Hold music while waiting for customer service is what nobody wants to hear. Whether using a B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer) model, today good customer experience is the key to success. A bad experience, on the other hand, means a lost customer.
After finalizing a sale, we begin down a new path: Customer Success. In other words, customers achieving their objectives and being more than satisfied with the given product or service.
Leandro López Mazzarini is Aivo’s Director of Customer Success. For more than 12 years, he has worked closely with CEO, Martín Frascaroli. How did they start this adventure?
They saw the first touchscreen telephone and began to create interactive windows so people would play from the other side. They did the same thing with tables and floors. They installed (and maintained) Bluetooth antennas in subways. They got together with big brands, business people, and entrepreneurs. Their common denominator: chasing after the state-of-the-art.
Until one day while adjusting the focus, their present arrived dressed as the future. A business with risks and uncertainty, but with a great outlook: artificial intelligence.
Today, they continue the adventure together helping companies to meet their customer needs through text and voice chatbots, help sites, and software for human agents.
But, what’s most important for achieving satisfied customers who (at the same time) have their own customers? How has the Customer Success area grown in the B2B world in recent years? Leandro tells us all there is to know.
Could you tell us how and why the Customer Success area has emerged within businesses?
It arises with SaaS (Software as a Service) and its disruptive business model. It’s a monthly payment-for-consumption format, without the need to invest in hardware or maintenance engineers. A more accessible software than what was normally marketed with auto-management capabilities. In this way, businesses that use it decrease their cost structure significantly, and they are allowed to manage activities and guarantee a certain level of service available in the cloud.
All this represented a big transformation for technological companies. These companies had obsolete after-sales areas used to providing minimal support. They went from dealing with customers with a life cycle of 2-3 years to users who could switch to their competitors in just a few clicks. They had to fight each month to avoid a fall in subscriptions and make the customer choose them as a provider every month. Centering on customer needs is essential; if we only see the product, we can get caught in the trap of believing that we are the only option. As strange as it may sound, businesses still continue forcing behaviors and believing they can change their users’ habits.
Therefore, they had to restructure their businesses, and that’s how Customer Success was born: a group of theories, methods, and specialists who understand that the only way for a business to grow is over a solid user base.
How was the Customer Success area developed in Aivo?
At the beginning, it was called “Operations.” Our logo was an octopus because each member completed multiple tasks, until we needed to become more specialized. That is to say, really understand how to do the best onboarding in the market, how to offer the best customer service experience, and how to deliver a brilliant strategic consultancy.
This is how each of these fields developed into a sub-area, with subject specialists thinking daily about customer difficulties and with their own work dynamics, objectives and organizing head.
We even created an internal development area. The teams that work on technological improvements plan their work in quarters and they organize their activities weekly, while Customer Success speaks with their customers in terms of days, even hours.
Today, Aivo’s Customer Success area is made up of the following positions: Onboarding Specialist, Adoption Specialist, Support Team, Customer Success Managers, Account Managers and Content Experience Specialist. We also have our CSI, or Customer Success Integration Team, a technical team focused on making the necessary connections to merge the systems of our customers and Aivo. That’s how they can share information, allowing the user to register or get customized and automatic information in real time through their preferred channels.
What is the purpose of the area? What are its daily goals?
We mainly assist the customer in achieving their objectives; we want to create happy customers. In tangible metric terms, we strive for the highest satisfaction levels (NPS), Retention (reduce Churn), and Growth (MRR increment).
We face challenges every day. We have well-studied processes for onboarding, support, and conflict resolution. Customer status guides us a lot. It’s like a stoplight system: the account can be at risk (red), in a potentially-dangerous alert situation (yellow), neutral (gray), or fruitful for continued growth (green). We have established actions for handling each situation.
What is the importance of Customer Success area and its impact on the business?
Customer Success is not an area; it’s a culture that centers the customer in organizational decisions understanding that the leitmotiv of its existence is empowering its customers. When an organization loses focus and starts to look at itself more than its users, it puts its long-term survival at risk. It’s impossible to guess how Customer Success will evolve, but it’s easy to suppose that it will be towards coherent businesses along with market needs: less conflict, more comfort, and more free choice.
There’s a statement from a study on Customer Success that I really like: “When you’re a startup, Marketing is your voice. When you are a scale-up, customers are your voice.”
What are the stages a customer goes through after making a purchase? What is their path?
Unlike a product, the very nature of a service implies joint construction with the customer. This customer journey is a story that’s constantly designed and revised:
Land: Introducing the service to the customer. It is the first and long-lasting impression that the organization will have. Here the Onboarding strategy unfolds, acting quickly and efficiently to accompany the customer’s enthusiasm.
Adopt: The objective is for the customer to acquire essential auto-management habits and knowledge. Timing is key. It’s important not to get ahead of oneself, since it’s vital to know what’s necessary for keeping the service functional.
Mature: At this point, deepening knowledge is fundamental so the customer can take full advantage of the service. Conditions are given for reaching the initially-proposed objective, which is why keeping it in sight is important for managing customer expectations. Consulting and advising will become key team activities.
Expand: The customer feels confident and creatively seeks new uses for the solution. It is key that the technical team is responsive and has the capacity to support growth. An expert team takes on the difficult task of keeping the customer focused, while continuing to strengthen the solution inside the company.
Renew: This is the moment of truth. A customer who already knows what they need, what they have and what they lack has already interacted with all the organization’s areas and undergone the service journey. If the experience is well-designed, there will probably be a good negotiation in search of continuity.
What is most important in keeping customers happy?
Today, I believe the key is giving customers their time back. It’s giving them what they need, when and where they need it, while investing minimal resources (money or effort).
Customers are the voice of the company and Customer Success takes care of them.
It’s time to answer
Today, undoubtly, the key to success is a better all-around customer experience. And you, do you answer the call to improve customer experience every day, or are you leaving it on hold?