The antidote to vendor-lock: Shared Success
Most people do not trust sales professionals. In my line of business, we deal directly with CIOs, Network and IT Directors, and Application Managers. In my conversations with them, they express how suspicious they are of vendors that are trying to sell them solutions for their network connectivity and application performance needs.
At Aryaka, we play in the WAN Optimization and CDN spaces. In the WAN Optimization market, our prospects complain to us about the fact that a traditional CapEx-based (read, appliance-based) approach gives them very little flexibility in terms of moving out of a contract when it’s not working out. Once the investments have been made in these legacy approaches, enterprises typically experience vendor lock, as technology companies find ways to force customer stickiness, ways which often don’t benefit the customer. For instance, software upgrades are expensive, as well as time- and resource–intensive, but legacy vendors force you into cumbersome upgrade cycles, and most of them make you pay for this “privilege.”
Our clients also tell us stories about vendors that try to nickel and dime them in every possible way, often for features that should be table stakes, such as visibility and customer support. In the CDN industry, customer retention rates are a joke – and this is partly why the industry is so commoditized. Almost all vendors in the caching space offer a similar feature set, and the competition is primarily based on price and geographical presence. Furthermore, switching between CDN vendors is easy; all it takes is a simple DNS change.
At Aryaka, our customers come first, at all times! Our retention rates are over 95%, which is unusual in our industry. One of the primary reasons for this is the fact that ours is a truly holistic solution that includes world-class customer support, integrated visibility, and a monthly subscription based as-a-Service delivery model.
The Right Way to Use Customer Success Teams
For us, every customer is also a partner. We truly believe this, and we actively take steps to turn this goal into a reality.
With other vendors, you never hear from a member of the customer success team, until you’re threatening to leave. By design, you’re treating the customer more like a hostage than a partner. It trains your support staff to be at odds with customers, which is just plain wrong.
This is why our Customer Success Team conducts regular business reviews with our customers for feedback on the service and for advice about how we can serve them better. You see, we believe their success is critical to our own. If we help our customers achieve success, their success will inevitably accumulate in ways that promote our own success, whether through renewals, referrals, or word-of-mouth advocacy.
Call it karma, call it success-lock, or call it the antidote to vendor-lock. Whatever the case, we believe this is the right approach to do business.
Our Customer Success Team, our sales executives, and our sales engineers commonly go above and beyond the standard service offering, providing customized solutions to our customers to help them address their network and application performance needs much more effectively.
For customers like JAS, Haemonetics, Henny Penny, Aruba Networks, and Oxford Economics, we continue to work together and deploy infrastructure as well as specific technology elements, so we can continue to deliver higher value and address unique use cases as they arise.
Treating customers as partners, not just a source of revenue, leads them to stay with us longer, and the result is that Aryaka becomes central to their growth plans. In fact, Mark Baker, CIO of JAS Forwarding Worldwide, recently won the Frost & Sullivan CIO Impact Award for deploying Aryaka across their office locations and for effectively working with us to customize our solution so that it could address their unique needs. As JAS expands, we’re helping them extend their network to more and more global offices. This is the definition of a win-win engagement. The size of the opportunity keeps growing bigger, as we help lay the networking foundation for their global expansion.
Other times, our customers point out features that they would like to see added into our solution, and our engineering team works hard, each and every time, to meet those specific needs. This fact not only keeps our customers happy, but it also makes them a central part of our success too. It’s rare that a feature will only be useful to one customer. We grow together, and, as a result, all of our products and services (ours and theirs) are strengthened for future use cases!
Instead of trying to squeeze more money out of customers, tech companies need to keep an eye out for larger opportunities that can benefit both the customer and the vendor. It should be common sense that when you listen to your customers to better meet their needs, you are much more likely to succeed. Unfortunately, common sense is a rare commodity in the tech world these days. It’s easy enough to fix, though.
Put your customers first! They’ll thank you, your organization will thank you, and your bottom line will reflect the success of this strategy.
– Aditi, Sr. Manager, Customer Success