Certification and Crazy Customer Success

If you’re a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, your customers aren’t just buying your technology. They’re buying a solution to a problem.

The solution certainly includes the features and functions of the software itself but also the expectation of ease and convenience, speed and performance, and possibly, cost savings and/or increased revenues.

And it doesn’t end there.

Customers also looking for guidance, support, enablement and expertise.

The Certification Secret

For a SaaS company, certification is an ideal—but often overlooked—strategy for enabling and empowering customers, employees, partners and resellers.

Passing a certification exam is recognition of advanced skills in your software (expertise). Certificants often become power users (enablement) in their companies.

Nello France, SVP of Customer Success with Talend, states in his contribution to the book, Customer Success, that customers expect SaaS companies to make them wildly successful.

That’s a big expectation.

France says that wild success doesn’t happen by chance. It happens when the SaaS company and the customer each have a stake in that success. 

Certification represents skin in the game for program sponsor and customer. It involves an investment of time, money and effort for both parties.

For the sponsor, certification communicates professionalism, authority and leadership and provides customers a path to expertise and empowerment. For the customer, certification accelerates growth and competency with the vendor’s software. 

France mentions that one of the benefits that customers seek when considering a SaaS provider is access to subject matter experts (SMEs).

Certification is a way for the customer to build a team of internal SMEs who can interface and synergize with their counterpart SMEs on the vendor’s team.

The Vendor-Customer Relationship

Ultimately, customer success is about building a solid relationship between vendor and customer. Creating early wins in the relationship is beneficial—often crucial—to the relationship.

Certification is a highly visible strategy for creating early wins for the customer whose employees or managers can become certified during or shortly after the product-implementation and onboarding phases.  

Early wins can pay dividends in the future when technical, business or political challenges pop up. It allows the sponsor to point to value already delivered.

Certification is an important positioning strategy for the sponsor because, in the eyes of prospective customers, it differentiates the company from competing SaaS vendors. Creating and maintaining a certification program is a considerable undertaking on the part of the sponsor. Few accept the challenge.

If the sponsor also provides training to help prospects prepare for the certification exam, clients will appreciate the vendor’s efforts all the more for providing a comprehensive, round-trip program aimed at empowering/enabling certificant prospects.

Certification Delivers Solutions

In addition to providing enablement and expertise, certification also reduces customer-support tickets because certified employees, with their advanced skills, can now solve their own problems and those of their co-workers.

Resellers with certified personnel will be able to quickly answer questions and resolve issues with their own customers as well. 

Another benefit of certification for sponsors is that certificants often become product ambassadors promoting the software within their companies, thereby boosting product adoption.

Such customer alignment with the software has a beneficial impact on the overall business relationship.

Customers aren’t just buying technology. They’re buying a solution.

Certification delivers multiple solutions in the form of expertise, enablement and empowerment. It creates subject matter experts, power users and product ambassadors. It’s also great for generating early wins and boosting product adoption.

Certification is the perfect strategy for building crazy customer success.

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