Your personal guide to success: Meet the Customer Success Manager

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Customer Success
A conversation with Karl Kersey, Global Success Manager at Schneider Electric

When he beams into our call on a busy Monday afternoon, Karl Kersey’s video background is a photo of the NASA control room. The Apollo mission, to be precise. It’s soon clear that this is no coincidence.

“Schneider has probably the biggest collection of experts in electrical distribution,” he says. “We have over 150,000 employees in 140 different countries. The challenge is connecting customers with the right person.”

An electrical engineer by training, Karl spent years working on everything from on-site commissioning to training before he became the first Global Customer Success Manager for Schneider Electric.

Now he’s in touch with every level of the business, plus a network of customers and other CSMs around the globe.

Welcome to Mission Control.

“The main goal of a CSM is to build a relationship with the customer, to be their trusted advisor,” says Karl. “We’re not salespeople.”

Karl is the first point of contact for all the customers he works with, from onboarding to regular maintenance. When there’s a new cloud-based service to set up, a problem in the electricity distribution network, or a power management issue that the customer can’t solve, they ring Karl.

“In any large corporation, there’s myriad ways for the customer to fall through the cracks,” explains Karl. “[CSMs] glue it all together.”

He sums up customer success management in three steps:

  1. Understanding the customer’s needs and expectations.
  2. Delivering value to customers.
  3. Helping them understand the value of the service.

Karl works with customers who have recurring service plans at Schneider Electric – especially EcoCare* members. Customers with an EcoCare service plan get an online dashboard with access to all their monitoring data, plus contact with the CSM team and priority support. Some of them can also access smart features like condition-based maintenance, where assets are monitored constantly to find the balance between maintaining them and reducing costs.

“In some cases, that could save customers tens of thousands of dollars,” says Karl.

But the system only works if customers know how to use it – guided by their Customer Success Manager.

Building a relationship with customers doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of research goes into understanding what they need and finding the most effective tools for them to use.

When a new customer joins Schneider Electric, Karl starts by working through a checklist. Who’s the main contact to speak to? What’s the management structure? Who uses the service day to day? Have they been trained how to use it? What are they expecting from it?

“If we offer this service and they expect [something else], then that gap is customer dissatisfaction,” says Karl.

It’s a common problem for software companies: according to research from Capterra, almost 60% of companies regret a software purchase they’ve made in the past 18 months. Buying the wrong service can be an expensive and long-lasting mistake, so it’s part of Karl’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Next, he’ll research the customer to learn more about their business. If they already use another Schneider service, he’ll connect with that service to make sure that everyone’s on the same page. Once everyone’s connected and he’s created a success plan for the customer, Karl works on building relationships with them.

“I check in on them periodically,” he explains. “There’s a lot of value to a face-to-face meeting.” He catches up with EcoCare customers regularly, often through video calls. For customers who need an especially high level of service, he aims to visit in person – and encourages his team to do the same.

Then, of course, there’s the data from Schneider Electric’s services.

“[A lot of our work] is about alerting customers to things that they were not aware of yet,” says Karl. “We extract information from assets for the customer and we formulate that into reporting and analytics, and the Customer Success Manager presents that.”

Customer Success

Your Customer Success Manager is ready to help you get to grips with Schneider’s services, reduce costs, and hit targets. What can you do to get the most value from them?

“We have a hard time engaging with some customers because they’re so busy,” says Karl. “But if a customer spends some quality time with me, and comes to the table [with] expectations and KPIs… then we can align on that.”

The easiest way to start is by having an identified support person on the customer side. “We need to know that we’re connecting with the right people,” says Karl. “If they don’t engage with us, we really can’t do our role.”

He’s keen for customers to spend time learning about the services they can use: “customer satisfaction through education”. Once a customer is comfortable with Schneider Electric’s monitoring systems, they can save a huge amount of money and time.

And if a CSM knows the customer’s priorities, they can pick up on issues before they even arise. 

“We were monitoring a transformer for [a customer],” Karl recalls, as an example. “Huge transformers that sit outside the facility on a pad and they’re filled with oil and they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece.”

The customer had spent time linking up their assets to Schneider Electric, so the monitoring system was ready to go.

“We picked up some overheating. The transformer was going to fail if they kept running it… and we were able to intervene and take action to keep it. That transformer paid for the service many times over.”

In the past year, CSMs have worked with customers on everything from preventing factory fires to keeping crucial labs running at CERN.

“The biggest challenge for CSMs is being able to connect all the data,” sums up Karl. “Some days you can get buried in the details, but I [like to] step back and look at the long-term goal. To me, customer success is the success of our business. At the end of the day, I know exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing.”

*Please verify the availability of EcoCare in your region through a local services sales’ representative. If EcoCare is not yet available, ask about Schneider’s EcoStruxure Service Plan.

Customer Success

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