Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 2 years ago

Decrease Churn: How To Shore Up Relationships w/ Sara Lauer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Someday, when you finally purchase that Tesla you’ve always wanted, you’ll want someone to walk you through all the features before hitting the road. Things like the cruise control, the wipers, how to connect your phone to the bluetooth, etc.

 

Product professionals like Sara Lauer, Senior Director of Customer Success at Reflexis Systems, Inc., make sure their customers know everything about the product before putting it in drive (although, they don’t sell Teslas).

 

Sara joined me in this episode of Customer Success Leader to discuss… 

 

- Why it’s crucial to know all of the stakeholders in the company before pitching a solution

 

- The obstacles that get in the way of building strong customer relationships

 

- How customer success tech has changed

 

- How to get your customers to open up about the value they gain from your product

 

For more info, check out customersuccessleader.com or send a message to hello@flatfile.io.

Different companies have different ethos, so you have to get to know each and every person and what drives them towards success and what that company's mission and vision is. Want to create delightful customer experiences. You're in the right place. Welcome to customer success leader, where you'll learn about the successes and struggles of leaders who are passionate about their craft. Trust me, you want to stick around. Here's your host, Eric Crane. Hey, I'm Eric Crane, the founder and coe of flat file, and welcome to another episode of the Customer Success Leader. Today I've got Sarah Lower here, who is a senior director of customer success. That reflects us. Hey, Sarah, how you doing today? Hey, good, how are you? I'm doing all right. Thank you. It's bit and Muggy here in Atlanta where you calling in from Indiana. It's funny how we're all calling in from somewhere these days. How has the transition been to remote work for you? It's been different. Customer success is normally a face to face interaction, and so this is definitely been an adjustment this year. Thank you for asking. Yeah, I hear...

...that we feel the same way, although I guess we're a distributed company, so it kind of has to come a little bit more naturally, but I am missing out a little bit on seeing folks in person, for sure. Yeah, I'm definitely. So tell me a little bit more about reflects us and what you're doing over there. Well, reflects this is a provider for intelligent workforce management and execution solutions. So we help lots of retailers and different types of businesses and food service, hospitality, retail and even banking with their operations needs. That's pretty cool and you've got a lot of experience both of the reflects us and it in customer success. I'm really excited to share your thoughts and ideas with our listeners. Are I like to start with. How do you define customer success? Well, the main thing I always say is I believe in helping the customers maximize their investment. So whatever products and tools that they have in their arsenal that they purchased from us or otherwise, I like to be there with them along with that journey to help them realize success...

...with what they've purchased. I think about it when I think about the last car I bought. Even nowadays, the cars, they're so technologically advanced that you actually have a person that comes out and sit down with you and they show you all the bells and whistles of your car. And I like to think of myself, with the experience that I have in retail operations, as someone that can sit down with that customer and help them on that journey and hold their hand through that process. I show them different tools and gems within the product that they might not have thought of and listen to them as they think about what the success means to them and their organization and help them through that process. So I often hear that customer success acts as almost an extension of the customers organization. You're trying to help them achieve business objectives. How do you help establish that type of relationship with customers that you're working with? Well, success is a partnership and you have to get to know them as a person and also as a partner and a somebody that they can trust.

So certainly my background and them knowing where I come from is part of it, but also you really have to get to know them as a person and understand what what their goals are and what their needs are. And so, you know, I really think that you just have to get to know them, be with them facetoface and really get to know all of the stakeholders in that business. Different companies have different ethos, so you have to get to know each and every person and what drives them towards success and what that company's mission and vision is, and then you can use the product to kind of reinforce that journey along the way. I really believe that's why reflects this has been around for so long and has had customers even since two thousand and one staples. And it's funny because sometimes our contacts will move from one company to another. I think about fanatics and some of our operations partners that we've had all these years, and that's why they come back to us, because they know us as a person. I used to work for a retailer WHO said get to know your customer, but get to know their person and work with...

...people that you like. So that's, I think, what drives that relationship. Got It. That makes sense. Yeah, I mean that's pretty exciting thing to do, not only have your product be taken along, but also your relationships that you have with your castomers. Definitely. So what gets in the way of establishing that type of relationship with customers. Well, right now the pandemic is definitely a blocker. As I already said, that facetime is so critical and you know in person communication is always best. You know, you can go to lunch, you can, you know, talk with them and have small talk and again, really get to know the person. So you know, we've had to turn our cameras on and do what we can today to, you know, get to know that person without having that facetime and certainly getting to know the entire account all the players. You know, it's even that much more important in a your like this to know mission, vision, everyone that's part of that company and what drives them towards success.

So, you know, it's definitely been an interesting year, but it also challenges us to think of different ways to connect who we used to do tech talks facetoface, and now we're doing them this way, and that's good because we're all healthy and we can work differently and we've learned to pivot, I think this year, different ways towards how we can drive sales. So it is interesting. I thought the answer might be sales here. So how do you forge to successful relationship between customer success and sale so that you know that the long term relationship with the customers set up for success. Well, you really have to get to know what that company wants for the year and what their strategies and goals are. If you don't understand that, you're not going to be able to partner with product that meets their needs. I mean we have lots of different products, from appointment scheduling to Queue Communications, quick communications, quick checklist to deeper audit tools and deeper scheduling tools to simple scheduling tools.

So if you don't know what their vision is towards driving sales, then you're not going to be able to partner them with the right product and advise them along the way. There's definitely been times where I've said this isn't going to make meet your needs. You're looking for something more for relationship management or something along those lines, and there's definitely been times where I've said, I don't know why you haven't considered this tool as well. During the pandemic, for instance, we launched some tools that we knew, as being good citizens and part of this bigger worldwide community, that we could share with that customer, and so we launched things for our existing retailers like quick communication tools and quick checklists that were helpful for them during the pandemic. That's awesome. Yeah, you've been in customer success basically since the inception of customer success or. Yeah, farmal field. Yeah, so I retail operations. Yeah. Yeah, I'd love to hear a little bit more about how technology to support customer...

...success has evolved over that period of time and what are the technological tools you use internally to help ensure that you're able to deliver a successful and beneficial relationship to your customers at scale? Yeah, I mean technology is definitely evolved over these years. When you think about communication, what we needed twenty years ago was really pretty straightforward as a retailer, you just needed to know what to do, when to do and you were told, usually by corporate office, what that was. Nowadays we have social media, we have all of these different systems coming into play towards that store manager or retail operator or banker, and so everything's coming at them from so many different directions. Whether, you know, always was a factor, but now we have, you know, things like artificial intelligence and things like that that can help us along the way so it's definitely evolved over the years and now communication comes from several different areas.

To help that store manager you have to have solutions that are intelligent enough to show them the way and a lot of them can be system generated messages. So it's really about making things as simple as possible for that associate or store manager to drive sales. That makes sense? Yeah, there's a big difference between complex and complicated and I think a lot of times those get obscured a little bit. Yes, definitely. So you manage a team of people. What are the systems or tools that you've put in place to help ensure that that team is effectively guiding the customer in their pursuit of value from reflexus as product? Well, I mean really, when I think about the team internally, it's about having them know the entire account and so certainly we have systems that help us learn all the parts and players of the organization, length of time they serve, whether or not they're a champion of the product or champion of the solutions. Certainly you know how long that the customer has been...

...around. You know, we like to heat map out how they feel about support, how they're doing with the amount of product that they have, those types of things. So it's really almost like a virtual dashboard, if you will, of different things and kind of just get to know the entire account in that way. So what are you in the team doing manually today that you feel like technology could support you to do it better or faster more efficiently in the future? Well, when I think about my day to day I do wish I had one system that I could pull everything up all at once, like I think about that scene from minority report where, you know, he was able to look at the name that the Reston they were talking to, maybe their day to birth and everything about them and all the information about the account all at once right in front of me. I think that would be awesome. And so nowadays, you know, I look through all of my notes, I look through all of, you know, my spreadsheets and...

...in different crm and it tools that we have to kind of get to know how that customer is doing. That unified view the customer comes up a lot and I expect folks listening to this podcasts aren't just customer success professionals but also folks who might be interested in building for customer success. Professionals. So would you mind maybe even elaborating a little bit more on what kind of information you'd want to see in that shared view? Yeah, certainly, things like, you know, open issues, tickets, products, any customer specific data or metrics? How is the company doing overall in sales? Those types of things. Got It. So, just like at Dashbird, where you can see the customer, you can understand a history of their interaction with Your Business and, ideally some information that is most relevant or important to their business value or success that they're driving from what you're offering them. Absolutely yeah. So, speaking of that, one thing that I found challenging in my previous experience in customer success is giving the customer to open up about the value that the system...

...provides that so and offering a product, often times there is some business goal or value that you want to derive and that usually is at the highest level, what determines whether or not the customer is happy with what you have. So how do you get them to open up and provide you information about the true business results that your solution is guiding them towards? Well, we start with Roy conversations early in the relationship and really help them understand, you know where other customers of drive value and how that usually opens the door to get them to open up. I do agree with you a lot of times they're not wanting to share that information right away or maybe they just don't know how others can pull value from a product that you offer. So we start off early with just use cases and information that we have from other retailers, and luckily we've been around for twenty years, so we have lots of information about that and usually when they start to ask and I see more about that, then you know you're hitting on something that is possibly, you know, in...

...there, I guess wheelhouse as well. So that's where we start and then, if you get to know that company's mission and vision, you can then help them drive in Roy. The worst thing you can do, though, is say this is the Roy you're going to get from that product. You have to really help them understand where the value is and partner with them and then come up with it together and help that be their own personal Roy. Yeah, and Trinsic motivation is always stronger than extrens act right. So you want to be guiding someone to that answer if you know what it's likely going to be but still not actually be telling them that, then they're not actually realizing the value that they might be able to otherwise. Right. So what is your favorite part of working in customer success? I love to help people be happy and successful, so it's a great role for me. For years I was in retail operations and store operations, and that's fun too, because you can help really grow a business. But this way I can get to...

...know all different types of businesses and share that knowledge across different organizations. So really it's the people at the end of the day, and when I see them happy and smiling and knowing that I provided a solution for them to drive success and they're having fun with the tool, that's when I feel most motivated. So someone is going to get into customer success. What are the area is professionally that you feel they should focus on? Most relationships, relationships, relationship, everything that you do is about that. I went into this job thinking that all of my retail experience was going to be the most beneficial, but honestly it was my wholesale experience that really helped me, because when you're working with someone that's buying a line of product, you really have to get to know that account and what's important to them, both personally and professionally. So if you're going into customer success, you need to be driven and be self motivated, but also know how to drive a relationship that makes sense. So, speaking of which, just to wrap here, I like to ask...

...everyone the same question, which is, what is the best piece of advice related to customer success that you personally have ever gotten? Well, I loved Steve Jobs. I thought he was such a successful business man, as many people do, and he said a lot of things that were really inspirational. He also said simple things that I really remember and liked, like it's not the customers job to know what they want, and I think about the Ritz Carlton to. They have this gold standard that they go by and it's the same thing. Know what the customer wants before they know they want it, and so it's the same kind of philosophy. And if you can help them and know them that well that you can understand what they need before they even know they need it, you've got a strong relationship. Yeah, I believe that folks off and appreciate that too, because then you're alleviating some of the burden of them to actually know what they don't already know. Right, awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Sarah Again, that's Sarah Al Our from reflexi systems. I'm are crane from flat file,...

...and thank you for listening to customer success leader. You depend on the fastest time to value for your customers, so I let data on board and sell you down. Stop emailing spreadsheets, creating CSB templates or setting up FTP transfers. Create collaborative, secure workspaces with your customers and their data, saving you time while providing a memorable onboarding experience. Oh and there's no code required. You can go to flat files IO CS leader to learn more and get started for free. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you by flat file. If you're a fan of the show and want to help as share these conversations with others, leave us a rating on apple podcast. Just tap the number of stars you think the show deserves. That's it for today. Catch you in the next one.

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