Episode 034: Great Project Lifecycle Automation with Mark Robinson

Posted on May 11, 2020May 20, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 034: Great Project Lifecycle Automation with Mark Robinson

In this episode we discussed with Mark Robinson about Kimble Applications is a project automation system that helps SaaS companies figure out how to anticipate needs and address them efficiently

Show Notes

For many SaaS companies, part of the struggle to reduce customer churn comes from a lack of foresight and planning. All too often, projects come along that require various tools and systems, but the company doesn’t adapt its processes to meet demand hence automation can be a solution. In the end, the businesses struggle to retain customers and can’t figure out why.

In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, I’m talking with Mark Robinson, CEO of Kimble Applications. His company helps businesses discover the root problems that come with a project-first mindset and puts them on the right track. We talk a lot about changing one’s perspective and how it can shift a company to become more streamlined and profitable. Here are some highlights.

Looking Forward vs. Looking Back

According to Mark, one problem that plagues most SaaS customer service companies is that they take a hindsight approach to fixing problems and cutting costs. Once a project comes in, so many businesses play catch-up, or they focus on the immediate needs without looking at the road ahead.

Project Automation
Mark Robinson CEO of Kimble Applications.

It’s like looking in the rearview mirror instead of the windshield. Rather than planning ahead and anticipating needs, SaaS companies instead do an autopsy after the fact to see what worked and what didn’t. The worst part? Rarely does that spur any meaningful change. Why? Well, that brings us to our next highlight.

Processes vs. Systems

Another issue plaguing SaaS businesses is that they like to focus on new tools and systems without understanding the need behind it. Yes, it’s nice to upgrade to new software or put everything in the cloud, but what’s the point?

So, rather than focusing on the systems being used, Mark and his team like to focus on the processes. What is the process for getting new clients? What are you doing to reduce customer churn? Where are there shortfalls? Ultimately, it should be the process that dictates which system you use, not the other way around. By focusing attention on the root of the problem, Mark can create a much better automation system around it.

Onboarding vs. Activation

Finally, we discuss the difference between onboarding a new customer and activating them. In many cases, SaaS companies view going live as the “mission accomplished” milestone. However, just because you completed onboarding doesn’t mean that your customers are getting the value they want.

Business Planning
Project automation system that helps SaaS companies figure out how to anticipate needs

Another issue that drives customer churn rates up is that these companies are focusing on the wrong metrics. It doesn’t matter how many times a user logged in or played around with the tools if he or she isn’t getting the work done. Instead of looking at system metrics, how well are your clients achieving the goals they set out to accomplish?

We talk a lot more about project lifecycles and the pitfalls that SaaS companies encounter, so check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Mark and Kimble Applications at www.kimbleapps.com.

Building a Plan for Disaster Recovery for Your Business

Posted on May 7, 2020April 19, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on Building a Plan for Disaster Recovery for Your Business

A disaster doesn’t have to spell the end for your company. No matter how long you’ve been around, the right planning can make all the difference. If you want to learn more about how to protect your business.

For most entrepreneurs, the prospect of having their business fail seems somewhat abstract, particularly when they’ve been operating for several years. However, so many companies are just one or two disasters away from shutting down for good. As we’ve seen time and time again, a business can collapse without warning.

So, if you want to avoid sleepless nights and high levels of anxiety, you need to prepare for the inevitable. In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the ways a disaster could impact your business. We’ll also discuss how to formulate a strategy of survival.

Disaster Can Come Anytime, From Anywhere

Unexpected Disaster
Disaster can happen at any time.

As 2020 proves, events beyond anyone’s comprehension can strike, catapulting the world into uncharted territory. However, while the COVID pandemic does illustrate the need for disaster planning, the fact is that there are plenty of other ways your business can go under. Here are a few examples that may not come to mind immediately.

-SEO Blacklisting – Google is notorious about how it manages its algorithms, and the tech giant isn’t afraid to throw its weight around. If you’re using third-party ad software, a single bad apple could blacklist you from showing up in searches. When that happens, you’re left holding the bag.

-Platform Updates and Rule Changes – If your company relies on third-party software to exist (i.e., Facebook ads, YouTube, etc.), then you’re assuming that platform will remain steady forever. However, because another company runs it, they can drop you or change the rules without warning. Suddenly, you could be left without a substantial revenue stream, all without doing anything to warrant it.

-Customer Churn – All SaaS companies have a customer churn rate, but you want to learn how to reduce it for your big clients. Many variables can cause a client to drop your service, and if they were a significant chunk of your bottom line, you have to replace them ASAP.

As you can see, disaster doesn’t always have to be of Hollywood-level proportions. Now that we’ve gotten your attention, let’s discuss some tips for handling a downturn and how to move forward with customer retention strategies.

Learning to Prioritize Costs and Expenses

When a company is hit with a massive setback, two priorities come into play – reduce costs and increase revenue. However, while the first part may seem easy, it’s actually quite tricky. All too often, CEOs and founders will cut away the low-hanging fruit, such as snacks and drinks in the break room. However, saving a few hundred here and there isn’t going to salvage your business.

Instead, you have to make a list of priorities and chip away at the most considerable costs for your business. For a SaaS company, these can be labor, cloud hosting, and vendor relationships. Assuming that you weren’t wasting thousands of dollars each month on unnecessary tools, you’ll have to make some hard choices.

Also, when talking about cutting down on “perks,” you have to evaluate the value that they bring to your staff. During a downturn, your employees are the lifeblood of your business. If they’re hurting, a small perk or reward can make a huge difference. Cutting these elements can lend a sense of “profits over people” mentality, which will permeate the workplace.

Setting a Path for Moving Forward

Once you’ve established where you can make cuts, it’s time to focus on building a healthier and more resilient revenue stream. Here are some tips to help you weather the storm and come out better off when things return to normal.

Focus on Your Current and Past Customers

As a rule, it’s easier and cheaper to market and upsell your current customers than to attract new ones. During a global crisis like COVID, your clients are probably hurting as well. Now is the time to reach out and see how they’re doing and what they can use from you. While we don’t advise raising prices immediately to compensate, perhaps you can add more value to the software and charge more accordingly.

Use Downtime to Create a Better Product

Moving forward in a downturn

No matter what, people are willing to buy items that have value. So, as long as your software delivers on quality, you can build a loyal audience. If you find yourself with downtime suddenly, work on fixing any issues or making the customer experience better. Then, as things start to improve, you can rebound that much faster.

Bottom Line: Preparation Can Enable Your Business to Weather Any Storm

A disaster doesn’t have to spell the end for your company. No matter how long you’ve been around, the right planning can make all the difference. If you want to learn more about how to protect your business, check out the latest episode of the SaaS CX Show here. We talk with James Avery of Adzerk, who went through this exact situation himself.

Episode 031: Worker Productivity and Connectivity with Brad Palmer

Posted on May 6, 2020May 17, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 031: Worker Productivity and Connectivity with Brad Palmer

Our guest for this episode of the SaaS CX Show is Brad Palmer, CEO of Jostle. Brad’s company specializes in creating custom-made intranet solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We discuss how Jostle’s model has been so influential over the years, and how that has translated to a lower customer churn rate. He also help maximize productivity of employees.

Show Notes

Productivity seems to always be on our minds – especially as of late. Our guest for this episode of the SaaS CX Show is Brad Palmer, CEO of Jostle. Brad’s company specializes in creating custom-made intranet solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We discuss how Jostle’s model has been so influential over the years, and how that has translated to a lower customer churn rate. He also help maximize productivity of employees. Here are some of the highlights.

Boosting Intranet Usage – Context and Relevance

If you look at Jostle’s success, the brand regularly has five times the engagement of its intranets over the competition. However, when you look at some of the reasons why it becomes blatantly apparent.

Jostle focuses on connectivity and productivity.
Brad Palmer

All too often, companies believed that an intranet had to be a single entity for everyone within the organization. The reality, though, is that individuals want customized information. For example, why should the sales team get a notification related to engineering? Why should U.S.-based workers see details for crews in Canada?

Overall, Jostle succeeds in two ways – by making content relevant and providing the right context at all times . Data can be parceled out by department and by individual so that no one is getting extraneous information. Not only that, but as a person looks something up within the intranet (i.e., a document or video file), that item comes complete with all of the necessary context. That context can be who made it, who edited it last, and where it’s being stored.

These elements make Jostle a SaaS customer service company as well as a vital tool for any workplace. No wonder engagement is through the roof.

How Coronavirus Has Made Remote Work a Reality

Living in the age of a pandemic has revealed a lot of truths that weren’t readily apparent before. One of the most disruptive has been the need for adapting employees to a remote style of work. Almost overnight, businesses who decried the value of remote workers are discovering that it’s not as dire as they believed. Thanks to SaaS products like Jostle, more and more enterprises are seeing that communication and growth are still possible when employees are not in the same building.

According to Brian, this shift has only been a boon to his company’s bottom line. While Jostle has always had high engagement rates (usually around 85 percent), that number has gone up substantially in recent weeks. What will be interesting to see is how long-term these solutions wind up being.

Remote work
Even with distractions like kids, workers can get more done at home. Ironically, it’s because of the lack of time that employees have to focus when they are able to work.

Productivity and Remote Work – the Future of the Workplace

The ramifications of this pandemic are going to be widespread and far-reaching. In fact, it’s almost impossible to predict how everything will play out once life gets back to normal. However, for Brad, the feasibility of an intranet is likely going to become a significant component of the post-corona workplace.

Some of the reasons for this prediction include productivity, communication, and integration.

Higher Productivity

Even with distractions like kids, workers can get more done at home. Ironically, it’s because of the lack of time that employees have to focus when they are able to work. Essentially, individuals can work fewer hours while accomplishing the same workload (or more).

Better Communication

One reason why companies resist the idea of remote teams is that they believe in-person interactions are more valuable somehow. However, the reality is that being isolated forces workers and managers to communicate more often. Just as productivity per hour increases, so does communication. Because individuals can’t randomly chat around the water cooler, they have to be more deliberate about their interactions.

Smoother Integration

Programs like Jostle make it easy to have conversations with groups and one-on-one. The system is fully customizable to fit a variety of needs, all without sacrificing quality or operational efficiency. As companies begin to realize this, they will learn to embrace intranet technology as a tool, not a liability.

We talk more about Jostle and intranets in this episode, so check it out here. Brad also illustrates how his customer retention strategy is helping his business reach new heights. Sure, the coronavirus certainly helped, but they were already capable before it hit. You can find out more about Brad and his team at www.jostle.me.

Episode 027: Virtual Interviews and Hiring with Matt Baxter

Posted on May 5, 2020May 17, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , ,   Leave a comment on Episode 027: Virtual Interviews and Hiring with Matt Baxter

In today’s episode Matt Baxter discussed that with coronavirus turning the world upside down, everything is becoming virtual – including virtual interviews.

Show Notes

The time for virtual interviews has come. For many companies, the hiring process is still relatively antiquated. Hiring managers and HR representatives typically rely on a mixture of resumes, rounds of interviews, and assessment tests to find viable candidates. Unfortunately, without a cohesive strategy in place, the whole system can be slow and unresponsive. Considering how much of an investment hiring a new employee is, why isn’t there a better alternative? Enter virtual interviews.

Gone are the days of relying on resumes and a single in-person interview. Technology has made the hiring process easier, particularly in today’s topsy-turvy world. In this episode of the SaaS CX Show, we talk with Matt Baxter of Wedge, a video-interviewing program. Learn how Wedge is changing the game, helping their own customers succeed and thereby reducing their customer churn.

In today’s episode, I’m talking with Matt Baxter, CEO of Wedge. His SaaS product enables hiring managers to find high-quality candidates with virtual interviews. We discuss how Wedge has changed the process and how the company leverages customer success to grow through the growth of their customers. Here are some highlights.

The Dangers of a Resume

As with all software, there has to be a problem in need of a solution. For Matt and his team, he recognized that the current tools for hiring candidates were still old and inefficient. Even worse, workers these days are much better about over-preparing for both the resume and interviews.

We talk with Matt Baxter of Wedge, about virtual interviews.
Matt Baxter

You may have seen the meme already, about how to write down “I changed a lightbulb” on a resume. If you’re clever, you can use terms like “increase energy output by 50-percent while maintaining high-efficiency standards.” Resume padding is a real problem, which means that businesses have to find an alternative.

Streamlining with Virtual Interviews

Wedge is the perfect tool for weeding out unqualified candidates. First, those who aren’t interested in filming responses and submitting them won’t move forward. Second, it allows candidates to provide answers to a variety of questions without the pressure of being in an interview. Finally, it’s collaborative, meaning that hiring managers can share responses and give feedback without having to align schedules or conference rooms.

However, as useful as Wedge is, Matt and his team had a hard time reducing customer churn at first. The main problem was that Wedge was its own entity, so users had yet another account to log into and manage. Once the development team made Wedge able to integrate, the company’s success skyrocketed.

Matt’s story is indicative of SaaS products as a whole. The more accessible and more streamlined the process can be, the more likely that clients will use and love the software. And we love to talk about customer retention.

Interviewing vs. Assessments

New Customer Service
Video responses from candidates help whittle the talent pool faster.

One of the significant trends coming around these days is the assessment test. Rather than relying on resumes and interviews, companies are forcing candidates to perform various tasks related to the position. Wedge exists in the middle-ground between a person applying and then getting assessed. There are two reasons for this.

First, Wedge enables hiring managers to ask any questions they like, including those that get to a person’s personality, not just his or her skills. Second, because the software allows for multiple takes and refined answers, hiring managers can get a much better idea of who a person is before moving him or her to the next phase.

We talk a lot more about Wedge and how virtual interviews are changing the hiring process, both with the current pandemic and as AI hits the scene. Be sure to check out the rest of the episode here. You can also find out more about Matt and Wedge at www.competitivewedge.com.

How to Maximize Your Contact Center

Posted on May 5, 2020April 19, 2020Categories ArticleTags , , , , , , , ,   Leave a comment on How to Maximize Your Contact Center

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 contact center? 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

When it comes to customer retention, most companies assume that the primary selling point is the quality of the product itself. While that does have a significant impact, one element you might be overlooking is the contact center. How easily can a customer get a hold of someone when he or she has a question? How many channels do you offer, and what’s the satisfaction rating for each? If you’re not paying attention here, you could have a hard time reducing customer churn.

In this article, we want to discuss the best ways to improve your contact center operations. To help us out, we’ve enlisted the help of Patrick Dennis. Patrick is the CEO and founder of Aspect Software, a SaaS company that focuses on building better contact centers for businesses. Let’s go over his customer retention strategies in SaaS.

Step One: Understand Your Customer’s Needs

OLD WAY – NEW WAY – how a good contact center helps you and your customers better communicate

In many cases, the problem that companies have is that they are too focused on product development and marketing to recognize the value of a contact center. Yes, the business might have multiple channels, but it doesn’t utilize them as effectively as it could.

Rather than adding new communication methods, you need to focus on how your customer will want to use them. Patrick outlines this as the “coffee and car” model. On some days, Patrick wants a fast cup of coffee – the quicker, the better. On other days, he prefers quality over speed, even if that means waiting half an hour for a quality cup. Your customers likely have preferences that shift based on a variety of factors.

So, as a business, you need to understand how these interactions and touchpoints will differ for your customers. Are they in a rush and need quick service, or do they have questions and need additional help? You can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step Two: Look at Your End-to-End Customer Experience

These days, most companies are getting better about analyzing specific interactions. Data analysis and machine learning make it easy to gather insight into various channels individually. However, you need to take a step back and see how they flow into each other to get a sense of how satisfied your customer is from end-to-end.

Patrick puts it like this. Let’s say there are four interactions on average with a customer. That customer has a 90-percent satisfaction rating for the first two, but only 85-percent with the last two. Individually, those ratings seem high. However, when taken together, it results in 58-percent satisfaction.

Overall, by taking a macro-level look at your contact center, you can begin to see where you can boost interactions. Remember that they don’t exist in a vacuum. The same customer can reach out via email, chat, and a phone call, so each touchpoint has to be consistent and high-quality.

Step Three: Let Your Customers Determine the Channels, Not the Other Way Around

Because technology is developing so rapidly, there’s a tendency for companies to adapt to specific channels, believing that it will improve interactions. However, that can be a mistake. For example, what’s the good of building a system around SMS messaging if your customers have no interest in using it?

While some channels have stood the test of time (i.e., phone calls), various apps and new technology will drop off and get replaced. Yes, Facebook Messenger might be big now, but what about in 10 years?

Because channels will continue to evolve, and considering that your customer’s preferences will change, your contact center has to be adaptable. Rather than focusing on one or two communication methods, focus on the priorities of your customers and let them choose the channel that works best. Overall, you should have a cluster of channels available for each customer, not the other way around.

If you want to hear more about how to reduce customer churn with the contact center, check out the SaaS CX Show here. You can also find out more about Patrick and Aspect Software at www.aspect.com.

Episode 030: Identity Fraud with Adam Elliott

Posted on May 4, 2020May 7, 2020Categories The SaaS CX ShowTags , , , 1 Comment on Episode 030: Identity Fraud with Adam Elliott

In the United States, individuals can put a freeze on their credit score, which means that no one can run a check or open an account without substantial verification. This would avoid identity fraud.

Show Notes

Although technology is undoubtedly making our lives easier, it’s also creating a significant problem in the form of online fraud. As more of our day-to-day interactions move into the digital space, hackers, and identity fraud perpetrators have easier access to our information which may include our customer retention rate.

To help us understand the threats of the modern world, I’m talking with Adam Elliot, CEO of ID Insight. He works within the banking world, which has much more at stake than other industries. I pick his brain about how security measures can help improve a company’s customer retention rate. Here are some highlights from the episode.

Why Credit Monitoring Isn’t the Best Anti Fraud Solution

A lot has changed in the last 10 years or so. Before, whenever a client would complain about hacks or identity theft, Adam would recommend signing up for a credit monitoring system. Unfortunately, after the Equifax hack, it became evident that even major entities like that could be susceptible, which leaves users in a bit of a lurch.

He has maintained his customer retention rate with his own tactic for avoiding potential fraud claims - freezing his credit.
Adam Elliott

These days, Adam has his own tactic for avoiding potential fraud claims – freezing his credit. In the United States, individuals can put a freeze on their credit score, which means that no one can run a check or open an account without substantial verification. Because Adam isn’t opening a bunch of new accounts regularly, it’s not too much of a hassle.

For an individual, that method can work, but what about for a SaaS company? Well, the answer is a bit more complicated.

Controlling Fraud Through Vigilance

While it’s nice to assume that third-party companies and watchdogs are fighting the good fight, the reality is that no system is impermeable. I’ve frozen my credit before and still found out about fraudulent accounts after the fact.

So, when it comes to SaaS customer service, a company has to be extra vigilant about monitoring its accounts and those of its clients. Taking an apathetic or passive approach to online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked or victimized by identity fraud.

Adam remarks about how he and his wife signed up for a credit card recently, and she activated the charge alerts. On the one hand, it’s a little annoying to have to ask each other about all purchases, but on the other, it’s nice to be notified, just in case. I believe that that will be part of the future of fraud prevention. As long as companies and individuals are proactive, it’ll be more challenging for hackers to take hold.

Synthetic Fraud and the Future of Online Banking

Online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked.
Online fraud is almost a guaranteed way of getting hacked.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are an adaptable and motivated group. The world is always in a perpetual state of whack-a-mole. As soon as one trick is uncovered and removed, another one will pop up.

As an example, synthetic fraud has taken off in recent years. If you’re not familiar with the process, this is when a hacker sets up and maintains a fake identity for several years. By building up a history and a paper trail, the person can open new accounts and get money from banks and other agencies before disappearing. Because the identity isn’t tied to a real person, there’s little recourse for those affected.

There’s also a bit of an arms race for utilizing technology in the fight against identity fraud. New tech and software are coming around to beat the hackers at their own game, but there has to be a balance of security and low-friction interactions. Users want a streamlined experience – so the harder a business makes it to open an account, the fewer customers it will have—just another part of customer retention rate strategies.

We talk a lot more about online security and fraud, so check out the episode here. You can also find out about Adam and his company at www.idinsight.com.

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.