This is the fourth blog in our Value Realization series. In the first one, we consider Why value realization matters. In the second, we look at lessons learned from Transforming a global business to focus on the entire journey by making customer success a central pillar of the business. In the third, we explore five ways to support your teams through organizational growth.

By: Melissa Howe, Digital Product Manager @ Marvin

Our digital transformation journey

I have been working at Marvin for a little over 18 months and — while it might sound cliché — I love my job. In my role I oversee Marvin.com and all websites that sit on our platform. I help oversee website strategy, content authoring, and development pipeline and execution to reach our corporate objectives. I am challenged every day in new ways and enjoy my team and the company.

But we have had our challenges.

Like many companies, Marvin is in a critical transitional period right now, focused on moving from homegrown solutions and technologies to shifting our mindset on how to take digital to the next level. We knew that in this process we would need our tech stack to be more robust and focus on things like data and personalization, we just weren’t in the position for where we wanted to go.

Sitecore has recently launched our most comprehensive customer success support program: Sitecore 360. You can learn more about it here.

 

To make the transition — or at least to start to — we needed to focus on not just expanding our stack by adding more vendors, but also choosing the right ones that support the core foundational aspects of our business objectives. In addition, we needed them to be integrated properly so we could use them to their fullest potential. Marvin absolutely wants to be innovative, but we also recognize how critical it is to get our foundation set with the right tools to help us operate in the future.

Bumpy roads

As we’ve built out our tech stack, we have had our fair share of vendors not work out. Like many experts I've worked with, we've fallen prey to really great sales pitches, which later can't be followed through or adapted to our business. But I do believe marketers and marketing leaders are getting smarter and can now better identify a dishonest sales pitch or when a vendor isn't asking the right questions to make sure their product is the right fit.

We all know partnering with the wrong vendor can negatively affect a business.

We had a vendor present us with a comprehensive plan of what they could offer, which was inclusive of guidance and expertise in areas specific to our business that we did not have in-house. Unfortunately, the relationship did not turn out as promised. Communication was inconsistent, response time to issues or questions was lacking, and the promised support and consultation to fully utilize the tool, enhance our website, and help optimize our investment never happened.

It should come as no surprise that we did not use the technology and ultimately did not renew with this vendor a year later because they clearly did not invest in our success.

Based on that negative experience, and many others, I’ve come to realize what is most important to me when choosing a vendor to work with. Communication, integrity, being a true partner, a focus on helping me/the company succeed, and being able to solve problems specific to my business all stand out as being the most important.

Why customer success matters

Although I have inherited some of the vendors I manage at Marvin today, I have grown to appreciate some more than others. This appreciation comes from an overall feeling like they have just as much “skin in the game” as me and truly care about the success of our investment.

In our engagements, I feel listened to and treated like a partner – working through issues and receiving guidance on the best path for our business, not what’s best for their bottom line. As a result, I have become more loyal to these vendors and have expanded our contracts with them.

When a leader makes a great decision on a new technology investment, they get recognized. Conversely, when a leader makes a bad decision on a new technology investment, they get recognized.

My point is, investing in any technology vendor has an impact on your career. This is because you're not just deciding financially to bring in a product, there is also a massive downstream impact of what it takes to implement a new piece of technology across many different teams that requires reprioritization across the business to ensure it’s implemented successfully.

So, it's the leader’s responsibility to ensure the technology fits five criteria:

  1. The technology is the right fit
  2. It can be integrated (fast, preferably)
  3. It will actually be used
  4. It can grow with the business
  5. It can show easily attributable ROI

Having these in place ensures you realize the true value of your investment.

As a decision maker who brings technology into Marvin, I am look at these decisions as both career advancing and business advancing. It is my responsibility to make sure we make smart decisions when we bring vendors in. If I'm doing that right, then the rest will manifest for my career.

Customer success from my perspective

I was introduced to Sitecore when I joined Marvin 18 months ago but have become an influencer within my organization in continuing our relationship and expanding our business.

What I recognized almost immediately with Sitecore was that the team embraced all the things that were important to both me and Marvin. Sitecore also brought forward clear and strategic goals on how to achieve success, which came at a time when Marvin was setting similar goals. So, when it came time to consider expanding our relationship and investing in Sitecore’s customer success plan, it just made sense.

I feel heard when I meet with my contacts at Sitecore. I feel like their approach to our business is uniquely customized for our business. I feel like I am being told the truth. I feel like they know their stuff. More tactically, my calls and emails are always answered, I get what’s promised. Problems that arise are solved quickly and without issue, and we are not made to feel inadequate. All these things have made me grow loyal to the Sitecore brand.

On an operational level, Sitecore’s flexible business model makes plug-and-play easy, so we are not forced to remove other technologies that we have grown to love. Sitecore’s customer success model will solve some key business use cases in Marvin including:

  • Website uptime
  • Website development
  • Security
  • Integration expertise
  • Industry best practices for website management in moving to SaaS

Also operationally, we weren’t looking for Sitecore to recreate what we have, but rather, to complement our existing technology and tools — and we are on a successful path to doing so.

But it hasn’t come without challenges in determining what the right tech stack truly looks like. Before adding to, or expanding on, your tech stack it is important to identify what your “sources of truth” are.

In our case, not everything is housed directly in Sitecore. We needed to ensure the tool can pull from our sources of truth for data vs. sources of truth for technical assets related to our product to ensure our content is always accurate and up to date. The idea is as simple as, “if it’s not in our source of truth for that type of asset, it doesn’t exist.” This mindset keeps us working toward having the most helpful customer experience we can in our digital experiences.

As more companies invest in their digital journey, working with vendors focused on walking alongside them will become increasingly important. With all the complexities involved, this is not something that vendors can “set and forget.” Handholding, compassion, communication, working toward common goals — these all make a difference in the future success of companies like Marvin.

Sitecore has recently launched our most comprehensive customer success support program: Sitecore 360. You can learn more about it here.

Melissa Howe is the Digital Product Manager at Marvin. Follow her on LinkedIn.