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Blog: Navigating Customer Engagements in Customer Success

We are at it again on the Ingram Micro CX Express. My third guest is Parneet Mann, Customer Success Manager from Synnapex Inc. – a Cisco Gold Partner and leading tech solution provider. “Navigating Customer Engagements in Customer Success” is the exciting topic we are discussing today.

We have discovered that several resellers in the channel have limited knowledge of the underpinnings of Customer Success, and for some that do know, it is met skepticism, given that it is new to them. At the first engagement after a purchase, Parneet believes that the Customer Success Manager (CSM) “can’t just introduce [Customer Success] as a running project.” If that is the approach, then the channel partner may confuse the role with that of the account manager. The possible drawback could impede the goal of Customer Success within organizations. And as we have discussed in our previous interviews, the push for Customer Success is warranted given the migration to the subscription model.

The CSM’s Role

The CSM might meet with the customer after the first sale. At that point, the CSM would highlight the value that he or she brings. Parneet explains that she usually shows the customer the importance of having a CSM versus not having one. The most significant advantage of having a CSM working along with the partner is to take care of the entire lifecycle. The first meeting with the partner also enables the CSM to do effective data gathering. She adds, “My goal is never to sell the product. I’m not a salesperson. [My goal is] to get [the] information that is required.” This information includes the product the customer is purchasing, their main objectives, business outcomes, critical success factors, customer profile, what they want to do with the purchased product, workaround options. Ultimately, this information helps the CSM to draft a solution that is reviewed with Parneet’s internal teams. The CSM also aims to remove the association with selling a product, which can have negative implications.

The conversation that the CSM will have with a customer will depend on the target stakeholder(s). While stakeholders like CIOs focus on the business strategy, IT Managers are more likely to focus on a project and the Ops manager on productivity.  The message, therefore, has to be carefully crafted to ensure that the right person is receiving the correct information.

Make Your Move After the Initial Purchase

Customer Success is premised on the fact that someone needs to take care of the product after implementation. Having this mindset, the CSM will review the elements of the purchased product that are in use, measure the perceived barriers, and craft a success plan to overcome these barriers. Barriers can be in the form of technology, budget, or even culture. Parneet asserts that “with this strategy, if [customers] see the overall value of the product, they are most likely to renew.” While the intention of the purchase would most likely be apparent, the CSM must ascertain the customer’s current business goals and objectives, as these are variables that are impacted by changes in the budget or management shift. Further analysis that the CSM should consider is understanding market conditions such as competitive forces and industry trends, and how these can also affect the customer’s business goals. At this point, cadences can be established to build on the customer relationship.

The Customer Success Plan

CSMs use a Customer Success Plan as a process of engagement tool that addresses the customer’s barriers. Through ongoing collaboration on the customer success plan and if anything changes or evolves then the plan needs to be revisited and revised to match the change. Parneet leaves us with her the technical approach to the Customer Success Plan – OCD - Observation, Conversation and Data.

  • Observation – unearth the unexpected value of the meeting
  • Conversation – determine the main business objective through dialogue
  • Data – analytics on the health index – utilization and adoption of the features of the product.

Combining all this information helps the CSM to create the Customer Success Plan effectively.

Watch my full interview with Parneet

Listen to the Podcast on Apple, Stitcher or Spotify