One of the biggest—and most encouraging—trends we’ve seen over the past 18 months is that companies are no longer lavishing their customer success investments only on their highest-roller enterprise customers.
More and more businesses are realizing that taking care of all of their customers reaps huge dividends. But doing that at scale isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a top-down commitment and a different approach. Welcome to the new era of digital-touch CS.
A company that’s been a leader in implementing digital-touch CS is Sitecore. San Francisco-based Sitecore is the only company bringing together content, commerce, and data into one connected platform that delivers millions of digital experiences every day. And leading companies, including American Express, ASOS, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oréal, and Volvo Cars, rely on Sitecore to provide more engaging, personalized experiences for their customers.
For a recent episode of Gainsight’s GameChanger podcast, host Adam Joseph sat down to talk with Sitecore’s Global Vice President of Customer Success & Renewals, Lara Barnes.
Based in London, Barnes has been instrumental in creating a positive culture of customer success throughout the entire Sitecore ecosystem; today, every Sitecore customer has its own Customer Success Manager (CSM). (Whoa.)
We wanted to find out what Barnes has learned while implementing their digital-touch customer success strategy so you can follow in their very successful footsteps.
Here are five great things we learn about digital-touch CS from Barnes.
1. Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
At Gainsight, we always say that introducing a digital customer success strategy is definitely not something to be done on a whim; it takes careful planning, consideration, and execution. And Barnes’s experience proves the point. She says figuring out how to implement at scale and across teams was “quite overwhelming, to be quite honest.”
“We implemented our program in stages, starting with high touch, because we didn’t have headcount to do more than that out of the gate,” Barnes says. “But once we got headcount, we started working on mid-touch and then rolling out to every customer across the entire EMEA region. We were building teams out at the same time we were building out the strategy. It was quite a task, but the payoff has been worth it.”
Digital-Touch CS Is an Inside Job
“To be successful, your business needs to be completely customer-focused from the top down,” says Barnes. “When our CEO, Steve Tzikakis, joined in 2020, he made huge investments in our customer success efforts. And that means we’ve been able to create a culture of customer success across all of our teams, from product to sales to marketing to partner relationships.
It’s Not Enough to Gather Data, You Have to Take Action On It
According to Barnes, the success of a digital CSM strategy is dependent on a company’s ability to capture, manage, and, most importantly, take action on data.
“We knew it was important that all of Sitecore’s teams not only had access to the data, but were communicating with themselves and each other about that data,” Barnes says. “A good continuous feedback loop is essential, and by working together with the digital CSM strategy, we can better understand what our customers are really going through and how each team can help.”
Even with a Digital Strategy, Human Touch Is Critical
And this is especially true of the all-important onboarding process. “Human interaction is absolutely critical for onboarding; it can’t be an automated process,” Barnes says. “Of course, if you need digital support materials such as videos about how to engage with us at different times, that’s fine. But that doesn’t take the place of a personal connection and live interaction with a CSM.”
Dedicated CSMs + Innovative Tech = Growth
Barnes believes one of the keys to their success is they’ve created a hybrid approach: a dedicated CSM for each customer empowered by Gainsight’s tech stack. “Utilizing Gainsight has been critical for us,” she says. “When you’re managing a customer base of 3500, you can’t have just 10 account managers; you’re going to need to have a few hundred people in the team.”
That can get messy, of course, with lots of important details falling through the cracks. But digital-touch CSM saves the day. “Digital touch helps us manage all of our segments and stay in alignment. And using Gainsight’s customer health score, we’re able to notify CSMs when an account may require more personal attention. This lets us balance the level of human interaction with our automated processes to better support our customers.”