Customer Success Leader
Customer Success Leader

Episode · 1 year 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, soyou have to get to know each and every person and what drives them towardssuccess and what that company's mission and vision is. Want to create delightful customerexperiences. You're in the right place. Welcome to customer success leader, whereyou'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, EricCrane. 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 gotSarah Lower here, who is a senior director of customer success. That reflectsus. Hey, Sarah, how you doing today? Hey, good,how are you? I'm doing all right. Thank you. It's bit and Muggyhere in Atlanta where you calling in from Indiana. It's funny how we'reall calling in from somewhere these days. How has the transition been to remotework for you? It's been different. Customer success is normally a face toface interaction, and so this is definitely been an adjustment this year. Thankyou 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 comea little bit more naturally, but I am missing out a little bit onseeing folks in person, for sure. Yeah, I'm definitely. So tellme 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 andyou've got a lot of experience both of the reflects us and it in customersuccess. 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 maximizetheir investment. So whatever products and tools that they have in their arsenal thatthey purchased from us or otherwise, I like to be there with them alongwith that journey to help them realize success...

...with what they've purchased. I thinkabout 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 comesout and sit down with you and they show you all the bells and whistlesof your car. And I like to think of myself, with the experiencethat I have in retail operations, as someone that can sit down with thatcustomer 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 havethought of and listen to them as they think about what the success means tothem and their organization and help them through that process. So I often hearthat customer success acts as almost an extension of the customers organization. You're tryingto help them achieve business objectives. How do you help establish that type ofrelationship with customers that you're working with? Well, success is a partnership andyou have to get to know them as a person and also as a partnerand a somebody that they can trust.

So certainly my background and them knowingwhere I come from is part of it, but also you really have to getto know them as a person and understand what what their goals are andwhat their needs are. And so, you know, I really think thatyou just have to get to know them, be with them facetoface and really getto know all of the stakeholders in that business. Different companies have differentethos, so you have to get to know each and every person and whatdrives them towards success and what that company's mission and vision is, and thenyou 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 hashad customers even since two thousand and one staples. And it's funny because sometimesour contacts will move from one company to another. I think about fanatics andsome of our operations partners that we've had all these years, and that's whythey come back to us, because they know us as a person. Iused to work for a retailer WHO said get to know your customer, butget 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 haveyour product be taken along, but also your relationships that you have with yourcastomers. Definitely. So what gets in the way of establishing that type ofrelationship with customers. Well, right now the pandemic is definitely a blocker.As I already said, that facetime is so critical and you know in personcommunication is always best. You know, you can go to lunch, youcan, you know, talk with them and have small talk and again,really get to know the person. So you know, we've had to turnour cameras on and do what we can today to, you know, getto know that person without having that facetime and certainly getting to know the entireaccount all the players. You know, it's even that much more important ina your like this to know mission, vision, everyone that's part of thatcompany and what drives them towards success.

So, you know, it's definitelybeen an interesting year, but it also challenges us to think of different waysto connect who we used to do tech talks facetoface, and now we're doingthem this way, and that's good because we're all healthy and we can workdifferently and we've learned to pivot, I think this year, different ways towardshow we can drive sales. So it is interesting. I thought the answermight be sales here. So how do you forge to successful relationship between customersuccess and sale so that you know that the long term relationship with the customersset up for success. Well, you really have to get to know whatthat company wants for the year and what their strategies and goals are. Ifyou don't understand that, you're not going to be able to partner with productthat meets their needs. I mean we have lots of different products, fromappointment scheduling to Queue Communications, quick communications, quick checklist to deeper audit tools anddeeper scheduling tools to simple scheduling tools.

So if you don't know what theirvision is towards driving sales, then you're not going to be able topartner them with the right product and advise them along the way. There's definitelybeen times where I've said this isn't going to make meet your needs. You'relooking for something more for relationship management or something along those lines, and there'sdefinitely been times where I've said, I don't know why you haven't considered thistool as well. During the pandemic, for instance, we launched some toolsthat 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 ourexisting retailers like quick communication tools and quick checklists that were helpful for themduring the pandemic. That's awesome. Yeah, you've been in customer success basically sincethe inception of customer success or. Yeah, farmal field. Yeah,so I retail operations. Yeah. Yeah, I'd love to hear a little bitmore about how technology to support customer...

...success has evolved over that period oftime and what are the technological tools you use internally to help ensure that you'reable 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 aboutcommunication, 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 youwere told, usually by corporate office, what that was. Nowadays we havesocial media, we have all of these different systems coming into play towards thatstore manager or retail operator or banker, and so everything's coming at them fromso many different directions. Whether, you know, always was a factor,but now we have, you know, things like artificial intelligence and things likethat that can help us along the way so it's definitely evolved over the yearsand now communication comes from several different areas.

To help that store manager you haveto have solutions that are intelligent enough to show them the way and alot of them can be system generated messages. So it's really about making things assimple as possible for that associate or store manager to drive sales. Thatmakes sense? Yeah, there's a big difference between complex and complicated and Ithink 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 thatyou've put in place to help ensure that that team is effectively guiding thecustomer in their pursuit of value from reflexus as product? Well, I meanreally, when I think about the team internally, it's about having them knowthe entire account and so certainly we have systems that help us learn all theparts and players of the organization, length of time they serve, whether ornot they're a champion of the product or champion of the solutions. Certainly youknow how long that the customer has been...

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

...in different crm and it tools thatwe have to kind of get to know how that customer is doing. Thatunified view the customer comes up a lot and I expect folks listening to thispodcasts aren't just customer success professionals but also folks who might be interested in buildingfor customer success. Professionals. So would you mind maybe even elaborating a littlebit 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 doingoverall in sales? Those types of things. Got It. So, just likeat Dashbird, where you can see the customer, you can understand ahistory of their interaction with Your Business and, ideally some information that is most relevantor important to their business value or success that they're driving from what you'reoffering them. Absolutely yeah. So, speaking of that, one thing thatI found challenging in my previous experience in customer success is giving the customer toopen 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 deriveand that usually is at the highest level, what determines whether or not the customeris happy with what you have. So how do you get them toopen up and provide you information about the true business results that your solution isguiding them towards? Well, we start with Roy conversations early in the relationshipand really help them understand, you know where other customers of drive value andhow that usually opens the door to get them to open up. I doagree with you a lot of times they're not wanting to share that information rightaway or maybe they just don't know how others can pull value from a productthat you offer. So we start off early with just use cases and informationthat 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 toask and I see more about that, then you know you're hitting on somethingthat 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'smission and vision, you can then help them drive in Roy. Theworst thing you can do, though, is say this is the Roy you'regoing to get from that product. You have to really help them understand wherethe value is and partner with them and then come up with it together andhelp that be their own personal Roy. Yeah, and Trinsic motivation is alwaysstronger than extrens act right. So you want to be guiding someone to thatanswer if you know what it's likely going to be but still not actually betelling them that, then they're not actually realizing the value that they might beable to otherwise. Right. So what is your favorite part of working incustomer success? I love to help people be happy and successful, so it'sa great role for me. For years I was in retail operations and storeoperations, 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 andshare that knowledge across different organizations. So really it's the people at the endof the day, and when I see them happy and smiling and knowing thatI provided a solution for them to drive success and they're having fun with thetool, that's when I feel most motivated. So someone is going to get intocustomer success. What are the area is professionally that you feel they shouldfocus on? Most relationships, relationships, relationship, everything that you do isabout that. I went into this job thinking that all of my retail experiencewas going to be the most beneficial, but honestly it was my wholesale experiencethat really helped me, because when you're working with someone that's buying a lineof product, you really have to get to know that account and what's importantto 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 howto drive a relationship that makes sense. So, speaking of which, justto 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 personallyhave ever gotten? Well, I loved Steve Jobs. I thought he wassuch a successful business man, as many people do, and he said alot of things that were really inspirational. He also said simple things that Ireally remember and liked, like it's not the customers job to know what theywant, and I think about the Ritz Carlton to. They have this goldstandard that they go by and it's the same thing. Know what the customerwants before they know they want it, and so it's the same kind ofphilosophy. And if you can help them and know them that well that youcan understand what they need before they even know they need it, you've gota 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 whatthey don't already know. Right, awesome. Well, thank you so much foryour 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 customersuccess 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 yourcustomers 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 IOCS leader to learn more and get started for free. Thank you so muchfor joining us for this episode. Customer Success leader is brought to you byflat file. If you're a fan of the show and want to help asshare these conversations with others, leave us a rating on apple podcast. Justtap the number of stars you think the show deserves. That's it for today. Catch you in the next one.

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