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Blog: Customer Success, Explained

Customer Success has become an industry buzz word. But precisely what is customer success, and how can companies benefit from it? I tackle the topic in a series of interviews on the CX Express with industry experts. In my first CX Express interview, I sit down with Anthony Karim, VP of Vendor Management at Ingram Micro.

Anthony calls Customer Success “managed services on steroids.” I think of customer success as making sure that customers receive all the value they can from the products or solutions they purchased. The essence of these descriptions highlights the notion that Customer Success is about providing value to customers, so they keep ‘coming back for more.’ In other words, effective Customer Success ensures business continuity.  

One heavy-hitting acknowledgement that arose from the discussion is that technology – no matter how new and exciting – quickly becomes commoditized. We can think of the example of cybersecurity that is now a standardized component of most IT solutions. What therefore differentiates a company from its competitors is Customer Success – the proactive measure that ensures that the full value of a product or service is fully transferred to the customer before that customer even needs to call customer service.

The idea of proactive customer experience is relatively new. The Cisco model stands out as it has built an entire entity around Customer Success. We’ll summarize this model as Cisco's Lifecycle Approach to Solution Selling, which Anthony touts as a best-in-class approach to attacking Customer Success. Customer success is beginning to take mainstage because the business model has been shifting to a subscription-based model. Anthony asserts that while the enterprise-level business will continue to use a hybrid model of on-premises and Cloud infrastructure, the SMB space is compiled mainly of adopters of the subscription model.

One has to also factor in the attitude of the end-user when developing a Customer Success strategy. The end-user is not as concerned with the technology but is more invested in the outcome or the solution. As long as the technology is current, it is irrelevant which vendor is providing the solution. Because the conversation of brand preference is not a conversation that the end-user is having, when an MSP is selected as the brand of choice, they are in an ideal position to be influential. In leveraging this position, the vendor should aim to provide leading customer experience to maintain solid relationships with their MSPs.

While the role of the Customer Success Manager is to invest in efforts that will keep the customers satisfied, effectively achieving the goal of recurring revenue, Ingram Micro’s position as the distributor is to create solutions that enable the reseller. This enablement is particularly needed as businesses continue to migrate from perpetual revenue to monthly recurring revenue (MRR) via the subscription model.

Ingram Micro has the full package to enable reseller success during the migration phase, and beyond. This includes environmentally-friendly asset disposition, credit and financial services, advanced solutions, technical engineers, IoT, and Cloud.

Watch my full interview with Anthony

Listen to the Podcast on Apple, Stitcher or Spotify