SalesTechStar Interview with Ryan Schultz, VP Customer Success at Drift

Marketing and sales leaders today know the significance of building out customer-centric sales, marketing and customer support processes and strategies, yet, most still face common challenges when it comes to implementing them; Ryan Schultz, VP of Customer Success at Drift discusses a few of these problems along with some top tips:

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Hi Ryan, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years…tell us more about your biggest customer success learnings?

Prior to this opportunity with Drift I worked at Okta where I led their North America Enterprise Customer Success organization. So customer success and engagement have always played integral parts within my roles professionally.

At Okta, customer success was one of our core values, and I’m thrilled to be joining Drift and working within their Global Field Operations team where that sentiment still holds true and our values are very much aligned.  One of my biggest customer success learnings is that the sale is not the end, it’s the beginning. You can add millions of users from a sales pitch, but if they don’t see the outcomes promised, they will churn quickly and move onto the next provider. As customer success professionals, we have to ensure that every decision we make organizationally is done with customers in mind. That’s something Drift already does well, and I am excited to continue evangelizing with our Global Field Operations team.

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In today’s hybrid work environment, what are some of the things you feel customer success teams need to be prioritizing?

The past year has shown us that it’s not the amount of time spent in the office that amounts to success, but rather the outcomes we achieve across those efforts. Customer success teams need to stay aligned with this mentality and pay close attention to how our customers are responding to new things we try out.

The customer is the judge of our services, products etc. If something isn’t working, outside of a technological concern, we know this because we notice outcomes aren’t up to their expectations or there are nascent needs that aren’t yet being addressed. Customers should be at the center of every product innovation, case study, and internal initiative, using their responses and engagement levels as a driving force.

What are some of the ways in which you feel future teams in customer success and the core role of the typical B2B customer success officer will evolve?

While companies have said time and time again that the customer is always top of mind, a lot of them fail to truly live up to that billing. It’s one thing to say the customer is a top priority, and another to actually integrate aspects of your platform, business, company what have you– to ensure that, that mentality is coming across strong and clear. Now that companies like Drift are really speaking to their commitment to customer success through words and actions alike, I do believe others will see the value in this and follow suit. As others realize the importance of successful customer relationships and perception as well as the pivotal role consumers play within our entire pipeline, the role of a customer success officer will become more critical and important and the stature surrounding that position will only continue to be elevated. Products and technology are constantly evolving, but customer success is a consistent theme across these changes, and that will only be further cemented with time.

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A few salestech and martech best practices you’d like to share.

Absolutely! I think that every best practice in salestech and martech begins with how we prioritize customers in our actions. Our roles with customers are as problem solvers, so with every decision we make. This begins with understanding their goals and prioritizing building solutions to their pain points proactively.

As a SaaS company, you’re more than a point solution, you’re a partner whose role is to evolve alongside them and help them reach those goals. Having an in-depth understanding of their goals and priorities is essential to living up to this role.

How do you feel platforms for customer success will evolve in the future and what will drive demand for more innovations and what kind?

Technology will continue to advance, but customer support will remain a people-driven operation. As customer support professionals, we have to champion our customers and ensure they have constant access to the resources and outcomes they need.

As we continue to learn more, develop, and utilize AI more in the future it will be paramount for customer success organizations that they prioritize the customer with every new tool or process they adopt. Despite the usefulness of AI, we are a hop, skip, and a jump away from our customers feeling comfortable with those outlets as primary touchpoints.

A few thoughts on what you feel today’s sales and marketing leaders need to do differently.

We are living in the revenue era, when every department leader needs to hold themselves accountable to revenue as a success metric. The same should be said for customer success. In the remote world we live in now, customer success especially needs to fit this bill – not just across new business or onboarding support, but across business renewal and expansion as well. Marketing leaders need to really hone in on outcomes and achievable wins, using those metrics to see if what they’re doing is working or not, as well as providing a positive customer experience, a powerful one at that, so it’s crucial to not overlook their value but instead structure customer relations to serve the customer to the best of your ability.

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Drift, a leading Revenue Acceleration Platform uses Conversational Marketing and Conversational Sales to help companies grow revenue and increase customer lifetime value faster. More than 50,000 businesses, across multiple industries, use Drift to align sales and marketing on a single platform to deliver an experience where customers are free to have a conversation with a business anytime, on their terms.

Ryan Schultz is the VP of Customer Success at Drift.

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