Kristen Hayer, Founder and CEO of "The Success League," a customer success consulting firm that works with executives who are ready to build and develop a top performing customer success team, joins Helping Sells Radio to talk about why CSMs need to embrace data and learn to use it to create a seamless customer experience for their customers. Easier said than done, but Kristen has practical tips for CS teams keen to grow their impact.
Raise your hand if you've ever gone shopping lately and come out of the store or website with far more than you intended to purchase? All of your hands should be raised because it's happening more often than not. That's because B2C businesses have been using their data to get you to buy more. Whether it's a brick-and-mortar store like Target putting items you didn't know you needed near the items you've bought in the past or Google putting ads to those same items on the ad serving networks so you see them everywhere you surf, using data is commonplace today.
B2B companies are behind the curve on this one and end up working with customer success consultants like Kristen Hayer. Kristin is the founder and CEO of The Success League, where she offers consulting and training programs to customer success teams at B2B companies around the world. She joined Bill Cushard and Sarah E. Brown on this episode of the Helping Sells podcast to talk more about how B2B companies need to dive in to their data and really use it to create a seamless customer experience for their customers.
B2B companies lag behind their B2C counterparts
"Customer success is becoming increasingly important for B2B companies for two main reasons," Kristen explained. Firstly, because it's been around for decades in the B2C world. We're so used to that seamless experience in the real world and online that we expect it everywhere now. "We're so used to that one-to-one experience in B2B, aren't we?" Bill commented. "The direct email or call to a vendor, right?" According to Kristen, only about 25% of B2B companies are using the same one-to-many tactics B2C companies have been using for decades now.
The second reason why CS and the seamless customer experience is become more important is because of the changing demographic of the B2B buying decision makers. Millennials have grown up with technology in their personal lives that they come to expect it everywhere, so they're expecting that "seamless CX experience in their business lives too," Kristen said.
Which is why CS is so important in the B2B world. Today's B2B organization needs to look at how they can create a seamless buying experience for their customers, changing the way they sell and how they take care of customers post-sale. The CS leaders in B2B have already understood this and are leading their respective markets because of it. The rest are lagging behind.
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Data collection and analysis is critical for CS and B2B
We've been talking a lot about data and using it in customer education lately and Kristen is a big fan of it too. "We need to be good at collecting data at all stages of the customer journey," she said. "So we can anticipate customer needs instead of reacting." This is something B2C does very well, but B2B is only just now starting to do it.
There are many tools available right now that collect and report on customer data, such as Gainsight, Totango, and ClientSuccess, enabling companies to track and report on their own data. The issue, Kristen explains, is that there's a gap between what tools companies use and the activities of CSMs. For example, CSMs are having great interactions with their customers, however they're not recording all the information in their CRM. Other companies may record their data very well, only they're not reporting on that data regularly.
How can B2B companies get better with data?
To improve their relationship with data, B2B companies should plan out their data collection processes from start to finish, advises Kristen. "Leverage the people they have in place in high-touch customer roles," she said. To augment what they're going to do with technology in the future instead of with people, she went on to explain.
Tech tools can help B2B companies increase their one-to-many customer relationships and reduce the amount of people involved in maintaining the relationship on a regular basis. That's not to say companies can reduce the number of CS staff, but rather, deploying their staff in higher value tasks and let the technology take over the lower value ones.
A real-world B2B example
Kristen explained a real-world example from one of her previous employers, where she was in charge of the customer success team. She wanted to identify customers that potentially may not renew their software subscription and then start a soft outreach program to help them. She was looking for a proactive way to help them instead of just waiting until a month before the subscription expired and they were notified of the renewal loss.
Working with the finance team, Kristen identified a series of customer segments to reach out to. She set up a team of junior customer success reps to reach out to these customers, asking if they needed help with the product. They had a conversation with the customers, asking questions, and listening to the responses. And the response to the program was tremendous. "We generated 100% more revenue with the customers, either through a renewal or increased spend," she said.
By working collaboratively with her finance colleagues, she was able to create and execute the CS campaign and generate a positive return for the company. This type of collaborative relationship between teams is critical for CS success at any B2B company.
Use data to drive CS success
You may be tired of hearing the term "Big Data", but if you're in the customer success or education industries, you're only just getting started with it. B2C has been using it for decades and now it's time for B2B to get on board. Kristen Hayer's a big fan and can help anyone learn how to love it and use it too.
To listen to the entire conversation between Kristen, Bill, and Sarah, listen to the latest episode of Helping Sells.
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