Customer success management is the proactive orchestration of the customer’s journey towards their desired outcome, and the role of solutions architects in achieving this is critical. Businesses need to be architected on agile solutions, and teams will have to harness the latest knowledge and updates to keep pace in a changing world. The solutions architect assumes the role of a “technical trusted advisor” and three fundamental mindsets arise.
By 2025, proactive (outbound) customer engagement interactions will outnumber reactive (inbound) customer engagement interactions. Gartner, 20211
The most valuable trait is that of the solutions architect and customer success manager (CSM) working together to proactively identify and act upon issues, based on a strong understanding of the challenges faced by the client – even before the customer is aware of them and quite often outside of the direct scope of work.
Let’s bring this to life in an actual scenario where a CSM identified an issue with the client’s web presence that was not part of the normal service. The solutions architect took it upon themselves to investigate and found a significant web security gap that was related to the company’s brand. They shared the issue with the client and worked collaboratively to propose a solution – taking just 22 days from spotting the issue to resolving it. This is what proactive insight is truly about; had the CSM and architect not had a proactive mindset and organisational support to investigate, there would have been a huge impact on the organisation’s brand if the issue had been left unattended.
64% of technologists are now being asked to perform tasks and activities they have never done before. (AppDynamics, 2020)2
Change is always happening. For example, today we see a shift to omni-channel ecosystems for digital-first secure experiences. No one ever thought about buying a car online until Covid-19 stopped people from safely visiting showrooms. Then there’s the fact that it’s always been possible to check an employee’s productivity when they’re at their desks. But now, with contact centre staff working remotely across the globe, this “security and checking activity” is a reality for many large organisations. They can use eye-movement technology to identify if an employee is being as productive as expected. The point here is that even though it’s like something out of a science-fiction movie, it’s now a reality. Depending on the requirements of the client, a solutions architect, at the right time, in the right context, can propose such solutions for the right purpose. This is only possible when there is deep customer understanding and an on-going relationship.
47% of CIOs say the pandemic has permanently accelerated digital transformation and the adoption of emergent technologies. (Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, 2020)3
It’s not the job of the customer success team or solutions architect to make recommendations regarding technology for the sake of technology. Unless it addresses immediate issues, it has limited value. However, solutions architects do need to make sure they keep in touch with the latest technology innovations, that they are agile and prepared for the next context change. They also need to share best practices to enable other solutions architects to have a complete understanding of what is possible.
All 3 mindsets are about moving beyond point solutions and stop-start relationships. It is about…
By understanding these principles, applying an agile, scalable approach, and using the best enterprise methods such as ToGAF which is an enterprise architecture framework that helps define business goals and align them with architecture objectives. Then the solutions architect can realise their role in customer success and help customers succeed in a changeable world.