Customer Success…It’s Not Just for SaaS Providers

When I first joined the Pure Storage team, I was pleasantly surprised by the focus and alignment of our teams to create the Apple of the Datacenter. This passion to introduce simplicity where there had always been complexity (deployment, maintenance, and even procurement) permeated the various Pure organizations. As I witnessed how customers and partners applied this ethos in their own day-to-day work, it dawned on me that Pure was providing an easy, lightweight SaaS-like experience in an IT environment that had been heavy, arduous and borderline archaic.

Now, while we do have SaaS-like attributes, we are not a SaaS company.  We are a systems company and we’re also a channel-friendly company. So we do need to make some adjustments to the typical SaaS customer success model. In defining our customer success model, including the Pure customer journey, we determined that we needed to answer three key questions:

  1. How does Pure define customer success?
  2. What is the role of a partner in Pure’s customer success initiatives?
  3. Does Pure have a formal customer success organization?

How do we define customer success?

Quite simply, we define customer success as continuously providing solutions and methods to improve the experience of our customers, while simultaneously being held accountable, in a meaningful way, for the successful implementation of those solutions and methods.

Some of you may be thinking, “Ok, so you install some storage for your customers.  Big deal.”  Well, not to get all Ron Burgundy here, but it is kind of a big deal – and let me tell you why.

For decades, customers have suffered through arduous and painful enterprise storage deployments – forklift upgrades, never-ending migration projects and painful maintenance extortion. But if you’re a Pure customer, those days are over. And as a result of our customers realizing transformative gains with our technology, they have also come to expect more than just “design & implementation” from Pure and its partners. So we get a chance to mutually define success metrics for our customers’ adoption and usage of our technology.

What are some success metrics in the Pure world? We think the best source of reliable customer data is from customers themselves:

  • Accelerating critical, storage processes from hours to minutes…or from minutes to seconds – Unity Healthcare physicians now have real-time access to patient data and can make health-related decisions more effectively.
  • Executing more revenue-generating activity – The Nielsen Company can now produce an analytics report for a client in one hour or less, when this report took six hours before Pure.
  • Eliminating technical bottlenecks that consistently destroyed productivity – Hawkins, Inc. has sales reports ready 2.5x faster and drivers can access supply-chain and route information in real time.
  • Enabling the deployment of new solutions to transform business – The Oneida Nation experienced 10:1, 12:1 and even 18:1 data reduction levels allowing them to pursue next generation software development initiatives without worrying about exceeding storage capacity.
  • Providing freedom from the painful and expensive expansion, upgrade and renewal practices of the legacy storage vendors – Sierra Nevada Brewing no longer performs “forklift upgrades” due to our EvergreenTM Storage program and has reduced energy costs by 90% compared to their former spinning disk environment.
  • Giving Storage Administrators and Operations teams a better quality of life – Securities America improved virtual server backups by 65% and virtual machine migration by 1400%.

These are not the typical discussions around the storage team’s water cooler – these are game-changers in their underlying businesses. Our customers can accomplish much more than just storing data, so we feel an obligation to help them realize this potential – and we are happy to be measured against it.

What is the role of a partner in Pure’s customer success initiatives? 

When you’re a true channel company, you can’t have customer success without partner success. So every effort we expend to delight our customers has an element of enabling our partners to do the same. If we design a new service offering, we train our partners on how to deliver it. If we define a new best practice, we update our partner training and share it on our partner portal. Partner success means customer success!

In short, we make sure the benefits of Pure don’t only extend to our customers. Our partners have done much more than learn how to install our arrays. They have incorporated Pure into their data center transformation, mobility, big data and IOT solution portfolios. As a result, partners say that Pure is:

  • Allowing them to demonstrate faster time to value for their customers.
  • Enabling them to solve critical path bottlenecks that stifle revenue-generating applications and erode customer productivity.
  • Providing a platform on which they can deliver next generation infrastructure that is transforming customer business.
  • Helping them provide more flexibility when it comes to application infrastructure decisions (traditional datacenter, private cloud or public cloud).
  • Empowering them to deliver painless upgrades and on-demand capacity expansions.

To help scale for the demand, we have been expanding our organization worldwide and enabling our partners to deliver their own transformational services to our customers. This includes mapping our virtualization, Cisco, Oracle, SAP, OpenStack, SQL, data migration and cloud solution architecture teams to our partners’ solution portfolio teams. Our PureIQ training curriculums are available worldwide and we’re launching Pure’s Professional Certification Exam this year to maintain quality as we scale. Through these efforts, we have enabled more than two-thousand partner resources globally in the last twelve-months alone.

Does Pure have a formal customer success organization? 

This is an important question – and the answer is yes and no. Does a focus on customer success permeate every team at Pure? Yes. Does this mean every Pure team reports into a customer success executive? No.

While some of our teams (System Engineers, Solution Architects, Service Account Managers, Enablement & Advisory Services) are within the “Customer Success” umbrella organization, other critical teams (Technical Support, Training, Renewals) are not. We’ve architected our teams in this fashion to drive accountability at every stage of engagement with the Customer. The field team that engages pre-sale is part of the same organization that must enable and deliver post-sale.  The technical team that supports our product code is part of the same organization that develops it. We ensure a seamless handoff of customers across our organizations.

The Pure team has always measured its success by the success of Pure customers and partners.  We use the expression “Win-Win-Win” often (meaning a win for the customer and a win for the partner is a win for Pure)– and it aligns to our core values.

Our formal customer success approach and organizational structure allows us to better measure our progress against that “Win-Win-Win” goal. That said, we’re pioneering a few new elements here. So, whether you’re a prospect, a current Pure customer or a Pure partner, please feel free to share your experience with us at customersuccess@purestorage.com. We use this feedback to not only improve our field interaction, but also to help drive the priorities of our technology innovation.

Check back with us for more Tales From Customer Success as we’ll be sharing customer experiences, our experiences and trends in the market that might benefit you!