This is the second blog in our Value Realization series. You can find the first one — Why value realization matters.
As Chief Customer Success Officer (CCSO) for Sitecore, being responsible for all customer-facing teams, my number one job is to stay in tune with our customers and truly understand their needs. With a focus on customer satisfaction and product adoption, customer success has been an area of opportunity for Sitecore. Along their journey with Sitecore, our customers would like to know which Sitecore products they should invest in, or how to make the most of the technology that we’re delivering.
I took on my role to help Sitecore evolve the business to focus on our customers’ entire customer journey and redefine how we approach customer success. I see a future for Sitecore that is shaped almost entirely to the specific needs of our customers and how we can deliver more value based on their investments; my job is to help transform the business to make this a reality.
I believe that achieving this new reality requires customer success to be embedded throughout the entire customer journey — from the moment a customer expresses interest in our products and through every step of sales, onboarding, support, and renewal.
To transform our business, I have adopted five main areas of focus:
- Leveraging our expertise
- Shifting our internal company mindset
- Focusing on the customer experience
- Taking a holistic approach
- Making the most of our own technology
Leveraging our expertise
What we have heard loud and clear is that our customers value our domain expertise and insight toward solutions that lead to value realization and change management within organizations. We're going to keep innovating, so my team — and really everyone at Sitecore — is here to make sure that we can bring the knowledge, best practices, enablement resources, and other assets to help our customers find the fastest path to success and maximum value.
We want our customers to see lasting business outcomes, proven by a positive ROI that is measured against well-defined objectives. So, I have empowered my team to build processes, expand expertise, and improve communications to ensure that customers are given the best chance of success, based on our two decades of experience, as possible.
Shifting our internal company mindset
The desire to continually create value for our customers across every single touchpoint and team in our entire company, is a big part of the reason why I took on my role at Sitecore.
Shifting mindset within an organization the size of Sitecore is not easy so I started where it made the most sense — with the employees. Changing the way that the people on the front line think about customer success was a critical first step, and this took a shift in our corporate values — not just “Customer First”, but also “Push Boundaries,” “Foster Collaboration,” and “Take Ownership.”
These values aren’t just words on a page. They’re the principles that have driven us over the past two years to expand our portfolio and accelerate innovation, to triple the size of our customer success organization, to double the size of our sales teams, and to break down silos within our business. And now, we’re evolving even further at an operational level to drive customer success and engagement even deeper into our go-to-market processes.
Focusing on the customer experience
I see the experience with our customers the exact same way we see the experience with the end users who engage with our technology — it's about delivering the right information at exactly the right moment, at every step of the journey. It begins with recognizing that an experience as a customer extends beyond the products bought. It includes all the ways we engage with our customers and the ecosystem responsible for helping them realize the most value possible.
Rather than a series of hand-offs between marketing, sales, services, customer success, etc., I have rebuilt our customer engagement model so that all our different business functions can interact with customers more thoughtfully, at every touchpoint. In turn, our teams operate against clear success metrics at each stage of the customer journey creating consistently high-quality experiences that deliver fast time to value and, ultimately, achieve maximum ROI.
Taking a more holistic approach
To operate more holistically, we’ve aligned our entire organization around a shared priority of — and accountability to — customer success. What does this mean in practice? Our sales and post-sales teams are aligned so that we don’t sell a product a customer doesn’t need, or overpromise on benefits. Our Product and Engineering teams are focused on innovation with the express intent of making our customers' lives easier based on real-world scenarios that are directly connected to their needs. And most importantly, we are unifying our customers’ view of support, learning, and services functions under the banner of customer success.
Starting in the sales cycle, when needs and business goals are identified and documented, we set clear expectations for both parties so that our customers know what Sitecore will do to ensure success, as well as what is expected from them. We use these key business objectives throughout the integration, adoption, and consumption cycles to build motions around delivering value — matched to incentives that drive our team to deliver business value to customers holistically, not just during renewal and retention cycles.
Making the most of technology
To deliver, track, and manage customer success, we’ve implemented tools and systems — including our own technologies — to have a single, comprehensive view of every one of our customers. That means that now, whenever any member of our customer-facing teams is interacting with a customer, whether it’s online, on the phone, or face-to-face, they know who they are engaging with, and our teams know how to engage based on where the customer is in their journey.
Engagement models, organizational alignment, measurement, and accountability all depend on a strong foundation of processes, data, and systems. We’ve worked hard over the past 12 months to make significant improvements to these foundational technological capabilities. This includes:
- Systems that automate and personalize key touchpoints so our field teams can focus on driving the most value for our customers
- Dashboards that benchmark successful customers to help our teams identify the best next step and ensure ROI for all customers
- Improved learning and community platforms to help customers self-serve key information and grow their skills
Shifting an entire organization to focus on customer success while also keeping an eye on innovation and growth is not an easy task, but certainly a rewarding one. I look forward to what the next year has in store for Sitecore.
Speaking of transformation, stay tuned for the next post in our series where we will share five ways to inspire change management in your organization.
Lee Miles is Chief Customer Success Officer of Sitecore. Follow him on LinkedIn.