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.
Randy 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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