The Key to Customer Success Was Transformational Leadership
Just over a year ago, Commvault made the bold decision to alter its leadership approach significantly. They were dedicated to transforming their business with a new management team. But they didn’t stop with top-down change. They pushed for a revolution—organization-wide. There were new products, the first company acquisition in over 20 years, and a push for subscription customers.
Commvault had a healthy, better-than-average churn rate, and minimal cross-sell with virtually only one product, and an incredibly sticky one at that. One could argue that they just didn’t need customer success like other tech companies. Or did they? As Commvault transitioned into expanding its portfolio of products and transformed its licensing model to subscription, it became clear that customer success was essential.
Commvault has a proud history of being quick-moving even in the enterprise space, but still able to focus on their earliest customers. “Our development over the years has always been nimble and agile while putting the customer first,” said Lee Peterson, EMEA regional leader of customer success. “Now, we have evolved to exist in any space while not forgetting our roots. Commvault focuses on customers of all sizes because from the beginning we were customer-centric. We won’t ever forget the ones that got us here, and we look forward to working with the new ones who join the Commvault family.”
Ironically, Commvault already had a very successful “white-glove” model of customer success, with over 60 staff delivering the highest quality enhanced service on a global basis. However, offering customer success to a much broader customer base was a new initiative and one that had never been a requirement before.
A lot of Blood, Sweat, and Tears
At the beginning of 2018, Commvault’s Customer Success team was a part of their Support department where it had started. They knew they were outgrowing their prior Customer Success (CS) platform as it was inflexible in its structure and could not scale to meet their needs. They had limited data imports and limited visibility to their global accounts and service coverage. Commvault recognized the need for change.
What was astonishing was that this very successful company was not satisfied with the status quo or keeping inferior tooling in place. Commvault was brave and wise enough to change direction. Their leadership attributes it to a quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” To that point, Commvault brought in a new Global VP of CS, Sandra Hamilton, who is responsible for everything post-initial sales. They also reorganized by moving Customer Success out from Support, while introducing Aron Lanclos as their new global director.
Aron had successfully led the white-glove customer success offerings for the last five years, significantly growing revenues year on year. But the task of turning around a CS project which had 12 months of time and money already invested in it was no small task. Aron appointed two regional leaders to assist him: Cody Nichols in the Americas and Lee Peterson for EMEA. Aron, Cody, and Lee then moved fast. In only three short months, they came up with a global plan. Part of that global plan was to search for a new customer success platform because of the growing shortcomings of their current CS solution.
After a tremendous amount of effort, the end recommendation from Commvault’s CS leadership was to remove their existing CS platform and replace it with Gainsight. As a result, Commvault redesigned a significant number of processes that reflected better customer-centricity and workflows between departments. They also had to create a holistic customer journey map. To their organization, it felt like they were tackling something incredibly big!
The journey map was already fundamental to Commvault from the beginning. Yet, it was when they changed their thought perspective that their journey map came to life. “What we did was to involve people, one CSM in particular, who was new to the CS team. We had them look at the journey map from the customer point of view,” Lee shared. “We were empathetic to what customers were thinking at each stage. So if we had somebody completely green say, “this is too complex,” we stripped out that process, and we improved it. So the customer journey map was the absolute center of everything. And it was the thinking from the customer point of view that switched it.”
Then Came Gainsight
In early 2020, Gainsight replaced the legacy platform, and Customer Success at Commvault became its own division. Now, all critical data connects to Gainsight with divisional and cross-functional buy-in. They have even implemented a global roll-out for all subscription customers, too.
The transformation of customer success at Commvault is significant. While Sandra and Aron led the process, it was a truly global team effort. And that is the only way that real Customer Success works. Adoption must occur from top to bottom across the organization. Commvault has made immense progress in a short period. They changed division ownership, adopted Gainsight, getting all data sources and all divisions to support the project, support all subscription customers globally, and are in the process of building a global customer community. According to Peterson, “It isn’t just Gainsight’s software that helps make a difference. It’s actually everything that’s in their ecosystem: Pulse events and its extended community. It’s their human-first focus that makes the difference.”
When asked about why Commvault is now ahead of the curve, Lee responded, “Because our competitors are not shifting to a customer success focus and as a result, we can offer customers what they need in the subscription economy.” The truth is, new logos are somebody else’s churn. Every company has a fallback solution in mind in case their current solution fails to scale, make a return on value, or isn’t the right fit. That’s the bottom line. While it may seem blunt, if companies can’t progress forward, they inevitably fall behind.
Their achievements don’t stop there. Commvault is very excited that Jill Favro Sawatzky is now in the newly created role as Vice President of Customer Success and Advocacy. It is also interesting to note that Commvault’s Renewals team has moved ownership and is now part of Customer Success. They are investing further in Gainsight features to enrich the customer experience.
The transformation of leadership and embracing customer success has made a massive difference to the entire Commvault company. Gainsight’s Director of Client Outcomes, Josh Weber, captured our sentiment exactly when he stated, “Aron and his team are some of the greatest champions of, and true believers in, customer success I have ever met as a career CS professional. It’s inspiring. I never leave a conversation with this team without feeling FIRED UP for their bright future, and the future of customer success.”
Congratulations to Commvault, Gainsight’s winner of the Game Changer Transformational Leader Award for 2020. We cannot wait to work more with Commvault to see all that they will accomplish in the years to come.
If you would like to learn more about how Gainsight can help you, feel free to schedule a demo.