“The customer has more choices today than ever before and 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.”
– Bharath Yadla, Vice President at Workato
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 start-ups 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 holistic expansion and growth of the customers.
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. Put simply, 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 their 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 great 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 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: which is 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 a different purpose, different goals, and different 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 the customer’s expectations at play.
Yadla breaks down three growth stages (see picture below) of how organizations have to approach the dynamic changes within the business landscape. As we look in the market today, we see three business models that are at play across different SaaS organizations.
Yadla says each of these business models is focused on growth. That starts 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 at this stage ensures success in the use of the platform/product, more so where not to use it.
2) During the hyper-growth / scale-up stage: CS needs to be all about “Business Value” creation for the customer. This 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 how to best satisfy the customer’s needs and provide that world-class customer experience.
CS is all about customer’s success and meeting business needs
There are two kinds of (business) outcomes. The level of each success depends on (1) how the customer uses your product and (2) why customers hadn’t use your product? Oftentimes, 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 really 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 be able to perceive the business solutions that are meant for their business needs without the business use cases that were made available for them.
Therefore your goal is to be more expansive and driven to providing business value. When you create CS organizations, it must start in doing what is right and align CS in the vision and mission of the organization.
Why? Because customer success relies on the cooperation of all teams in the organization (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 from the support, individual interaction, touchpoints, and engagement which are fundamental in creating that magical experience.
The key aspect: customer experience needed to be embedded and must be part of the organizational objectives.
Additionally, augmenting customer’s feedback into their current business pain points, allows organizations to expand their business capability and helps to make a better and informed decision.
Thanks for taking the time reading this interview. If you’re planning or wanting to get new insights into developing or improving your CS programs, I wrote my first book in CS for that purpose. It is available on Amazon and it is up for grabs!. I appreciate the support for sharing this interview.
This article was originally published here.