Many have eulogised about the myriad benefits being brought forth by cloud computing, along with the significant effect that software-as-a-service (SaaS) is having for enterprises that are customer focused.

It’s something that has not escaped the thinking of Sage either, with their VP of customer for life, Michelle Bisset, recently looking at how this could impact the thinking of enterprises at the company’s Enterprise Management Partner Summit held in Dubai last week.

“The rapid shift towards cloud computing and software as-a-service purchasing models is freeing technology buyers from vendor lock-in, upfront payments, long implementation cycles and heavy software customisation,” she explains.

“That means software vendors and their partners need to focus on continuous customer success if they are to grow and retain their customer base over the long run,” adds Bisset.

More specifically the VP notes how Sage is beginning to see customers expect vendors and implementation partners to help them deliver against their business outcomes.

“Customers want inspiration, innovation, guidance and solutions. If they don’t get if from one vendor or service provider, it is easy to move to another in the digital and subscription world. This means technology vendors and resellers that want to thrive in today’s market must pivot to a customer success-driven approach,” she continues.

The result has ben less of an emphasis on features, functionality and cost, and shift towards ensuring the tech company deliver on the customer’s business outcomes. If the vendor does not get this right, warns Bisset, the customer will not renew its subscriptions.

With that in mind the Sage executive has offered three specific pieces of advice for enterprises to take heed of if they wish to be customer success-driven.

Start with the end in mind

The first step is to look at large-scale enterprise deployments, which Bisset says do not have the strongest track record, especially as they fail to deliver the expected benefits and often run over time and budget.

As such all relevant stakeholders need to meet in order to gain a more successful outcome. This includes vendors, implementation partners and clients, according to Bisset.

“This begins with an honest assessment not only of the service provider’s ability to deliver on the brief, but also of its success potential. If there is a significant divide in the culture and expectations of vendor and client, the project is not likely to succeed,” she says.

“When defining customer success, a generic benefit like saving time or becoming efficient is not enough. One should have a detailed, measurable definition of success, whether the goal is better budgeting, more accurate reporting, cost reduction or production increases,” the VP adds.

Remove silos and barriers between customers

The next piece of advice boils down to communication between the relevant parties, which is only something that can happen if there is effective cooperation among the different teams.

“Leave behind discussions about who owns the customer relationship within the enterprise or its wider partner network—vendor, implementation partner, third-party software provider. Customers want solutions to their business problems, which in today’s complex world requires the cooperation of cross-functional and cross-organisational teams,” Bisset echoes.

“It’s up to all parties, vendors and service providers to align themselves behind the customer’s goals and to make it easy for the customer to interact with their team. Breaking down silos means establishing shared strategic metrics to measure collective success. This requires a mindset change, from a transactional focus on project profitability towards focusing on retention, repeat business and references,” she stresses.

While a change in mindset is indeed difficult to pull off, especially for enterprises that have entrenched systems in place, doing so will reap the necessary benefits, Bisset continues.

Design services for the future

The final aspect of the trio is aimed at looking to the future. This as IDC predicts that up to 30 percent of the partner ecosystem will not resemble what it does today by 2021, particularly as the services that business partners provide will likely evolve with their moves to the cloud.

Sage too has a similar view according to Bisset, with the firm working hard to align their partners’ journey to the cloud with customer value and success.

“We envisage there will be less customisation work to be done, but that data security, cloud integration, business strategy, change management and other services will only become more important,” says Bisset.

“Together with our partners, we are looking at tomorrow’s tech opportunities, from artificial intelligence (AI) to blockchain. We are also thinking about how the market and customer will change. Millennials are moving up the ranks and emerging as decision-makers. Are we ready for this confident, tech-savvy IT purchaser who demands instant gratification and collaboration?,” Bisset ponders.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]