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Customer Success Chronicles: Enterasys empowers every touchpoint with the opportunity to delight and deliver value

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We spoke to Vala Afshar, CMO and Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys, before – but briefly – at a conference. We are excited to catch some more of his time to discuss his view on customer success best practices.

Like any small player starting out in a big market, it was important for Enterasys, a provider of wired and wireless enterprise networking solutions, to identify and provide something only their small size and nimble team could do to outdo their competition. They didn’t just focus on the product, they started with their internal customers: their employees.

Their ethos is: there is nothing more important than our customers, and having happy customers starts with having happy employees. Enterasys treats their employees as their internal customers and trusts that the satisfaction from within will spread throughout. Enterasys is really making an investment in this. For example, they decided not to outsource their call center, the frontline of communications with the customers. And on top of that, on average, an Enterasys call center employee has been with the company for twelve years.

Vala shares, “With every decision we make, we make sure the customer is top of mind to ensure we architect value to them.”

“The opportunity of delighting the customer should be available to every employee. It’s much better than having the burden rest on just one department. Everyone is equipped with the right tools so they can have a single pane glass view of all touchpoints with our customers. We don’t outsource customer support and the average tenure for our call center employees is about 12 years. Loyal employees result in loyal customers.” For example, when a customer opens ticket with the call center, their account executive and sales engineer in say…South Dakota are immediately notified, leaving little room for miscommunication or lost information.

In the B2B space, decision makers are already 60% into the decision process by the time they contact a vendor. Instead of pushing marketing efforts and trying to convince why their customers needed their services, Enterasys took a different approach to growing rapport and translating value.

During a recent speaking engagement at Educause, they took a “lead with customers” approach. When Vala was invited to speak on panel, he decided to forego speaking himself and instead invited CIOs of 3 of their customers to speak instead. Enterasys took the backseat. The customers who were already in higher education discussed how technology helped improve student retention, attract new students, etc. As a result, CIOs from other companies engaged with them and now they have opportunities to grow.

Additionally, they also have a Customer Council comprised of 15 customers who meet at their HQ to talk about product roadmap, market direction and brainstorming — staying true to their mission to keep customers top of mind. “We like to invite critical thinkers. Customer feedback is a gift, that means they care. Indifference is very quiet.”

Vala’s summary of his approach to customer success:

STOP doing because it’s not working.

START good competitive learning.

CONTINUE because it works.

The company is celebrating their 30th anniversary next year and they’ve grown close to 20,000 customers in over 70 countries. And Vala himself? He’s been with them for 17 years.

Jill Rubin

Jill is a senior marketing and business development executive with experience leading successful teams in both large companies and startups. She has taken companies from early stage to strong revenue growth and propelled established businesses to industry leadership positions.

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