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February 23, 2018
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Women in Tech: Part 5 – Customer Success Manager

I’m Raksha Jayaraj, an Engineer from Bangalore. I joined Hortonworks in early 2017 from another technology company called National Instruments. Being a technophile, I have always been keen on working with the impact that technology makes on everyday life. From selling cutting edge technology in Emerging Markets to working on retaining customers in a Developed Market, I have come a long way in maturing from Sales to Customer Success which only seems to be a natural progression to me.

I joined Hortonworks as a Customer Success Manager, shouldering the responsibility of understanding our customers’ needs and building timely deliverables, to hit large retention rates as a company. Innumerable articles and blogs have been written about acquisition vs retention and customer revenue mix. While there is a common consensus that acquiring new customers is more expensive, the hard reality seems to point out the dangerous churn values and customers choosing competitor platforms.

At Hortonworks, we are customer obsessed and what excites me the most is the fact that the entire organization is aligned to this objective. While we capture CSAT scores from customers, my role is to analyze them and backtrack on identifying and implementing the success factors across industries and regions.

A Formula for Retaining Customers

My biggest objective is to make sure that our customers believe that we are on the same team, which can be achieved by getting them closer to their business goals. This will happen through performance reviews that talk about the alignment of goals, showing ROI for the customers, identifying challenges, and building workarounds. There are 5 parameters that constantly need to be measured in order to successfully retain a customer, I call it the ABCDT formula:

  1. Application – Understanding the use case of the customer not only lets them trust your knowledge, but also enables you to keep them updated about the latest technology relevant to them, even if it is not your own platform.
  2. Budget – At the end of the day, the final call to processing a Purchase Order relies on how much funds a particular team is granted. Since the investment today is critical and high in big data, this has not necessarily been quite as challenging for us than in other industries.
  3. Competition/Challenges – Smart customers are always weighing options to optimize their internal capacities; only by truly understanding their challenges can we solve their problems and retain them on our platform.
  4. Decision Maker – The Decision Maker has to be kept happy and updated. While we talk to many different users on the platform, keeping the Decision Maker informed about how successful their team is often makes or breaks the deal when it’s time.
  5. Time Frame – Contacting the customers at the right time is the real key to success. Nobody likes to be contacted only at the time of their subscription renewals or when there is an escalation; the right touchpoints make the whole journey meaningful.

Building KPI’s to constantly track and analyse these parameters has helped me provide useful insights to our customers, they always appreciate any new useful information.

Overcoming Challenges

My biggest challenge so far has been to establish these goals internally in the organization with large volumes of people working on multiple objectives. Getting results from customers helped me translate these goals more effectively, coupled with my manager’s constant support and dedication to help make me successful. I have many mentors which help me succeed, but my favorite one is a woman. She always tells me, “Only women can uplift women” which I believe is so true because we understand each others challenges well enough to build smart workarounds.

Similar to my customer success formula, I believe that we can make an impact for other women in tech by identifying parameters that we can measure. If we each consistently apply this formula we can make an impact:

  1. Training and sharing knowledge with each other
  2. Referring and hiring more women
  3. Providing constant constructive feedback through slips
  4. Making your workplace environment safe

Culture at Hortonworks is what I have loved the most so far and I look forward to learning and working with many more strong and intelligent women making an impact everyday, in this big beautiful tech world.



Helly says:

Wow..Thanks for sharing your experience. All women are inspired for your story.

Raksha says:

Thank you Helly 🙂

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