Episode 028: Mission Critical Support for Customer Retention with Igor Seletsky

Posted on April 30, 2020May 1, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 028: Mission Critical Support for Customer Retention with Igor Seletsky

One of the best customer retention strategies by far is to know what your customers need and sustain it.

Show Notes

Within some industries, the better you are at your job, the less you get recognized. Case in point is server maintenance and customer retention. No matter how hard you work behind the scenes, no one pays attention unless something goes wrong. It’s a relatively thankless position, but one that is crucial in today’s cloud-based world.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Igor Seletskiy, CEO of KernelCare. If you’re familiar with Linux at all, you know that Linux Kernels can be somewhat complex, particularly for large organizations. Fortunately, KernelCare can install patches and upgrades to the system, all without having to reboot. Although KernelCare isn’t the only game in town, Igor and his team have found incredible success, even against major players like Oracle and KSplice.

I picked his brain for a little while to see how he developed his B2B SaaS customer retention strategies. Here are some highlights from the episode.

Building a SaaS Product Because of Customer Demand

Critical support for customer retention
Igor Seletsky

Because of the complexity of Linux Kernels, Igor didn’t really want to get into Kernel maintenance. However, because he was already working with clients and service providers that used Linux, they kept asking him and his team if they could assist with Kernels as well. Based on the sheer volume of requests, Igor realized that his company had to meet demand.

Essentially, he was dragged into the business by his clientele, which is sometimes a good problem to have. Once you know that your customers need your services, growth and sustainability are almost guaranteed. This is one of the best customer retention strategies by far.

Fortunately, Igor and his team were also thrown a life preserver in the form of open-source Kernel software. Part of the reason for his initial reluctance was that they would have to use Oracle’s program, which could lead to lawsuits. However, with an open-source platform, the company could get into Kernel management without the looming specter of legal action.

Service Provider vs. Enterprise Server Management

When KernelCare first came on the market, most of its clients were service providers. However, in recent years, thanks to Igor’s SaaS customer service panache, the company is getting more enterprise-level clients. This created a host of challenges that Igor and his team had to meet.

First of all, the size and scale of an enterprise business are far above any service provider. When handling thousands of servers, one problem can create a deluge of others, which leads to downtime and potentially massive losses for the company.

Customer Retention
One of the best customer retention strategies by far is to know what your customers need and sustain it.

Secondly, enterprise businesses have their own IT departments, so KernelCare is more of a facilitator than a manager. Igor and his team create patches and deploy them, but operationally, the client handles everything else. Most enterprises have specific rules and codes regarding chains of command, so KernelCare has to let them take over.

Finally, working for enterprise-level companies means that Igor cannot make any mistakes. He recalls one instance where over 500 servers went down, which was a huge disaster. Fortunately, the team was able to get them back up relatively fast, but even a short period of downtime can be costly. Since then, KernelCare has adapted its rollout strategy to ensure no mistakes happen. Overall, that mentality just leads to a more labor-intensive workflow, but the results speak for themselves.

A Growing Need for Rebootless Security

When it comes to customer retention strategies, KernelCare is in an excellent position for growth. As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more and more prevalent, companies and end-users are going to have to require updates and patches more consistently. As printers and fridges and washing machines become vulnerable to hacks, software like KernelCare will only be more valuable.

We talk a lot more about server management and mission-critical customer support, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Igor and his company at www.kernelcare.com.

How an AI Customer Experience Drives Success

Posted on April 28, 2020April 2, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on How an AI Customer Experience Drives Success

Companies big and small will generate hundreds or thousands of data points from a wide array of programs and systems.
Unfortunately, while all of this information is crucial, it’s worthless if we can’t digest it. Thankfully, artificial intelligence is here to help. In this article, we want to discuss how an AI customer experience can provide the analytics possible to build a better sales team and a streamlined customer experience.

Now that we’re living in the age of technology, it’s never been easier to create and cultivate data. How does an AI customer experience play into that data store? Companies big and small will generate hundreds or thousands of data points from a wide array of programs and systems.

Unfortunately, while all of this information is crucial, it’s worthless if we can’t digest it. Thankfully, artificial intelligence is here to help. In this article, we want to discuss how an AI customer experience can provide the analytics possible to build a better sales team and a streamlined customer experience.

To help us understand the possibilities, we’re talking with Todd Abbot, COO of InsightSquared. His software compiles data and makes it easy to understand with customizable dashboards. Here’s where the future is headed with CX and AI.

Improving Productivity With Machine Learning

Machine Learning can be a powerful tool towards building an AI customer experience.
Machine Learning can be a powerful tool towards building an AI customer experience.

Overall, technology is meant to save time and energy. However, when we’re talking about vast amounts of information, we can wind up spending more time compiling it and making it easy to read. So many programs generate data, but few of them have intuitive analytics to help managers and CEOs understand it.

But it doesn’t always have to be like that. Machine learning can not only distill information into bite-sized chunks, but it can be the engine behind a solid AI customer experience. With software like InsightSquared, executives and managers can pull data automatically from various points in the sales process and get a breakdown of what it all means. Before, these high-level employees would have to spend so much time aggregating and entering information that it was more costly than beneficial.

Removing the Noise and Achieving Better Focus

When talking about a sales team, the difference between an A-level salesperson and a B-level one is that the former knows which leads to focus on the most. All too often, salespeople will spend so much time and energy on customers that won’t add too much to the bottom line.

Fortunately, an AI customer experience can help remove a lot of that noise and distraction. When the system learns the core components of a lucrative lead, it can help the sales team focus their energy better. For example, if the average time it takes to convert a lead is two weeks, the system will notify an employee when that window has passed so that they aren’t wasting energy on someone who won’t commit.

Using AI Customer Experience as a Coaching Tool

Although the program can reduce distractions, it’s not a miracle worker. Instead, management and high-performing salespeople can use the data to teach others what to do. Again, here is where a time-consuming process can be streamlined. Rather than an executive or manager spending hours qualifying each lead, they can refer to data to know who is lucrative and who isn’t. Then, the manager can coach the salesperson accordingly.

Overall, the system does the hard work of qualifying leads, so it’s management’s job to ensure that the sales team is focusing on high-value customers. Over time, B-level salespeople can improve their tactics, which will boost the revenue for the business.

Replacing Talent With Processes

Ultimately, what AI systems like InsightSquared can do is eliminate the need for companies to hire rockstar salespeople. Now that the program can do much of the heavy lifting, a business can get the benefits of someone with years of insight and experience, but without the high price tag.

Essentially, managers can be more efficient in training the sales team, and individual salespeople can do better about closing deals and making money for themselves and the company. While AI can’t replace gut instinct (yet), it’s reducing the leverage that A-level salespeople have. By building processes, a company won’t live and die based on a specific employee.

If you want to find out more about how AI is transforming the world of CX, check out the latest episode of the SaaS CX Show here. You can also find out more about InsightSquared at www.insightsquared.com

CRM Software: 3 Principles to Get Value Fast

Posted on April 24, 2020April 2, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on CRM Software: 3 Principles to Get Value Fast

Companies big and small will generate hundreds or thousands of data points from a wide array of programs and systems.
Unfortunately, while all of this information is crucial, it’s worthless if we can’t digest it. Thankfully, artificial intelligence is here to help. In this article, we want to discuss how an AI customer experience can provide the analytics possible to build a better sales team and a streamlined customer experience.

As a business owner, a big struggle can be building a more substantial customer base and using it to propel long-term success. Managing it with CRM software, can be an even bigger struggle.

Fortunately, we’re living in a golden age of technology, which means that you can theoretically be one app away from reaching that goal. However, just because there are a plethora of options doesn’t mean that they will all work. In many cases, even though the technology is powerful, it might not be well-suited for your business.

So, with that in mind, we want to discuss the best ways to utilize your CRM solution for your company. To help us understand the value of a good customer relationship management system, we enlisted the help of Thomas Kattnig. Thomas is the CEO of Sellsation, a company that specializes in CRM software for small and medium-sized businesses. Here are 3 principles that will get you value fast.

The Problem Isn’t CRM Software – It’s How You Use It

When it comes to CRM software, one of the biggest and most widely used in the industry is SalesForce. However, this software is designed for enterprise-level companies, which can make a powerful tool, but out of the reach of smaller businesses.

A significant reason for that disconnect is the level of skill and understanding that has to come with Salesforce. Yes, you can deploy the software for your medium-sized business, but then you have to hire consultants to help you use it efficiently.

Instead, you need to start by focusing your attention on the business model. What does success mean to you? Where are you trying to go? What solutions are you offering your customers? Finally, and most importantly, how is CRM software going to facilitate these goals?

All too often, businesses use a tech-first approach. This means that they think that buying a high-tech solution will alleviate their problems, but since they don’t know what those problems are to begin with, the software falls short.

Overall, before picking a CRM software solution, you need to outline where your business is headed and write down specific elements that the software has to address. From there, you can choose the right option for your needs. Thomas and his team have an excellent customer retention rate because they assist their clients with this process before onboarding them. By pointing yourself in the right direction, choosing technology is much simpler.

Aligning Your Sales and Marketing Team

CRM Software works best when you've aligned your sales and marketing team around its use.
CRM Software works best when you’ve aligned your sales and marketing team around its use.

Salespeople and marketers typically use customer relationship management systems. Unfortunately, these departments don’t usually talk to each other, so there is a significant disconnect that can cause problems.

If you want your CRM software to succeed, you need to make sure that it can facilitate communication between marketing and sales so that they can work as a cohesive unit. This way, salespeople don’t over-promise on a product, and marketing doesn’t have issues with setting up accounts and following up with clients.

Part of Sellsation’s success comes from the fact that they outline how each department works individually so that they can align themselves. When marketing does one thing, how does it affect sales and vice versa? By visualizing their relationship with each other, the business can create a better network of cooperation and coordination.

An amendment to that is how you incorporate your support team as well. If sales and marketing don’t provide the right tools for the client, then he or she will need much more help and support on the back end. That kind of system will lead to higher churn and less customer satisfaction. Overall, the CRM software needs to bring everyone together to move in the same direction.

Bottom Line: CRM Software Is a Tool, Not a Magic Wand

If you want to get more from your CRM software, you need to know how to use it first. Tons of features and benefits are great, but not if you have no use for them. Let your business model be the guide, and let your customers dictate which elements are most necessary.

If you want to find out more about Sellsation, you can check out the latest episode of the SaaS CX Show here, or you can find them at www.sellsation.com.

Episode 025: Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka

Posted on April 22, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , , 1 Comment on Episode 025: Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Wolf Ruzicka, chairman of Eastbanc Tech. Wolf and his team have worked with some major players in the tech world, including Microsoft, Facebook, Nasdaq, and others. Eastbanc Tech is unique because it blends the flexibility and adaptability of a startup, but the company is developing software solutions for international corporations.

Show Notes

With SaaS products, a big part of the focus tends to be on startups. Since these are the companies trying to disrupt various industries, they tend to get a lot of attention and headlines. However, enterprise-level SaaS products are also changing the game – it just has more hoops to go through than a lean startup does.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Wolf Ruzicka, chairman of Eastbanc Tech. Wolf and his team have worked with some major players in the tech world, including Microsoft, Facebook, Nasdaq, and others. Eastbanc Tech is unique because it blends the flexibility and adaptability of a startup, but the company is developing software solutions for international corporations.

So, we talked a bit about what makes Eastbanc successful and what they’re doing to change the world of SaaS products as a whole, including how to reduce customer churn.

Learning From Your Mistakes

 SaaS Products with Wolf Ruzicka
Creating Successful Enterprise SaaS Products

Because startup companies operate on a shoestring budget and don’t have a massive following, they’re allowed to make mistakes. Growing pains are just a natural part of the product development pipeline, and patches and fixes are par for the course. With enterprise-level software, however, the trick is to learn from other people’s mistakes if you can.

Wolf reminds me of an old saying, “stupid people never learn from their mistakes, normal people do learn from their mistakes, and smart people learn from other’s mistakes.” While it’s not always possible, that’s the goal at Eastbanc. Take the knowledge and failures from both other companies and your own experiences to streamline the development and innovation processes. That way, a customer churn analysis won’t be like reading an epitaph. 

Using KPIs as Motivation

One of the challenges that Wolf and his team encounter when incubating new software products is that it’s too easy to get complacent. Because there aren’t necessarily deadlines or expectations, there is no pressure for the product to deliver. So, instead of letting a project fall by the wayside, his team will develop KPIs and let the data hold them accountable.

In some cases, this strategy can be somewhat literal. If a big client like Comcast is looking for SaaS products to roll out, then there is some level of pressure to get it done by a specific deadline. No matter what, though, Eastbanc always operates under that level of scrutiny. Overall, as long as Wolf and his team hold themselves to the highest standard, they’ll continue to produce the highest quality products.

Layering the Customer Experience

Using SasS Products to Reduce Customer Churn
As technology develops, it builds upon the technology of yesteryear

As technology develops, it builds upon the technology of yesteryear. So it is with the customer experience. For a while, cloud-first approaches were the go-to option for companies trying to make it easier for clients and businesses. Then, a mobile-first approach to ensure that everyone could have maximum productivity on a smartphone. Next came a design-first approach, which centered around incorporating useful design elements to make the product more user-friendly.

In each case, the new focus didn’t replace the old one – it became part of it. Cloud technology is still a significant factor in today’s marketplace, as globalization and working from home become the new norm. Mobile technology is only becoming more ubiquitous as users become more comfortable using their phones for more types of transactions.

So, for a company to build enterprise-level software, they have to recognize how each focus blends into the next. Rather than picking one element (i.e., the cloud), the customer experience has to be consistent across the board – it’s a good customer retention strategy. Next on everyone’s radar is artificial intelligence, which will only add yet another layer.

We talk more about Eastbanc and the future of SaaS, so check out the episode here. If you want to get in touch with Wolf directly, you can find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/wolfruzicka/, or you can find out more about his company at www.eastbanctech.com.

Mapping Out the End-to-End Customer Experience

Posted on April 21, 2020April 2, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Mapping Out the End-to-End Customer Experience

Companies big and small will generate hundreds or thousands of data points from a wide array of programs and systems.
Unfortunately, while all of this information is crucial, it’s worthless if we can’t digest it. Thankfully, artificial intelligence is here to help. In this article, we want to discuss how an AI customer experience can provide the analytics possible to build a better sales team and a streamlined customer experience.

If you want to build a better solution for your clients, you need to map out the end-to-end customer experience that touches on their entire problem. In most cases, software companies take a niche approach to their work. What is the one problem we’re trying to solve, and how can we solve it better?

While this strategy isn’t flawed, it can be a little misguided, particularly in the B2B world. When dealing with customers, it’s easier to focus your attention on a single problem. For example, individuals want an easier way to communicate with their friends and family. For businesses, however, issues rarely exist in a vacuum.

Because each problem is part of a larger whole, software developers should take a more comprehensive approach to their systems. While it’s not feasible for every company to create an all-in-one package, it’s still helpful to understand what the end-to-end customer experience should look like.

In this article, we want to share the benefits of taking a holistic look at the end-to-end customer experience and see how it can transform your business model.

Your Client’s Ideal End-to-End Customer Experience

Your client's success comes through your capture of their ideal end-to-end customer experience in your software.
Your client’s success comes through your capture of their ideal end-to-end customer experience in your software.

To help us see why this tactic is so valuable, we’ll look at a specific industry – contracting. On the surface, contracting companies can be relatively small operations, but once you get into the minutiae of it, the business incorporates so many different elements. A contractor has to source materials from various places, organize staff to work on different sites, manage invoices and proposals, along with a dozen other things.

From a software standpoint, you can’t zoom in and look at one part of that equation only. If your software helps make invoicing easier, then what are the steps your clients are taking before and after sending that invoice? What should the end-to-end customer experience be?

What data needs to be entered to ensure that the invoice is accurate? What processes have to be in place to verify that the invoice was sent, money was received, and that the client was happy?

By looking at the elements surrounding the individual problem, you can understand your client’s needs much better. In the end, you can develop software that makes the transition easier from step to the next, which will make your brand more valuable.

Getting Feedback Along the Way

There is a prevalent problem in the world of software startups where the people in development aren’t reaching out to the end-user. So, they have ideas of what the user will want or need, but doesn’t validate those ideas until the product launches.

Instead, you need to get client feedback at every step of the development timeline, as well as after your product goes live. The benefit of this action is that you may start by focusing on one problem, but over time, you add more and more features that create value for your clients. After a while, you can have a much more comprehensive system that will ensure success for both your customers and your business.

Overall, the customer experience is multi-faceted, so your software needs to be as well. If you want to find out more about how this approach works in the real world, check out the SaaS CX Show here. We talk with Tom Coffin, CEO of Simply Reliable, a company that makes Smart Office. His team has created a holistic program for contractors that has changed the game in a lot of ways.

Episode 024: SMS Marketing with Brandon O’Halloran

Posted on April 20, 2020April 20, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 024: SMS Marketing with Brandon O’Halloran

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy. Brandon and his team have created a world-class system that enables companies to integrate SMS marketing quickly and efficiently. We discuss what makes ReplyBuy so valuable to its clients, and how SMS is poised to take over the world.

Show Notes

When talking about digital marketing, SMS marketing still seems like it’s on the cutting edge. Even though more and more businesses are using it, the platform has a few more years before it really becomes the norm.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy. Brandon and his team have created a world-class system that enables companies to integrate SMS marketing quickly and efficiently. We discuss what makes ReplyBuy so valuable to its clients, and how SMS is poised to take over the world.

An Intro to Conversational Marketing

SMS Marketing with Brandon O'Halloran
Brandon O’Halloran, CEO of ReplyBuy

Part of the reason why SMS marketing hasn’t become as widespread today is that many businesses don’t know how to use it effectively. For the most part, the value that comes from texting users is tied to the support system. A customer can chat with a representative about a problem via text instead of calling.

For Brandon, however, the key to success is by making the interaction two-sided. For much of SMS marketing’s tenure so far, the messaging has been one-way. A customer gets a text about a particular ad or offers with limited response options. For ReplyBuy, the best tactic is to start a conversation and make it much more relaxed and authentic.

I can attest to the effectiveness of this approach. Many of Brandon’s O’halloran’s clients are sports teams and entertainment venues, and I love hockey. However, the idea of answering a phone call from a sales rep to buy tickets seems so invasive that I don’t do it. A text, on the other hand, seems much more palatable, and I’m more willing to make a purchase when it’s that easy. Also, the ability to converse with a sales rep and ask questions via text is so appealing, not just to myself, but many users out there.

Finding Success Through Integration

Because SMS marketing has been around a while, there are several options readily available for companies to use. However, what sets Brandon and Reply By apart is the fact that they enable seamless integration. When talking about integration, though, we’re referring both to the technology and the adoption.

One of the primary benefits of using ReplyBuy’s software is that it can work with any CRM a company is using already. This way, reps don’t have to switch back and forth between programs, and the data extracted from these text conversations can be tracked and analyzed.

For Brandon, the other side of integration is finding those early adopters within the sales team. Because texting is still such a useful and engaging tool, many reps will have a higher success rate with it, especially compared to other channels like cold calls and emails. Once those “champion” reps get onboard with SMS marketing, it has a domino effect for the rest of the team. As a result, ReplyBuy has a really low churn rate.

Authenticity vs. a Sales Pitch

Finally, we discussed the methods of building a relationship with the customer via text. Spam emails and marketing emails are simply a part of modern life, so it’s easy to ignore them or allow them to collect in one’s inbox. A spammy text, however, seems like such an invasion of privacy.

So, part of Brandon’s onboarding process is illustrating how sales reps need to be authentic in their interactions. Rather than delivering a heavily scripted pitch, the initial message needs to be personal. That way, a customer is more willing to engage in a conversation, rather than unsubscribe from the contact list.

We talk more about ReplyBuy and how the company is changing the SMS marketing industry, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can find out more about the brand at www.replybuy.com, or you can text Brandon directly. Yes, he practices what he preaches – shoot him a message at 402-659-8921.

Improving the Experience of Consumer-Focused B2B Software

Posted on April 17, 2020April 2, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Improving the Experience of Consumer-Focused B2B Software

If you sell to businesses, approaching the marketing as a consumer-focused B2B software application will help your customer acquisition and retention.

If you’re a B2B company, then you know that there is a fundamental difference between the way you promote your product than if you were reaching out to the general public. Taking the approach of a consumer-focused B2B software can assist in customer acquisition and retention. Since you’re talking to business owners, CEO, HR reps, and other key decision-makers, your sales pitch is usually geared toward their interests.

However, while it’s vital to appeal to the gatekeepers, you don’t want to sacrifice the customer experience in the process. In this article, we’re going to discuss how a consumer-focused B2B software design can be beneficial for everyone involved. To help us make this point, we’re talking with Mike Volpe, CEO of Lola.com; the #1 ranked corporate travel app.

Consumer-Focused B2B Software Means Lightweight

Most people don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to use a program or system. Typically, they want something that is as mobile and adaptable as possible. Think mobile-friendly design and a streamlined interface. Consumer-focused B2B software values simplicity.

Consumer-focused B2B software values simplicity.
Consumer-focused B2B software values simplicity.

For Lola, the app was born on mobile devices, so the team had to be proactive about making the system user-friendly. While that’s not always the best approach, it does force you to find ways to make onboarding and adoption easier. When users have such a small screen and limited functionality, efficiency is everything.

Fortunately, that lightweight model makes the program more cost-effective as well. So, not only do you have an app that users like, but you can tout the savings to the business buying it. It’s a win-win-win scenario. That’s one of the major benefits of taking a consumer-focused B2B software approach.

Focus on Incremental Changes, Not Sweeping Updates

One of the reasons that apps can have high churn is that customers aren’t getting everything they want. For B2B companies, since the “customer” is the company, high churn rates aren’t necessarily a dealbreaker. However, you still want to improve adoption. When more employees are using the system, there are even more cost-savings, plus the benefit of worker satisfaction.

These days, employees demand more from their workplaces. Corporate culture is being centered around a satisfied workforce, so B2B products need to be engaging. But how?

Engagement is critical for consumer-focused B2B software. For Lola, it’s all about the tiny changes and adjustments. With apps, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in big, sweeping updates that will get noticed immediately. However, it’s the smaller steps that will have a better long-term return. Unfortunately, they are also the hardest to track with metrics.

Mike and his team get around that somewhat by looking at the time it takes for a user to book a trip. You can look at similar elements of your product to see where you can streamline processes further and improve the overall customer experience. Yes, significant changes can be valuable, but don’t lose the trees for the forest.

Bottom Line: a Better Customer Experience Yields a Higher ROI

Overall, when you approach your consumer-focused SaaS with the end-user in mind, everything else can fall into place. Even if your clients are mostly focused on cost-savings, this focus on CX will still yield better results for everyone involved.

To find out more about how Lola is upending the corporate travel world, check out the latest episode of the SaaS CX Show. You can also visit them online at www.lola.com.

Episode 022: Recovering in a Downturn with James Avery

Posted on April 15, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 022: Recovering in a Downturn with James Avery

James Avery is in a valuable position to provide detailed insight into how a company can recover from a major downturn.

Show Notes

While we hope that every episode of the SaaS CX Show is prescient for CEOs and founders, today’s episode With James Avery is far more relative to today’s marketplace than most other times. With the novel coronavirus shuttering many companies and forcing brands to cut back or shut down entirely until the worst has passed, we thought we’d talk about recovering from a downturn.

James Avery is the founder and CEO of Adzerk, which he bills as the “Twilio for ads.” Rather than rely on a third party like Facebook or Google to run your marketing campaign, Adzerk enables you to build your own platform. We talked a bit about the need for such integration, as well as how businesses can turn misfortune into a long-term planning strategy.

Here are some highlights from our conversation. 

Avoiding the Digital Serfdom

James Avery
James Avery is the founder and CEO of Adzerk

Adzerk really came about because of the need for companies to remove their dependence on third-party platforms. While Facebook and Google are useful in many cases, the reality is that your business exists at their disposal. You could be making big money right now, but a single update or rule change can kick your brand to the curb. If that does happen, you might lose massive amounts of revenue overnight, through no fault of your own.

James calls this digital serfdom, although I’ve heard it as digital sharecropping. Regardless of how you name it, the gist is that you can’t rely on other people to help grow your business. Essentially, you’re outsourcing your profits, which can become highly dangerous.

It is a bit of a conflict of interest to recommend Adzerk to get around this problem, but as a business, you need to become much more autonomous. Basically, what happens if your keywords suddenly don’t work for SEO, and you have to start from scratch? You need a plan B. That brings us to our next segment-

Preparing for the Worst

Fortunately, James Avery is in a valuable position to provide detailed insight into how a company can recover from a major downturn. As he recalls, about seven years ago, when Adzerk was in its infancy, James and his team booked a substantial client. While that business paid for the first month, they were still using the software but not paying the bills. When James realized what was happening, it was a shock to the system.

Seemingly overnight, he had to turtle up – protect the most valuable assets of the business while trying to avoid the worst damage and survive. So, the management team got set on cutting costs and increasing revenue. Here are the tips he shared from this do-or-die moment.

Utilize Your Existing Customer Base

If you’re a startup, you may not have many customers, but it’s always better to sell to someone who knows the brand than attract a new lead. While that doesn’t mean you should jack up prices, you can talk to your customers about potential revenue streams.

For Adzerk, salvation came in the form of another high-ticket client. However, they wouldn’t be ready to launch for four or five months. So, the trick was to figure out how to stay operational until then.

Don’t Nickel and Dime Your Costs

Recovering in a Downturn

For whatever reason, perks are always the first thing to go, such as snacks in the breakroom. However, while this would make sense from an individual standpoint, it doesn’t do much for your business. Saving $200 a month on snacks isn’t going to right the ship – you have to focus on the big costs first before worrying about the little things.

Not only does keeping small perks make financial sense, but it can help improve morale. Your employees are going to have to work hard during the downturn, so you want to make sure they’re happy. If they’re miserable the whole time, it’s going to make the situation so much worse.

Finally, if you cut perks, then staff members see that you’re focused solely on the numbers, not the value. Then, if you ask employees to go beyond their job description, their response will be, “how much more am I going to make?” Perks show that value isn’t relegated to only money, and your staff will return the favor.

We talk more about how James Avery and Adzerk were able to survive their first big test, so check out the episode here. You can also find out more about Adzerk at www.adzerk.com.

Episode 021: CX for the Contact Center with Patrick Dennis

Posted on April 13, 2020April 19, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , , , , 1 Comment on Episode 021: CX for the Contact Center with Patrick Dennis

We talk with Patrick Dennis about developing your customer experience. Today you need to take both a macro view and a micro view. On the macro level, how many touchpoints are your customers experiencing, and what is their satisfaction level with each?

Time Stamp: 6:20 Coffee and car example. One of the challenges of managing an effective contact center is to understand where you fit in the customer’s life. For example, when talking about coffee, sometimes Patrick wants a quick cup from Dunkin Donuts. Other times, he wants to wait for a high-quality cup from Blue Bottle, which takes about 20 minutes. Most customers don’t have a single preference all of the time – they are multifaceted, and the contact center should be too.

Show Notes

One of the primary purposes of modern technology is to bring people together. Communication is such an integral part of society that it’s almost mind-boggling to consider all of the various methods at our disposal. Phone calls, emails, texts, instant messaging, snail mail – each one has multiple options, and new apps and channels come out all the time.

While technology does make it easier to communicate, many businesses are struggling to keep up with demand. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Patrick Dennis, CEO, and founder of Aspect Software. He offers a lot of insight into how to make a contact center more customer-focused so that the experience is ideal from end-to-end. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Understanding Your Customer

Patrick Dennis of Aspect Software discusses the power of the contact center.
Patrick Dennis

One of the issues that plague many companies is the fact that they are quick to embrace technology without really understanding the purpose behind it. Yes, adding text messaging is great, but not if your customers have no interest in it. So, when building a contact center and establishing your touchpoints, it’s crucial to understand the needs of your clientele. Not only can you be serving different demographics, but each person’s preference can change as well.

As Patrick puts it, his mom still balances her checkbook every month, while he never uses checks. So, for a bank, they have to adapt their offerings to suit both Patrick and his mom, who will have wildly different preferences. On a more individual level, Patrick Dennis may prefer to use his phone app for various tasks, but want to call an agent for something more substantial (more on that later). In each case, the bank has to have a channel ready to accommodate him and other customers like him.

Macro vs. Micro Operations

When developing your customer experience, you need to take both a macro view and a micro view. On the macro level, how many touchpoints are your customers experiencing, and what is their satisfaction level with each? For example, let’s say that there are four interactions on average per customer. The individual has a 90-percent satisfaction with the first two, and 85-percent satisfaction with the last two. Overall, that sounds pretty good, right? However, when you do the math, that customer has a 58-percent rating of the entire experience.

So, if you’re not looking at your interactions from a macro level, you could be creating more customer churn than you realize.

Contact Center Macro Vs Micro

On the micro-level, many companies focus on data analytics. However, the data can only tell you part of the story. It’s always vital to understand the context of that data. For example, you may be trying to limit the length of calls to your call center to streamline operations. But, if a longer call time results in happier customers, then you don’t want to cut it short.

On that note, Patrick Dennis illustrates a pivotal point in modern communication – most customers want to speak to a representative when discussing significant decisions. Making a doctor’s appointment, moving money around between accounts, filing a complaint – in these instances, the customer doesn’t want a robot or automated system. So, while the number of calls may be lower, they are far more complex. As a business, you need to adapt to that.

Building the Experience Around the Customer, Not the Channel

Finally, we talk about how many companies are focusing on building out stacks around a particular piece of technology. One stack for live chat, one stack for emails, it creates silos that can interfere with the customer experience.

Instead, these businesses should be focusing on how the customer wants to interact with them. On average, individuals will change their preference over a year, and even over a single day. What’s important is that the interaction is consistent across channels, since the same customer can be using different ones. So, when building a contact center, companies need to recognize the reality of that and adapt accordingly.

We talk more about the basics of CX for contact centers, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Patrick Dennis and his team at www.aspect.com.

Enter the drawing for a free ticket to Aspect’s annual ACE 2020 conference here: