Keith Nealon, CEO of Bazaarvoice Brings in Best Practices of Customer Centricity with the Help of Gainsight Image

Keith Nealon, CEO of Bazaarvoice Brings in Best Practices of Customer Centricity with the Help of Gainsight

Gainsight and BazaarVoice have a long history together. Since 2013, BazaarVoice has been using Gainsight’s platform to gain insight into customer health and improve customer experience. BazaarVoice was one of the first software companies to embrace customer success ideology and practices. Recently, Keith Nealon, the new CEO of Bazaarvoice, sat with Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight. They discussed how Keith focuses on BazaarVoice’s customer success while improving product functionality and being the best at what they already do. Settling for being good doesn’t quite cut it. This is especially true when you have a great cloud platform. That is the case for Bazaarvoice, a comprehensive ratings and reviews, questions and answers, and user-generated content platform that harnesses the voice of the consumer to improve a brands product innovation and sales.

The First 90 Days

Keith has been at Bazaarvoice for a short amount of time. The first 90 days are always a challenge for any business leader to transition into a new company. For Keith, he had the extra burden of landing with COVID-19. “If you think about my journey at Bazaarvoice, I started here with the usual 90 days new CEO ramp. I made it to day 80, was ready to go, firing on all cylinders, and we were hit (just like everyone else) by COVID.” 

 Keith handled the transition well, taking the new remote reality in stride. He understood that even a worldwide pandemic could not modify his top priorities—Bazaarvoice’s customers. The way that Keith approaches customer-centricity is through the lens of customer success. While Bazaarvoice already held a customer-centric view, Keith wanted CS’s customer-first focus to expand deep into the organization. He also knew that the business had good results in the customer world, but wanted to be more rigorous about understanding the “why.” 

Competing Against Yourself

 Keith realized that their competition wasn’t with other companies. To be better, Bazaarvoice had to compete against themselves. 

Nick asked Keith, “When you came into Bazaarvoice, how did you assess the state of the company, and how did you incorporate that focus on the customer within that assessment?” Keith explained that anytime you come into a new company, you investigate all the key metrics to assess how well the company is doing. “For BazaarVoice, like all SaaS companies, there were renewal rates to examine. However, they were different by enterprise, SMB, and being a global company, which also meant the United States, EMEA, and APAC. ” 

For some companies and CEOs, deeply understanding churn can be a scary place to go. Keith confidently shared that churn wasn’t a problem, but it could be better. Their NPS scores were solid, and they had great renewal rates. What Keith wanted his employees to know was the “why.” With customer success, it is a top-down and enterprise-wide motion. Churn, NPS, and renewals affect each part of an organization. “No matter what their renewal rate number is, as you know, renewable rates tell you so much about the health of the business,” Keith said. “And any CEO would love to boost the renewal rates. The only way you can do that is if you know the why.” 

Keith understands that no one team or organization can point to the other for success or failure. He knew that if everyone understood customer-centricity and incorporated it into every action, they as individuals could effectively influence those numbers. Change them to an ideal level. Bazaarvoice could transform from good to better and head towards best.

Good. Better. Best.

Keith believed they needed greater clarity to rise to the next level of customer and business success. Every detail of churn and success needs to be known so it can be improved and replicated. Keith started by looking at every part of the business—not just customer success but also sales, marketing, product, and engineering. 

In each sector, Keith listened to people and looked at the company values. There were so many great things he found. But Keith also examined data. While without the data, you’ve got good seasoned executives that can tell you anecdotal evidence. But, you know, I’d like to run business by the data.” That is when he strategically leaned in more to the data centered on customer function, growth, and success.

Keith believes you can standardize processes to make a company more efficient while remaining true to your core CS values. Keith shared questions that he asks of his own teams. “As we optimize ourselves, are we sub-optimizing externally for the customer? That’s a question that continually I ask.” He noted that as Bazaarvoice built and grew their technology over the years, it was always from a customer perspective, but he believed they could do more. 

“I asked the engineering team to think, first, are we making it easier for the customer? Second, are we at a point where, instead of incrementally adding on to the innovation, we must be rethinking not just the product but the process by which customers get value.” Keith’s understanding of customer experience is incredibly insightful. He nailed it when he stated that “Growth comes from happy customers. And happy customers don’t care how easy things are for us. They care how easy things are for them.” 

Leveraging Gainsight 

In terms of technology and systems, Keith is turning towards BazaarVoice’s systems and technology to reinforce customer-centricity, and Gainsight plays a role in that. Keith is diving into a deeper concentration of enterprise-wide customer success, especially the Client Service Director (CSD) function. He wants to leverage Gainsight and its tools to raise them to the next level—being the best in their space. “In Gainsight, we wanted to know how we were maximizing the use of the product.” Keith said.  

The first area of concentration is removing friction in the handoff between sales and professional services. “My services lead and I had an epiphany once we saw the journey orchestrator functionality. The epiphany was that those both orgs could work better together by integrating Gainsight across that handoff journey.” 

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to get SMEs to collaborate by providing new customer data and new data sources to drive initiatives during handoffs. In Gainsight, Timeline can be especially useful to take previously siloed information, such as notes, to client-facing teammates, making them accessible to the rest of the organization. These notes can be linked to your contacts, activities, and reports.

 The second area Keith is examining involves conversations around how BazaarVoice can connect to customers outside of their CSDs. Keith wants BazaarVoice’s culture to always ask questions like “How does this work for the customer?”, “Why is this a good thing?” or “Why not order from us?” It is about taking BazaarVoice deeper into the customer relationship, and they realized they needed greater cross-functional visibility. 

Gainsight offers the ability to measure the impact of adoption on outcomes. Utilizing this data helps to properly strategize on customer journeys and align to strategic goals. Gainsight can also be heavily leveraged to monitor customer health. According to Keith, Bazaarvoice is doing “many great things on how they are innovating customer benchmarking and trying to improve the customer experience.” Keith understands that Customer Success focuses on the longitudinal relationship, not the transactional one. So Bazaarvoice has emphasized the use of Gainsight’s customer success formula CS=CX+CO or Customer Success equals Customer Experience plus Customer Outcomes. You can only have customer success by giving the customer a great experience while providing them with their desired outcomes. 

Keith also shared a small bit of information. “I became enamored with your Journey Orchestrator because it reminded me of how we can use automation to scale client interactions in a way that could improve customer satisfaction.” Using Gainsight’s Journey Orchestrator (JO), BazaarVoice can leverage the full breadth of customer data across systems to enhance the customer lifecycle. It can precisely trigger and personalize the right journey for the right person or customer at the right time. They can scale engagements by leveraging highly personalized digital outreach while integrating cross-functional human workflows when they’re needed the most. JO is perfect for BazaarVoice’s current and future customer scaling needs.

The Future of Bazaarvoice and Gainsight

Looking forward, Keith and Bazaarvoice are beginning their strategic planning process, including their technology stack, which Gainsight is a part of. Keith believes there are ways to leverage Gainsight to improve the customer experience. They would especially like to integrate product data into Gainsight. Keith said, “There’s a lot more we could do. And we’re only barely scratching the surface.” 

Keith understands how robust Gainsight is. “We wanted to get more out of it. And I wanted to know how we were maximizing the use of the product for what we have,” Keith told Nick. Overall, Keith realized that, though BazaarVoice was using Gainsight, there was more in terms of the CSD world they could do to be more functional. So, now he wants to get the BazaarVoice executives to hear how Gainsight could advise and drive cross-functional collaboration. As for Gainsight, though this is a long-established relationship, it is just the beginning for Keith Nealon and Bazaarvoice. We believe we can accomplish great things together, and we look forward to a very successful future.