There’s been a lot written about the importance of customer adoption and success to the software as a service (SaaS) model – there’s even a manifesto and a Bill of Rights! Last month, Informatica Cloud received the Bronze Stevie Award for customer support. One of the drivers for this achievement was not only great front-line customer service from a world-class support organization (they even support trial accounts!), but also the establishment of a customer success team, which is run by Bryan Plaster. I sat down with Bryan to discuss his views on the importance of customer adoption to any cloud computing application, platform or infrastructure initiative, as well as some specifics on how Informatica Cloud approaches customer success.
Bryan, tell us about Informatica Cloud’s approach to customer success:
The goal of our customer success team is to not only ensure our customers adopt our cloud integration service and achieve benefits, but ideally for them to become evangelists for cloud integration. We take a 3 pronged approach to accomplishing this today:
- Onboarding new customers,
- A search and rescue program, and
- Extending customers through a lifelong relationship.
What’s the process for new Informatica Cloud customers?
Each new customer is assigned a customer success manager (CSM) with onboarding. The CSM may assist with enrolling some users in the right training classes if needed, introducing them to the Informatica Cloud Community, setting them up with our award-winning technical support group, and getting them started with professional services with turnkey solutions if necessary. Regardless of how easy a SaaS solution may be to implement and use, our experience is that engaging early with our customers is critical to ensuring real long-term value is achieved.
A few months into a new Informatica Cloud subscription we also take a look to see if an organization has a flat usage, or no usage, and trending items such as number of integrations, success % rate, number of support tickets opened, and other indicators to SEARCH for signs of potential issues. If we find them, we begin the RESCUE process, which generally means developing a joint plan for success with the customer, and may involve aspects of training, support, professional services, or some other expertise which lends itself well to the situation. Within a year of kicking off this program, we have found that the customers “rescued” usually end up being our strongest supporters and become what we call customers for life.
What about the Informatica Labs?
Extending customers through a lifelong relationship may mean different things to different people. We accomplish this through onboarding and Search and Rescue, but often they tie together through our Informatica Cloud Labs group, which is an extension of the CSM and product team. In many ways, this is a group of mavericks, who blaze the trail with the latest in technology, extending Informatica Cloud as a platform to provide the widest range of connectivity and templates to different cloud and on-premise applications. The Informatica Cloud Labs team publishes every solution they develop for consumption on the Informatica Marketplace – they are really democratizing cloud integration! Expect great things from Informatica Cloud Labs in 2012 as we utilize the new leading-edge technology that is constantly being built into the Informatica Cloud Platform.
Why is cloud adoption so important to you and your team?
If cloud applications aren’t “sticky” they won’t be renewed. For example, if someone buys Salesforce.com but doesn’t have their customers loaded into it, there’s a pretty good chance that Salesforce.com won’t be adopted at that company. Similarly, when it comes CRM and ERP integration, if the deal that your sales person closes can’t generate an order in your ERP system, or you can’t find the ERP order status in your CRM application, that will also cause people to not want to use the new system(s). With Informatica Cloud we are enabling these and many other processes in order to ensure our customers are successful with their specific use cases across multiple systems. There’s absolutely no reason not to adopt Informatica Cloud as long as they are gaining a better return on data from all of their cloud and on-premise applications.
Why are you so focused on making it easy to get started with cloud integration?
We believe that cloud integration should be easy. If someone owns a cloud application (or is planning to), they should also have the ability to get the data they need from it when and how they want it, in a well governed way. This means we need to make it easy for potential customers to get started right away with a free trial. We also have a vibrant community of self-paced training videos to answer the most demanding questions. Early on we got commitment from our customer support team to even provide support during the trial period if needed. Along with all of this enablement, as a prospective Informatica Cloud customer completes their integration in the trial, we have editions starting at under $100 a month in order to be able to meet just about any requirements – from the most basic to the most complex. Tenants of Cloud Computing are Self-service, the ability to try before you buy, and only paying for what you need in a low-cost model; our goal at Informatica Cloud is to bring these concepts to the data integration market, and the result is that our customers have helped us win the Best of AppExchange in this category of integration for four years in a row.
I hear you have a goal of turning skeptics into champions. Is that true?
Absolutely! This current generation of business, social, and even enterprise applications which are moving to the cloud brings a need for not only extracting, loading and synchronizing data, but it also means cross-application data integration and data quality that will move at internet speed. Integration is both the on-ramp and the interstate for the next generation of cloud business applications and platforms and our Customer Success team’s goal is to bring all of this together by finding champions of cloud integration and helping them share their story with the world. We’re always looking for non-adopters or perhaps even skeptics and we want to enable them to become Informatica Cloud champions. Check out our customer video website for some great examples of cloud integration customer success.