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Don’t be the Next Tower Records… Implement a Customer Success Management Strategy


Ed Choi.jpgFor decades, suppliers of goods and services have a high level of control over customer choices. In most cases, suppliers determine the product functionality, design, pricing, distribution and support policy. In the new style of business world, we're seeing a major shift of power from the suppliers to the customers. Nowadays, customers have more choices in who they buy from, how and where they want to purchase, and how much they want to pay. This is forcing the suppliers to change their overall attitude regarding how to treat and retain their customers.


The New Reality of Customer Power


The best example of how the power has shifted to the customer is the music industry. Think Tower Records vs. iTunes or Pandora. In the past, the record companies decided how to package various songs into a single album or CD and sold the entire package to customers at one price in retail outlets like Tower Records. Whether the customers liked one or multiple songs, they had no choice but to buy the entire album. How about those one song records... I don't think anybody bought those records for the B-side song? Over the past 10 years of the digital music revolution, individual songs can be selected, rented/streamed, and or purchased/downloaded via iTunes/Pandora. The music experience decision sits entirely in the hands of the customers. Where's Tower Record today?


Another example is Uber’s impact to the taxi industry. Traditionally, taxi companies place a certain number of taxis in service areas they want to cover. Customers (taxi riders) were at the mercy of taxi availability at a given time of day.   With Uber, riders can request a driver anytime anywhere and select the ride of their choice at their specified location, with the price they agree to.  


We're seeing a similar shift in the technology sector where organizations are either moving to subscription-based "per seat" or "pay as you consume" model (instead of perpetual software license or capital purchase). Technology vendors that do not pay attention to their customers’ satisfaction will risk a high level of customer churn and loss of expansion revenue.


The key point is that suppliers and vendors need to focus on delivering value to customers continuously, not a one-time event. The days of selling customers something and not talking to them until renewal is long gone!   Either you continue to make your customer successful and adapt to their needs or you will be the next Tower Records.


Focus on Customer Success for Enterprises


At Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), we focus on helping enterprises to move quickly from ideas to value by transforming their hybrid IT strategy and delivering business outcomes. They rely on a trusted partner to foster a strategic relationship for mutual business success over time. To do so, we have developed and implemented an enterprise Customer Success Management (eCSM) approach to focus on customer goals and continuously deliver the business value they expect. The eCSM approach allows our customers to identify new business opportunities, accelerate deployment and adoption of technology solutions with a single point of end-to-end accountability for their success.


The eCSM approach consists of four phases:

  • Evaluate: Identify customer goals and desired business outcomes, develop use cases, solution proposal and conduct proof of concept or pilot to test proposed solution
  • Adopt:  Assist customers in the deployment and adoption of the solutions to ensure the end users are receiving the value as promised, collaborate with customers to identify adoption barriers and work actively to remove them
  • Expand: develop customer growth opportunities and business case for projects, solution roadmap and ROI assessment
  • Transform: Optimize and transform customer’s operating model, accelerate innovation and time to value, showcase customer’s success and market leadership

An eCSM Success Case Study


A global financial services company serving private, institutional and corporate clients worldwide has developed a 3-year strategy to expand their business while reducing millions of dollars in cost. Collaborating with the HPE account team, our eCSM principal developed an implementation plan to deploy HPE solutions and monitor the adoption and usage by the customer. The eCSM principal also coordinated the communication across multiple HPE teams. The customer is very pleased with the eCSM principal’s focus on the value being delivered to them as well as managing risk and culture change within their organization. The initial project was a huge success because the customer truly experienced the value that HPE and the eCSM approach brought to their business.   The eCSM principal is now expanding his role to lead the program management and project governance for multiple new projects for the customer.


Key Insights and Best Practices


How do you build a customer success-centric culture? How do you capture the heart and soul of your customers and make them a lifelong partner? You must start with the senior leadership. Moving to eCSM model is a culture change for the entire company. If your senior leadership does not lead this shift, the rest of the organization won’t follow. We have learned a lot over the past few years and would like to share the key insights and best practices on building such an effective eCSM organization:

      • Establish executive relationship to drive strong alignment between decision-makers at your company and the customer.
      • Have a well-defined CSM methodology based on your target segment (large enterprise, SMB, etc.) and solution. Once you crystallize on your CSM mission and strategy, develop a process handbook and standard template to guide your activities.
      • Acquire the right talent with the proper skill sets and experience to drive projects at the customer and across your business units. Also consider the different skill set required based on what needs to be accomplished with the customer (i.e. adoption, implementation, business development, etc.)
      • Utilize the appropriate systems and tools to automate tasks, reporting and customer analytics as required for your model. HPE has implemented Gainsight CSM solution that is 100% Salesforce native and uses predictive analytics from sales, usage, support, survey and other sources of external customer data to provide a 360 degree view of the customers.
      • Have a single source of truth about the customer across all BU's (data repository and data integrity).
      • Conduct account/project success reviews regularly so you can improve your CSM model and tools.  I recommend every 60 or 90 days to assess solution adoption, progress and barriers. Identify common customer issues and how we are supporting, gauge customer satisfaction (surveys), identify upsell opportunities, etc.
      • Drive customer to participate in marketing.  A great way to pro-actively gauge customer satisfaction and respond to issues before it's too late.  Unhappy customers will never be a reference.  

To learn more about HPE Cloud solution and how it can transform your business with an eCSM approach, please visit


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About the Author


Edward Choi is the Vice President of WW Cloud and Indirect Channel Programs. Choi is an accomplished, results-focused executive with a passion for driving large-scale strategic initiatives and solution delivery transformation. In his current role, he is responsible for the cloud channel strategy development and execution to drive market testing and scaling of a collaborative ecosystem of service providers, VARs, and ISVs that will leverage HPE and 3rd party technologies, JGTM motions, and financial innovations to build/sell/deliver differentiated services-led hybrid-Cloud solutions. Prior to his current role, Choi was the Vice President of Cloud Customer Success Management. He was responsible for the “One-HP” client experience for the delivery of cloud services across all HP business units.

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