The PReP model used for ABEJA’s new service development helped exceed the management target by 30%

Issues before the PReP model’s introduction– Different understanding of customers within the Customer Success team
– Difficulty in communicating and collaborating with the development team
Results after the PReP model’s introduction– Smooth promotion of self-service marketing
– Reduced development time for new services by 75%
– Conversion rate for test marketing exceeded the target by 30%

Mr. Genshin Maruta, Customer Success Manager, ABEJA Corporation

ABEJA Corporation (ABEJA) is an up-and-coming artificial intelligence (AI) startup that is expanding in two major business areas: one is a support service for developing an AI model, and the other is “ABEJA Insight for Retail (AIFR),” a specialized service for the retail industry that analyzes customer behavior in brick-and-mortar stores.

We interviewed Mr. Genshin Maruta, who leads ABEJA’s Customer Success team, about how ABEJA utilized the PReP model to provide new values to their customers in the retail industry, where digital transformation (DX) is becoming key for survival.

Strongly recognized the PReP model’s potential for Customer Success after the workshop

     What was the situation before applying the PReP model?

Mr. Maruta: The results of our services are greatly influenced by the level of service utilization by our customers. Customer Success managers have to work to increase this level.

To do so, it is necessary to overcome three barriers: getting customers to use the service, analyzing and planning/implementing effective measures based on data, and spreading the successful trial projects to the entire organization.

Before I encountered the PReP model, I was facing challenges in disseminating my activities to other members and delivering customer feedback to the development team.

     What were some of the issues you were facing?

Mr. Maruta: Understanding customers is the key to implementing Customer Success. You could say it is the basic foundation. Without understanding customers’ business processes, you cannot help your customers. Each customer is different in terms of their computer literacy, usage phase, eagerness to take on challenges, and what they want to do. In this context, we need to understand the business processes, the industry knowledge, and the unspoken rules of the retail industry to take the appropriate actions at the right time to create results for the customer. It was not easy for the entire team to realize this.

In addition, in terms of collaboration with the development team, ABEJA engineers have many members with very advanced development skills and mindsets, and it is not unusual for the level of functions we work on to be several steps ahead of what the customers want. No matter how great the function is, the customers will not purchase the product if they are not at the same stage. Thus, bridging the gap between the customer’s requirements and the functions the development team wanted to provide was another key issue to be solved

     What was your impression of the PReP model when you applied it?

Mr. Maruta: When I experienced the PReP model workshop, the first thing I felt was, “This is like a translation gummy that appears in Doraemon.” I was asked questions about things that I hadn’t been able to verbalize or organize in my head because they were sensory or tacit knowledge. As we talked in the workshop, I was able to organize my thoughts very well. I was impressed, to say the least, when I saw the process flowchart being created right in front of me.

Even the parts that I don’t usually notice myself were examined, and ambiguous words were converted into clear language. These were incorporated to create the customer’s workflow. This experience had a huge impact on me. Moreover, the speed with which it became a very beautiful flowchart was also wonderful. By the end of the workshop, I was convinced that the PReP model could be used for Customer Success.

By implementing the PReP model, we were able to structure our service, which we had been struggling with, and achieve 83% conversions against our goal of 50% in test marketing

     How did you use the PReP model you created in your work?

Mr. Maruta: We used it for organizational development within ABEJA. I used it to strengthen the Customer Success team and to collaborate with the development team.

     Please tell us how the PReP model helped to strengthen the Customer Success team.

Mr. Maruta: To strengthen the Customer Success team, we shared the PReP model and used it to understand the customer’s business. As a result, the level of customer understanding within the team has improved, and the quality of discussion and the speed of reaching a consensus have increased dramatically. Consequently, we were able to structure the Tech Touch content, which we had struggled with in the past, and the self-service system, which allows customers to solve their own problems without the assistance of Customer Success representatives.

     How did the PReP model help your collaboration with the development team?

Mr. Maruta: We used it to collaborate with the development team in a development project for a new function. In this project, I represented the Customer Success team by serving as a product marketing manager. By using the PReP model, we were able to discuss customer issues and service improvement points very quickly. As a result, we were able to complete the alpha version of the new function for test marketing that was expected to take more than a year in just three months. In addition, the high target of a 50% conversion rate for test marketing was met with an impressive 83% result. This result was highly praised not only by the management but also by the shareholders as a test marketing method for product development that includes both the development team and the Customer Success team.

If it were not for the PReP model, we would not have been able to reach a consensus with the development team. And the new function development project would have ended up as a failure.

If I had known that it could help drive Customer Success this far, I would have wanted to know about it two years ago

     Who do you think should use the PReP model?

Mr. Maruta: All businesspeople. The PReP model can serve as a translator for people who have different values, different perspectives, and different granularity of information.
The two main reasons for business failure are missing the trend and insufficient understanding of the customer’s business. Surprisingly enough, it is difficult for us to recognize if our understanding of a customer’s business is sufficient or not. It is even more difficult to raise the level of understanding of the entire organization when you yourself do not understand what is going on. By using the PReP model, I was able to experience an improvement in the quality of our team’s activities, and I highly recommend it to people involved with Customer Success.
I wish I had encountered it two years ago, because I never expected it to be able to drive Customer Success to this level. If I had found it then, I would have been able to shorten my two years of struggling to launch Customer Success and generating results to about six months.

Would like to share with everyone the sense of speed with which business processes are systematized and built up

     What are your plans for ABEJA’s activities?

Mr. Maruta: First, I would like to try to apply the PReP model to our customers. There are cases where customers’ organizations are vertically divided and customers themselves don’t have the overall picture of the business flow. If we can discuss what ABEJA can do to support customers by using the PReP model to clarify the business process and by sharing their goal, I believe that we will be able to conduct Customer Success activities more effectively.

Also, I would like to use the PReP model to support new employees who join the Customer Success team. It would be very reassuring to have your support in this area. I would like to share that sense of speed and the experience of systematizing and assembling the process with everyone.

Mr. Maruta is not only the leader of the Customer Success team at ABEJA Corporation but also established the Customer Success College and makes efforts to spread Customer Success. We look forward to continuing our support in making Customer Success activities more effective and efficient.

Thank you, Mr. Maruta, for working with us!