Monthly Archives: November 2014

Bruce Temkin on Service Innovation, New Trends and Challenges Faced by Service Companies.

By Darima Fotheringham

Bruce_Temkin

Bruce Temkin, CCXP, is a Co-Founder &
Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and the Managing Partner of Temkin Group. He is widely viewed as a leading expert in how large organizations build differentiation with customer experience. As the Managing Partner, he consults for leading global companies, is a keynote speaker at top industry events, researches customer experience trends, and is the author of Customer Experience Matters, influential CX blog. Prior to Temkin Group, Bruce spent 12 years with Forrester Research during which time he led the company’s financial services, e-business, and customer experience practices.

I interviewed Bruce Temkin at the 25th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium, where he spoke about Customer Experience and “Tapping Into the Power of Purpose, Empathy, and Memories”.

Q: Today we heard about service innovation from three different speakers. I wanted to ask which of the ideas they shared resonated with you and why?

A: I think a number of them resonated and I won’t go into all of them, they presented great stuff. I think the notion of starting with the customer and working back in was an important theme that showed up across the board. I also really liked the way that Amazon talked about having a very simple metric. They ask: “Were we able to solve your problem?” And I think when you use simplicity in your measurements, it frees up the people in your organization to spend time and feel they can do other things. A lot of the discussion was around how you get that innovation from your employees, because employees are the biggest source of innovation we heard about today. We have to create an environment where they feel comfortable,  and feel they have their time and feel empowered. Those were some key takeaways today.

Q: We also heard about trendsetting and how it’s a lonely business, yet “you have to innovate or die”. What are the new trends that service companies cannot afford to miss?

A: To me one of the key trends is simplicity. In this world of complexity we sometimes add things on and make things harder and harder. But if you look at some of the key new innovations, whether it’s Uber or Airbnb, and you look at the models they have, they are very simple. I think the service models have to follow that and become very simple.

Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that service companies are facing?

A: They face a lot of problems so probably the biggest to start with is customer expectations are rising. Whether you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, people expect things to happen now, they expect them to be easy. That’s hard to do, especially for companies that are trying to deliver complex services or complex products. I think that’s a challenge. The other challenge continues to be around how you create an environment with your people. I’m a big believer that a lot of the success or failures come not necessarily from the technologies or processes we use but from how we deal with the people we have. How do we get the right people? How do we enable them? And how do we let them loose to deliver the great service we want? To me, the challenge number one is: How do we make sure that we are engaging our people on a path that allows them to deliver the innovations and deliver the service at the level that our customers want into the future.

Q: We hear from companies about a skill gap in the workforce. Is that something that you come across working with different companies? Is there a skill gap and what is it?

A: Well there are lots of skills gaps. One of the key skill gaps that we run into and see all the time is in the area of insights and analytics. There aren’t enough people in what I would consider the hard core analytics. Over the next years many companies are going to increase their use of predictive analytics, text analytics, so we need people who can do that. But the real people we need doing this work are the ones that can balance the analytics with an understanding of the business, people that can bridge the world of deep analytics with the needs and insights of the business. That’s one skill gap.

Another skill gap that people don’t talk about much, but it relates to what I was talking about earlier, is the ability to manage and motivate an employee workforce. Historic of the last several years, we’ve really worked on management skills that are more hard core, people who can manage and drive. But we haven’t created leaders, people who can inspire and people who can communicate, people who can get their people to do better. I think that’s an important skill gap that has to be filled.

What do you think, boss? How to gain board support for your Customer Experience (CX) program (and other marketing-led strategies)

BBS Philipp Klaus 1A copyBy Phil Klaus

According to our most recent research, CX Management, for better or worse, is firmly allocated in the firm’s marketing function. This association, however, triggers multiple challenges for CX managers, or, to be more precise, CMOs worldwide. The most prevalent challenge is the CEOs’ and boardroom members’ unfavorable perception of both marketing-led strategies and CMOs.(2) For decades, marketers have been trying to be more accountable and elevate marketing from a purely functional and tactical to a strategic level. Yet marketing, once the darling of executives’ strategic efforts, remains heavily criticized for its inability to present compelling evidence of the effectiveness of the huge sums it directs to promotion and brand building. This perceived lack of accountability is reducing marketing’s influence on strategic decision-making, and is a cause of other functions.

In addition, CX is often used in the same sentence with other marketing-driven strategic initiatives, such as CRM, which managers do not see as an investment delivering the value it promised. Paradoxically, despite the increase of CX and the voice-of-the-customer programs, marketing’s strategic role is in decline. Our global study highlights that CEOs do not believe that marketers, and their CX initiatives, can be an integral part of strategy development for three main reasons:

  1. the lack of financial accountability,
  2. marketers’ fascination with and focus on new technologies, tools, and frameworks without establishing that they generate consumer demand for the firm’s offerings in a quantifiable way, and
  3. the resulting lack of trust towards marketers’ capabilities and towards marketing in general.

These themes cannot be viewed in isolation. They reflect the heterogeneous nature of the current status of, or lack of, marketing in the firm’s strategy planning and execution. I could make the point that CEOs and/or the firms’ boards are as responsible for the fall of the CMO and marketing from the strategic agenda as marketers themselves. This discussion, however, will not add any value. CMO/CXOs work for the CEOs, not the other way around. My contribution is to acknowledge and learn from these developments in order to put marketing and CX management back on the CEO’s strategic agenda.(3)

If marketing is disconnected from the firm’s strategy, then the firm’s strategy would be expected to become less adapted to market needs. Taken to its logical conclusion, this should result in eroding profits and vulnerability to competition. Therefore, there is an overriding need for marketing, and, in particular CX, to become a key component of the firm’s strategy. (When we refer to “marketing” we mean what company management recognizes as such, and not what scholars and businesses put forward as part of marketing.)

As a result, in today’s business environment, marketing is relinquishing ground to other functions rather than expanding its role. If CX or VOC are (partially or completely) not under marketing, the CEO and board will never consider it to be marketing. Moreover, the business units that take over these marketing tasks consider them to be part of “their” function (e.g., operations, information systems, etc.) and not part of marketing. Therefore, for marketing to succeed in these efforts, CMOs must garner support from all stakeholders: in particular the CEO and the firm’s board. This can be achieved by converting existing main challenges into opportunities, such as:

  • Augmenting traditional sales indicators presented to senior management (e.g., conversions, revenue, etc.) with clear defined customer demand-related indicators, developing tangible links. For example, by delivering evidence for the positive relationships between abstract constructs such as customer experience5 and word-of-mouth on customers’ buying behaviors, CMOs will have a significantly better chance of demonstrating the strategic impact of their actions. Another way to achieve that is by using mid-range metrics, such as real-time tracking linked to revenue generation, to demonstrate accountability. For example, CMOs can introduce segment level reporting that includes P&Ls by brand, market, product, distribution channels, and end customers.(1)
  •  Take ownership of a variety of activities within and outside of what is considered their core functional area, such as marketing related IT and IS initiatives. This would allow CMOs to demonstrate, for example, the possible impact of new media as a supportive tool (with an emphasis on “supportive”) in crafting winning strategies (and by winning we mean generating quantifiable customer demand).

Thus, the job description of a CMO becomes closer to that of a CEO. In a literal sense, CMOs must see themselves as the Marketing CEO. This means running CX, and all marketing activities in a manner that parallels that of the CEO in the running the firm.  This requires that CMOs shift their perspective to that of a holistic business leader from simply being a manager of the marketing function.  As such, it requires a CEO’s mindset of seeking to maximize value in a tangible way that can garner the support of the board of directors and shareholders.(4)

The following Figure summarizes the main steps that we believe are necessary to put CX on the CEO’s strategic agenda by using actions to convert challenges into results that will be appreciated by the CEO and other board members.(1)

How to gain 'board support' for your CX program In this series we now discussed which CX strategies are most profitable, explored how these strategies are converted into a successful multichannel strategy, outlined the crucial role customer-facing (direct and indirect) employees play in managing the CX, and elaborated on how executives can gain support from the boardroom in order to compete successfully on the new competitive battleground – the customer experience. I hope these series delivers useful insights into how to manage and measure the most profitable customer experiences, and am looking forward to your CX questions that I will answer during the Center for Services Leadership podcast.

________

Dtwitterr linkedinPhil Klaus is Professor of Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy and holds multiple visiting professorships around the globe. His multiple award-winning research has appeared in a wide range of academic and managerial journals. Phil is a frequent keynote speaker at public and in-company seminars and conferences around the world. He has an active, international portfolio of Blue-Chip clients, for whom he advises on customer experience strategy and profit enhancement.

References:

  1. Klaus, Ph. (2014), Measuring Customer Experience – How to Develop and Execute the Most Profitable Customer Experience Strategies, Palgrave-Macmillan.
  2. Klaus, Ph., Keiningham, T., Edvardsson, B., and Gruber, T. (2014), “Getting in with the “In” crowd: how to put marketing back on the CEO’s agenda,” Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 195-212.
  3. Klaus, Ph. and Edvardsson, B. (2014), “The road back to relevance – how to put marketing (and marketing scholars) back on the Top Managements’ agendas,” Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 166-170.
  4. Klaus, Ph., Gorgoglione, M., Pannelio, U., Buonamassa, D. and Nguyen, B. (2013), “Are you providing the ‘right’ experiences? The case of Banca Popolare di Bari,” International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 506-28.
  5. Klaus, Ph. and Maklan, S. (2013), “Towards a better measure of customer experience,” International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 227-46.

Examining Amazon.Com’s Relentless Customer Advocacy

Bruce Temkin, one of the speakers at the Compete Through Service Symposium, shares his takeaways from the presentation by Mike Gathright, Director of Americas Customer Services at Amazon.com

Customer Experience Matters®

Last week I attended the Arizona State University, Center for Services Leadership (CSL) Compete Through Service Symposium. It was an excellent event. I was impressed by what the CSL is doing to equip future customer service/experience leaders.

One of the speakers was Mike Gathright, Director Americas Customer Services at Amazon.com. He describe Amazon.com as “The Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company,” or just EMC3. It’s no accident that Amazon.com scores so consistently high in the Temkin Experience Ratings and Temkin Customer Service Ratings. The company works on it.

I really love one of the company’s tenets, Relentlessly advocate for customers. It sounds like something that all companies should strive to do.

Gathright explained that Amazon.com has three key priorities:

  • Empower your people
  • Listen to customers
  • Invent for customers

To deliver on those priorities, the company uses a number of internal quality processes including Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Genba walk (seeing and observing the actual process or…

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Welcome to Compete Through Service Symposium 2014!

25th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium Recap in Pictures

Thank you everyone who attended the 25th Compete Through Service Symposium and made this event truly great! We’ll be sharing highlights from the event, interviews with participants and speakers on this blog. Make sure to subscribe to our blog to receive these updates. If you missed the event, you can check the event brochure HERE Hope to see you next year!

Meet the Center for Services Leadership Team

To kick off the 2014 Compete Through Service symposium, we would like to introduce you to our team. We look forward to connecting with you this week at the symposium!

Mary Jo PicMeet Mary Jo Bitner:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?  

Flagstaff, in the summer or fall.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for? 

University of Washington, Huskies, my alma mater.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role? 

I have been with CSL since 1987 and am currently the Executive Director.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL? 

I love working with our member companies and seeing the interaction/shared learning between our board and faculty network.  I love seeing the tremendous growth in knowledge and practice over the years.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

Amazon in general. And Amazon Prime, specifically – I love it and use it all the time!

Alicia HolderMeet Alicia Holder:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona? 

It is hard to pick one – Arizona has so many great places to visit. I feel incredibly lucky to live so close to Sedona and it’s beauty takes my breath away. I think it is even more beautiful than the Grand Canyon and I love how you can become immersed in it. Any place that is not 115 degrees in the summer is great with me!

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

Weber State.  I went there my first year. Of course, the Sun Devils just crush them, but it is fun to root for the underdogs.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

Almost 18 years! I am currently Director of Business Partnerships. I run our Symposium, our Institute and much of our board activities.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL? 

I love being part of a university that is changing the way that universities impact their communities – both their local communities and the academic disciplines they serve. We have such a great team of people here at the CSL – both our staff, our faculty and our extended communities or our board and faculty network. I get to work with fascinating people every day who are working hard to provide great experiences for their customers and students.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

Amazon is one of my favorite examples of a company that provides a great service experience – they make it so easy to take care of many things online and that takes a lot of errands off my plate. I am thrilled to have Mike Gathright who runs their customer service for North American at our event this year.

Amy OstromMeet Amy Ostrom

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona? 

I enjoy visiting Flagstaff. I love getting the chance to go hiking or horseback riding, especially when it is hot in Tempe.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?   

None. I bleed Maroon and Gold.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I have been involved with the Center for more than a decade and have been the Research Director for the past three years.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

It is wonderful to get to work with our Board members, Faculty Network members, and CSL staff who are all passionate about service. As the Research Director, it is very rewarding to help facilitate and support research endeavors and collaborations that generate new knowledge about service.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

I experience great service from my colleagues in the CSL and the Department of Marketing at ASU each and every day. Too many to pick just one! I am really lucky.

Denise FirengMeet Denise Fireng

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona? 

It’s difficult to pick just one, but my family loves to visit Munds Park just south of Flagstaff to escape the summer heat and enjoy the beautiful pines.  It’s truly one of the most beautiful places in Northern Arizona.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for? 

I don’t understand this question.  There is no other college team I would root for other than the Sun Devils!

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role? 

In my role, I am responsible for the management and coordination of our marketing and communication efforts, as well as provide support for various aspects of our executive education programs. Over the course of my 16 years with the CSL, I have held various positions within the organization, and was promoted to manager a few years ago. While 16 years is quite a long time, it feels as though it has just flown by because the CSL has been an incredible place to work and build a career.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL? 

There are so many things! I love that the work we do connects the business and academic worlds. The research and education we provide truly has an impact on how businesses engage with and treat their customers. Mostly, it is incredibly rewarding to work with and learn from an amazing group of people.

  1. What is a great example of customer service? 

The most memorable service experiences touch your heart. When my oldest daughter was only about a year old we were on vacation and stopped after a busy day for a relaxing dinner at a local sushi restaurant. My daughter fell asleep in my arms just as the food arrived. We didn’t have her stroller, so I was clumsily trying to eat with her sleeping in my arms. The owner of the restaurant appeared and in limited English told me she was going to make me more comfortable. Right there she fashioned a kind of crib for my daughter out of two chairs and some rolled up towels! I was able to lay her down and my husband and I were able to enjoy a nice leisurely dinner while our daughter slept. I’ll never forget that act of kindness. Of course we left our server a big tip, and for years after we continued to frequent that particular restaurant. The owner would always remember us and greet us with a smile.

Darima

Meet Darima Fotheringham:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

Whenever we have out-of-town visitors, we take them to Sedona. The views are amazing and there are so many entertainment options, from hiking and camping to shopping and spas.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

Both my husband and I are Sun Devils! It’s probably the only thing we are in complete agreement.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I’ve been with the CSL for a year and a half. I work on the CSL Thought Leadership initiatives. One of them is managing this blog. Let me know what topics you found useful and what else you’d like to read about on our blog!

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

Working at the CSL is intellectually stimulating and never boring! We have an amazing team, smart, energetic, professional and fun to be around. I also enjoy meeting great people through events like the Symposium. People who come to these events are very passionate about services and I find that, coincident or not, they are also some of the nicest people. Must be something in their DNA!

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

I think great customer service starts with attention to service design. When you design your service thinking about the customers, their needs, what’s important to them; you don’t have to spend as much time explaining how the service works or fixing the same problem over and over again. Managing a broken service takes a lot of time and effort, time and effort that could be spent on learning and being proactive about changes in your environment – such as evolving customer needs, disruptive innovation – to deliver service that’s always relevant, timely and beats the competition.

Rose BohlerMeet Rose Bohler

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

Lake Havasu City

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

Given I’m part Irish, I’ll have to say Notre Dame!

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I’ve been with the CSL since April 2013. I’m an Accounting Assistant for the Center and Department of Marketing as well as an Editorial Assistant for the Journal of Service Research.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

Everyone always has a positive attitude. It’s great to work with a group of people who are truly passionate and believe in the work they’re doing.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

Last December, I ordered RSVPs for my wedding though Wedding Paper Divas, which is a part of Shutterfly. I was on a tight deadline and needed to get them out right away so I paid for express shipping. My order wasn’t moving along in the process so I called them. They let me know one of their facilities lost printing capability–this happened to be the location of my order. They immediately apologized and let me know they were working to resolve the issue and my order should be shipping within 2 days. They also gave me 20% off my order for the inconvenience. Couple days later and my order still hadn’t shipped so I called again and they said my prints were in the printing queue and would be shipping the next day, they noticed I’d already called and was told it would have been shipped by now so they refunded me 100% and still sent the order. Through the whole process they were very courteous, apologetic and spent the time to tell me exactly what was happening. I really appreciated that, I didn’t ever have to get angry or tell them I wasn’t satisfied–they were truly doing everything they could without me having to ask.

Sarah JohnsonMeet Sarah Johnson:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?  

Prescott–I love to visit the Sharlot Hall Museum and have dinner at The Palace! And The Spot is a great place to take the kids – always a fun time!

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?  

I should root for the Hokies, as VT is close to my hometown of Radford, but I gotta say Georgia Bulldogs – UGA was my second choice after ASU.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?  

I have been with the CSL since January 2014 and I’m the Administrative Secretary.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?  

I love the variety – we host so many great programs and events, it’s never boring & I’ve met the most wonderful people!

  1. What is a great example of customer service?  

I think great customer service begins with making a positive connection – when problems happen, technology flops, or other help is needed, if we approach an issue with a solution-based attitude, you can transform conflict into a symbiotic connection.

Sarah CanalesMeet Sarah Canales:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

The Four Seasons, Scottsdale, or Oro Valley!

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

University of Arizona–my husband is alum.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I’ve been with the CSL six years and my current role is Business Operations Manager.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

The great group of people I get to work with.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

Nordstrom doesn’t have your shoe size so they order it for you and send it without shipping charges.

Jon Pic for blogMeet Jon Pabillaran: 

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona? 



Flagstaff and Sedona

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

(blank stare)… squirrel!!!

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I’ve been with the Center since September 2012 and I’m currently the Events and Conference Assistant. I help with planning and managing logistics and attendee experience during events.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

I enjoy working with such amazing, dedicated, competent individuals.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/airlines-dog-employee-sniffs-owners-lost-items/story?id=25724657

Ajit RaghunathanMeet Ajit Raghunathan:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

Honestly speaking, I haven’t seen most of Arizona. Of the places I have seen, Flagstaff is a really beautiful place. It has good hiking trails and it snows there during winter.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

None. Always a Sun Devil.

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I have been with CSL for 4 months; I joined this summer, and I work as the Student Office Assistant.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

The people! Everyone here at CSL is so friendly, welcoming and great, I am really glad I am working here.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

I think a good example of customer service is the policy of Rolls Royce to deliver the best customer satisfaction. To fulfill this policy they  customize each car in accordance to the customer’s specifications, they will provide help and advice about any aspect of the car.

Kaitlin OngMeet Kaitlyn Ong:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

Old Town Scottsdale! I love all the different dining and shopping options.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

ASU is the only team I root for – I’m not much of a football fan. Go Devils!

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I have been with CSL for a little over a month and I am a student worker.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

The staff and the service-oriented culture. It’s so great to be a part of a program that unites education with business to bring companies a customer-focused culture.

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

An example of great customer service is when a server, in a restaurant, provides the guest a fast and friendly experience while meeting all of their needs.

IMG_6398Meet Donna Stone:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

Sedona is my favorite destination spot in Arizona. Its red rock beauty and cooler-than-Tempe temperatures attract the southern inhabitants, like myself, who are looking for outdoor activities like hiking and wine tasting.

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

University of Arkansas Razorbacks – Woo Pig Sooie!

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I am a Graduate Assistant and have been with the CSL since August 2013 when I started in the W.P. Carey Full-Time MBA program.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

Whether it is breaking research or a renowned guest speaker, the Center always has exciting news. I had the opportunity to attend the symposium last year and the Services Leadership Institute in the spring–both provided a fresh look at the service industry as well as

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

Olive & Ivy, a restaurant in Scottsdale, has phenomenal staff. While every experience there has been more than positive, each server is attentive, knowledgeable, and personable, creating a special experience for each guest. It is my favorite restaurant in the valley, not only because it serves delicious cuisine, but because its service is top notch, too.

Venkata PicMeet Venkata Subrhmanyam Ghanta:

  1. What is your favorite place to visit in Arizona?

The Grand Canyon and Camelback Mountain

  1. Other than ASU, what college team do you root for?

IIT Madras

  1. How long have you been with the CSL and what is your current role?

I have been with CSL since August 2014. My current role is a Graduate Assistant, working closely with Alicia, Darima, and Sarah on various assignments.

  1. What excites you the most about working for the CSL?

Along with the many professional opportunities the CSL offers, I love the independence and flexibility it allows its student workers. #EmployeeEmpowerment

  1. What is a great example of customer service?

While there are several specific examples of great customer service, I focus on the customer experience aspect resulting from the customer service encounter. To me, that means error-free products and services with detailed explanations so that the customer doesn’t have to call. Get it right the first time-that’s great customer service.

2014 Halloween_CSL

The Next Wave of Service Delivery: Success Accelerators!

randy-wootton-headshotBy Randy Wootton

The Challenge

Today, more and more companies depend on software as a service (SaaS) to operate essential parts of their business, such as managing their relationships with customers, driving sales performance, and maintaining employee communication. As the industry and surrounding ecosystem that delivers these services matures, it faces a growing demand for accountability and results.

This is driven by many factors. As the global economy has emerged from recession, there is an increased focus on cost control and accountability. The shift in accounting for technology spending from capital expenses to operating expenses requires quicker results from technology investments–often within a single fiscal year. And the growing sophistication and utility of the services themselves makes them an indispensable ingredient in any company’s success – shining a spotlight on how they are implemented, deployed and used.

Cloud technology providers, such as Salesforce, have matured to deliver high availability, reliability, and continual improvements in features and performance, alongside quick support response and maturing service options–all with an eye towards long-term customer retention. But the environment in which these services live has changed, and service providers need to change with it.

“Whereas yesterday’s services needed mechanics to keep them running, tomorrow’s services will require a Formula 1 pit crew.”

From Fulfillment to Accountability

The use of cloud services has reached a point where it is possible to begin building robust best practices and centers of excellence whose reach extends beyond the technology implementation itself. Cloud-based software also allows providers to have access to huge amounts of data about how customers are using the technology effectively. As such, providers can learn from the experience of thousands of customers and combine this with direct collaboration to find new and better ways for their customers to achieve success.

As a result, service providers can become more accountable not just for the availability, functionality and reliability of the services they deliver, but also for the business outcomes that those services are targeted to achieve – increased sales performance, better customer service, greater employee engagement, stronger governance and compliance, and so on.

At the same time, to successfully adopt and use these services to their full potential, companies will need to develop the right business skills and experience that they may not have in house. And, as noted above, various macroeconomic and business process shifts are driving business leaders to demonstrate a return on their cloud investments faster than ever before.

All cloud tech providers must first evolve from offering fulfillment services (primarily implementation help and reactive support) to delivering proactive guidance. The leading providers will continue this evolution in accountability by offering  packaged services and long-term engagements that are targeted at delivering specific business outcomes that enable long-term customer value.

The Big Opportunity–Outcomes

According to the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), the long-term momentum of the industry is towards “outcome-based services.” Although the financial model for outcome-based services in its truest form – e.g. compensation based on achievement of KPIs or some other measure – has not yet been established, it is clear that the nature of packaged services delivery must shift from technology implementation and support towards being outcome-focused.

In response, cloud providers must respond by providing more personalized and focused service, going beyond even the premium support offerings on offer today.

Salesforce is taking the initiative to transform the industry by announcing its new Success Accelerators–part of the Success Services launched at Dreamforce in October. Complementing the support and training available through our Success Plans, Salesforce’s new Success Accelerators go beyond services and support and dive into outcomes – helping our customers get the most out of their Salesforce implementation. We’ve identified the KPIs that matter to our customers, and we’ve designed programs that help them achieve – and exceed – them. We co-create success plans with our customers that deliver the business outcomes they demand.

The result is a set of engagements that are tailored to their business and context – part of an ongoing relationship that is tuned to what kind of business they are in, where they are in the cloud adoption cycle, and the outcomes they want to achieve. We begin with a close look at what’s unique about a customer’s business, then we work collaboratively towards an outcome-focused implementation plan that spans technology, business practices and culture.

These engagements give customers access to an elite team of specialists that cross multiple disciplines – from technologists to data analysts to change management experts. They leverage the learning and experience of over 150,000 customers who are already achieving success with our cloud services. Our customers can also tap into this knowledge and expertise through a variety of self-guided programs and self-service resources. They offer the right combination of ongoing, personalized collaboration and advice, and the delivery of support at scale. Crucially, they offer the flexibility to choose the approach and level of participation that works best for a customer based on what their ambition and current operating reality.

In the end, we are trying to lead the way by being more consultative and prescriptive in our relationships with customers – to stand by customers long after the initial sale, and to guide them towards the business results they desire. And that consultative relationship needs to extend beyond our market-leading technology itself, and into addressing the business challenges of our customers. If we are able to create close, consultative and long-term relationships with our customers, we believe we will earn a place at their table as trusted advisers, who can help them on their transformation journey and dramatically improve retention year over year.

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linkedinRandy Wootton
has 20+ years of experience leading both small and large teams/organizations, driving results and making money for companies and clients. He is currently the VP of Salesforce’s Customer Success Products focused on accelerating the Service Product Portfolio growth from $300M to $1B. Prior to Salesforce.com, Randy was SVP of Sales, Service and Marketing at AdReady–a ventured-backed advertising technology start up–where he drove adoption of AdReady’s unique display advertising solution in the mid-market. Randy was previously VP of Global Search and Online Marketplace at Microsoft, where he was instrumental in operationalizing  Microsoft’s “Search Alliance” agreement with Yahoo! for the small and medium sized space. Wootton also spent more than four years at aQuantive in product management, marketing and business development roles. Earlier in his career, Randy was a Naval Aviator, flew in A-6E intruders in two Persian Gulf deployments and taught literature at the US Naval Academy. Randy received a BS from the US Naval Academy, an MALA from St. John’s College and an MBA from The Harvard Business School, resides in the Bay Area with his wife and 2 little monsters.

You can hear more of Randy’s insights at the Compete Through Service Symposium on November 7th.

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