Staci Satterwhite, COO at Khoros dives into the processes that B2B COOs should pursue to drive customer retention plans:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, Staci. Tell us more about your journey through the B2B tech domain and your current role as COO at Khoros.
My journey through the B2B tech domain started in electrical engineering and software programming, but I quickly went into the services side. I’ve been involved in several hardware high-growth startups, complemented by time at big companies such as Microsoft, Dell, and IBM. My array of experiences has allowed me to add arrows to my quiver surrounding operations and sales support.
Since then, I’ve held roles in post-sale operations, including professional services and sales consulting, and I have had various sales leadership positions. Khoros offered a great opportunity as its Chief Customer Officer (CCO), driving renewals and retention in our existing customer base. Being the “customer whisperer” was a fantastic fit for me, and with my pursuit of improving the customer experience through a holistic, high-level approach, I evolved to Khoros’ first Chief Operations Officer (COO). I am excited to strategically accelerate our customer strategies, services, and success while delivering maximum value in our platform and offerings.
Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Gabriella Tegen, Founder & CEO at Smartrr
What are some of the core fundamentals that you feel B2B COOs need to have to drive effective strategies and business output?
First, understand that the “circle of life” between employees, customers, and stakeholders begins with the employee. Customer success stems from ensuring effective and engaged employees by hiring the right people and giving them the proper training, tools, and processes. When employees are better equipped to serve customers, they produce positive outcomes, pleasing shareholders, and providing more support for the employees.
Second, analyze your leading indicators to help guide your decisions. Khoros is a Vista Equity Partners portfolio company, and we strongly focus on the future-forward concept of “leading indicators” in addition to outcomes. For every outcome a business must drive for employees, customers, and stakeholders—such as Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), Net Promoter Score (NPS), bookings, and retention—leading indicators are the windshield, and outcomes are the rearview mirror. The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror because you can only change what’s in front of you. That’s your primary focus.
Take us through some of the ways you’ve seen successful B2B COOs in the market use plans/strategies to drive business goals; are there any key technologies that have empowered them in this pursuit?
I’ve seen successful B2B COOs drive business strategies through collaboration and a people-first operating model. Unifying your organization into a well-oiled machine means prioritizing the success of your employees and your customers. Customer experience has historically been seen as a business cost rather than an opportunity, but you’ll improve satisfaction and success through a company-wide focus on people.
To better unify your activities, you must understand what they look like up close. Get to the “inner Earth” with a granular understanding of the customer experience. Join a support call and learn what happens when there’s a customer issue. That constant pursuit of awareness and identifying efficiencies will help you see if people are leveraging their best skills. Optimize employee performance by pairing people with tasks that align with their strengths. Doing so increases customer and employee satisfaction and retention.
I don’t have any specific technologies to mention that enable COOs to achieve this outcome outside of those that grant greater insight into audience needs. Strategies that value people over systems and tools generate the strongest growth.
Beyond internal alignment, collaborate with other C-suite level executives to gain better insight into tools, outcomes, profit margins, and leading indicators we measure. Through this discussion, we can learn how our counterparts have solved the very issues we’re facing.
How do you feel SaaS sales teams need to shape up to drive better customer journeys as market trends shift?
With my CCO customer retention background, I am extremely passionate about establishing outcomes for customers early.
No one buys software for software’s sake, they buy it to achieve outcomes and value for their company. Establishing outcomes early and clearly in the sales cycle allows us in operations to deliver on that outcome, ensuring the customer knows we are doing so and revisiting the goals with the customer frequently. It’s about serving up what they asked for.
Additionally, having a comprehensive view of the customer journey leading to those outcomes is critical. Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams must be aligned and in close communication. Any customer-facing teams or teams collecting data from the customer along their journey need to create a smooth and enjoyable experience. No one wants to repeat themselves or share extra information they don’t have to, so an intimate understanding of previous customer interactions is essential.
Read More: How Conversational AI Can Recession-Proof Your Business by Unlocking Revenue
A few thoughts on the future of the B2B sales market? And finally, a few views on sales tech as a segment and how you feel this space will shape up over the next few years?
What is transpiring in the economy and market today is significant. There has been a massive shift in the last 6-8 months in B2B SaaS organizations’ funding and growth expectations.
In the short term, this puts more pressure on us to go back to the fundamentals of the value B2B SaaS companies deliver. In the long term, there will be a migration toward customer-focused applications and tools. Ultimately, even B2B companies are serving customers, so the sales market will further develop capabilities that put the end-user first and view the customer journey as one fluid experience rather than a to-do list.
The growth-at-all-costs operating model of the last few years is no longer sustainable. Companies will develop more financially appropriate and people-centric metrics to enable long-term success and better meet the industry’s current demand for efficiency. The measurement of short-term financial success does not always capture more critical elements like customer loyalty and brand awareness. Companies will need to reconsider their view of customer satisfaction and how they deliver upon their promises.
Khoros’ award-winning customer engagement platform helps over 2,000 global brands, including one-third of the Fortune 100 companies, create customers for life. With over 20 patented technologies, Khoros connects every facet of customer engagement, including digital contact centers, messaging, chat, online brand communities, CX analytics, and social media management. Combined with our top-rated services, the Khoros platform enables brands to connect with customers throughout their entire digital journey.
Khoros powers more than 500 million daily digital interactions and leverages AI to turn these interactions into actionable insights. Primarily owned by Vista Equity Partners, Khoros is recognized as one of the Best Places to Work both nationally and locally across our 11 offices around the world.
Staci comes to Khoros with more than 30 years of technology experience, including roles in programming, consulting, sales, and customer success. Her experience spans both small and large companies and includes completing two Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and one private equity exit. Additionally, Staci has broad leadership experience in customer-facing roles in services and sales at companies including Microsoft, Vignette, HEALTHCAREfirst, and Dell.
Previous to Khoros, Staci led a worldwide sales team at IBM for an offering that secures customers’ digital engagements. Before her appointment as COO, Staci served as Khoros’s Chief Customer Officer (CCO) for over two years.
Missed The Latest Episode of The SalesStar Podcast? Have a quick listen here!
Episode 149: Sales Practices and Tips For Recessionary Times with Ed Hill, SVP – EMEA at Bazaarvoice
Episode 148: Core Sales Strategy Best Practices with Stephanie Vandenberg, GM and SVP Revenue & Growth at Verve Group
Episode 147: Driving Better Customer Revenue Journeys with Holly Procter, SVP of Global Sales at Clari