Since CEO Jory Lamb founded VistaVu in 1996, customer success has always been one of his main objectives.
“From the beginning, we’ve been focused on business management software and assisting efficiency, operational effectiveness, collecting information to run a business in a timely manner, and presenting data in a format that managers can use to make good decisions,” he said.
However, Lamb also shared, “In recent years, we’ve become very conscious of how important it is to understand the customers’ journey and modify our processes and methodology to create not only consistent but delightful experiences as well.”
Customer Success Defined
The SAP North America partner works in competitive markets, including industrial machinery and components, life sciences, industrial field services, aerospace and defense, food and beverage, and high tech. Lamb pointed out that solution providers in these spaces are “only as good as your last project.”
Furthermore, customers talk: “Word of mouth is important in any business’ buying decisions. We set out to create engagements that are so remarkable that our customers are compelled to tell others.”
That is the basis for VistaVu’s “Rock Star” initiative, which aims to turn clients into raving fans.
“Success to me is our customers telling our story for us,” said Lamb.
Taking Action at VistaVu
To deliver customer experiences that turn customers into advocates, it takes more than situational awareness and core competencies, according to Lamb. For VistaVu, it meant establishing new roles and teams.
From its inception, VistaVu had operated under a typical organizational chart: Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance. In 2018, however, Lamb opted to divide its delivery team into two units: Net New and Customer Success.
VistaVu created the new role of customer engagement executive (CEE) and now places dedicated services teams with existing customers — now a focus for more than two-thirds of the company — and established a separate sales and delivery team for net-new customers.
“With a CEE, the goal isn’t about trying to sell something. It’s about creating an experience that is so valuable the client will want to go deeper with their relationship with us,” Lamb said.
The Customer Success team achieves that in part by clearly setting expectations and delivering value.
“ERP clients often under value the effort required in implementation while overestimating what can be accomplished,” Lamb pointed out. “We work with them to understand business objectives at the outset and set realistic expectations.”
CEEs are also tasked with moving clients from solution stabilization to optimization phases to considering new ways to leverage their technology to achieve greater benefits.
“CEEs look to understand upcoming customer needs and find opportunities to increase automation or improve decision making,” Lamb added.
At first, the new approach was met with skepticism internally. Some wondered about the potential for missed revenue as the balance shifted more toward improving relationships. Ironically, Lamb attributes VistaVu’s growing success to the entire organization embracing the model.
“It’s working well,” he said. “We’ve never been bigger, and Customer Success has never sold more. They don’t have quotas, but they find opportunities to help in every conversation.”
Recurring revenue has grown substantially year over year — now 50 percent of the total business — and VistaVu’s business valuation has grown five times.
Rave Reviews, Radical Realizations
In addition to establishing its Customer Success team, VistaVu began using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to understand its effectiveness in delivering experiences that delight customers. It asks the standard NPS questions: “How likely are you to recommend our company?” and “What can we do to earn a higher score?”
It is important to note that VistaVu does more than collect this data; it acts on it. When some clients requested faster response times, VistaVu reached out to see how they define acceptable turnaround and began capturing related data on a weekly basis — and soon achieved and exceeded the expectations.
“We’re insatiable listeners,” said Lamb. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure all customer experiences are remarkably positive.”
He explained that his company’s new organization has also changed the way they sell to net-new customers: “Years ago, we sold to everyone. Today, we’re a lot more selective. One of the first questions we ask is if they have a chance to become a raving fan. The size of the check isn’t what matters. The relationship needs to be successful. That’s what fuels ongoing growth.”
“Today we have over 50 percent of our client base that we can call to advocate and provide a reference for us,” Lamb said. “But we never want to get complacent. We want all of our customers to be pillars of our reputation and potential sources of new business.”