Cisco today expanded its training and certification portfolio by adding an emphasis on customer success management—its Customer Success Manager (CuSM) Certification—to help businesses identify the qualified professionals who will allow them to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive digital landscape.
The CuSM Certification provides a framework and core set of skills to ensure that companies reach their desired business outcomes, increase adoption, and renew subscriptions. Included is a program that is led either by a live instructor or virtual instructor who prepares learners for the exam.
“In the digital economy, the world continues to shift,” says Tejas Vashi, senior director of product strategy and marketing at Cisco Systems. “Things are getting faster, and the barriers are getting lower.” This, in turn, “makes it harder for enterprises to retain customers if they don’t have the right talent in place, whether that’s in the IT department—where technology is helping to drive customer success—or in the front lines with sales—where the sales team has to engage the customer beyond just the land cycle.”
While salespeople before might have been safe to concern themselves with signing on a customer and moving on to the next one, an increasingly software- and service-driven market does not permit that approach. Customers are much more likely now to switch providers, and the sales professional’s responsibilities extend well beyond the dotted line. To keep a customer satisfied after a contract has been signed, Vashi holds, sales reps must “make sure that the customer really understands how to leverage the products, services, solutions that they bought from [them] to ensure adoption” and create opportunities for the future. The same goes for other customer-facing professionals, whether they are in customer service or marketing.
Yet many organizations struggle to find employees who are adequately trained in the area of customer success. “Therefore, training and certifications are critical for these roles, to make sure that hiring managers understand who has the skills they require,” Vashi says. Enter Cisco, whose Learning@Cisco division works closely with industry analysts, pundits, and customers to identify the skills that are in demand within businesses today, as job descriptions continue to evolve.
The 20-year-old outfit, Vashi says, is comprised of a product management team, which “really puts together the requirements and understands the training and skills market,” and multiple development teams that work to build out the exams and certifications separately. (In keeping those groups separate, the idea is to make sure that the training is not designed with the limited goal of helping people pass its own test, Vashi says.) Additionally, a third team develops the training and education platforms, using social and cloud-based capabilities, along with data and analytics, to drive “the best level of learning outcomes possible.”
“We build certifications based on what the industry tells us they need a benchmark for,” Vashi says. “Hiring managers within our partner or customer ecosystem tell us: ‘You know, we really need this type of person, and I can’t find this person. I need someone with skills that can do this.’”
Along with the CuSM Certification, Cisco is now offering Business Value Certifications, which aim to enhance learners’ ability to work across customer lines of business. The service helps IT organizations understand motivations and desired business outcomes, while enabling them to engineer and employ an effective approach, and communicate the value in proposed technology investments.
The company plans also to add certifications and training in the areas of innovation, digital marketing, and technical project management. “Because if enterprises don’t continue to evolve on all of these functions, they will continue to fall behind,” Vashi says. “This is why Learning@Cisco will continue to focus on building the talent.”