Moving Beyond: How to Support Innovation at Scale and Win Together with Your Customers in a SaaS World

5 min read
06 Jul

In this interview, Abhishek Das (VP CS and Innovation) talks about the importance of driving success, scaling innovation, and winning together.

Before joining eperi Cloud Data Protection, Das managed projects at Amazon and DHL IT Services. Since his previous roles allowed him to interact closely with customers, leadership, and executive teams, this led him to Customer Success.

In this role (CS), you have the influence and advantage to positively improve and enhance the customers' goals, success, and growth. 

With the advent of the Internet and Cloud Computing, the business landscape has completely changed. It brought the speed of execution as a critical driver of effecting and measuring success. The same breath opens the way for other competing vendors to develop various innovations and differing solutions.

It then becomes a global trend, new business practice, and exerting great control in doing business - where customers can move to another vendor if success is not met or delivered.

The market is shaping, so as the business pendulum (driving value)

In this era of stiff competition and a saturated market, repeated (or ongoing) business partnerships from existing customers are the most sought type of business relationship.

These are the proof points and benefits of a recurring business model. It shows that 90% of top-line revenue comes from existing customers. It makes sense for our customers to get the most value when they use our platform and service.

It leads to this question: can customers still give their loyalty to the companies they are currently in business with? Can they still stick to a particular vendor? What is needed to keep their business?

As an organization, we want our customers to stay satisfied and keep their business with us. There are two key reasons why customers will stay and continue to keep doing business with us. (1) If they find a holistic and well-rounded end to end support (2) If they feel [as customers] that the organizations or vendors [they partnered with] are willing to participate in their successes.

CS is larger than the product getting sold?

Customer Success can be anything or everything, depending on who you ask. More than a job description, Das explains, it is how you feel responsible for your customers' needs to meet and exceed their expectations.

Ask yourself: Are you looking at [customer relationship] as a money-making machine, or do you (really) care about your customer success? You would know if you are selling solutions to people's problems, or are you just selling a product for the sake of a new business logo?

If you can think of your customer as a facilitator of your success, then serving customers will come naturally. Even if you do not have the role (CS) defined and implemented, successful organizations should have this success mindset in their DNA.

Why? Because (customer) success is not dependent on role or function. It is the purpose and end goal of each business. It only makes sense to ensure that customers find value based on the solution you have created and developed. 

Otherwise - if you are selling a product without a clear understanding of customer needs, challenges, and how to achieve success using your solution,  customers can recognize and identify what matters to your organization (product success, not their success). 

When the focus is on the customer, the business value shifts larger than what your platform or product can do. It helps you to derive the synergy between what you do and what your customers need. In other words, you are motivated not for your success but the success of your customers.

Navigating in the sea of complexity

The cost of a data security breach is very high. It requires a highly complex network infrastructure to deal with it. Das shares, we mostly operate under very high visibility, where the CIO or CISO knows what is going on with the projects we are running. 

The key to navigating on the sea of complexity starts with a clear understanding of your customer's business use case [or business requirements] and having the full picture of how they structure and design their business environment.

Understanding this at the very start will give you a 360 view of how you will position your solution towards customer problems.

Second, always keep the customers in the loop if there are changes your organization want to do. If you would like to grow your relationships, you must approach it through a proactive mindset. It is not about the rule to follow, but what the organization prioritizes in achieving a shared goal.

Das says you do not just create a product and sit in your garage. You must learn from your customers, identify the trends and issues impacting their domain or industry, and what behaviors they show or manifest. Then engineer the solution to fit the market or product gaps.

Speed of Innovation + Execution is the foresight of success!

Innovating at this rate means speed is paramount, and achieving success involves partners and enablers. Das pointed out that no business or company can be successful and focused only on its (own) success.

Like the saying, no man is an island, holds an equivalent truth. In other words, organizations need to be part of a customer's world to thrive and succeed. If customers are not getting the support or there is a disconnect, neither party wins. Without this customer-centricity, it will be hard for an organization to provide the success customers seek and expect. 

To do this right, we need an ecosystem of sympathetic partners and enablers. Once this ecosystem is built and established, you can design a business framework that both you and your customers can benefit from and appreciate. 

Many (businesses) can provide excellent product value, but unique experiences cannot. Success depends on the relationship you build and develop [with your customer], and it says a lot about your company's future.

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