An Interview with Christophe Girault, Director of Customer Success at Tidwit
- Hi Christophe! Thanks for taking the time to chat today about partner engagement. Can you tell me what your role is exactly at Tidwit?
I’m Director of Customer Success at Tidwit. In this global role, I help customers adopt and run the Tidwit platform. My focus is helping customers understand what capabilities they have with Tidwit, so that they can get the most out of the solution.
- The English poet and cleric John Donne famously said, “No man is an island”. How much relevance does that quote have today?
It couldn’t be more relevant! I think there are two levels to talk about here. On the one hand, internally it is so important to be well-connected within your organisation. I live in a fairly remote corner of France, and I work from home a lot. The success of my projects would not have been possible if I had worked in isolation. It was built on close collaboration both within my teams and – crucially – cross functionally, too.Externally, particularly in the SaaS space, interconnectivity is a key driver of success. Over the past two decades I have personally seen companies fail, or at least reach a glass ceiling pretty quickly, by pursuing a direct business model approach. If you want to scale your business, you must expand sales, marketing and support teams, which can be costly in terms of expenditure and time. The key to profitability and growth is to tap into the power of partners to sell, promote and support. What’s more, when expanding into new regions or industries, you can leverage partners who are already in that space, already experts in their field, with local relationships and often an existing customer base.The companies that are successful at the moment are able to grow, whilst still retaining a personal, human touch. I don’t think it’s possible to achieve that and scale up on your own.
- So if partners are intrinsic to an organisation’s success, how high on the agenda should partner engagement be?
My personal belief is that an organisation will only be successful if their partners and customers are successful. My motto is: your success is our success! Companies have been focusing on customer success for a while now, but it’s only recently that I’ve seen partner success really start to move to the top of the agenda. We are in the middle of a shift in this respect – one that I welcome. I believe that if you focus your efforts on making your partners successful, this will be repaid several-fold and you will be successful, too.
- What is the secret recipe for great partner engagement?
The foundation for great partner engagement is to understand what your partner’s desired outcome is. Ask the question: what does success look like for you?There are three pillars of success when it comes to partner engagement: People – Processes – Technology. You need all three ingredients to ensure the recipe turns out right. I’ll go into this in more depth in a future guest piece here on tidwit.com, but the first step is really as simple as talking to your partners, asking what their goal is. This will help you understand the relevance of your product, and then you can start to build and plan their journey towards success.
- How can organisations ensure this is a sustainable process, rather than a one-time instance?
This is such an important piece. It’s imperative to capture and document the key engagement stages, mapping key milestones in a playbook. Careful attention should be paid to documenting what needs to be done by when. Then celebrate achieving those milestones with your partner! This is a great way to show how you are adding value through the entire process. Furthermore, by continuously reviewing progress, you will be able to identify when things aren’t going so well early on and can take steps to get the project back on track sooner rather than later.It’s also important to document best practice along the way. This will enable you to accelerate success with other customers and you will be able to scale your business faster.
- What’s your top tip for companies who want to start working on partner engagement, but are not sure how to take the first step on this journey? There’s a really simple first step: talk to your partners. Ask them “what are you trying to achieve?”. And then listen to their answer.There’s a great quote by Lincoln Murphy, which I always come back to: “Customer success is about helping your customer or partner achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.”
- Christophe, you’ve been working in IT for almost 20 years. What’s so exciting about your work that keeps you in the game? It’s all about people: the thing I enjoy most about my work is the interaction with customers and partners. Over the past two decades I have met and worked with so many interesting people from different organisations, countries and cultures. That’s what makes my work so interesting and keeps me passionate about what I do.Thank you for your valuable insights, Christophe! We are looking forward to your guest article on the three pillars of successful partner engagement. Watch this space…