Winning Customers in Today’s Competitive and Customer-Centric World

6 min read
26 May

In this interview, Bharath Yadla, Vice President at Workato, talks about the importance of delivering differentiated customer experiences and understanding each customer interaction.

The customer has more choices today than ever before. More alternatives are available if the vendor can’t provide the value or service the customer expects and requires from the organization. Gone are the days when a customer can tolerate mediocre brand experiences. The difference between now and then ― those alternatives are more transparent and quick to implement.

Background and Career 

Yadla is a serial entrepreneur with 20 years of strategic and operational leadership in both startups and large corporations. 

He founded three startup companies with a laser focus on expansion and delivering a differentiated customer success experience. He pointed out that the organization’s focus should be on the customers’ holistic expansion and growth. 

He notes, “a successful customer relationship starts on the front lines with your customer support or CS team.” Both of these team manages the highest number of personal interactions with customers.

Delivering differentiated customer experience on the new battlefield

Investing in customer experience and delivering value at every phase of a customer’s journey is the new battleground of differentiation. Differentiated customer experience drives more growth, revenue, and customer loyalty. 

Remember, you can’t create an authentic, long-lasting connection without a thorough understanding of your customer’s needs and business requirements. Staying ahead of the curve is not only about the product anymore, but it is also about valuing customer experience and how the product meets customer expectations. 

Likewise, Customer Success is in an unparalleled position to transform that (customer) relationships. By acting with goodwill — and providing extra value — they serve as the guardians of these vital connections.

The economics of extraordinary experiences: value trumps product features

When the product offering looks the same and has the same value, Yadla notes, the customer looks at how holistic the solution is, how it can help them, and where the distinction exists. 

He continues, “customers use some rational considerations on choosing a vendor, such as a price, business value, support, and loyalty programs; however, they also use these parameters to neglect (or dismiss) the relationship.”

In today’s business, creating a differentiated experience comes from creating value from one customer at a time. Generally speaking, the more ways you can bring value, the more loyal customers are to your brand, and the greater the sustainable growth your business can achieve. 

Organizations need to understand it is not about doing everything it takes to make the customer happier; it is about helping the customers find (or obtain) the (business) value in every interaction. 

Having this clear focus on achieving and improving customer experience, organizations must innovate continuously - yet - the central tenet in growing the business must always be the same and a constant reason: keeping the toe line between customers’ success and delivering successful business outcomes. 

Building CS Organizations for Hypergrowth 

As organizations grow, the CS organizations need to be built with different purposes, goals, and economic aspects. One of the interesting challenges at scale, particularly in a rapidly growing company, is that the platform or software created has changed along with its expectations at play. 

Yadla breaks down three growth stages (see picture below) of how organizations have to approach the business landscape’s dynamic changes. As we look in the market today, we see three business models at play across different SaaS organizations. 

Yadla says each of these business models is focused on growth. That starts with how the platform addresses business pain points, delivering the (business) value promised to customers, and keeping pace, and ensuring success in the relationship.

Definition and meaning of each business model:

    1) During the startup stage: CS needs to be all about “Filling the Gap.” The gaps perceived by the customer about the product, market gaps. This means an organization ensures success in using the platform/product, more so were not to use it.

    2) During the hyper-growth / scale-up stage: CS needs to be all about “Business Value” creation for the customer. It means organizations at this stage are mapping out the customer journey, tailoring conversations aligned with business goals, and proactively managing it.

    3) During the Matured stage: CS function naturally tends towards the “Sustenance” aspects. It’s about what’s best for the customer and what’s best for the company. At this stage, an organization has a well-rounded understanding of satisfying its needs and providing a world-class customer experience.

CS is all about customer’s success and meeting business needs.

There are two kinds of (business) outcomes. Each success level depends on (1) how the customer uses your product and (2) why customers hadn’t use your product? Frequently, Yadla says, he always wants to talk about the latter.

He notes, “I’m very much interested to know if the solution meets their pain points or business needs. I need to know whether the solutions help them; otherwise, we need to find a way to support our customers and find value on the partnerships”. 

Being an entrepreneur, creating business solutions that customers would use (and advocate) is the foremost mindset a CS organization must-have in the first place. Remember, the customer would not perceive the business solutions meant for their business needs without the business use cases. 

Therefore your goal is to be more expansive and driven to providing business value. When you create CS organizations, it must start doing what is right and align CS in the organization’s vision and mission.

Why? Because customer success relies on all teams’ cooperation (not just in CS). Think about Disneyland. What do they offer? A magical world or creating that wonderful and magical experience. 

The focus is on creating that unforgettable experience. Yet, the rides, the food, the hour spend and waiting for their time, the suspense, these are ALL parts of the journey. 

Similarly, when you talk about SaaS and its success: everything encompasses the support, individual interaction, touchpoints, and engagement, which are fundamental in creating that magical experience. 

The critical aspect: customer experience needed to be embedded and must be part of the organizational objectives. 

Additionally, augmenting customer feedback into their current business pain points allows organizations to expand their business capability and make a better-informed decision.

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