With a continuously expanding range of solutions in today’s digital age, leading cloud service and software providers face a real challenge to be “everything to everyone” across their broad customer bases. The fact that those customers are located all over the world, have different organizational structures, are subject to different regulations, and measure success differently make this matter even more complex. Longevity of tenure with a particular client, rather than inspiring loyalty, can breed contempt if you aren’t constantly providing the right global customer success experience.
This stark reality begs the question: How do you balance an efficient and globally-focused customer success operation with top-tier specialized local delivery in each of the different regions you serve? How do you think globally, but act locally?
Over the course of our nearly two decades helping the world’s leading companies build better customer relationships, we’ve found an answer. It follows a simple equation comprised of three equally important elements: People, Processes, and Platform.
The Human Connection
A global customer success strategy has no chance of making an impact unless you have the right people to execute it. For most organizations, this typically requires setting up delivery centers within the same geographies they play in. Why? Well, a few reasons.
This last point is important. You need a large potential employee base so that you can select those individuals with the right mix of customer and sales skills, as well as language proficiency and cultural affinity. A small pool could result in the over-prioritization of language skills, which will no doubt set you up for failure.
While emphasis on artificial intelligence and technological platforms increases by the day, the human connection is still an important element of any effective customer success formula. Finding the right people to connect with your customers around the world will go a long way in creating better customer relationships.
Process Makes Perfect
Building local delivery centers is both time and cost-intensive, but the next step is the real challenge: seamlessly integrating all of those regional teams together within one global customer success organization. Each area will of course have its own local variations in delivery practices, but it’s important that everyone remains aligned around a core set of values to ensure the best service for all customers around the world.
Your customer success department should never operate under a “not invented here,” egotistical mentality. Each region should be stealing innovations from the others and constantly striving to improve their own delivery.
For instance, ServiceSource recently encountered a challenge while executing a customer success strategy on behalf of a major multinational cloud subscription company. The operational delivery spanned Germany and the Nordic region, both of which view this business model quite differently from each other. German customers have proven to be relatively hesitant accepting cloud subscriptions and are still in an infancy adoption phase, whereas the Nordic population has been well-acquainted with this model for several years now. This divide complicates not only the execution of a broadly-aligned customer success strategy, but performance reporting as well.
Recognizing the realities of these geographical and cultural differences, our account team leaders in both regions have very clear and open lines of communications, sharing learnings and best practices on a regular basis to increase customer adoption and retention. We’ve also taken steps to standardize for this specific client what metrics can be reported on a global scale, while identifying the measurements that must be understood within a deeper regional context. In this example, process has promoted a culture of continuous improvement and helped our teams achieve the best possible outcomes around the world for this client and their customers.
Another common difficulty that comes with building a global customer success operation is the lack of agility to change. Large enterprises can be great at defining processes – however, it’s difficult to accept that from the day they are defined, those processes are at constant risk of breaking down or no longer fulfilling the needs they were designed to meet. When it comes to your customer relationships, it’s crucial to develop a sound framework that insulates your business from that risk. We’ve identified a few steps that will help build a solid, but flexible, base:
While no set of processes will ever be perfect, this list will help get your operation started. Over time, you can refine processes around these guidelines based on what works best for your business and customers. Additionally, it’s important to note that today’s right journey isn’t tomorrow’s. Keep a sharp eye on what is happening within your industry and business, adjacent sectors, and your customer base – be prepared to move quickly and never hesitate to adapt when necessary.
The Tech to Bring it All Together
Identifying and establishing the right people and processes is certainly a start, but they’ll mean nothing without the final element: the platform. Without this underpinning technological engine of growth, your strategy will no doubt fall apart.
What should every successful platform include?
You might use an off-the-shelf solution to accomplish this for you, but you may wish to be mindful of hidden integration, training, and licensing costs. At ServiceSource, our clients benefit from our proprietary custom-built technology platform, PRISM. This tool ingests millions of data points taken from two decades of client relationships to give our customer success managers the insights they need to predict, manage, and improve customer outcomes.
As businesses continue to extend their presence around the globe, they need to strongly consider how to implement a customer-centric business model that retains existing business and drives revenue for years to come. Learn how ServiceSource’s Customer Success solution does exactly that, and follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on all of our latest industry insights.