The Customer Success Vendor Ecosystem Shows Signs Of Consolidation. Zuora Acquires Frontleaf

Kate Leggett

Our world is quickly moving to a subscription economy. In a subscription economy, the economic value of a customer is realized over time, instead of up-front at the initial sale. This means that the duration of the customer relationship has an increasingly large economic impact on the company’s financial health. Being successful in this new economy requires that companies actively manage their customers during their engagement relationship to ensure that they are realizing the economic value of their purchase.  Why? Because if you don't, customers churn. 

A new organizational role, called customer success, has emerged which is dedicated to actively managing the post-sale journey that a customer has with a product or service that they have bought. One measure that customer success organizations use to track a customer's success is a "health score." The health score is a composite number created from product usage data (who's using the product, how is the product used), customer interaction data (support tickets, customer feedback) and contractual data. This data is pulled from systems like CRM, ERP, billing, customer survey solutions. It is tracked at a user and company level and the way it trends, and sudden changes to the score are used to understand a customer' health.

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Introducing A New Incident Response Metric: Mean Time Before CEO Apologizes (MTBCA)

Rick Holland

For years cybersecurity professionals have struggled to adequately track their detection and response capabilities. We use Mean Time to Detection/Containment/Recovery. I wanted to introduce an additional way to track your ability to detect and respond to "sophisticated" adversaries: Mean Time Before CEO Apologizes (MTBCA). Tripwire’s Tim Erlin had another amusing metric: Mean Time To Free Credit Monitoring (MTTFCM).

Here are some examples (there are countless others) that illustrate the pain associated with MTBCA:

1) CareFirst breach announced 20 May 2015

2) Premera breach announced 17 March 2015

Your CEO doesn't want to have to deliver a somber apology to your customers, just like you don't want to have to inform senior management that a "sophisticated attack" was used to compromise your environment. Some of these attacks may have very well been sophisticated but I'm always skeptical. In many cases I think sophisticated is used to deflect responsibility. For more on that check out, "The Millennium Falcon And Breach Responsibility."  

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Is Your Company A Place Where Employees Grow And Thrive, Or Wither And Leave?

David Johnson

As Forrester's Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) proves, the key determiner of a company's success is customer satisfaction. We can also prove that there is a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer perception and opinion, which is more pronounced with those employees who have a greater impact on your customers. To improve customer satisfaction, these employees have to feel that they can succeed. If they can’t succeed, they will burn out, and burned out employees aren’t going to help your company win, serve and retain customers. Forrester believes that you as an I&O leader can play the decisive role in customer satisfaction, if you choose to.

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Forrester’s Security & Risk Research Spotlight – The IAM Playbook For 2015

Stephanie Balaouras

Once a month I use my blog to highlight some of S&R’s most recent and trending research. When I first became research director of the S&R team more than five years ago, I was amazed to discover that 30% to 35% of the thousands of client questions the team fielded each year were related to IAM. And it’s still true today. Even though no individual technology within IAM has reached the dizzying heights of other buzz inducing trends (e.g. DLP circa 2010 and actionable threat intelligence circa 2014), IAM has remained a consistent problem/opportunity within security. Why? I think it’s because:
 

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Business As Usual Not An Option For Customer-Obsessed CIOs

Steven Peltzman

As Forrester’s own Chief Business Technology Officer, I’m immersed in our strategic view that consumers and businesses alike demand outstanding customer experiences and expect them more than ever before. In fact, it’s so important to us that we are being measured against the Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) on delivering a great customer experience.

The trouble is I’m experiencing many of the same blockers that our client CIOs say they have: the over-customized legacy infrastructure that won’t go away, constrained budgets, and less resources than we wish we had. Sound familiar? Through it all, we’ve made great progress — an improved website, a great iPad app, cloud infrastructure, etc. — and there’s more to come.

That’s all good, but good is not good enough in the age of the customer. With the threat of Digital Disruption all around us, we feel a great urgency to do more and do it quickly.

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The Digital Bolt-On Conundrum

Nigel Fenwick
What’s the difference between a digital bolt-on and transformative digital disruption?
 
In the two years I’ve been on the road talking with executives around the world about digital business and delivering keynotes on digital transformation, I’ve been most frequently asked about bolt-on vs. transformation; what’s the difference? 
 
A digital bolt-on is a digital project that is added to the existing business model that might improve the customer experience in a small way, but doesn’t fundamentally change how value is created for, and/or delivered to, the customer. For example, when a company updates a website and provides customers an electronic ordering platform, they are not changing the existing business model; they are simply providing an alternative channel through which the customer can buy products. The value proposition remains the same: buy and experience our product and you’ll gain value from the experience. Digital (in this case an online sales channel) has been bolted to the existing business model in much the same way a teenager bolts a spoiler onto an old car to make it "go faster".
 
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Gainsight's Pulse Conference Underlines The Importance Of Customer Success In A Subscription Economy

Kate Leggett

I attended Gainsight’s Pusle conference on customer success, held in San Francisco, on May 12 and 13. This conference, which focused on the economic value of customer success, actionable customer success best practices and insight from customer success practitioners, drew over 2000 attendees across 20 countries. This was more than double the size of last year's conference. The speaker list read like a who’s who in the world of young B2B SaaS companies: Apttus, Box, Zuora, Yelp, Satmetrix, MindTouch, Zendesk, Influitive, InsideSales, Docusign, Atlassian amongst others, as well as more established companies such as SAP,  ATT, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Workday. It also drew a long list of VC luminaries including Roger Lee from Battery Ventures, Jason Lemkin from Storm Ventures and SaaStr, Tomasz Tunguz from Redpoint Ventures and Ajay Agrawal from Bain Capital Ventures,. 

So why the interest in customer success? 

  1. Our world has moved to a subscription economy. Categories like media and entertainment and telecommunications have fully embraced this model. Other industries like  publishing, computer storage, healthcare, are moving in this direction. This shift is most notable in B2B software.  
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Take Investment Protection Off Your List Of Evaluation Criteria

Andre Kindness

Historically I have not been a big fan of Interop for a variety of reasons. However Greg Ferro, George Stefanick, Ivan Pepelnjak, and Harvard Business Review IT Director Ken Griffin — to name a few — changed the breakout sessions experience for me. During Greg’s data center network session, he said something that was priceless. He was giving some guidance around refresh cycles and told the audience to not worry about investment protection. It was so refreshing to hear it. I wasn’t the only one nodding my head: Investment protection is hogwash.

Greg made the case that moving to a 3-year replacement cycle changes a customer’s buying and design criteria. Right now, customers have to guess what is going to happen over an 8- to 10-year cycle; this long term guess creates the desire to protect that amount of spending with “investment protection” features. By considering flexibility, growth, and scalability of the network over that period, customers lean towards chassis switches with ports, which can cost 5 to 10 times as much as a pair of 1RU switches with the same type of ports. By selecting chassis switches, Greg says customers have doubled or tripled their project cost.

However on a 3-year replacement cycle, customers can choose right-sized equipment (which is probably a 1RU switch), do less maintenance, and gain faster access to new features. In addition, the risk could be lower.  For example if bad decision was made, a company is only stuck with selection for 3 years. Or, the company can choose to replace the network earlier and take smaller hit on capital expense line than if the compay bought chassis switches.

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Get your customer service ready for the digital-first generation

Ian Jacobs

This is a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, Research Associate on the AD&D team who helps with our customer service and unified communications research.

Do you hear that swooshing sound of a tweet being sent in the middle of a Google Hangout? It’s faint, but strong, and it means they’re coming.  Generation Y—a generation raised entirely in a technology-driven world.  This new breed of consumers demands more from companies and government agencies, with particularly high expectations for friction-free customer experiences. They’re prepared with knowledge of your company, and your top competitors. In fact, they often have more information about you and your products than your own employees.

This new generation should matter to you, because by 2018, the millennials will surpass the spending power of baby boomers. Remember: there is a dollar value to every positive and negative Yelp review, tweet, and Facebook status they target at you. With so much information at consumer’s fingertips, there is some give with the take. People don’t want to retain all of the information they receive on a daily basis. Striking a balance between the knowledge of your customers, and the methods deployed by your customer support agents, will lead to an enjoyable service experience, and keep you far away from the dreaded viral video of a support request gone wrong.

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Seeing is believing for financial services firms as they increasingly embrace video as a sales and service channel

Art Schoeller

When we think of obstacles financial services firms need to overcome in order to win, retain, and serve customers, one of the largest ones that come to mind is trust and transparency.  For financial services firms these attributes are key to boosting deeper customer engagement with wealth management clients and grow share of wallet in retail banking.

Those that have successfully done this in the past need to adapt to the mindset and needs of the modern digital customer.   In our recent report, we explore the effectiveness of using varying video channels to not only pull customers in, but build the relationship of the financial partner. “Hey, we’re in this together” is what we all want to hear from the person holding our money, right?

Three ways financial firms are finding customer success through video:

1.       Instant access to a human. One of the realities with serving the modern consumer is that they will want immediate access to you, and sometimes a quick balance check is not going to cut it.  Consider deploying a video chat solution for your high net worth customers.

2.       Assure them of your knowledge and understanding of the market. Your customers don’t know what they don’t know, that is why they are turning to you.  A best practice video on choosing the right home insurance policy creates the empathy people crave, much more than a text filled webpage.

3.       Brand videos.  Financial firms know our cousin’s husbands name.  Showing us what you are about, what your values and promises are, create a valuable but often lost connection with the customer.

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