Lessons From the 2017 Customer Engagement Programs of the Year
- At the recent Summit, we presented three awards in the categories of channel engagement, customer marketing and customer experience
- SAP, Kronos and Oracle took home awards in recognition of their exceptional work over the past year
- Successful customer engagement strategies require taking a holistic look at the customer journey and what the organization must provide
Holism is a Greek theory that states the parts of the whole are so intimately interconnected they cannot exist independently of each other – the whole is greater than the sum of the pieces. When I had the pleasure of presenting the SiriusDecisions Program of the Year Awards (POY) at our Summit, I realized that each of the winning organizations had understood the concept of holism.
Each organization had taken steps to ensure that the engagement they provided their partners, customers and employees wasn’t about a single step or a single touch point, but the sum of the engagement across the post-sale journey that had an impact on the business. Many B2B organizations are still struggling to realize this concept. It’s no longer about a single “wow” moment, but about an integrated approach to the post-sale engagement that driving retention, growth and achieve loyalty with customers.
The winners’ stories are inspirational examples of the power that alignment of post-sale activities and functions can have. Most organizations can relate to the challenges they each shared and appreciate that the stories can provide real-world guidance on how to implement a holistic approach to customer engagement within your organization.
We presented three awards in the categories of channel engagement, customer marketing and customer experience. These distinguished awards went to the following organizations:
SAP won the Channel Engagement POY Award. The digital age is changing buying and selling dynamics and shifting power of the buyer through self-education. I often refer to this as peer-to-peer selling. More and more buyers are becoming savvy and starting to leverage digital mediums to educate themselves and make purchasing decisions. This change, in combination with the expansion of cloud-based services, is redefining how SAP needed to engage, enable and nurture its most critical partners. With a subscription model, great customer satisfaction leads to renewed subscriptions and customers for life. Conversely, unhappy customers can simply end their subscriptions with great ease. This dynamic makes it critical to focus not only on pre-sale activities but also on post-sale activities to secure renewals and increase customer satisfaction. SAP leveraged the SiriusDecisions Customer Lifecycle Framework to help map activities to goals, putting their customers at the center of all efforts, and reframed the journey from a sale to a relationship based on ongoing engagement with its partners. This was accomplished through a major partner education and enablement program:
- Made the shift from a historical vendor marketing approach to a digital marketing approach
- Aligned the buyer’s cycle to the post-sale customer cycle for a holistic engagement
- Conducted a pilot with partners that had revenue opportunities
- Leveraged a centralized communication approach that was implemented regionally
- Created a best practice center created for partners to understand the continuous engagement needed with customers
The results established a deepened relationship with partners that participated in the program – which is now being rolled out more broadly across other geographies.
Oracle Cloud Marketing won the Customer Marketing POY Award. Oracle was faced with a similar challenge with its move to software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based solutions, as customers had increased flexibility to move from one vendor to another. Working with the SiriusDecisions team, the Oracle Cloud Marketing team took a look at the organization’s post-sale lifecycle activities, as well as the roles and responsibilities of its customer marketing and customer success teams. Oracle realized that customer success was it was not just about ensuring alignment across the post-sale phases that would yield an impact. It also needed to share the power of its internal functions to ensure alignment and execution within the appropriate teams. Oracle focused on the growth, nurture and advocacy of clients, with the following sequence:
- Welcome customers
- Onboard customers
- Inspire customers
- Celebrate customers
This alignment allowed the organization to build value for customers as they progressed on their journey, inspiring forever customers and repeat customers as they invested more in their Oracle products and services. Oracle has also taken the critical step of developing clear dashboards with metrics to monitor the holistic post-sale journey, providing insights to refine processes and make adjustments when necessary.
Kronos won the Customer Engagement POY Award. As part of its transition from an on-premise provider to a SaaS solutions provider, Kronos needed to educate its workforce about what matters most to the organization’s rapidly growing population of cloud customers. Since 2010, the Kronos voice of the customer mission has evolved from establishing an enterprise platform to acquire and share customer insights to leveraging those customer insights to drive customer experience improvements. In 2015, Kronos launched a “Customer First” initiative aimed at identifying what matters most to customers and communicating that insight to their employees.
Kronos’ success has been driven by a clear blueprint of customers’ priorities and a clear vision for its employees to understand their roles and phased transformation. The organization accomplished this transition by doing the following:
- Working with focus groups of customers and internal stakeholders to identify the experiences that mattered the most to customers
- Simplifying the representation of the customer journey into three easily understood stages (Discover, Evaluate & Buy, Deploy and Use & Optimize)
- Articulating the guiding principles that shape successful customer experiences throughout their journeys: “Know me,” “Lead Me,” “Connect Me” and “Power Me”
- Communicating the key messages through manager guides, videos with senior leaders that describe what the principles mean to them and their organizations, and sharing of success stories throughout Kronos
- Rewarding customer-first behavior through a global recognition program
Kronos employees are adopting the guiding principles, and customer experience improvement efforts are happening across the organization.
In addition to providing inspiration, each of these customer stories also emphasizes that holism across your post-sale engagement journey is not nice to have but necessary to have.