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Just as a conductor dictates the tempo and delivery of sound to unify performers in a symphony, a Customer Success strategy navigates a complex set of objectives through education, coordination and delivery to achieve successful business outcomes for an organization.

Now more than ever is the time to talk about a collaboration and customer success strategy. The global work from home transformation continues, and it is forcing employees and organizations to focus on how they can be more productive in a remote environment. The simple answer is it requires a team and a well-thought out plan.

Cue Customer Success.

I've purchased my collaboration agreement, what happens now?

Every technology purchase starts with intent: a reason and rationale behind purchasing specific software and hardware products. Maybe your organization is trying to cut travel and expense costs. Perhaps the CIO is pushing a modernized working experience to attract and retain younger talent -- all legitimate reasons for significant investment in a suite of collaboration products. The real question comes up once all of those licenses and tools fall into your lap.

Effective collaboration is a marathon, not a sprint.

When you look at the Cisco Collaboration portfolio, you can break it into four main categories: Unified Communications, Contact Center, Conferencing (Webex) and Endpoints (Devices). If you look at life before COVID-19, UC and Contact Center held a prominent place in physical office environments. If you look at life during and probably after COVID-19, Conferencing and Endpoints are king in the remote environment. 

The key to understand here is that in order to effectively utilize these tools, no matter your situation, you need to think long term with an agile mindset. Do you know what effective remote working looks like? 

This is an example of why it's so important to be flexible in your path towards success. Where do you want to be in three months, six months or one year from now with the deployment and implementation of your collaboration products? You need to scope how you're going to get there, who needs to help along the way and the path of least resistance.

How does Customer Success help answer these questions?

  1. Education/Onboarding: What's the first thing you want to do after buying something new? Use it, try it on, see it in action and make sure it doesn't break. A calculated approach to education around a purchase can make all the difference. Understanding not only what the tools are and how they are used but why you should use them is massively important. Education of products is an ongoing process which is best learned through real-life examples and repetition. Taking the time to work through initial test-runs and challenges allows organizations to get familiar with the products, the work-flows and iron out the details before hitting the main production line. Once a baseline knowledge and understanding is established, now is the time to get creative and think big picture.
  2. Documented Objectives: When you take the time and effort to invest in learning about the products that have been purchased and how they are deployed, this is critical information that holds significant value. Documentation drives accountability and progress towards outcomes. A single reference point that meticulously details goals, ideas, successes, failures and everything in-between is all part of the Customer Success process. The real value starts to emerge when you can physically see what went well and what went wrong last quarter, and how you adapted your strategy in the next quarter to drive closer to your expected business outcomes. Customer Success does not just check boxes, rather, it ensures concierge service and analysis throughout the lifecycle of your collaboration agreement.
  3. Data-Driven Trajectory: Data drives behavior and decisions when it comes to adoption and consumption. Part of developing a confident strategy to achieve your business outcomes is defining your key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are used to track and measure qualitative and quantitative progress. A qualitative example of this would be feature focused, such as enabling Collaboration Meeting Rooms (CMR) or Single Sign-On (SSO) for a seamless join experience on Webex. A quantitative example of this would be numbers focused -- such as how many active users did we have last month? How many audio minutes were consumed via VoIP versus toll-free Dial-In? Your Customer Success Manager will incorporate these KPIs into your organization's lifecycle strategy by tracking incremental progress.

    The other benefit to a data-driven approach is conceptualizing past, present and future achievements. An example of this would be if your organization set out to have 50 percent of end users scheduling and hosting Webex meetings at a minimum of once per month within the first three months of the agreement. During a Quarterly Success Review (QSR), you can look back on those numbers to see the pace of increase. Was it fast enough? What were the challenges if you did not hit your benchmark? Learning from past data can help re-calibrate focus on present data and provide ideas for more effective ways to forecast future data trends. Adoption Services is a definitive approach to training and using data to reinforce and further drive productive use of collaboration technology.
  4. Connecting Resources: Expected challenges are welcomed. Customer Success delivers on the promise that everything, from our Advanced Technology Center to Adoption Services and Infrastructure Services, are readily available to serve the needs and requests from your organization. That said, unexpected hurdles along the way are also inevitable. Knowing who to call in times of urgency is essential. The presentation slide deck did not show on your Webex meeting -- what do you do and who do you contact for help? You want to know the answers to these questions before the situation occurs. Investing the time into getting to know your team, resources and advocates secures your future success. So often this is overlooked and taken for granted until your licenses decide to fall out of compliance one day, and you're scrambling because you needed those licenses to present a consumption report to your leadership team.
  5. Human-Centric Approach: There's a reason people are hesitant about the involvement and power of artificial intelligence. While it can be a fantastic aid to our own utilization of technology, innately we crave human interaction and relation. Most collaboration agreements term at a minimum of one year. Larger investments see three- to five-year agreements. During this time (what we call "lifecycle") it is important to trust, enable and empower your employees to work towards a common goal. Not only can our dedicated team of Integration/Onboarding Specialists and Customer Success Managers deliver on your most challenging initiatives and aspirational goals, but they can be a constant reminder that success is contingent upon teamwork, commitment and cooperation.

The magnum opus

Just as a conductor's magnum opus is their greatest orchestrated achievement, a Customer Success strategy serves to help an organization identify their magnum opus, or highest level of achievement within their collaboration agreement. In pursuit of this business outcome, your Customer Success team will deliver actionable results.

Remember, every purchase starts with an intent: the goal of reaching a desired destination. Without a destination in mind, there is no strategy to put in place and thus your effectiveness at adopting and utilizing your technology will fall flat. EA+ is a methodology that enables organizations to tap into integration/onboarding and Customer Success, with additional resources such as Adoption Services and Software Advisors available at any point throughout the lifecycle. Our teams are here to help orchestrate post-sales initiatives and deliver outstanding business outcomes in the most efficient way possible.

Start developing your short & long-term strategies for success.