How to Build Customer Understanding: Customer-Centric Strategies of HPE and Google Cloud
July 13, 2023
min read

How to Build Customer Understanding: Customer-Centric Strategies of HPE and Google Cloud

Have you ever wondered how companies like Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Google Cloud manage to stay connected with their customers and keep them satisfied?

Well, you're in luck! In this article, we will dive into the insightful discussions held at the TSIA 2023 World Interact conference, where HPE and Google Cloud shared their experiences in unraveling the mysteries of customer needs using a customer-centric approach.

Don't worry, this isn't a breakup story; it's a tale of how these companies made significant changes to strengthen customer relationships and ensure their happiness. In this blog, we will explore the journeys of HPE and Google Cloud as they discovered the keys to understanding and improving their customer experience.

Learning from a Breakup: The Journey to Customer Understanding

Have you ever had a friend who thought their relationship was going great, only to be blindsided by a breakup? It can be tough to understand what went wrong and why, especially when you thought you were doing everything right. Well, Percy Rose, a customer success leader for Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), had a similar experience when his friend Walter went through a breakup.

As Walter poured his heart out to Percy, he couldn't help but draw parallels between Walter's dating life and HPE's relationship with their customers. Both relationships seemed transactional, where one party believed they understood the other, but the reality was far from it.

HPE, like Walter with his girlfriend, thought they knew what their customers wanted. However, they decided to take a step back and assess the health of their relationship. They conducted a benchmark survey and were shocked to discover that their contract renewal index score was below average, and their customer satisfaction score lagged behind their competitors. It was clear that HPE was struggling to differentiate itself and retain customer loyalty.

Susan Esteban, a customer experience leader for HPE, recalled a conversation with her mentor that changed everything. Her mentor asked a simple yet profound question: "When was the last time you talked to a customer?" This question sparked a revelation and transformed HPE's voice of the customer (VoC) program.

Realizing the power of direct customer communication, HPE began conducting interviews to understand what their customers truly valued. The impact was staggering. Through these interviews, HPE gained insights into 70% more issues compared to their previous data-driven approach, which only detected 20% of the issues. They discovered critical insights that would have otherwise been missed, hindering their expected outcomes and business expansion.

Armed with these newfound customer insights, HPE implemented an outcome-based customer journey map inspired by TSIA's business outcome framework. This holistic approach allowed HPE to address their customer's needs at every stage of their journey. The transformed VoC program ensured customer satisfaction and helped HPE deliver more value to its customers.

The results were remarkable. Customers began to experience increased value from HPE's products. As a result, HPE gained a competitive advantage and saw significant business growth.

HPE learned an invaluable lesson from Walter's breakup. By actively listening to their customers, leveraging interviews, and adopting an outcome-based approach, HPE was able to deepen their understanding, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive their success.

To learn more about HPE's journey, check out this research report.

How Google Cloud Transformed Customer Value

Following in the footsteps of HPE, Google Cloud has also been dedicated to delivering enhanced value to its customers and creating sustainable revenue streams. Their approach involved implementing services lifecycle management (SLM), a framework consisting of five essential stages.

Brett Austad, Global Head of Strategy and Operations, and Drew McKechnie, Global Head of Professional Services Offers, exemplified the success of SLM through their work on the Cloud Security Posture Review.

Initially, the Cloud Security Posture Review was a one-time service that focused on identifying and remedying security threats in cloud configurations. Customers would receive recommendations after an initial assessment. However, Google Cloud realized the potential to deliver even greater value by transforming this service into a recurring subscription model.

By listening to customer feedback and engaging in internal discussions, Google Cloud recognized the importance of continuous support. They revamped the Cloud Security Posture Review to provide ongoing assistance, conducting check-ins every few months to address any remediations. This iterative process allowed Google Cloud to adapt swiftly based on customer input, ensuring their evolving needs were met.

Thanks to the implementation of SLM, Google Cloud achieved remarkable results. They were able to accelerate the time to value for their customers while simultaneously creating new and recurring revenue streams for their business.

Service Lifecycle Management - Google Cloud
Service Lifecycle Management - Google Cloud

The Power of Customer Understanding: Lessons from HPE and Google Cloud

The journeys of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Google Cloud exemplify the complexities of truly understanding and meeting customer needs. It is an ongoing process that requires a deep understanding of user data and a commitment to continuous improvement.

HPE realized that assumptions about customer satisfaction were not enough. By implementing a VoC program that involved direct communication with customers, they uncovered valuable insights and were able to address a much larger percentage of customer issues. This led to a transformation of their customer journey map and ultimately resulted in increased value, mitigated risks, and improved customer loyalty.

Similarly, Google Cloud recognized the importance of customer feedback in delivering meaningful value. Through their SLM framework, they iterated on their Cloud Security Posture Review service, transitioning it from a one-time assessment to a recurring subscription model. This shift allowed for continuous support and regular check-ins, ensuring customers received ongoing value and addressing their evolving needs.

Both HPE and Google Cloud demonstrate that understanding customers is an ever-evolving process. By leveraging user data, actively listening to customer feedback, and embracing iterative approaches, they were able to better align their offerings with customer expectations. These companies serve as a testament to the power of customer-centric strategies in driving business growth and success.

As technology continues to evolve and customer demands evolve with it, companies must remain agile and dedicated to understanding their customers' developing needs. By prioritizing customer insights and consistently refining their approaches, organizations can establish themselves as industry leaders and forge lasting relationships with their valued customers.

Smart Tip: Embrace Data-Driven Decision Making

Making smart, informed decisions is more crucial than ever. Leveraging TSIA’s in-depth insights and data-driven frameworks can help you navigate industry shifts confidently. Remember, in a world driven by artificial intelligence and digital transformation, the key to sustained success lies in making strategic decisions informed by reliable data, ensuring your role as a leader in your industry.

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What's Next? Become a Member!

Change is not easy; delving into the unknown has its risks, but it also holds tremendous promise. As a member of the TSIA Service Offer Management research practice, you have the opportunity to:

  • Tap into quantitative trends and best practices occurring in the industry.
  • Understand emerging opportunities to differentiate your company.
  • Learn from your peers’ experiences on what they would repeat and what they would do differently based on the initiatives they have launched.

Avoid the painful, random walk of self-discovery. We engage the community to solve tough challenges together, so you don’t have to solve them in isolation. Learn more about becoming a member today.

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