One of the promises of Customer Success (CS) is that it allows companies to outperform their competitors by maximizing net revenue retention and unlocking revenue growth from existing clients. But before you can even begin to unlock that revenue, you have to first unlock value for your customers.  Of course, it all starts with the customer.

What we have learned at Cisco is that successful sales teams expand value by focusing on the complete customer journey — from the initial stages of driving prospect interest and landing the deal, all the way to nurturing adoption, sales expansion and renewals.

Taking a page out of Cisco’s Customer Success playbook, we recommend a few simple steps that you can implement now to accelerate your ability to unlock value for your customers and ultimately grow sales:

  1. Customer engagement should start early and quickly: Ensuring that a customer will maximize their desired outcomes requires that they have the right resources and skills available and ready to take advantage of the solution.  That may include the customers’ capabilities, partner capabilities, vendor capabilities, and even other third party capabilities.  This requires having the right discussions early in the sale process.
  2. Customer outcomes and metrics are a priority: Job #1 is to deliver value to the customer, the way they define value and success.
  3. Customer communications need to be precise and tailored: As new features are rolled out, take a minute to update your clients. Be sure to explain the business benefits including how the new capabilities will save them time, money or frustration.
  4. Customers want to be educated and to build their own capabilities: We’re all guilty of adopting new solutions and only taking advantage of a fraction of what they can do. Don’t let that happen to your clients. Provide helpful hints and tips that can make a difference not only in their workday, but also when it comes to moving them closer to achieving their business goals.
  5. Customers want you to share the wealth: Monitor the extent to which your clients are using their solutions. Keep track of adoption and feature utilization patterns, share the data/insights with the customer, and make a point to check in with them if KPIs are low. Using insights from telemetry data, you can identify issues quickly — and then delight your clients with a proactive solution before they have to ask. You can also use data to report back to customers on ROI, letting them know how much time or money they saved through effective use of your solutions.
  6. Customer expect lasting value: Understand how your solution can improve a customer’s core processes. Embed your capabilities into those processes and measure/communicate the impact.
  7. Customers need us to plan ahead: Your clients’ needs will change, whether they outgrow their solutions or decide to move in new directions. Help them adapt by recommending something that complements the solutions they already bought. This may represent an upsell to you, but remember, for them it’s a way to solve a new business challenge.

Engaging with your customers throughout the relationship lifecycle and delivering value – even in small ways – leads to new conversations surrounding sales expansion and renewals. The concept is simple: delight your customers and they’ll keep coming back for more.

As we’ve continued on our CS journey at Cisco, we’ve seen how investing in value exchange makes a difference. Partner programs such as our Adoption Workshops and Lifecycle Advantage can help scale engagement throughout the customer journey with strategies that address the seven conversations mentioned above as well as others.

To learn more, check out the on-demand SuccessTalk webinar, “Unlocking Opportunities with Customer Success,” which will offer more insight into the revenue impact of CS. And, as you build your own CS practice, don’t forget to take advantage all of the partner-focused resources, methodologies and tools available on SuccessHub.


Ed Daly

Senior Director

Global Customer Success