In this interview, Petrisa Pecnik, VP of Customer Success at BlueCat, talks about why Customer Success must be at the center of culture enablement, trust, transparency, growth, and competitive advantage.
Background and Career
Today, CS can help leaders and business executives measure and manage the human side of the business in alignment with business goals. It is the focus of my interview with Petrisa Pecnik, VP of Customer Success at BlueCat.
What does customer success (CS) mean at BlueCat? Petrisa says it means managing the customer experience effectively. CS is also involved in the sales process (with organizations), that are getting ready to close on their purchase.
For the most part, CS involves customers through our Professional Services, Support, Training, and Enablement organizations, or anything that a customer required to be successful in the use of our product or software. Petrisa notes that it was not on her original career plan to be involved in CS. However, she realized over time how significant the function was in helping customers achieve their desired outcome.
In retrospect, CS expands her technical knowledge, business acumen, and profoundly understand how their customers use their software (since BlueCat is a complex and technical platform/software).
Growing the human side of the business
CS is necessary to grow a business and build meaningful relationships with customers. Petrisa points out, this growth and trust become possible if there’s a team (CS) that will be responsible and accountable for the success of their customers.
BlueCat embraced CS extensively as part of its organizational aspiration of serving its customers beyond the traditional approach. They provide mission-critical infrastructure software for organizations, which allows them to have a network topology, manage their IP space, and DNS.
Due to the nature of BlueCat’s technology area, Petrisa says, it is a slow process to get an organization onto the software and have them use it proficiently.
In this complex and highly technical structured environment, there’s a need to have a strong relationship with our customers, not just to show them the value of what they have purchased. But to ensure that they know and understand how to use our software when they go through this lengthy process.
There are other things Petrisa adds that BlueCat has realized. From the consistency and personnel standpoint (either on their end or customer’s side), “you need to work with someone whom you already established trust and confidence, to help shepherd the company to use the software in the right way and have the software to be working all the time.”
Otherwise, when key personnel change positions, established trust and confidence of the original implementation team can be lost.
Learning in this digital transformation
From the learning perspective, we would love to learn from our customer’s perspectives. What we are trying to figure out is how they’re progressing with their digital transformation and how we can assist them in that process, says Petrisa.
We look at their business initiatives or organizational activities, and we work with them to make it easier and more convenient to do that through our software.
A prime example is a transition in the cloud. The cloud is here, and from a networking perspective, organizations are moving from the data center model to the cloud-centric model. Understanding how our customers are doing that and being able to leverage BlueCat technology is an area where we are learning [continually] from our customers.
In hindsight, the process of making customers successful is something everybody does, but slightly different, Petrisa notes. What we do differently is, we take the knowledge that we learn from one customer and apply it to the next customer. Often, we provide guidance and best practices for them to try and implement.
Anything that we can learn from our customers on how they’re taking that approach to keep up with technology is equally important to us.
Valuing customer experience
At BlueCat, we position the [customer’s] experience at the center of what we do, and it’s our top business priority. Our adoption process is lengthy, so as our sales process.
In this lengthy business cycle, the customer experience for us is the differentiator. Remember, every potential customer (or even existing ones) can engage and get into the conversation around product comparison, and can do a checklist of what features we have and don’t have against our competitors.
As technology shapes each area of the business, it becomes increasingly more challenging for customers to navigate in these crowded and saturated markets. The only differentiator is the experience they have throughout the process.
Petrisa says the well-rounded experience is the fundamental piece. Why? It is because customers will continue to expect and ask for a better and differentiated experience.
To win in this commoditized and consolidated market, every organization has to include the customer experience in their game plan. If a customer’s experience is superb; ultimately, they will tell their friends and peers about their experiences, and it will result in referenceability and advocacy.
The key is to deepen your engagement with your customers. Customer Success is no longer just an enabler; it is a driver of growing your brand and a differentiated value in your organization.