SonicWALL looks to enable partners with enhanced customer services capability

SonicWALL has expanded its Customer Success organization and is approaching the beta stage with a new and enhanced support program for partners, which should be generally available by the end of the year.

Stephanie Mims

Stephanie Mims, Executive Director, Customer Success at SonicWALL

LAS VEGAS – Today at the SonicWALL PEAK16 event, the company outlined its plans to further enable partners, by utilizing their expanded Customer Success organization to develop an improved and tiered support program that partners can use to enhance customer experience.

“We are doing some great things around services,” said Chris Auger, SonicWALL’s Executive Director Americas Sales. “Having dedicated people to help you with services will allow you to outsource them so someone can pay attention to these things for you.”

Stephanie Mims, Executive Director, Customer Success at SonicWALL, discussed the steps taken to enhance customer loyalty since she joined the organization ten months ago.

“Customer success is thinking about how we retain customer loyalty,” Mims said. “There are many things we need to focus on to make that happen and ensure that the support we provide is a competitive differentiator.”

Mims detailed how they have built out a full Customer Success organization, bringing in service marketing product people who understand professional services capability and can help enable partners. They have also added people with experience in building scalable sustainable operations, and those who have built out account management capability.

“We now have over 100 years of collective experience on the team in services and support capability,” Mims said.

The purpose of this, she stressed, is to make SonicWALL services and support a valuable and profitable element.

“Our transformation will see us move services and support capability from being a necessary evil to being a true integrated value-add,” she said. “This will help us move from reactive management issues to creating a proactive culture. This needs to be in place so you can compete.”

Mims outlined some of the steps the Customer Success organization has done so far.

“We needed to get back to basics in the support organization, so the first thing we implemented was an escalations function,” she said. This is available to the internal sales teams now and will be extended to all partners.

“We also implemented very rigorous case management practices, where we look at open cases, and what needs to be done to move them forward and close those issues,” Mims stated “We have reduced time to close significantly.”

Mims noted that customer satisfaction scores are now in the low 90s, and their all-important Net Promoter score, which registers how likely a customer is to recommend them, has moved from the 40s to the high 60s since Q4 2015.

“We know we have a lot more work to do, but we are making progress,” she said.

Mims then reviewed the services capabilities SonicWALL partners will see moving forward. They are divided into three sections – Plan and Deploy, Support and Maintain, and Renew and Upgrade – which constitute the complete lifecycle. All of this is being wrapped into an enhanced enablement program for partners through the Customer Success Manager [CSM] Delivery Framework, which adds an additional services capability for partners.

“Why should you work with a CSM? They act as an extended member of your team. They help you with account planning and product transitions. They recommend training and knowledge. They can be that single point of advocacy for you back to the SonicWALL organization.

“If you are interested in this, we would love to have a conversation with you,” Mims told the partner audience. “It really does take capability to the next level, by taking data and helping you with operational efficiency to improve the customer experience.”

The partner enablement timeline for the new support program began this quarter with the benchmarking of competitors.

“We are now identifying and piloting Tier 1 partners who want to work with us on our authorized support model,” Mims indicated. “We are building in tiered support, not the flat support that had been in place before.”

The pilot should be implemented by September.

“Feel free to reach out to be in the pilot,” Mims told partners.

The plan is to have the new formal partner enablement program rolled out by the end of the year, along with contemporized training and certification programs.

“This will demonstrate how services capability can truly be a value-add to our solution,” Mims stated.