Aruba Leverages Digital-First Customer Success Approach to Drive Dynamic Engagements and Scalable Growth

“With tens of thousands of customers and 93 percent of them falling into our tech-touch tier, we needed a solution that would allow us to drive automated playbooks and actions. Totango has provided us the way to scale our CS team, drive our book of business and manage tens of thousands of customers through a digital path.”
Matt Harmon, Head of CS Operations, Aruba

When Aruba realized that 95 percent of its customer base was tech-touch and they were neglecting to properly engage with and measure analytics for this critical faction, they decided to implement a digital-first customer success approach. Starting out with a band of only two, Aruba’s customer success team leveraged Totango to drive customer engagement, significantly improve retention rates, speed up the onboarding process, and improve overall customer satisfaction.


The Challenge

Today, Carlos Quezada is the Head of Customer Success for Aruba. But when he joined the company in 2017, Aruba didn’t even have a CS team. In fact, Quezada was hired for a leadership role in the company’s Global Services division where he leveraged his background in machine learning and technology to drive services and efficiencies. As he began to evaluate the company’s landscape, however, he found an interesting area of opportunity: how Aruba was approaching and delivering services for its relatively new SaaS and subscription offerings. He realized that the company was treating these new businesses very similarly to its legacy business and was neglecting important tasks, like measuring the attachment and renewal rates for these segments, which was resulting in a significant amount of churn simply because customers didn’t know that it was time to renew.

Having worked in a customer success role in the past, Quezada knew he needed to get his arms around the data, understand the install base and build out what the segmentation model would look like. He quickly found that a large percentage of the install base would fall into the tech-touch segment, but the organization didn’t have the funding needed to introduce a large number of customer success managers (CSMs) to cover that install base. So, Quezada hired Matt Harmon, who is now Aruba’s Head of CS Operations, to help and together they set out on a grassroots effort with a minimal budget to address some of the customer success issues the company was facing.

Four months later, the team had a roomful of sticky notes, a plethora of brilliant ideas, a ton of enthusiasm – and no forward progress. After struggling to decide where to begin, they finally concluded that they couldn’t do everything at once so they would focus on what they could tackle in the next three months by taking a minimum viable product (MVP) approach. The focus of an MVP approach is to produce the smallest amount of functionality required to successfully deliver a customer success experience to customers. This framework is comprised of a hierarchy of goals, ethics and issues, each with their own respective owners.

For their initial scope, they decided to focus on improving the onboarding experience for new customers. In order to do this with a small team, they needed a digital solution that would allow them to drive automation and scale. So, they implemented a customer success platform, but quickly realized that this particular platform was not going to allow them to scale given the sophistication of the approach they wanted to take with their customers. Enter: Totango.

 

The Solution

Digital-First Approach 

The team decided to utilize Totango’s SuccessBLOCs to help build out their digital customer journey. Since they were focusing on net new customers, the team first installed the Onboarding SuccessBLOC to help automate communications and ensure a consistent and positive new customer onboarding experience. After building out and testing this SuccessBLOC, they moved on to the Adoption SuccessBLOC, then Expansion, and finally, Renewal. By implementing these SuccessBLOCs in this way, they were able to stay in front of this cohort of customers throughout their entire journey. And since every subsequent new customer was leveraging these SuccessBLOCs as well, they were able to stay one step ahead of the customer’s journey, and eventually, had built out the entire end-to-end SuccessBLOC journey map.

Another thing the team did, was order the product themselves and walk through the entire customer journey to audit what the customer experience looked like from the outside. This allowed them to identify some friction points in the journey and then determine how they could address those friction points by implementing digital engagements to guide customers around the friction and deliver a smoother overall customer experience.  

By taking a digital-first approach to customer success early on, Aruba’s team was able to leverage the technology that Totango provided to drive scalability and move the needle on some of the issues they were facing with a very small team.

 

Benefits

Enhanced Onboarding Experience 

While the Aruba team didn’t have enough CSMs to walk each individual customer through the onboarding process, they still wanted their customers to feel as if they were engaging with a real human being. So, they developed Steve, Aruba’s Digital CSM.

“I really wanted to breathe life into the [onboarding] content,” said Teresa Chu, Head of Digital Engagement Strategy, “and I wanted Steve to serve as that helpful Digital CSM who was going to guide our audience through the onboarding process and point them to critical resources, such as our knowledge base of forums, so that they could be self-sufficient with the product.”

In addition to Steve, the Aruba team uses Totango’s Campaigns to deliver the right messages to their customers at the right time, starting with the very first onboarding email. “I would argue that this is the most important email communication in your entire series,” Chu said. “It often gets the highest open and engagement rates because your customers are new, excited about your product, and hungry for more information from you.”

Aruba fills this first email with helpful onboarding resource links as well as an engaging video in which Steve walks the customer through the product and points them to resources to help get them onboarded successfully. Chu also noted that since she began utilizing Totango’s template library to help design and organize the information in these email campaigns, she has noticed a 4 percent increase in engagement. Overall, Aruba has been able to reduce the time it takes customers to complete the onboarding process by 67 percent.

Better Insight; Better Engagement

Totango’s reporting and analytics capabilities have helped Aruba to gain critical insight into their customers that has helped improve overall customer engagement rates. By leveraging Totango’s easy-to-use Campaign Editor to create engaging and personalized messages, as well as tracking communication metrics in Totango and adjusting as needed, Chu reported that Aruba has been able to achieve open rates and click-to-open rates that are 1.5 times the industry average, and clickthrough rates that are triple the industry average.

“There are so many elements within an email communication, which is why it’s important to continually test and make iterations so you can improve the overall customer engagement rate,” Chu said. “Everything from the subject line to the visuals, the style, the length, the content, and the call-to-action should be tested and iterated upon.”

In addition to the email metrics, Aruba also uses tools within Totango, such as action- and time-based triggers, to send more personalized communications and measure if customers are taking the desired actions after receiving their communications. Chu noted that Aruba’s engagement rate has doubled since moving to this model. Aruba has also seen a 20 percent increase in retention rates, a 30-point NPS improvement, and a 10 percent reduction in non-activated customers.

 

Improved Collaboration

One of the main impacts that Harmon has seen from Totango is improved collaboration between teams. He noted that Aruba’s Onboarding, Support, Sales and CS teams are now all communicating together in Totango, and are better able to consolidate and share data through the platform.

Chu agreed, noting, “While I think CS should own the customer-facing communications, it’s important to partner with other teams, such as Product, Sales and Marketing, to ensure the look, feel and tone of the messaging is aligned across the board.”

Aruba is even using Totango to collaborate with their partners. They are currently piloting a program with 10 of their partners where they are setting them up with Onboarding, Adoption and Renewal SuccessBLOCs and white-labeling campaigns in their partner’s name in their Aruba Totango instance. Through this unique program, Aruba is helping to enable their partners for improved and effective customer success.

 

Ability to Scale CS Team and Support More Customers

Before scaling its CS team, Aruba began by segmenting customers into three tiers. The bottom tier is tech-touch customers who mainly receive digital communications, but if they need help, Aruba leverages a pooled CSM team to handle their needs. The middle tier of customers still receives all the digital communications but they also have some CSM interactions, with the hope that they will build a deeper relationship with these CSMs and grow into a higher tier. The top tier of customers are high-touch customers who receive all the digital content, but the content has been customized with their systems information, and they also receive more direct and proactive engagements from their CSMs.

Aruba utilizes Totango’s SuccessPlays to create digital touchpoints for each tier of customers throughout their journey. All tiers have digital touchpoints but Aruba also builds in human touchpoints where a CSM interaction or other engagement should be made throughout the lifecycle of the customer. They have also built out SuccessPlays designed for any time a customer goes off track to help drive the customer back into a healthy state or provide some proactive measure.  

“With tens of thousands of customers and 93 percent of them falling into our tech-touch tier, we needed a solution that would allow us to drive automated playbooks and actions,” Harmon said. “Totango has provided us the way to scale our CS team, drive our book of business and manage tens of thousands of customers through a digital path.”


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Company
Aruba – a Hewlett Packard Company
Industry
Enterprise Networking
Location
San Jose, CA
Website
arubanetworks.com
key benefits

Enhanced Onboarding Experience

Better Insight; Better Engagement

Improved Collaboration

Improved renewal performance

Ability to Scale CS Team and Support More Customers

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