Brent Cogswell, Head of Customer Success at Schneider Electric, shares the organization’s principles and milestones for building a customer success strategy that unites the company and their customers around a shared mission.
“It became our mission to get rid of the spreadsheets and bring all the data and telemetry into one tool, so customer success could control outcomes for our customers and positively affect recurring revenue and growth.”
By Brent Cogswell
From the beginning, the mission we embraced as a customer success (CS) team was to improve outcomes for our customers by gaining a single point of view of their complete journey. Schneider Electric is a global energy management and automation company that helps our customers use energy efficiently and sustainably. We have over 150,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of customers, so the opportunity to proactively help our customers achieve their desired outcomes is paramount to our success.
Our mission to unify the customer journey started with a focus on our recurring digital services. Then, we extended that charter globally and eventually incorporated our non-digital recurring services. This progression towards a holistic journey for our customers—across all recurring products and services—positions CS as an enabler of strategic alignment for Schneider. And, while the mission isn’t yet complete, we’ve identified three core principles that continue to support our goal:
- Establish CS as a driver of business impact
- Build a team focused on excellence
- Set the bar high for a seamless customer journey
Establish CS as a driver of business impact
The first milestone in our effort was to prove the value of customer success to the business and establish KPIs that directly impact our business goals. In 2018, when we began this journey, customer success focused on the company’s fastest-growing segment: digital services. Building the team to support the customer journey for over 15K customers was a massive undertaking.
Our primary goal is driving ARR, so clearly understanding the metrics across the journey, like onboarding, that directly impacts that goal is crucial. Using Totango customer success software, our team quickly gained visibility into the customer adoption process and saw that our average onboarding time was very high—close to 8 hours. Because we connected our product data and engineering platform to Totango, we were able to quickly identify drags in the onboarding process and made adjustments to drastically improve the onboarding experience to just 50 minutes.
Another unlock we gained with a complete view of the customer journey in Totango was learning that nearly half of our customers were having trouble connecting with our services. This insight enabled our team to perform additional vertical analysis, revealing that certain industries, such as ones with discrete security policies like finance and banking, make it difficult to secure our connections. As a result, we were able to offer focused materials to address the primary concerns tailored to these segments, along with relatable case studies demonstrating success.
“Totango helped us reduce onboarding time from 8 hours to 50 minutes, most importantly getting customers to that moment of value more quickly.”
— Raymond Xie, Customer Success Operations Manager
Building a team focused on excellence
When we initially built our CS team, we focused primarily on digital services and our North American accounts. Building on success and learnings from our digital services, we recognized a critical opportunity to extend the role of CS to other regions and to our non-digital services, including Global Field Services that cover our Secure Power and Power Services. Some organizations adopt a center of excellence or a team of specialists; we chose to build a network of excellence—investing in people and training and encouraging a degree of flexibility to make our CS best practices work for the variables and dynamics across regions and products. Our Global Governance team now supports the network of CSMs working in regions with a shared set of principles and best practices.
Setting an expectation for a holistic view of the customer
Consolidating customer data and managing the customer journey in Totango, the digital services teams quickly proved the value of working more efficiently from a single dashboard view. We created and still work to optimize the single pane of glass to ensure our customers realize the value they set out to achieve. This mission has been the foundation for the third principle—setting the expectation to achieve a truly holistic view of our customers beyond digital services to all recurring services. In our case, this requires bringing together data from additional systems in order to achieve a holistic view of each customer. Consolidating these numerous systems into a data warehouse that connects with Totango is our best opportunity. We recognize this as a multi-stage project to ingest data from our data warehouse, including Salesforce and digital platforms. The first milestone is automating what we do today manually and then adding additional offers and features to address expansion and renewal opportunities.
Ideally, we want that single pane of glass to provide visibility into the customer experience, so regardless of product or service, we’re positioned to provide support and get our customers to their goals quickly. As an enterprise, we’ve embraced Totango as the dashboard of our business. Much like an automobile—certain lights or indicators come on when attention is needed from our CSMs. As a global leader, the ability to drill in quickly on regional, team, or product data points through the EAA SucessBloc in Totango is critical in enabling real-time transparent alignment with cross-functional leaders. We gain our first holistic view across all our digital offers and soon-to-be all recurring offers. We treat our dashboard as a work in progress as we actively seek to understand what additional data is missing or could be valuable to improve our overall view and health indices.
Our purpose at Schneider Electric is empowering our customers to make the most of energy and resources, but how we do that is always evolving. The result of doing good work is that it opens the door to doing more good work. For Schneider, that means continuing to lean into the opportunity for CS to be a driver in aligning product, marketing, and sales around the new opportunities for our customers. EcoCare, our newest product in Member Services, which provides remote monitoring to help customers identify problems before they occur, is a best-in-class example of CS providing the insights and frameworks for innovation that meet the flexible needs of our customers. At the end of the day, customers want to achieve their outcomes, so it’s our mission as CS to help them realize those goals throughout the lifecycle—making retention a must-have for their objectives.
Customers will continue to evolve, as will our products and services, and so must customer success. We can only continue to raise the bar, ensuring that a holistic customer experience is the focus of our efforts.