The SIIA is delighted to introduce one of the newest members to join SIIA’s Software & Services Division, Waypoint Group. Steve Bernstein, CEO & Co-Founder of Waypoint Group, and I sat down to discuss customer success and how their consulting work and SaaS platform have helped increase the rate of their customer’s profitable sales. Please find my interview below.
Rhianna: Tell us a little about Waypoint Group and what makes you unique.
Steve: Waypoint Group was created with the idea that although companies may realize the need to put customers at the center of their universe, how you go about doing that can be difficult. While working at Satmetrix, the developers of the Net Promoter System, I saw a huge opportunity for B2B companies to not only learn and innovate with customers, but also build relationships and strengthen loyalty through the feedback process. So we created a practice where the feedback analysis didn’t just focus on the people who responded, but highlights those that are disengaged as they have been proven to be the biggest churn risk.
Since 2008 when we started, we’ve created unique account-based analysis and reporting that links financials with sentiment to quantify ROI and prioritize improvement strategies. And we’ve built-in these reports into our own SaaS product called TopBox to help customer success managers and account teams proactively engage with customers, better understand their use case, and share the insights efficiently with other teams.
Rhianna: Talk a little more about TopBox. How can TopBox help B2B companies better understand their customers, strategic accounts and other segments?
Steve: TopBox is built to interpret customer sentiment and success levels with data visualization that tells an account’s story. With typical NPS and CSAT programs, there is an overall score, which is generally used to express cumulative customer health. But what that aggregate score doesn’t tell you is where to allocate resources for optimal improvement, or shine the light on who isn’t engaged and providing feedback – a critical difference for B2B firms that tend to have ongoing relationships with their customer accounts.
Understanding that individual accounts are the building blocks of a successful B2B business, the heart of TopBox is the Account X-Ray, which shows the temperature and engagement of the key contacts within individual accounts. The X-Ray allows account teams to truly understand who’s “with” you within the account, what their role is, and how to best follow-up with specific people.
With that foundation, TopBox also rolls-up data for segments like account tiers (e.g. Strategic Accounts), geographic regions, products, account managers, industry, or other factors used in a client’s go-to-market strategy. This way, teams get a sense of how a particular product is performing, whether customers are more successful in a certain region, with a particular account manager, and so on. Teams can also see how sentiment differs between Decision Makers and other roles within an account such as project managers or ”power” users. Because there are various people that define an individual customer, these distinctions are essential to see how expectations and delivery are aligned. It’s also helpful in benchmarking a customer’s success with a similar use case, so you can really see if this account is an outlier or part of an ongoing trend that needs to be addressed.
Rhianna: Why do you think companies are failing to successfully implement customer experience programs?
Steve: Frankly it takes some work and surveys have a bad reputation. Lots of companies run surveys because they are cost effective in gathering data quickly, but most never do anything with the information. So why should a customer take the time to fill it out? This leads to low response rates and failed programs.
It comes down to executive commitment and communication. The C-suite needs to realize that there are several metrics that come together to tell a story. Product adoption metrics will only get you information from End Users who login to a product. But end users aren’t usually the ones making buying decisions, so how can you reach Decision Makers and Influencers? Through a well-planned process for acquiring and acting on feedback.
Our most successful clients also communicate the results to all customers, sending a clear message that their opinions are valued and acted upon. In the short term, problems are addressed one-to-one and over time, structural initiatives can be resourced to drive improvements in a more optimal way. By following up and demonstrating that you care, trust is built and response rates rise. We always say, “You get out what you put in,” so design the feedback program that enables improvement, not just measurement.
Rhianna: What tips do you have for companies to use customer feedback to accelerate growth?
Steve: Really think about how you’re looking at customer marketing and success. Think about the different buyer roles, and whether you are truly hearing from the people that matter most. And be sure to link feedback to financial measures such as annual contract value (ACV) or customer lifetime value (CLV) to tell an accurate story about the health of the business.
To help teams do this, we wrote a customer success how-to guide called Failure Sucks! (More for Your Customers Than for You) with instructions on building an effective, holistic customer-centric feedback program through the lens of customer success. It is meant to be a workbook guide with questions, grids, and templates for implementing the ideas quickly. We’re happy to offer a discount code for SIIA members or anyone interested in the book!