August 12, 2021 | Justin Piotroski

Brick by brick: Empowering channel partners with customer success

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Justin Piotroski, VP of Strategic Solutions

Justin Piotroski

Justin leads the network consulting and field implementation teams. Having served in technology consulting organizations over the last 13 years, Justin has had wide exposure to hundreds of companies and their IT strategies.
Summary: It’s one of the biggest buzzwords, but unlike other fleeting terminology, “Customer Success” isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s becoming one of the most important factors across all businesses, which is why we’ve revamped our program.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

Customer Success (CS) is a relatively fresh approach to customer relationships, but I’m willing to wager that it’s now at the forefront of many businesses. Over the past five years, we have seen steady growth in the number of Customer Success Management (CSM) platform inquiries—an increase of 88% in the past 12 months over the prior year.1 Focusing on the success of customers is a winning approach for all parties.

smiling woman with a laptop in a business setting

The course of events over the past year and a half have encouraged business and IT leaders to press pause and reassess their situations, along with the quality of services they are receiving. They are now emphasizing the delivery of a more consistent CX that ensures customers’ happiness and success. This is where CS comes in—by providing a new, future-proof growth engine that will solidify the CX.

Defining CS

CS is the business methodology of ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes while using a product or service. It’s relationship-focused client management that proactively aligns client and vendor goals for mutually beneficial outcomes. An effective CS strategy typically results in decreased customer churn and increased upsell opportunities.

It’s important to point out that CS does not mirror customer service, which tends to be a reactive response to customer problems submitted via phone call, email or ticket. Rather, CS pinpoints issues—and opportunities—by collecting and leveraging as many data points as possible about customers.

Investing in YOU

Windstream Enterprise is devoting energy to the launch of our reinvigorated CS program to provide a singular focus on the customers and partners we serve and to demonstrate that we’re unlike any other service provider you’ve partnered with. Our CS program is committed to making it easier for you to deliver the best possible experience for every one of your customers.

Our team specifically supports the onboarding and installation, providing comprehensive support to the clients they’re managing. But this team’s role extends well beyond that. Here, much of this work is about being a strategic partner to you by enabling key, unique insights into your customers, as well as providing educational training. Our team will guide your customers through the process of renewals, teaching them how to mitigate risks and supporting seamless migrations to next-generation solutions at their own pace. This collective effort will drive confidence in Windstream Enterprise solutions, tools and, most importantly, people.

The results of CS

As a partner to Windstream Enterprise, you might be wondering why you should care about the creation of this powerhouse. CS has been proven to encourage customers to remain engaged and happy within their existing contracts. Prioritizing CSM programs will help:

  • Improve the renewal process

    Customers hold the power. Every time a customer sees a monthly, quarterly or annual payment, they wonder, “should I be paying for this?” Partners that manage renewal conversations are better able to grow faster and require less capital. CS provides insight, organization and the team necessary to have the most productive, meaningful and successful renewal exchanges.
  • Reduce churn

    Customer retention requires an agile team of experts who can not only predict churn, but also stop it. Being able to do that involves a great deal of training, educating and positioning. CS can glean a wealth of valuable feedback from customers. Combining that information with the customer data, they can inform product and development teams of proactive enhancements and additions. Customers will have resolutions to problems they didn’t even know they had yet. No problems? No reasons to leave.
  • Drive revenue

    CS helps customers realize the economic value of the products and services they’ve bought. With a deep understanding of how customers use their products and their customers’ business goals, this team can help quantify the solution’s economic value. Eager customers don’t just provide recurring revenue; they offer growth opportunities, too.

Partner success = customer success = our success

The success of your business is inherently intertwined with the success of your customer. If customers succeed using a product, they’ll continue using that product, and thus, a business will succeed. A fundamental element of any CS structure is to engage proactively with customers and ensure they achieve their desired outcomes while using a product. Pulling that off requires people, processes and most importantly, data.

In the spirit of our WE will Commitment, Windstream Enterprise is dedicated to creating a selling experience for our channel partners that’s unrivaled in the industry by promising to drive more sales faster, delivering easy access to solutions and pricing information, providing performance guarantees and increasing retention. We look to build out the most effective communication cadence with customers and can either work directly with the end customers or review with partners in advance to share messages collaboratively and assist with services and billing audits as required. Our goal is to ensure your customers have fertile ground to grow any business and to have the time necessary to focus on those activities.

References

  1. “Market Guide for Customer Success Management Platforms.” Michael Maziarka, Maria Marino, John Quaglietta. Gartner. April 27, 2012.

Key takeaway: Partners provide a vital link to land technology into the hands of customers. This relationship works best for all concerned parties when there is a focus on Customer Success.
VP of Strategic Solutions

Justin Piotroski

Justin leads the network consulting and field implementation teams. Having served in technology consulting organizations over the last 13 years, Justin has had wide exposure to hundreds of companies and their IT strategies.