SalesTechStar Interview with Ryan Studer, Chief Product Officer at Khoros
Ryan Studer, Chief Product Officer at Khoros chats about the basics of driving impactful digital journeys:
Take us through your years in the B2B tech segment and tell us about your new role at Khoros as CPO…what are you most looking forward to?
I started my career in Telecommunications at Sprint, where I owned key parts of the tech strategy for managing customer interactions. Though Sprint is a B2C company, there were key lessons I’ve applied throughout B2B tech roles, including as a customer experience management (CXM) consultant.
During that time, I noticed companies struggled to understand the voice of the customer (VoC) and didn’t have the proper tech foundation in place to take advantage of it. I was part of the founding team of Topbox as CPO, which was eventually acquired by Khoros, and made these CX insights visible. I got to see the ins and outs of how customers interact with brands and helped build the Topbox SaaS offering from the ground up. I’ve continued building that innovation across CX analytics software, AI, automation, and digital engagement.
Khoros has a phenomenal set of assets to address challenges across customer engagement. Those areas have evolved quite a bit over the past five years, and I’m excited to create solutions for our customers that are easy to use out of the box and make digital engagement simple and agile.
As a CPO: what do you feel are some of the core skills/best practices that people in this role should muster more of?
Don’t try to put duct tape on an erupting volcano. Product management is about going beyond solving business problems and, instead, understanding the heart of the market you’re serving. You don’t want to solve symptoms; rather, you need to get to the root cause of the problem.
Also, don’t lose sight of the original problem. There should be a good value exchange between you and your customers to solve the problems that matter most to them. Being able to transparently have those conversations and actioning on the data you receive are important skills.
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How are you seeing certain features in customer engagement software become more in demand in today’s market (and why), and in what ways do you see this impacting the adoption of this tech?
Digital engagement is a growing challenge for brands. Most people want to communicate on their preferred platform, and they’re doing so with greater velocity and volume than ever before. That demand forces brands out of their comfort zone to meet customers where they are in more ways than ever before.
And remember, you never have to go it alone. Strategic brand partnerships open up so many new doors, better connecting customers and brands. In a challenging and ever-changing environment, a strong partner offers brands the analysis and tools they need to continue to innovate and thrive.
Where a platform like Khoros helps is by bringing all of these disparate channels together for brands — email, calls, social media, chatbots, and communities — and takes away the complexity of individually integrating, organizing, and analyzing those channels. No one buys software for software’s sake and no one wants to learn a new complicated tool, so critical features further automation and free up brands to focus on other customer experiences where humans are needed.
What are some near-term predictions you have for the B2B salestech / B2B tech segment?
Most enterprise brands are either in the cloud or in the process of moving into the cloud. There’s going to be an even stronger need to integrate multiple technologies as we move away from legacy systems. Customer preferences evolve over time and we’re already seeing demand grow beyond social media and into new spaces, like brand-owned communities. Brands must publish dynamically and broadcast through one-to-one channels. Not everyone is on every platform, so ignoring these channels means you’re leaving customers in the dark.
I predict the businesses that seamlessly integrate tools and technologies into their digital engagement will be the ones celebrating at the end of the year while the rest are playing catch-up.
For sales teams and marketers of today: what core benefits of customer engagement tools do you see them not capitalizing enough on?
There’s sometimes a hesitancy to explore areas you’re not fully comfortable in yet. Brand-owned communities are drastically underutilized, even though they can provide some impressive insights. Communities offer real-time feedback, develop engaging user-generated and brand-generated content, and have a swarm of your biggest supporters ready to spread the word about your product. Why wouldn’t you capitalize on that?
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What features are you hearing customers ask for most? How do you get insight into these insights and pain points?
Most companies are concerned with cost optimization and paying attention to where their money is going — they, understandably, want to get the most out of their marketing spend and use social media in the most efficient ways.
To better understand these insights, we really dive into how customers consume our software. We source feedback on where they feel confident and what they find most valuable. We are constantly working with our customers to drive our product roadmap and innovation lifecycle to ensure what we’re building today solves the challenges of our customers.
In terms of pain points, universally, the COVID-19 pandemic evolved our world and the way our customers operate. Brands must now think about both digital engagement from their customers and the challenges of a blended in-person and remote workforce. Understanding where that convergence happens, helps us learn what complexities enterprises struggle with and their difficulty in navigating change quickly and effectively.
We’d love to hear about some of Khoros’s latest or upcoming enhancements.
Last fall, we partnered with some fantastic companies to deliver even more tailored experiences for brands. Our partnership with Talkwalker expanded deep listening capabilities across one unified view, empowering brands to engage with customers using robust amounts of data, thoughtfully. Our partnership with SearchUnify uses AI-driven enterprise search solutions to increase community engagement and improve customer satisfaction while reducing support costs. And we’ve worked with the leading innovator in e-mobility products, Jetson, to offer digital contact center, social media management, and voice via Amazon Connect to deliver a true omnichannel experience.
Later this year, we’re planning to release the next-generation community solution. I can’t share too much right now, but I’m excited for it to provide a burst of energy in the marketplace and really address the software and service needs we’re seeing among customers.
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.
Ryan Studer is VP, Product at Khoros where he leads product development for its social media management, digital contact center, and CX insights solutions. Prior to Khoros, Ryan served as CPO on the founding team of Topbox, an enterprise customer experience (CX) analytics software acquired by Khoros in 2021 that is now known as CX Insights.
Ryan has over 20 years of experience building and supporting enterprise-grade technology solutions. He got his start in the telecom industry, has served as a CX consultant for large enterprises, and has led SaaS product development teams for over eight years. In addition, Ryan has held many leadership roles leading CX strategies through product and technology design to help brands improve CX and digital transformation.
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