Guest Column | May 17, 2018

Why Customer Success Must Be A Philosophy And Not Just A Department

A conversation with Dennis Fois, NewVoiceMedia

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During the Fireside Chat at Gainsight’s recent Pulse 2018 event, NewVoiceMedia CEO Dennis Fois explained why customer emotions are the single most important predictor of brand loyalty and how businesses can operationalize positive emotional connections in their contact centers.

Fois recently took time to speak with Software Business Growth about his Fireside Chat, as well as how he expects customer success to evolve, how to use data and metrics to measure and improve emotional connections with customers, and more.

Q: What have you learned from other customer success leaders at Pulse?

Fois: Businesses are beginning to realize they will no longer be successful unless their customers are so leaders must find ways to rally their entire organizations around that mission. This new mindset is requiring businesses to re-engineer their thinking about how they measure success. The trend seems to be moving toward more outcome-based metrics — adoption of the product or solution versus recurring revenue, for example. As a result, many organizations are re-evaluating where they want to focus their customer success resources and how they want to compensate teams based on those new priorities.

Q: Where do you see customer success headed for the software industry in the next five years?

Fois: In SaaS, there’s a very fundamental shift happening. I’ve had many conversations with NewVoiceMedia customers about what’s important to them, and they all say the same thing: “How can you make me more successful?”

If they’re transitioning from on-premise to cloud, they don’t want to simply to be doing the same things they were doing 20 years ago. At NewVoiceMedia, we have become more proactive in driving the adoption of our software through onboarding and training, encouraging customers to use it in significant ways, and listening to and incorporating their feedback in selecting add-on features that can create even more value. We also know our solutions will work best for businesses that want to invest in their contact center, rather than drive costs out.

This understanding allows us to go to market in areas where we know our customers can achieve success so our sales team’s main responsibility is not to sell, but rather to establish whether a prospective customer is a fit — to determine if our solutions can provide the ability for that customer to be successful. Our customer success team helps us define and refine our market fit by what they are learning from our customers. This is a vital role all CSMs can play in their organizations. So customer success, as a model, is going to continue to become more prescriptive and more proactive in providing recommendations that drive adoption, experience, and advocacy with customers.

Q: What tools are software companies using to ensure positive emotional connections with customers?

Fois: There are no substitutes for people-to-people interactions meaning front-line contact center teams are still the difference-makers in winning the hearts and minds of customers. Organizations that are deploying self-service solutions via websites, IVRs, and mobile apps should ensure there is always an option to reach a live agent if the customer becomes frustrated or confused. Tools such as ACD/IVR and intelligent call routing allow a caller to be easily routed to an agent with the skills to help them.

One of our customers in the hospitality industry hit an impressive 83.9 Net Promoter Score as a result of their guests being able to reach the right agent on their first call — a key driver of a positive customer experience. Skills-based routing helped boost their revenue as well, allowing the best agents to be put on sales calls.

Contact center solutions that tightly integrate with the CRM provide agents immediate access to important information about the caller including which products they own, open cases, caller status, and sentiment allowing the agent to personalize the interaction, resolve the caller’s problem, and leave them with a positive emotional experience. Speech analytics and call recording technology can help businesses understand their customer journey, hone in on potential frustrations, and focus on maximizing the moments that truly drive emotive experiences. Another NVM customer, Six Pack Abs, has used our speech analytics solution, Conversation Analyzer, to significantly improve their sales call quality. They’ve been able to go from monitoring 5 percent of calls to 100 percent, and the customer service team is retaining an additional 200 customers per month due to better customer experiences.

Q: How do you measure positive emotional connections with customers?

Fois: Voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives can reveal the impact of service at various strategic points in the customer’s journey. These can include proactive or post-interaction surveys, Net Promoter Score evaluations, customer satisfaction ratings, or customer effort assessments. Speech and text analytics can detect words, phrases, or sentiment associated with positive and negative emotions. Such tools can even alert agents, quality analysts, or managers when customers begin to experience shifts in emotion — such as happiness to frustration to anger — in real-time and intervene if necessary.

For many organizations, the addition of a focus on the customer’s emotional connection is less about establishing new or different metrics and more about understanding the correlation between a customer’s emotional response to an interaction and metrics like revenue, customer or employee satisfaction, or customer churn rates. Fundamentally, the shift is a focus on understanding rather than the introduction of something completely new. Customers are already experiencing emotions at every step of their journey and those emotions are already impacting every key performance indicator on the dashboard. The question to answer is whether or not you’re able to address and leverage those emotions to elevate the customer experience.

Q: How do you use the data gleaned from positive emotional customer connections to influence existing and potential customer connections?

Fois: Interaction analytics — simply listening to customer conversations — can help sales and service teams uncover the drivers and effects of customer emotions. Look for statements that get to root cause of the emotion and use the data to build improvement programs with the goal of offering solutions and services that make customers feel understood and valued.

Again, speech analytics and call recording solutions enable sales and service managers to coach agents by showing examples of calls that were handled well and those that could use improvement. Gamification software builds onto that by allowing managers to offer rewards and incentives for agents who implement best practices and ultimately replicate the behavior of top performers.