SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with You Mon Tsang, CEO and Cofounder at ChurnZero

You Mon Tsang, CEO and Cofounder at ChurnZero chats about the evolution of customer success and how sales-marketing as well as other customer-facing teams need to have better access to customer data to drive end goals. 

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Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat You Mon, tell us more about ChurnZero and what inspired this platform?

The idea for ChurnZero first began after working as a CMO at a publicly traded software company alongside ChurnZero’s co-founder, Mark Heys, who was the CTO. As CMO, I was accustomed to having technology that offered detailed insights into prospects so I could segment and market to them appropriately based on a wide variety of factors – including their intent to buy. However, I quickly realized that there was no data-driven technology to help keep customers onboard. In fact, the Customer Success teams were often saddled with poor or no technology at all. To be successful, these teams need detailed insights into the customers’ interactions with the product to determine how to help them succeed.

With brute force, Mark and I decided to dive into our own customer data and give what we learned to our customer-facing teams so they had the information they needed to provide a better experience. This exercise proved to be quite eye-opening and catalyzed our mission to deliver the best possible software to this extremely underserved segment: Customer Success.

Taking it a step further, we saw the exponential power of combining detailed customer usage data with automation and communication tools typically used in sales and marketing. This was when we began to see how we could make a real, lasting difference in customer retention.

So, in 2015, we took what learned, put our decades of SaaS expertise to work, and built ChurnZero.

What are some of the key elements in a successful customer success model that you feel most B2B sales/marketing teams do not put in place well enough today? What best practices would you share?

When departments outside of Customer Success – like sales, marketing, and product – do not properly prioritize or understand a customer, no amount of effort will transform the company into a “customer-centric” organization. It is simply impossible. The only place to start transforming a company’s mindset is to be relentless about your knowing and sharing of customer data across the business.

Current customers have much higher expectations from brands they do business with than prospects – and the payback is clear. It is far more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

Forward-looking businesses will mine their data – like usage, engagement, customer journey status, product reviews, and customer health scores, among other data points – to better inform customer marketing and sales efforts.

Bottom line, the sophistication that sales and marketing departments put into their tech stack and human processes need to be brought to bear in Customer Success.

Read More: ChurnZero Announces CSM Appreciation Week for the Customer Success Industry

While customer success tools and improved processes can help reduce churn, there are a lot of other factors that come into play in today’s market. Can you take us through them – a few tips and practices you feel should be evaluated or put in place to prevent churn?

Here are a few things I consider to be critical in reducing churn:

  • Get started right: Customer retention starts with your customers’ experience during onboarding. The initial interactions between your customer, your product, and your Customer Success team establish the groundwork to jumpstart success (or accelerate failure).
  • Focus on the customer journey: Map out the process that your customers complete to achieve key goals throughout their lifecycle – and this may be different from customer to customer, so segmentation is key. By outlining the customer journey, you will be able to follow a roadmap for ongoing service and support to learn if they are falling behind.
  • Monitor customer health scores: Customer Success managers (CSM) can easily identify customers that are at risk of churning by monitoring health scores through Customer Success software. Too many teams tend to track what we call “lagging factors,” like renewals and churn, when they should be tracking “leading indicators,” like product usage and engagement if they want to take proactive steps.
  • Segment your customer base: Segmentation serves as the foundation for proactive service. Segmenting your customer base into groups with similar characteristics and needs empowers CSMs to provide the proper programs, services, and prioritization tailored specifically to each group. Using a thoughtful and thorough approach to segmentation will improve customer adoption, minimize churn, and grow revenue.

Can you highlight some of the best customer success initiatives you have seen in B2B/Tech?

I am an advocate of small advances adding up to big change, so let me share two smaller, but powerful initiatives that can make a difference.

First, map and track the initial interactions with your customers. For some, it is onboarding. For others, it is implementation or time to value on a freemium or free trial. Regardless of that first interaction, it is critical to map and track what they are doing –whether it be viewing a training, using valuable features, or integrating the data.

My second piece of advice  is to ease the burden on Customer Success for customer references. For most companies, this requires automation. With proper segmentation and automation, you will automatically (1) find the right time to survey users and champions to determine their NPS (net promoter score), and (2) follow up with promoters to ask for reviews, references, and referrals. Once this process is happening consistently in the background, the fire drills will subside.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Dagbert Sansen, General Manager for the Americas at Akeneo

In what ways do you feel customer success will evolve as automation/bots start driving a lot of these processes in the marketing-sales sphere?

As more sales and marketing teams start to deploy virtual assistants and other pre-sale automation, customers will grow accustomed to immediate responses and expect consistent, personalized experiences.

Once these prospective customers are onboarded, the responsibility of ensuring the success of the entire customer journey is on CS teams. Customer Success teams need to meet the customer where they are (i.e., through in-app requests, more personalized automations, etc.). Which brings us to the benefits of turning to tech-touch engagement models.

With both tech-touch and high-touch engagement models, Customer Success teams can “automate the mundane” to adjust their focus toward the most complex issues at hand,  allowing individuals to make the greatest impact in their work and on the business.

Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital sales/customer communication tips and best practices before we wrap up!

I will keep this one short. If this interview can leave you with anything, it is this: Pay attention to customer data. Use it to segment your customer base and personalized service. Use it to determine the leading indicators of retention or churn. Use it to focus teams on issues of the highest strategic value. When you do this, you will deliver superior customer success and drive measurable value for your business.

Read More: How to Create a Comprehensive RevOps Data Strategy in 7 Steps

Impact Webinar - A CSM's Introduction to ChurnZero

ChurnZero is a Customer Success software built for growing SaaS and subscription businesses.

You Mon Tsang is the CEO and Cofounder at ChurnZero.

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