Cisco is backing up its program to reward partners that drive superior customer experiences with a new Success Program Insights platform that tracks customer success for channel partners.
“We’re trying to give our partners the same level of visibility, insights and actionability that we give our own internal customer success resources and provided to them so that they can take those actions,” said Anisha Sivakumar, vice president of Customer Success Management for Cisco.
Customer Success Insights – which was unveiled at Cisco Partner Summit- will tell partners where their customers are in the adoption lifecycle. “It’ll tell them how long a customer has been stuck, what their perceived renewal risk is, and then it starts to give the ability for partners to tell us where they want to lead,” Sivakumar said.
The pay-off is dramatic for partners committing to the Customer Insights platform, Sivakumar said. She said businesses engaged in customer success are using 114 percent more of a solutions’ features and their rates of renewals are 1.74 times higher compared to those that aren’t engaged with customer success.
The new telemetry platform comes as some partners struggled to meet requirements to obtain lucrative customer experience rebates.
“It‘s gotten better,” one Cisco partner that asked not to be named said of the telemetry data that’s being made more accessible to partners. “I think as Cisco started shifting their business to software and as a service, they saw the need for this. I think it’s just finally started evolving and becoming a lot more usable for the partners that take advantage of.”
Before the Customer Insights Platform, there were problems tracking business outcomes with customers and meeting the tight submission deadlines that Cisco requires in order to receive the rebates, solution providers told CRN.
The Success Insights Platform could provide a big boost to partners striving to comply with a new Cisco customer success certification program – a requirement for all Cisco Gold partners as of Jan. 1, 2022.
Cisco said the Success Insights Platform – part of its new customer experience (CX) and partner experience (PX) portfolio — will boost revenue by strengthening client solution provider relationships and driving better and faster business outcomes for partners.
Denzil Samuels, Cisco’s vice president of global CX Partner Practice, joined the company in January to help Cisco partners build successful practices around customer experience.
“We’ve created the organization, we’ve invested for the last several months in digital interfaces with [Partner experience] PX Cloud and CX cloud, we’ve spent a lot of time with a number of partners in limited availability tests, running pilots, developing use cases, developing case studies, and then turning that into best practices and rolling that out,” he said.
In CX Cloud, Cisco’s “one-stop” that combines Cisco expertise and best practices with telemetry, AI/ML-driven insights, use cases, and contextual learning, there are about 400 companies a day logging in, with each company having on average five users. Cisco employees have access to about 75 demos a day going on inside CX Cloud, Samuels said.
“A large number of partners today that are using CX and PX Cloud are actually giving us great feedback on the insights. We’re capturing that, tweaking and changing it putting it back into the use case. So, there’s a lot of work that has been going on behind the scenes for several months,” he said.
Cisco is easing the process of customer buy-in for partners by relying on telemetry to pull in data from the customer environments, Samuels said. “In every single pilot we’ve been running where we’ve had to approach the customer to get [consent to opt-in to data-sharing] there’s been there’s been very little resistance,” he said.
Once logging in to CX Cloud, there’s a 90 percent retention rate, Samuels said. “There’s been significant adoption and it’s been basically widely accepted.”
Cisco Channel Chief Oliver Tuszik, for his part, said the new Success Insight Platform will be critical to help partners deliver better business outcomes for customers. “On our journey to shift to the full lifecycle, this is one of the missing pieces,” he told CRN.
Cisco has implemented a number of programs over the years to try to offset some costs for partners to drive superior customer experiences, such as lifecycle incentive funds. Cisco’s Tuszik said that his team is working alongside the Customer Experience team to address the different needs of partners managing the entire lifecycle for their clients. He said that effort that will be ongoing.
“No matter what kind of partner you are, if you’re a partner that was never focused on the lifecycle and you just want to get support, you will get it from Cisco,” he said. “Or, if you are a partner that has been in this business for a long time and you might have more experience at Cisco, you will get the underlying support to managers,” he said. “At the end, it’s very clear, our number one target is to create the best customer experience and whatever we need to do to support, motivate or incentives our partners, is what we are going to do.”
The programs that Cisco is offering today are helping to offset the cost to the partner associated with developing a customer success practice, said another Cisco partner that requested anonymity. The Cisco partner’s organization saw the way the market was changing, as were its customers’ IT buying behaviors.
“We knew that if we didn’t have these people, processes and tools, it would put us at risk of not winning that deal, or renewal, or deal expansion. I think it has paid off for those partners who did, but it‘s been an evolution of Cisco becoming more partner-focused in that space and giving us the tools and the access,” the partner said.
If solution providers can look at customer experience through a more long-term lens, the approach can be lucrative, the Cisco partner added. “The upfront investment into this type of program — it can be a burden if you‘re not looking at it right.”