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Six Customer Success “Network” trends that Gainsight is Solving for Cisco

For the last 20+ years, Cisco has successfully managed just about every type of IT network challenge. But there is a new network problem even the great Cisco can’t fix. Cisco is investing in Gainsight to tame the customer success network.

During Pulse 2017, Allison Pickens, CCO at Gainsight sat down with me to discuss the top Customer Success trends for the next twelve months and discuss how they are solving the “network” challenge. You can listen to the interview on my website or on your favorite podcast player. These six trends were presented by her and Gainsight’s CEO Nick Mehta in one of the first Pulse keynotes:

  1. Company-wide Customer Success Network
  2. Customers are Part of the Customer Success Network
  3. IT Architecting the Customer Success Network
  4. Network Expanding to the Real World
  5. Partners Scaling the Customer Success Network
  6. Community Around the Customer Success Network.

What do these “network” trends mean? Despite the announcement at the conference about Cisco investing in Gainsight, Allison assured me the use of the word “network” in each theme was purely a coincidence. Instead, she told me the focus on a network concept is important because the challenge of great customer success is the responsibility of more than just a few employees on the Customer Success team. She used the idea of a network to include all departments in the company and expanding out to partners, resellers, and even customers. In other words, companies need to expand their view of the customer success playbook to include a much broader definition of the people implementing success plays.

“Customer relationships are not as black-and-white as people once described them. This community is a lot more complex than I think we give it credit for. That’s really where the network comes in.”

While the use of “network” in these trends is not on purpose, it is interesting to read what Cisco told Gainsight CEO in this Forbes article.

“Cisco told us, if you only solve this problem for our internal work with customers, that’s only 10%-20% of the problem.” Forbes quote of Nick Mehta.

I an not surprised to learn Cisco has more third-party partners and resellers impacting the customer journey than employees. To help with this, Cisco wants Gainsight to expand their product to offer more integration, metrics, and plays for non-employees and employees outside of customer success. The first small step to help with this challenge is to make it easier for more stakeholders to have insight into the customer. Gainsight is doing this through a new version of their product that includes, among other things, a bot. You can read more about Sally, the new bot on www.gainsight.com. Here is the news announcement said.

“In order to facilitate the sharing of customer intelligence across a Customer Success Network, Gainsight introduced Sally, an AI-powered bot that will live in a number of today’s popular collaboration tools such as Slack, Cisco Spark, and email. With natural language processing, talking to Sally is just like talking to a real person, and machine learning technology helps her get smarter with each conversation.” Here is a link to the full newswire article on May 11

While I doubt Sally is the final solution, equipping resellers and third-parties with the knowledge and data on the processes that they need to drive really successful outcomes for the end customer is a great beginning.

Cisco has worked for decades to tame the IT network with their routers, switches, and virtual networks. It will be interesting to see if Gainsight can tame the customer success network with the same level of precision and success.