How To Engage Customer Success Management For Cloud Success

Michelle Gurney

Part 3 of the three-part series “The True Value of Customer Success Management

Every digital technology brings an opportunity to change. Some shifts can forever alter the competitive landscape, while others lean toward more evolutionary and incremental change. But no matter how much progress is made, people’s trust – from the boardroom to the shop floor and supply network – must be earned to realize the full potential of any digital investment.

Gaining trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks, especially when uncovering new ways of getting business done in the cloud. Every initiative is carefully watched and judged on its ability to simplify work, accelerate processes, lower costs, and raise the intelligence of every decision.

This level of initial skepticism convinces many businesses to engage the services of a customer success management partner. They are looking for a partner that not only sets up the digital implementation right starting on day one, but also ensures their digital strategy delivers the right outcomes on days 30, 300, and 3,000.

Deliver the right outcomes with customer success management

Like most engagements, it can be difficult to know what it takes to succeed in the cloud. The framework, terminology, and success measures of cloud technology are very different from an on-premise world. Timelines are faster, which requires quick decision-making. Standardization is highly valued over customization. And the possibilities seem endless with a landscape that is more connected and accessible than ever experienced before.

This is where customer success management can be incredibly valuable. However, this service is only as good as the business’s openness to embrace four critical principles.

1. Engage with customer success managers fully 

Customer success managers are chosen primarily for their talent to clearly understand a customer situation, know which experts should be contacted, and connect the right people to resolve the issue.  As a gateway into support, engineering, product management, and cloud operations, customer success managers provide valuable insight during a customer’s internal discussions – and their opinion can spark proactive resolution of challenges as they begin to emerge.

Take, for example, a discussion about the need for a critical product enhancement. Customer success managers can bring a product manager and engineering specialist together to provide development expertise on required features and mentorship in the use of current functionality until the enhancement is ready to go live.

2. Accept quarterly releases as a fact in the digital strategy 

Many businesses struggle with the concept of quarterly releases, one of the cornerstones of software as a service (SaaS). The idea that a vendor’s release schedule dictates the progress of change can be difficult to accept. But companies that keep this fundamental of the cloud in mind are less likely to be surprised or have to scramble to test a new feature before it goes live.

Customer success managers can open up a wealth of information from knowledgeable testing analysts and engineers. A few weeks before the implementation, these experts guide companies through the release notes and conduct informational sessions that include time for questions and answers. Technical one-on-one sessions are periodically hosted to clarify any aspect of the implementation that is unclear, notify of any potential issues, and undergo proactive problem-solving. 

3. Develop a closer relationship between IT and the rest of the business 

The cloud invalidates the traditional concept of the IT organization acting as the designated guardian of a business’s technology. With faster implementation times and minimal hardware requirements, there are few obstacles that can stop the business from going around IT and sourcing their own solutions.

However, when IT teams develop strong ties with the business, the risk of being left behind is minimized during a cloud deployment. Acting as a translator between business needs and IT requirements, customer success managers draw on their background of countless other customer projects. They can guide a route that does not require an implementation project to start from scratch and avoid mistakes that other companies have made. 

4. Network with other companies 

Due to the standardized nature of cloud environments, businesses have greater access to peers with similar setups and minimal differences. Customer success managers can connect companies to a range of events and a network of companies experiencing or overcoming the same challenges. This opportunity allows businesses to share more relevant and valuable best practices, solution deployment experiences, and ideas for process innovation.

Discover the advantages of a customer success management experience

Increasingly, cloud computing is changing every business’s expectations for their digital investments. And as this technology continues to build a foundation for future innovation, customer success management becomes a more critical asset.

Get the top four tips for ensuring your business realizes the full potential of customer success management. See how SAP Preferred Success can help you succeed in the cloud.

Michelle Gurney

About Michelle Gurney

Director of Customer Success for the UK and Ireland, helping encourage adoption and consumption for SAP Cloud customers, and having fun along the way.