine the quality of each interaction from feedback scores gathered from these customer support session. This is an important distinction between how Procore implements customer support versus other businesses. If we focused on customer support as a profit center, or as a way to earn more revenue, then we wouldn’t have the same incentive to improve our product. That would be at odds with the business model which is to modernize construction through technology.
We have an authentic desire for our product to work. And if it doesn’t work, we want to hear about it because we have a deep desire to improve it. Procore sells directly and not through resellers. What we found in the construction software industry is that most applications for construction software are sold through resellers that make much of their revenue through training and support. We think that the value should come from the software and from using the software, not learning how to use the software. As our President Steve Zahm states, “The idea of asking a company to not only pay for the software, but then have to pay someone to train employees to use it because it’s so confusing, that doesn’t seem right. It’s not logical.”
Our values must line up with our customers’ because for us to have success, they must have success. We want software adoption. We want Procore usage. And the less friction that there is in that adoption or usage, the more we are realizing our business goal. It’s as simple as that.
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