TSIA’s conferences are always jam-packed with best-practices, real-life examples, success stories, and lessons learned from some of technology’s biggest names. This year’s virtual TSIA Interact was certainly no exception, with three days of sessions from TSIA researchers and industry-leading companies like Salesforce, Okta, Oracle, SAP, Cisco, Aruba, HPE, and Genesys, and even a session led by ESG CEO Michael Harnum.

With so many impressive sessions and speakers, it was hard to choose which to attend each day! So, in case you missed anything, I asked members of the ESG team to share their key takeaways.

Brad Davis, Digital Customer Success Manager

Digital Strategies to Turn Around a Struggling Product Line

The TSIA Interact sessions I attended were all fantastic. I was pleased to see that there were many speakers that were discussing technology and digital strategies within a Customer Success organization. I particularly enjoyed listening to Melissa Allen from Okta discussing their recent success with taking a struggling product that was churning heavily and turning it around to make a drastic improvement. Her comments about starting with an already struggling product line and trying something new were insightful. I found her “how-to” insights to be invaluable to my own responsibilities within my position here at ESG.

Chae Stewart, Digital Customer Success Manager

The Future of Digital Engagement

This year’s TSIA Interact was my first time experiencing the conference. I was pleasantly surprised by how diverse the topics were. As someone focused on learning more about Digital Engagement, I found Phil Nanus’ session on “Making the Pivot Towards Dynamic Engagement” particularly relevant. Quite eye-opening, I learned that 80% of B2B Sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur via digital channels by 2025. Digital Engagement is arguably one of the most critical pieces of a customer journey. When done well, it’s extremely cost-effective and encourages engagement between the buyer and a product or service. Considering engagement is a significant indicator for loyalty, one-to-many communications will continue to grow in importance for organizations across industries.

Danielle Hawkins, Customer Success Manager

Using Change Management to Enable Scale

There were two TSIA Interact sessions that I found particularly impactful: “Making the Pivot Towards Dynamic Engagement: How Customer Success Organizations Are Creating Scale” with Phil Nanus, VP of Customer Success Research at TSIA and “How to Shift a Tanker? How Siemens Transforms its Classical Software Business to Customer Success” with Franziska Fleischer, Director of Customer Success at Siemens Digital Industry Software. I found Phil’s presentation to be applicable to the work I am doing with our client in terms of scaling the CS org and moving from a white-glove model to a more tech-touch and automation focus. I found the emphasis on the outside-in approach to be particularly impactful as Phil explained that many companies start with an inside-out approach to Customer Success and are now discovering that they should (or rather, should have) involve[d] their customers more in the development of their own journeys and desired outcomes. The suggestion to engage the customer in journey mapping exercises seems like such an obvious approach to CS, but is surprisingly not leveraged as much as it could be. I think continued analysis of how the customer wants to be approached and guided by CS is incredibly valuable, and perhaps will reveal unexpected results – allowing the CS org to shift to a more profitable and effective engagement model.

I particularly enjoyed the session with Franziska because she is not only based in Europe and approaching CS with that lens (as am I), but Siemens is also an extremely large, well established organization (which also matches our client’s profile). Hearing her discuss obstacles and lessons learned was helpful and I was able to identify with some of the pitfalls of Siemens’ journey. Two key takeaways that I took to heart were:

1. Collaboration with the development team is essential – I thought, “absolutely! But easier said than done!” Lack of communication can lead to hiccups that cause CS to scramble to communicate the latest changes in functionality to the customer and can leave us lagging behind in creating helpful content to acclimate the customer, potentially resulting in a negative customer experience.
2. There must be constant CS education across the board – this includes support and sales! Everyone needs to understand what CS is and how it impacts their own job function. CS is like the new kid in the cafeteria that nobody knows what to think about yet, but it need not be that way. If a company wants to integrate CS into their offering, it will undoubtedly impact sales and support, so everyone needs to understand its place and function for things to run smoothly.

Lastly, Franziska incorporated polls into her presentation, the results of which I found to be very telling and matched my own experience. The answers revealed that the biggest hurdles to monetizing CS and CS maturity were around culture and change management. Not only did her presentation indicate this, but the poll results from attendees showed that company culture, way of working, and mindset should not be underestimated when implementing CS and companies should proactively prepare and educate their staff.

Jiho Han, Business Development Manager

Making Virtual Feel Personal

Attending the TSIA Interact conference was a unique experience. Not only did they have tons of great speaker sessions, they were able to really capture the “in person” feel, despite it being an entirely virtual event. During every session there was a chat function where you could speak with all of the other attendees about the topic live. There was also an interactive Q&A after each session that was extremely valuable. Of all the topics that were discussed (and there were a ton!), the one I found the most interesting was the closing keynote with Thomas Lah, Executive Director of TSIA: “What I Learned after 82 Leadership Briefings”. It was fascinating to gain insight on what most leadership teams are discussing right now during these unique times that we are experiencing. One of the specific topics Thomas discussed that still has my mind racing was, what does normal customer interaction look like post pandemic? He spoke about how many companies are going to have to pivot to a more virtual/digital approach, as it is the only logical step forward. Although we are currently living it, it was still crazy to hear that that this truly is a “new reality”, and that human to human interactions in business will likely continue to scale down. I truly enjoyed and learned a lot at this year’s TSIA Interact, and I am looking forward to the next one in April 2021!

Madeline Evans, Digital Customer Success Manager

The Key to Customer Outcomes is in the Data

Kevin Bowers, Director of Field Service Research at TSIA, arrived at the right answer in his session, “Connectivity and IoT: It’s Not The Future, It is the Now” at last week’s TSIA’s Interact virtual conference. My takeaway from Bowers’ session is that the key to customer outcomes is in the data. CSMs understand this – and the concept of driving value from data is the long play for subscription business models. As CX continues to transition from a landscape of digital transformation to intelligent automation, connectivity and IoT become increasingly important. Products need to push for diagnostic capabilities to begin collecting data, as using data to show value, drive revenue, and provide better analytics will continue to impact end results for service teams. Remote services can optimize their data-usage and processes to drive customer outcomes. For instance, a simple model of this can look like: connect and collect customer data, analyze and visualize the usage, create predictive and prescriptive analytics, then optimize customer operations to foster adoption, creating impact on customer outcomes. I agree with a quote as stated by former HP CEO Carly Fiorina: “The goal is to turn data into information and information into insights.” Everything gets better with the ability to analyze and correlate data.

Nick Mitchell, Customer Success Manager

Scaling CS through Digital & Dynamic Engagement

One of the first sessions I attended, “Making a Pivot Towards Dynamic Segmentation” (Phil Nanus – TSIA), really set the tone for my TSIA Interact experience. The session focused on the fact that many Customer Success leaders are being pressured to scale their CS Organization; in parallel, customers are looking for some sort of Self Service assistance. The theme of Customer Success scaling has moved from Reactive > Proactive > Predictive and now is making an evolution to Dynamic. To be Dynamic, technology investment is critical. Specific to Low Touch and Digital capabilities, Dynamic Engagement is a cost-effective way to deliver against your solution promise, better aligning human and digital resources at scale. The following use cases were provided during the session:

Precision Engagement: Skills based routing & specific hours and languages

Dynamic Segmentation: Eliminating tiers – treat customer how they want to be engaged to improve CSM ratios

Scaling Onboarding: Using technology, including in-app experiences and video tutorials to automate onboarding (vs. white glove)

Predictive Renewals: Using predictive analytics to monitor customer activities, usage and engagement

The theme of Dynamic Segmentation was echoed through multiple breakouts, “Digital Customer Success: How OKTA Scales CSMs with Self-Serve in an Uncovered Segment” (Melissa Allen – OKTA), which focused on customers on a purely digital journey without a customer-facing CSM, testing on specific segments and cohorts to solidify the journey while utilizing Gainsight as their CS Platform.

During, “Rethinking Customer Success: Needs Driven Success Model (NDS)” (Alex Trauzzi – Salesforce), the Salesforce team focused on empowering customers and moving them away from dependencies on traditional CSM engagements, allowing them to focus on their needs. Different customer data and insights depict who and how they engage with their customers. They are looking to shorten engagements with customers, focus on specific needs, get in, make customer successful, and get out. They may engage again at another point in time, but they do not intentionally leave engagements open when customers do not have a current need.

I am excited to go through the on-demand content and catch some sessions that I was unable to attend during the live conference and utilize the digital journey of the conference!

Ron Arndt, Education Success Lead

CS Meets ES: Driven by Outcomes

Honestly, I wish I were able to attend every one of the breakout sessions at TSIA Interact, as each one I did attend was valuable. Bouncing around from session to session was the way I approached this event and found myself engaging deeper with each session. Below are a few takeaways from the event.

“Learning Subscription Management – Your Future Starts Here” was a session that stood out to me as it was hosted by our own fearless leader, ESG CEO Michael Harnum, and the legendary Maria Manning-Chapman. I loved how they turned a virtual event into a networking session with Q&A at the end. Subscription management is talked about in the marketplace all the time. Questions asked are: What should be in the subscription, how should it be priced, should it be individual or enterprise, how do we launch? (All of these are asked on the front end) and what is not asked as often are the backend questions. Subscription success needs to come from conversations on the backend – what do we need to do to renew this subscription? Lots of wasted time and energy will be spent on selling something that will expire in a year if the conversations are not geared towards the backend. Bottom line: there needs to be a post-sales plan developed before subscriptions are sold.

“Leveraging Education Services to Drive Product Adoption” was another session that stood out to me. Driving product adoption means really getting into the account, getting customers to adopt a product or consume content, then expanding that to additional features or other content, and having that cycle of continuous engagement. Treat the client lifecycle like a product. Understand what works or what does not through A/B testing and experimenting with new ideas. Thorough trial and error will strengthen your delivery to the client and help you understand the best practices for your business. What customers really care about: outcomes.