Today we’re talking with John Stone, Cisco Senior Manager, Digital Experience & Analytics, about the importance of Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM). Beyond unlocking margin potential for partners, John says CLM is the key to creating customers for life. As one of Cisco’s top post-sale engagement experts, John has some valuable insight to offer about what partners can do to leverage CLM practices and automation to address install base refresh opportunities.


Q: John, why should partners care about customer lifecycle management?

 John: It’s important for partners to understand that each milestone in the customer journey, no matter how small, represents a chance to start a conversation, whether online or offline. And client conversations often lead to revenue. That’s one big reason partners should care. But the truth is, helping customers mitigate risk, improve performance and grow their top line – throughout the entire customer lifecycle – is what separates good partners from great partners.

In addition, things are changing rapidly in our industry. In today’s competitive subscription economy, customers who do not see value from their solutions quickly switch technology providers when it’s time to refresh their equipment. Continued success for partners now depends on how well their customers’ technology investments contribute to business outcomes.

To help drive customer retention, Cisco is focused on helping partners deliver on the full potential of their Cisco offers. Along the way, we’re also helping partners promote product and service adoption, simplify software and service renewals, and nurture install base refreshes. All of this is being achieved through a combination of people, process, analytics and automation – the core pillars of our customer lifecycle management approach at Cisco.


Q: Why is customer adoption so important for partners as a part of Customer Lifecycle Management?

John: Successful adoption drives customer loyalty and sales expansion—and experts say it should be the guiding force behind each and every customer engagement. That’s why it is essential today for partners to have a clear methodology in place to simplify and encourage the effective deployment and use of Cisco products and services with customers.

Taking it even further, many experts agree that adoption should be treated as a core pillar of business—a practice that requires the entire company working towards achieving a goal of successful implementation and value realization for every customer.


Q: How is Cisco working with partners to ensure effective adoption?

John: Customer insight, customer health metrics and measurement are key for bringing about effective adoption. As the saying goes, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Fortunately, the digital economy has enabled us to gain a window into the world of how and when customers are using products/software/services, and the degree to which adoption is unfolding. How many times has customer XYZ logged in this month? Which features do they use the most? Is it time for a technology refresh?

Having a pulse on customer adoption behaviors gives partners an opportunity to not only assess customer health, but also extend the value that they provide. Through data insights, predictive analytics and more, it is now possible to monitor adoption patterns and address what we can and should do next for the customer—both immediately and well into the future. Gaining insights into customer health and adoption metrics allows partners to reach out at the right time to clients to drive value realization, install base refresh opportunities, and ultimately, customer retention.


Q: What can partners do to build their businesses around Customer Lifecycle Management?

John: As the digital transformation takes shape, it’s clear that all of us must move beyond talking to customers about transactions. As our leader Scott Brown said in his recent blog post, “outcome engineering” cultivates customer retention. Today, it’s far less effective for a partner to call a customer with an offer to sell something than it is to start a conversation about how they can shore up a security risk, improve speed and per user costs, or increase productivity and profit margins. These business outcome conversations will accurately address client pain points and challenges throughout the customer lifecycle and fuel stronger customer relationships. Meaningful touch points also lend stickiness that allows sales teams to uncover new opportunities for install base refresh, or to sell professional services or advanced services. The use of Cisco’s data-driven partner enablement tools, such as Lifecycle Advantage, can drive expand selling and even serve to automate low- and high-touch offers with precision and accuracy. These tools can also give partners a better understanding of the customer’s objectives, which ultimately, leads to better business outcomes.
Lifecycle Advantage was recently honored by Frost & Sullivan with a Manufacturing Leadership Award for Customer Value Leadership. Cisco also accepted the distinguished vendor award for Supply Chain Leadership.



Q: What is the best part about playing a leading role in Cisco’s Customer Lifecycle Management initiatives?

John: When we see partners grow, succeed and excel at what they do it is incredibly gratifying.  Our partners’ success is, of course, core to our business at Cisco, and CLM is one of the most important ways we’re driving partner success.


For more information on the Lifecycle Advantage program, please contact us at lifecycleadvantage@external.cisco.com.


Kelly Crothers

Director, Marketing

Global Customer Success