To deliver on a vision, you must have a powerful plan for change. I’ve written before about VMware’s bold vision for creating a unique and revolutionary customer success offering. Our innovation continues as we create differentiated experiences for our customers that go beyond their expectations. In this blog, I’ll discuss three unique ways we will use technology (including AI/ML), for proactive issue avoidance, for speeding resolution of unavoidable issues and for automating success planning and health monitoring.
Proactive, Actionable Issue Avoidance
In my blog “How to Create a Differentiated Customer Success Offering,” I pointed to research that showed 80% of customers have a high dependency on technical support services. Why? Because many IT activities are reactive. When a system experiences an issue, everyone scrambles to fix it. Yet industry research shows us that most outages are avoidable if IT had noticed earlier that the system performance was declining and about to reach a dangerous level. Additionally, IDC research shows that 70% of reported downtime events were due to configuration errors.[i]
Vendors monitoring products typically aren’t connected to customer success or even support. Our vision includes integrating our support and management solutions, providing customers with a seamless experience to proactively avoid issues and more effectively manage their cloud environments.
We are building new proactive monitoring capabilities with early warning detection into our Customer Success offerings. We will provide our customers with insight into:
- How well the applications on the network are optimized for stability, reliability and compatibility
- Compatibility of available patches and upgrades to prevent security vulnerabilities
- Misconfiguration issues
We will be able to correlate past events, findings, and remediations to improve future performance. The early warning system will alert customers to proactively address issues. With fewer configuration and performance issues, customers’ environments are healthier, more productive, more reliable, and more secure. The result is a better, differentiated experience for our customers.
AI-Enabled Self-Service for Improving Knowledge, Achieving Outcomes, and Resolving Issues
While the goal is to prevent as many issues as possible, preventing 100% of them is probably not realistic. So we are expanding our recently announced, innovative VMware Customer Connect™. Customer Connect enables our customers to find relevant, timely content, expand a skill, or address an issue. The Virtual Assistant uses ML’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the question and suggest answers. It helps in automated task operations (e.g., add user, remove user), offers an exact Knowledge Base article for resolving an issue and helps customers navigate to a correct function in the VMware Customer Connect ecosystem.
With new AI-enabled self-service, we are adding capabilities to make it even more powerful with proactive suggestions for troubleshooting steps or resolutions for technical issues. Using advanced Machine Learning models, Connect Support™ will “learn” about VMware products through iterative training from our most experienced engineers and use this knowledge to assist customers in troubleshooting, capturing key details of an issue through dynamic, intelligent prompts. The Virtual Assistant will provide a guided experience to efficiently gather all the necessary details and ensure support cases are routed to the most qualified engineer.
This new functionality will help provide another differentiated experience for our customers, by helping them to resolve issues faster.
Automated Customer Success Plans
A critical part of customer success is defining customer outcomes and building a personal success plan based on the current state and desired goals. These plans:
- Document desired business and IT outcomes with mutually agreed-upon metrics for success
- Show technical capabilities and activities needed to achieve these outcomes
- Contain milestones and identify responsible stakeholders to help monitor and measure progress
- Must be continuously updated as new business opportunities arise or new solutions are adopted
- Contain Success Pathways that recommend Ongoing Adoption Guidance, Design Workshops or optional in-depth services, such as Consulting, Education or Technical Account Management, that customers may need to accomplish goals
- Include a Health Scorecard that monitors business value, performance value and experience value to help us ensure customers are realizing the value and that our products are performing as expected
Building a success plan with today’s tools still involves several manual steps. Our vision is to automate success plan development AND monitoring and make it available to customers in Connect Success™. We are working on remarkable technology that will deliver a self-service experience that is easy to use and understand for our customers. We will be using AI/ML to perform customer outcome assessments, build tailored success plans based on desired outcomes and create health scorecards with insights and actionable recommendations. These success plans will also recommend success pathways tailored to the customer’s individual environment.
We continue innovating to become the gold standard for customer success in the industry. The precise application of technology is critical to achieving that distinction. There is much more to come in these exciting new areas. Follow my blogs to stay connected as we create differentiated experiences for our customers that go beyond their expectations.
[i] IDC Perspective, The Cost of Downtime in Datacenter Environments: The Cause and Effective Measures to Alleviate, DOC #US46505517, June 2020