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At TSIA, we provide technology and services businesses with the insights they need to grow, advance, and achieve their desired outcomes in our rapidly evolving industry. At the heart of this in-depth research are TSIA's research executives, who keep their fingers on the pulse of what's new and what's next in technology and services in order to deliver compelling content, best practices, and tools to our members. To highlight the brilliant people behind the research that makes TSIA what it is, we've invited the VP of Customer Success Research, Phil Nanus, to tell us a bit about himself and his thoughts on both the current state and what the future holds in his area of research, customer success

Q: How would you describe your role at TSIA?

A: I work as a resource for the broad enterprise technology services community that’s looking to establish customer success initiatives and organizations inside their company. That means that I provide industry research and data to share with our members, along with answering a number of different questions that they may have about the process.

By doing this, my goal is to provide performance benchmarks and KPIs that provide our members with a level of correlation between top performing companies in the customer success area and the practices they’re using that help meet those objectives

Customer success marries the customer’s business goals and objectives to the supplier's tech to ensure that the customer achieves those specific goals.

Q: In your own words, what are the differences between customer service, customer relationship management, and customer success?

A: Historically, post-sales roles like customer service and customer relationship management were reactive in nature, focusing primarily on supplier goals. Customer success, on the other hand, aims to take a deep-dive look at the customer’s business goals and objectives and marries them to the supplier’s tech to ensure that the customer achieves those specific goals. With that, there are a lot of skills in these new roles requiring a combination of customer service soft-skills, technical knowledge of the products or services, and vertical industry knowledge. It’s a hard skillset to combine, but when done correctly, it can lead to some pretty stellar results for both the supplier and the customer.

Q: What are some challenges you see affecting customer success?

A: Depending on who you talk to, customer success is seen as being a fairly new concept, despite it being around for at least ten years or so. Many cloud startups that have popped up in recent times were able to include it as part of their businesses from the ground up, but many established product-based organizations still need help getting there, and can run into some common problems along the way. 

When you’re first starting out with customer success, it’s important to step back and look at the big picture. I see a lot of organizations start out with a pilot but they don’t think about the challenges of building the capability at scale, and suddenly they find themselves overwhelmed and move back into a reactionary model that doesn’t focus on the true mission of customer success, which is to ensure effective technology adoption that leads to high renewal rates and expansion opportunities. In short, don’t rush into things just because you know you need a customer success function. Instead, take the time to implement it with purpose, taking into consideration how this will affect your business processes in the long term. 

Q: What are you most excited about in the area of customer success?

A: Within the realm of TSIA, the technology services community is exercising some new muscles, and what I mean by that is we’re seeing some very new motions successfully being implemented across the industry. I absolutely believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and seeing today’s technology organizations, many of whom come from traditional make/sell/ship business models, taking this monumental pivot towards technology-as-a-service and outcomes and being open to the massive transformations around their people, processes, and technology is an incredible thing to witness.

While it’s a big undertaking, the openness and willingness to learn and engage is rampant in this community and, being the head of customer success research, I’m thrilled to help support them in overcoming any challenges they may face along this exciting journey.

When it comes to developing customer success capabilities within your organization, you don't have to start completely over from scratch.

Q: How is TSIA unique in providing customer success research?

A: We have by far the world’s largest vault of data and information in the technology services industry, and by using the capabilities and practices in our extensive collection of resources, organizations can get the foundational step they’ll need to pivot towards new customer success initiatives. 

It’s also reassuring to know that when it comes to developing customer success capabilities within your organization, you don’t have to start completely over from scratch. If you know where and how to look, there are good building blocks that probably exist within your company already. At TSIA, we help our member companies identify those existing capabilities and show them what will or won’t work in these new technology-as-a-service business models that focus on customer’s business outcomes. That’s something that TSIA is at the forefront of, and we have the frameworks, best practices, and can provide a journey that will help our members take his monumental pivot. 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background and experience?

A: I’ve spent my entire career in technology services. I started as a business process consultant at Accenture, and then in large enterprise software companies focusing on variety of technology services functions including support services, professional services, managed services, and for the better part of the last decade I’ve been dedicated to value-add services and customer success.

As for how I ended up in customer success, it’s been a passion of mine to work directly with customers, and ones that serve a wide variety of business problems from automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, and technology. All technology suppliers share common challenges when it comes to identifying solutions that help their customers meet their desired outcomes. We live in interesting times and there’s a lot of new challenges out there that need to be solved, and that’s where customer success plays a vital role.

How Can TSIA Help You Meet Your Business Goals?

Contact us today to find out how Phil and the rest the TSIA research team can help your business achieve success with our world-class business frameworks, best practices based on real-world results, detailed performance benchmarking, exceptional peer networking opportunities, and high-profile certification and awards programs. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Nicole Dornsife

About Author Nicole Dornsife

Nicole Dornsife is the former senior content manager for TSIA. She has over 10 years of experience writing for the software and SaaS industries, and joined TSIA in 2014. She managed the TSIA blog and regularly collaborated with TSIA's research team and partner companies to publish their insights on the latest news in the technology and services industry. She also provided editorial support for TSIA’s conferences.

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