A Q&A with Customer Success, Part One
Anyone who has ever worked on an IoT project knows that there’s a lot of effort that goes into successful execution, and much of it happens behind the scenes. At Current, one of the major forces driving innovation for professional services, financial services and other workplaces is our Customer Success team’s tireless work to advocate for customer needs. But unless you’ve ever worked with them directly, you might not know just how important they are to a project.
Nick Diligente, Current’s Commercial Office Marketing Manager, sat down with Alyson Kjeldahl, Customer Success Manager, to learn more about the digital solutions customers are testing and the challenges these organizations face when implementing transformative projects. Alyson discussed critical success metrics and what the office of the future might look like.
Nick: Alyson, can you tell us a little about yourself, your role, and how you wound up working on the Customer Success team at Current?
Alyson: I’ve been executing strategic marketing programs within engineering-focused firms for over a decade. In 2015 I joined GE as an Industrial Marketing Manager, where I worked to promote our energy and digital solutions to Fortune 500 industrial companies. I transitioned to the Customer Success team to leverage my experience more directly to advocate for the customer—relentlessly monitoring customer health to ensure they have a positive experience and are realizing the value they wanted.
Early in the process of digital deployments my role is to vet out, through conversations with the customer and various stakeholders at their firm, what outcomes they’re looking for and then align our teams internally to deliver the right digital solution. From there, I work with the customer to define success criteria that will measure the delivery of those outcomes. Over the long term, after the initial deployment, I remain connected with the customer to make certain they continue to see value and when they’re ready to expand we talk through the options. It’s exciting because I get to work with a variety of customers and industries who are on the forefront of what we’re doing on the digital side of the business.
It’s important to note that Customer Success is a different function from Customer Service, which traditionally handles customer support. Customer Success is about being there at every step of the customer journey, especially post-purchase as they’re using our solutions to ensure they’re getting continuous value.
Nick: Can you explain the types of customers you’ve been working with and have seen adopting Current’s digital IoT solutions?
Alyson: I’ve been working on digital pilots with several Fortune 100 companies in various business segments. One thing they all have in common is that they are focused on creating an engaging and positive workplace experience for their employees. The challenge many companies are facing as their workforce becomes more mobile or remote is to create an office environment that promotes collaboration and maintains connections among employees. As a result, these companies have prioritized investing in their office space to create an office of the future that is engaging and stands apart from your typical gray office with rows and rows of cubes. Success hinges on a new paradigm that happens at the intersection of the physical real estate with digital technology, creating a frictionless workspace that leverages digital solutions to take away annoyances or productivity drains.
The professional services segment is on the cutting edge. Any industry where you have billable hours and your employees are your way of generating revenue, their time is extremely valuable. You want to make them as productive as possible. With the combination of occupancy sensors and a wireless mesh network, we’re able to provide visibility to available space in near real time. That means employees can find and book spaces right from their phone or laptop, saving time and removing annoyance.
Since our solution is open-on-the-top, customers have the choice to work with the data in-house or use a third-party application partner. We have various application partners, like Teem, iOFFICE and Serraview, to name a few, that are set up to easily integrate that near-real-time data from your space and provide visualization and analytics on the use of your space. Some professional services firms have extensive in-house development teams, so they have the option to ingest the data themselves and write proprietary apps to visualize and report on the data.
Nick: What type of solution do you propose and provide to solve pain points around productivity, or any others that may not have been initially identified?
Alyson: Typically, the solution to deliver these outcomes has a simple architecture. What we do is utilize our wireless area controller (WAC), which is part of our Daintree1 suite of products, to collect data from your space from wireless sensors. Depending on what type of data you’re interested in, we’ll deploy the corresponding sensor type, whether it be occupancy data at the desk level or room level, people count, temperature etc. The sensors connect wirelessly to the WAC, which typically sits on the customer network but can also be set up on an independent cellular modem. The WAC then sends the data to our API data service, which is where we can make it accessible to third-party software developers or to your in-house development or BI teams. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s also critical to get the customer’s IT team involved as early as possible to start talking through the architecture and the security review process.
One of the benefits of this architecture is that often it is installed with an LED retrofit. This allows you to offset the upfront costs associated with the platform by reducing energy spend. The same devices that are used to sense occupancy for your meeting room management or space optimization solutions can also be used to setup more advanced lighting controls. Energy savings are real dollars that you can take into account when looking at the ROI of the project. So there are two buckets of project value: the cost savings on the energy side, and the productivity gains on the smart office side.
Nick: Could you talk about some of the challenges businesses face when implementing smart office solutions?
Alyson: Oftentimes, the solution has various stakeholders within an organization. On the energy side, you might be talking with facilities managers or sustainability professionals, and they have a pot of money to spend on capital improvements to help with energy savings. On the smart office side, you’re probably working with real estate planning or workplace experience folks who also likely have their own budget. The challenge is getting the two teams aligned. If they aren’t already, it’s helpful to get the two teams talking to agree on an infrastructure that will serve both of their outcomes and they can share the cost of the platform. It can be a challenge to align upfront, but we can help you do that, and we can get the right people in the room to discuss. You end up with cost optimization because the platform is shared across multiple departments.
The other challenge is getting IT involved early. This is a digital solution. There are different networks and security protocols that need to be reviewed and approved to put the platform in place and get it up and running. It’s wise to get that team involved from the beginning so that you have all your organization’s security considerations and protocols considered upfront. It can also slow down a project deployment considerably if the IT team wasn’t brought in early to start their review.
Nick: Would you say these challenges are why a role like yours is crucial to an IoT project?
Alyson: I think so. The digital pilot team specializes in running these programs so that they go as smoothly as possible. We bring two primary roles to the table: the Program Manager, who handles the project management, deployment and tactical aspects of the project, and the Customer Success Manager, whose priority is making sure the customer is taken care of and is getting what they want and need out of the project. Between those two functions, you innately bring together the different parties that need to be involved on the customer side. Having the knowledge of how it’s gone for other organizations in similar industries is always a great way to make sure the project goes well.
To hear more about what Alyson has to say about the critical role Customer Success plays in any project, check out part two of our Q&A.
To learn more about what Current can do to prepare your office for the future, visit www.gecurrent.com/offices or contact us today.
1Daintree, which combines Intel technology with web-based software to automate energy management, building control and system configuration from any location, was recently designated as an Intel® Market Ready Solution. Daintree is Current’s second platform to be designated as an Intel Market Ready Solution. Current and Intel also jointly market and sell Current’s CityIQ™ platform, which is being deployed in cities like San Diego, Atlanta and Portland, OR.