SalesTechStar Interview with Stuti Bhargava, Chief Customer Experience Officer at OneSpan

Looking for innovative ways to boost your brand’s customer success journey? Stuti Bhargava, Chief Customer Experience Officer at OneSpan has a few tips for you:


Tell us about yourself and your journey in the tech market over the years…we’d love to hear more about your role at OneSpan as well and what a typical day at work looks like?

I started my career as a software engineer. I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science, and started working for bigger companies like Motorola and EMC. Soon I realized I wanted to understand the ‘why?’ aspect of what I was doing as an engineer, and looked towards building myself into a role in product management. My technical background was in my favor because I was able to bridge the gap between the technology I was building and the customer pain points we were trying to solve.

My first forte in a customer facing role was originally in startups, where I built out post-sales functions and models. What I loved most was that my role was never constant and changed at different stages of the company. The idea of ‘customer success’ too has evolved a lot in my career, even just a decade ago it didn’t really exist. At that time, there was this need or void of customers churning – companies used to call it “customer bleed”. The idea really was that customers were frustrated, there were more options, switching costs were lower, and organizations were not used to managing customer loyalty. The role evolved from managing customer escalations and frustrations, into a more forward-thinking role, where once you stopped the “bleeding,” you could actually start looking at things more proactively. Customer success is all about proactivity – you’re preventing a customer from reaching a state where they are unhappy or looking somewhere else. As long as you maximize value from day one, that’s true customer success.

What attracted me to OneSpan was this whole notion of the “Customer Experience Officer.” This role is relatively new and exploded during the pandemic with companies investing more to retain their customers. OneSpan’s CEO, Matt Moynahan, also has a very unique vision for OneSpan – he is looking for transformation, and the transformation starts when customers are happy, loyal, and advocates. This role is really special to me because it brings the entire post-sales journey into one role and simplifies the entire experience, not just for our customers, but internally as well.

What are some of OneSpan’s newest service updates, and how do they enable better customer success for end users?

Simplicity is a big factor for me. At OneSpan we wanted to make customer success interwoven into all of the “traditional” value-added services including professional services, customer success management, and customer support into one cohesive customer unit to deliver a simple and rewarding experience.

With all this in mind, we created Customer Success Packages that were meant to be a simplifying factor for both buyers and customers, as well as our sales team. We are the experts on what customers want, we know what makes them successful, and we know the combination of what resources are required to make them successful in the different stages of their journey. A lot of our competitors in this space provide these services, but their customers are only  getting support resources, and we wanted to do more. OneSpan wants to be a partner and trusted advisor for customers, which requires much more than customer support.

These customer packages include, based on customers’ level of spend and how long they are with us, a built-in customer success manager, premium and elite customer support (including 24/7 concierge support), and consultative, professional services. All of this should be part of the customer experience instead of having customers choose – that is not the optimal journey.

How can B2B teams today drive a more impactful customer success model that ties into ROI goals?

The top three metrics that I look at are gross revenue retention/renewal rate (GRR), net retention (NRR), and customer satisfaction (CSAT).

GRR is our bread and butter – the bottom line for us is the retention of our customers, especially so in today’s climate. NRR is the gravy on top of GRR. Not only are you retaining customers, but you are expanding your customer growth. This is a shared responsibility between sales and customer experience. This is where the collaboration builds, and there should not be a conflict of interest. Many organizations do this wrong, they build this conflict of interest where people spend more time arguing about who is getting the compensation rather than doing right by the customer.

OneSpan does a really good job of incentivizing teams to collaborate and work together. CSAT could be any sort of customer satisfaction metric, this could be NPS or transactional surveys. Organizations need to have a good view of what customers think about them and understand if they are loyal to the brand.

Regarding ROI, customer success can be likened to a winery. You have to have patience and wait to yield good results – I can crush grapes and drink the wine today, but if you don’t let it ferment, you will not enjoy it. It is the same with customer success. We are building the foundations, connections, relationships, and customer trust. The trust was there, but we are giving them that added attention, support, and partnership they didn’t always have.

What is really going to impact the ROI down the line is when we start hitting those net retentions and seeing the expansions. At the end of the day, a customer experience organization really wants to build loyal advocates who are their spokespeople in the world, and this is the true ROI – when customers are advocating and selling for you.

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Can you talk about some leading tech or B2C brands and key takeaways from their customer success models?

When I think of customer experience, and I think all of us have done NPS surveys, I am actually very picky and rarely give out a 9 or 10 score. The few organizations that I have rated that high are very different, with Amazon as my number example, specifically their retail experience.

Not many people will think of customer experience when they think of Amazon, but they are one of the premier leaders in proactive customer experience. Most of the time, when you are shopping for something or looking for answers, you never have to call someone because they anticipate what you are looking for. Think about the last time you had to return something – it is seamless. You don’t even have to remember to pack up your returns and put them in a box. I view this through the 80/20 rule – 80% of what people do on their platform is super easy. For the other 20%, customers may have to dig for the answer, which is not the optimal experience, but for the majority of people, it is perfect.

Another innovative thing they are doing is using a lot of data to help make these decisions. The data analytics aspect of it is so important. For me, this is where I think I am differentiated in the customer success space. Coming from a product and technical background – I am very data-oriented. A lot of what we do at OneSpan, and what I encourage our team to do, is experiment with clear guidelines and goals using data to make decisions. I don’t mind if we fail, but let’s fail quickly but learn from our mistakes. The most successful companies going with this model have to be more data-oriented and invest in data analytics. Let the data guide you rather than let the data validate your assumptions.

If there are five things about the typical B2B customer success model that should change within 2023: what should they be in your view?

(1) Number one is that organizations must invest in the data-driven aspect of B2B customer success models. Organizations tend to think of data as financial, but looking at the behaviors of customers and their usage patterns is extremely valuable. With this data, organizations can customize their customers’ journeys and improve overall experience.

(2) Organizations should improve on digital touch and digital customer success. This basically means enhancing the current customer journey by using automation – ChatGPT will most likely revolutionize this. The idea is organizations want to give the same level of touchpoints to all of the customers, but we can’t do this at scale. Organizations need automation and a digital journey to guide people and give them the same experience without it being high touch. This requires an initial investment that some companies are not ready to do.

(3) When you think of monetizing or the ROI of customer success, you cannot think of today – you have to think down the line and from the perspective of your customer. This is where the innovation of OneSpan’s Customer Success Packages come in – to shake up how things are going and simplify the process.

(4) Speaking for customer experience thought leaders, we need to collaborate more. We talk a lot about generic topics and how things should be, but we don’t actually share the collateral. We need to share more about what we are actually doing, not the generic – what are the metrics? How do we sell this?

(5) Lastly, customer success needs to have a seat at the table, not sitting behind a CRO or COO. It is its own department and the amount of revenue and customer feedback they get does not qualify them as a secondary item – customer success is the heartbeat of your customer base.

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OneSpan is a digital agreements security company that helps organizations accelerate digital transformations by enabling secure, compliant, and refreshingly easy customer agreements and transaction experiences.

Stuti Bhargava is OneSpan’s Chief Customer Experience Officer. Stuti brings more than 20 years of technology experience, including 10 years of leading customer success teams. Stuti joins OneSpan from Immersive Labs, a private SaaS company offering people-centric cyber resilience. As Vice President of Global Customer Experience, she led Immersive Lab’s global customer success organization and was responsible for the end-to-end customer journey. Prior to Immersive Labs, she served as Head of Global Customer Success at BitSight Technologies, a cyber-risk and security ratings company.

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