Put customer success first, and everything else follows

Every business understands that they operate in a world in which their customers have more and more choices. Effective sales are no longer about ‘one and done’ transactions; success depends on building the long-term customer relationships that will continue to deliver mutual value. To make the customer successful requires a new approach to what organisations sell to customers and how they sell it.

Customers expect products and services that enable them to do what they want, easily and intuitively. They expect to be able to resolve any issues quickly and for support to be easy to access and achieve rapid resolution. The customer will assess a product or service’s merits by how successful it helps them to become.

For Sage, that change in outlook is especially relevant today. The business is reorienting its focus from packaged software and services to operating as a cloud-based services company. It’s a bold and ambitious transformational move. And PwC has been partnering with Sage to create a new way for their people to work to fulfil that strategy.

One area that Sage wanted us to explore with them as a priority was customer renewals. How could we implement the principles of customer success to increase renewal rates, lower costs and generate more revenue?

Working with Sage as one team, we set about shaping a number of key steps to achieve its targeted business outcomes. We worked shoulder-to-shoulder with teams at all levels to devise a robust plan. This had to make sure that people at Sage were clear about how doing the right things for their customers would help them achieve the business outcomes they wanted.

Once we had assessed which were the most critical customers to contact, we supported and coached the teams to raise their productivity enabling them to speak with as many key-decision makers as possible. By the end of our 16-week engagement, they were talking to 70% more customers.

To achieve that meant empowering each and every team member. This is where we used PerformPlus - our operational excellence method and digital performance management tool. One of the things this requires is for teams to huddle for 15 minutes every day to talk about individual performance metrics. Those conversations enable them to see clearly if they're on track to deliver the customer success vision. They share their own and others’ successes and are able to raise any issues with the group to help resolve them. And working in this very agile and responsive way, we were able to influence small behaviours that had big results. Giving staff a voice empowered them to believe that their actions make a real difference to business performance.

The ultimate proof of value? A team that really bought into the vision that the success of the customer is the ultimate metric by which they need to be measured. That’s created a team whose first and last priority is to do the right thing by the customer. And the results they’ve achieved speak for themselves. Renewals rates are up by over 2 percent and the team’s productivity has leaped by 70 percent.

As a result of the success of this project, Sage is keen to extend the customer success ethos into other areas of the business. The results we’ve achieved working with Sage to date show that not only do customers get a better service, but employee engagement is also much higher and that creates a virtuous circle. Happy and productive teams create happy and successful customers. It’s a true win-win.

If you’re interested to learn more about the customer-led transformation at Sage, read Chris Rauch’s blog about the key lessons.

Contact us

Richard Crofton

Director, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7736 279687

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