In this interview, Bhanu Sareddy, Chief Customer Officer at Cybereason, talks about the ideology behind CS, and what it takes to succeed in these dynamic and uncertain times.
Proactive value realization
Back in the day, customers bought something, and you end up supporting them. There wasn't this concept of consistent value from the system (product or service). It felt like people are stuck.
When SaaS came around, you didn't just solve problems, but you provide intrinsic value that customers expect and require. Customers have the option to decide (to their advantage) whether they want to continue partnering with the vendor or not.
With these changes, organizations have begun to adjust their efforts on how to make an impact on their customers. Previously, it was only suitable for happy customers. But now, they (businesses) want to make sure they are part of the success of its customers.
Businesses also learn from partnerships that allow them to shift focus, change priorities, and overcome strong external forces and market conditions.
The customer relationship does not begin or end based on their renewal contract. Instead, it is a continuous process that takes place every single day. Customers can stay in organizations as long as they receive the value and service they think they need.
What exactly the organization is doing to retain customers and keep relationships intact is the new operating rhythm (stability and success perspective) needed to succeed in this dynamic and uncertain time - especially in the SaaS world. Companies ensure customers gain value through onboarding, training, implementation, value planning, and collaboration for future growth.
Businesses have also begun to measure the impact of relationships not only in the form of an NPS or word of mouth: but what we bring back to the business. Whether in terms of growth, recommendations, or referrals.
The enduring value of CS
In the past, a project manager, a technical account manager, a (dedicated) support person was responsible for supporting customers. When we entered the AM era, sales became the face of business (for customers).
When customers buy something in the organization, the sales team automatically becomes a POC (point of contact). Customers realize that salespeople are moving (at different companies) all the time.
One caveat: CS people also move. The difference now, it ensures customers the consistency of the business relationship. That means someone can plan year-round on their projects, conduct a full business review (evaluation), and be accountable for their long-term success - which they did not see in the previous business model.
From a business perspective, having CS gives them better optics (success metrics), risk management planning, and nurturing opportunity (better insight into their customers).
There are several things you can do to ensure that customers get the value the business promises them. Too many companies do not make any further measurements once the deal is closed.
Here are a few things organizations can do.
Follow up after purchase is made. It is imperative, especially in the first 30 or 60 days. It is the time when customers learn about your service and product.
Quickly onboard and train customers. Gather customer feedback at each stage of their journey. Recognize customer efforts along the way. Identify, analyze, and take appropriate steps to understand customer predisposition.
Develop an effective communication (or engagement) process to keep it fresh and engaging. It is good to understand what we are trying to bring into the relationship that customers can relate to and appreciate. Do we provide new insights or new findings?
Collaborate with customers. Ask customers if they want to become design partners, or they will be interested in authoring articles together.
Invite customers to talk to your team about how they use the product and how they benefit from it. Perhaps, doing a webinar or a case study testimonials.
Collaborate with other departments at the strategic level to ensure that the strategic plan gets implemented and executed thoroughly.
It is necessary to remember what customers get in partnership. Planning and driving business growth is more important than fixing and correcting business problems. Remember, the business value is not just about a technical or product benefit provided by a business.
It is about managing risk and discovering growth in the customer's organization. Doing so creates trust and confidence both in the process (value planning) and by forming meaningful relationships.