I recently read J. B. Woods new book, Digital Hesitation, which explores the challenges B2B tech companies have faced in reaching digital’s full potential to make the customer experience easier and more enjoyable. Considering the many ways Cisco is working to bring partners along in our own transformation, the book got me thinking about partner maturity levels around digital and Customer Success.

To get some perspective on where we are, I recently sat down with two exceptional leaders in the Americas Partner and CX Organizations – Jennifer Craine, Senior Director of Partner Sales, and Matt Brady, Senior Director of Partner Experience (PX) and Customer Experience (CX). Here’s a snapshot of what we discussed.

Digitally managing the customer relationship for customer success

Question: From your experience, where do our partners land on the Customer Success maturity curve?

Jennifer: Our partners have always been all-in on the concept of Customer Success, but what we see now is partners are really defining the experience, formalizing the customer alignment process and including it all as a core part of their brand.  Many of our partners have made investments in the Cisco Customer Experience Specialization and have a foundational practice, but I believe the entire industry is still in the early stages of execution and evolution.  Cisco is committed to and will continue to invest in new offers, telemetry, programs and tools to help our partners meet the needs of customers and the demands of the market.

Question: Why is digital so critical to Customer Success and what’s the impact for partners?

Jennifer: It’s really about scale and engaging with customers through their preferred mediums.  With digital, partners can provide customers with curated content and understand where their customer is in their journey so they can provide access to the right resources to do the right activity to help them through each stage of the lifecycle journey.  By aligning with, supporting, and rewarding our partners, we are growing the lifetime value of customers, together, and digital is a critical component to our mutual success.

Matt: Digital helps ensure that every customer that purchases Cisco has a common experience across all Cisco products, services, channels, and partners.  And it works, too.  We have found that when customers are engaged on digital journeys, they tend to progress to advanced stages of the lifecycle faster, with higher health scores, which of course leads to higher loyalty and retention rates.

Lifecycle Advantage: A customer engagement program that leads to customer success

Question: How are data insights playing a larger role in partners’ lifecycle practices?

Jennifer:  We’ve reached a tipping point with data, and it’s been a game changer for helping partners evolve their lifecycle practices. Cisco offers a program called Lifecycle Advantage, which enables partners to manage customer experience at scale using data and digital journeys.  There are three pillars to Lifecycle Advantage: Customer Success, Renewals, and Growth. In the Customer Success pillar, we offer Success Program Insights, which gives partners access to telemetry, behavioral and health data, as well as actionable insights so they can lead their customers through the lifecycle.

John: If a partner needs to jump-start a lifecycle practice, where do they start and what can we offer them? 

Matt: It all starts with alignment – both internally and with Cisco. Partners should determine how their C-Suite wants to build and grow from a lifecycle standpoint, then align their Cisco channel account teams and take advantage of all of Cisco’s supporting capabilities and best practices. They can grow their talent base with our CX specialization programs, utilize lifecycle incentive programs, and build a practice that fully leverages Success Program Insights to optimize customer adoption.

Jennifer: Partners should also consider selling Cisco Success Tracks, which are services offerings that align to our technology use cases and help customers get to their business outcomes faster.  Success Tracks gives customers access to CX Cloud, a one-stop destination that combines Cisco expertise and best practices with telemetry, AI/ML-driven insights, use cases, and contextual learning.  Partners also have access to the same customer insights in PX Cloud and can position their complementary lifecycle services to their customer through this digital platform. Lifecycle Advantage and Success Program Insights then empower our partners to engage those customers every step of the way, guiding them to achieve their business outcomes.  It all works together like a big digital engine to drive customer success at scale.

John: What do you say to partners that are reluctant to establish a lifecycle practice?

Jennifer: The new economy is fueled by outcomes and experiences and our partners need to meet customers where they are. Customers want to engage with business partners who care about their success, and a lifecycle practice is what establishes that focus.

Matt:  I would say a great way to get started is just to learn more.  Explore Cisco’s SuccessHub partner resources, consider CX Specialization.  And if you’re not enrolled in Lifecycle Advantage or actively using Success Program Insights, sign up today and start by putting your customers on a digital adoption journey while monitoring their progress.

Jennifer and Matt each possess unique insights into two equally critical parts of partner lifecycle practices — lifecycle selling and lifecycle delivery — and how we are working with our partners to create, scale and monetize Customer Success.  It was interesting to hear about where they think our partners are today and where our opportunities are in continuing to develop a Customer Success practice.

Next, I will be looking at where we are in our renewals practice and how to best execute with our partner community. Keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

Learn more about Lifecycle Advantage


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John Stone

Senior Director, Digital Customer Experience

Customer Experience Organization