The Marketing Strategist:

Data-Driven Automation Drives Service Renewals for Cisco and Partners

August 8, 2016


As judges review submissions for ITSMA’s 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards—we’ll announce finalists in September—we’re looking back at some of last year’s award-winning programs.

ITSMA Marketing Excellencec Awards

Managing extensive channel partner networks is never easy, but the growing focus on long-term customer experience and success makes it more difficult still.

Cisco’s data-driven initiative to improve sales and service renewal rates with partners provides a great example of how customer success programs can create win-win situations with partners. Not only did Cisco deepen its relationships with channel partners through this initiative, but the company also delivered huge cost and time efficiencies while generating financial wins for Cisco and its partners. The increase in service renewal rates has been particularly noteworthy, from 17% in the Americas to approximately 55%.

The Cisco Global Customer Success (GCS) organization was formed to simplify and digitize an end-to-end customer engagement model that supports customers for life. As part of this model, GCS established an initiative to develop a data-driven, automated renewals engine that enables partners to address all service renewals, no matter how small. Aimed at improving the efficiency and success of service sales renewals across the Americas, the initiative was formed to transform the way Cisco helps customers achieve their business outcomes.

Based on Cisco research, customers with a service contract have a 33% higher retention rate. To keep them on contract, Cisco executives recognized that the business opportunity meant more than winning the initial service sale: it required ongoing customer engagement over multiple cycles of the service renewal.

Program Objective

To extend its business transformation goals across the partner experience, GCS needed enhanced data, analytics, and automation capabilities to power the initiative. It began by leveraging MaintenanceNet’s (now a part of Cisco) data analytics and automation platform to improve the subscription and renewals experience for Cisco partners and customers by streamlining tedious, time-consuming tasks in the quoting and ordering process.

Because Cisco partners were missing out on a substantial number of service sales opportunities each year, Cisco also implemented MaintenanceNet’s AutoQuote campaign engine to help partners stop service revenue leakage and close service deals faster and more cost effectively. While selling a service renewal may sound easy, partners often neglect contract renewals because they’re difficult to track and manage, with hundreds or even thousands coming up for renewal each month.

Program Execution

Using AutoQuote, Cisco transformed its service renewal business into an automated process that ran smoothly on autopilot. The initiative allows sales representatives to see and take action on more sales opportunities, and also helps Cisco and its partners better engage customers at specific touch points in the customer’s lifecycle by ensuring their service contract needs are addressed on time, efficiently, and intelligently.

The first step in the initiative was to tap into customers’ service contract data residing in ERP, pricing, point of sale, CRM, entitlement, and other systems. Cisco then aggregated and enriched these disparate data sources to make the data complete and actionable, providing a full 360-degree picture of services that had yet to be transacted and renewed. The enriched data enabled partners to know precisely who to reach out to and whenwith the right service renewal offer.

AutoQuote leverages this same enriched data to fuel automated service renewal quotes, which are emailed out first to partners and then to end customers, 90 days in advance of service expirations. The expiration date of the quote is listed within the AutoQuote email and a built-in quote validation tool incorporates up-to-the-minute Cisco pricing and partner-specific discount models to ensure quote accuracy. To support global sales, localized languages and currency can be used.

Business Results

Using innovative data-driven processes and relying upon collaboration and automation, GCS has made nearly 96% of the service renewal opportunity actionable across Cisco’s partner base. In addition, it doubled the annual percent of available service renewals closed globally, delivered more than $3 billion in automated quote opportunities to the worldwide market in FY14, and saved Cisco distribution partners thousands of hours of sales and administrative time.

Through the initiative, Cisco has successfully revolutionized its low-dollar, high-volume service renewals business with an effective and efficient way to capture lost revenue. By digitizing the end-to-end customer engagement model for partners, it has established the foundation for the future of the GCS organization, setting the stage for Cisco to:

  • Expand its data-driven automation platform to address and manage the full customer lifecycle opportunity, across all customer touch points spanning the attach, onboarding, adoption, expansion, renewal, and technology refresh stages
  • Extend automated, personalized notifications across all lifecycle motions to the customer (under the partner brand) to improve the end-to-end customer experience
  • Integrate a powerful commerce capability, using AutoQuote, to give customers the ability to transact instantly and conveniently

Learn more about ITSMA’s 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards.


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