Customer Success Stories: What They’re All About

Ben Price

In my day job, I get to hear a lot of stories – good stories, bad stories, boring stories, and stories of innovation. Over the years, I’ve observed a few common factors in all the stories I’ve come across. I’d love to share a few with you here – and I welcome your comments.

A hero’s journey

Ever heard of the hero’s journey? It is a common storyline approach that establishes a hero, then describes the challenges they face and how they overcome those challenges – an accomplishment that is celebrated by one and all. So it’s safe to conclude that the first part to a successful story is a hero with a challenge to overcome.

Timing

What comes next is timing. Let’s face it: All companies are in a rush to do more and do it quicker. The problem is, no company has enough time to do it all or to do it before a competitor does it. So the next important component that builds a great story is timing: A good story needs a time element.

Celebration

The third element I love to see in a good story is celebration. In today’s world, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of things. Instead, we should try to enjoy the moment, the success, and the celebration that each moment brings. I firmly believe that good things encourage more good things. So every story needs a celebration that people can buy into.

To summarize: A good story needs a hero with a challenge, a timing factor, and a celebration moment. Now the question is: What exactly is the role of the IT vendor in helping drive customer success?

When I started in the workforce 25 years ago, the IT vendor’s role in customer success was simple, considering the fact that IT was an emerging industry. The Internet was not yet developed, the cost of hardware was high, and a mere 16K of memory was considered a lot. Success was all about getting some specialists to solve a single issue and ensuring that the high-cost solution worked. If something did not work, highly paid experts would fix it. Luckily, I was that expert back in the day.

But what about today? Think about the changes in communication that have happened in the past 25 years, and the increased access to knowledge. Think about the complexity of IT projects today versus 20 years ago. All these changes in the world translate into changes in what an IT vendor needs to do to be successful today.

My take on the role of an IT vendor in driving customer success is threefold:

  • First, we need to understand the customer outcome and how we can help it. Large companies have many skilled individuals who can help.
  • Second, we can draw from expertise to know exactly what a “good” IT project looks like. We need to advise customers on this, helping them understand what it takes for a project to work well.
  • Finally, effective communication and feedback play a significant role. Today, a high level of activity is a sign of a healthy project and a favorable outcome.

All of these are good stories with a hero, a timing challenge, and a celebration. I’d love to hear from you – let me know your views on good stories and your take on what it takes to create a successful customer story.

For more on how IT can help create customer success strategies, see Customer-Centric IT Is Key To An Unforgettable Customer Experience.


Ben Price

About Ben Price

Ben Price is Chief Customer Officer for SAP Asia Pacific Japan. Ben is responsible for the charter of ‘Customer’ where he leads in the areas of customer engagement, solution adoption and solution outcomes across the region. Prior to current role, Ben was Vice President, SAP APJ Adoption and Renewals where he focused on customer adoption and renewals in both the private and public cloud areas across SAP’s 25 industries and 12 Lines-of-Business. During that time, Ben has been involved with various SAP Cloud and on premise teams to drive customer success in terms of onboarding, value realization, community development and strategy management.