I’ve noticed over the last 12-18 months a trend within the job market to slip the word “success” into someone’s job title, and this led me to comment in a WhatsApp group concerning a particular appointment that was posted on LinkedIn.
One observation that caught my eye was: If you have to appoint an individual to drive customer success in your company, then perhaps you are applying a band-aid to the issue at hand. However, this raises another question: What is the issue a customer success appointment is trying to address? And Why might such an appointment be considered a band-aid?
Success: What does good look like?
For the IT company in question (who shall remain nameless) – a possible definition of success might be: Repeat business, highlighting numerous opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell of adjacent products and services all in support of reducing a client’s IT spend and associated risk, utilising that company’s core products.
What I like about the customer success philosophy, is that it is painfully aware that a company’s reputation is only as good as its last deal. I seem to recall reading somewhere that clients are seven times more likely to beat the commercial jungle drums over poor services and products as they are to advocate for a standard delivery of the afore-mentioned product or service.
So in this given example, driving clients up the Software Asset Management (SAM) maturity curve would be a cogent strategy for maintaining client retention, as well as spotting where adjacent point solutions could be applied over the lifecycle of a client’s engagement with that IT company.
How can we further break this down? First off, we have to identify the business and IT drivers for our client: How do they make money? And how does IT support them making money? Next, we can ask: How can SAM support IT in the company making money? The reason for this deconstruction is to highlight to SAM end users and IT companies alike that installing and configuring a SAM suite is now just considered an order-qualifier in this maturing market – not an order-winner.
Therefore, if a client wishes to be able to produce reports on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and/ or Return on Investment figures, then most SAM suites won’t have an out of the box solution to be able to achieve this – but that does not mean a creative approach to working in and around the IT department is not achievable: See our whitepaper entitled: Using SAM to Create & Maintain your CMDB.
Another example might be a better alignment of IT assets to the HR lifecycle; once again – not something that readily comes as an out of the box solution for a SAM suite, but can be achieved by applying the technology to existing company infrastructure. For a walkthrough of what such a solution might look like, please head over to our Joiners, Movers and Leavers Video on YouTube.
So having mapped out the above, our sales messaging can be targeted at similar clients to those we have sold to before; but messaging also needs to adapt to other clients whose problems are not the same – having that mind-set of change and adaptability is the responsibility of the IT company to pick up and run with, but also to drive internally to anyone who is customer facing.
Why is this important? Because we return to the central theme of this article; success is a culture – not a vacancy, and so by schooling employees of that IT company not just on what they need to do for their jobs, but also why they are doing it, then those staff members can relate to the clients that pay their wages. They become emotionally invested in ensuring that their job, regardless of how customer-facing it is, and so realise the true value of a job well done as they can see how it fits into the bigger picture of success – not just for the client, but for the company they work for.
In respect of the IT company above, they should be applauded for their efforts – only time will tell if the appointment will follow up with an improvement in end-users experiences and a whole-ship approach is adopted internally in driving success.
I’d like to thank AJ Witt, for his observations and for forcing the penny to drop in my own brain about this topic.