When you provide customers with exceptional experiences through your products, services and interactions, you begin to earn their trust. Over time, as the value you deliver consistently grows, that trust will turn into love. And let’s face it, we all want our customers to fall in love with us – including our companies, our solutions and our people.
When it comes to winning the hearts of customers, all of us at Cisco recognize that we’re in this together. Although partners are on the front lines in the customer relationship, it is our responsibility to back you up every step of the way. It’s up to us to give you everything you need to engage customers in more personalized and helpful ways, guide them through service adoption, and nurture them towards their desired business outcomes.
And although we understand the important role that our partners play in customer success, it is a concept that is still being explored in our industry. A recent TSIA survey found that 36 percent of customer success organizations are focused on partners, but only 14 percent of OEMs are investing in customer success capabilities inside of partner organizations. This begs the question: how can vendors elicit love and trust from customers without the help of partners? The simple answer is: we can’t.
To support our customers in choosing, using and loving their Cisco solutions, it’s clear that we need to ensure our partners are fully equipped to give customers what they want in today’s competitive economy. The way we see it, that means assisting you in building your own customer success organization. As we’ve worked on making that happen, these three principles have driven our strategy:
- Alignment on outcomes: Customer success requires that everyone be in alignment with customer objectives. Customer success managers need to conduct, document and share a deep-dive discovery to understand customer goals and how (partners and vendors) can actively support the achievement of desired outcomes. A customer success plan relies on alignment on outcomes, which is only possible through data sharing and close ongoing collaboration between vendor and partner.
- Understand the customer experience: To be effective in our industry, companies and their partners should seek out a unified, long-term view of customer experience that extends throughout the full lifecycle of the relationship. This is especially important in the adoption journey (a phase largely shared between vendor and partner). That’s why mapping out customer milestones (training and utilization) to better guide and assist customers through their journey is key, and leveraging telemetry and analytics to keep a pulse on customer health is critical.
- Support partner Success: As we encourage partners to establish their own customer success practices, we have always said that it takes teamwork. We’ve made it a priority to provide a framework along with the processes, data and technologies that enable effective execution. We also see it as critical to educate partners with trainings and best practices, and to make digital engagement tools readily available for your use. These tools, such as Lifecycle Advantage, allow you to scale, simplify and automate customer engagement and address customer needs throughout the entire lifecycle (from land, and adopt, through renew and expansion).
Every customer interaction (be it online or in person) is an opportunity to establish deeper, more meaningful connections. Vendors have to play cupid – using the strategies above and more – to help partners forge valuable, long-lasting customer relationships. In the end, it’s those relationships that lead not only to love, but to partner profitability.
To learn more about how we can join forces to build our customer success practices together, sign up for the January 29 SuccessTalk. TSIA VP of Customer Success Research Phil Nanus will discuss “The Partner Multiplier Effect” as well as key takeaways from TSIA’s latest survey on delivering customer success via partners.