The Customer Success Festival runs from 10-11th February 2021 and we have a few pre-event Q&A sessions to get the ball rolling.

Joining us today is Christopher Simpson, Head of Customer Success at Direct Commerce.

His talk is on 11th February: Keeping Client Engagement Human in the Digital Age.

Christopher caught up with us to discuss his presentation, views on CS, and the future of the industry.

Read on for important insights on customer success in 2021. 👇

Q: Hi Christopher! First of all, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and a bit about your upcoming talk?

A: I am a native San Franciscan and, despite the weather, attended Ithaca College in upstate New York where I got my degree in Economics with a minor in Psychology.

Over the past 20 years in Enterprise Customer Success and Sales, I have come to realize how the combination of my studies have informed my career.  

As a student of human interaction, in my experience, a critical component of a long term business partnership is in the relationship you have with your client.

I attribute much of my success to my ability to forge lasting relationships with my clients and stay in touch with many former clients to this day.  

While more difficult in our current virtual business environment, it is possible to drive this type of connection and I’m excited to speak more about it in my upcoming session.

Q: For your talk, there’s a big focus on keeping interactions human in the digital age. As a summary, what do you think are the key ways businesses can manage this?

A: You’ll need to join me to learn the real answer. However, in short businesses need to take a client-centric approach.  

Too many companies focus on the bottom line and take their clients for granted.  We’ve all experienced them, unfortunately all too often.  

Embedding a culture that places the client in the center and allows for direct access throughout the organization will foster the human interactions and relationships to drive long term growth.

Q: As a customer when you’re using other products, what sort of customer engagement techniques do you appreciate and value?

A: Companies that seek to truly understand me win my business.

At one point, I was banking with a large multinational bank where I knew the branch manager and my personal banker and they closed my local branch.  

I was directed to the next closest one and, while happy to help me, they did attempt to reconnect with me. By contrast, I walked into a competitor’s branch and was warmly welcomed.  

To this day, although my banker has changed roles twice and they closed my local branch, Josh will always take my call and quickly addresses my concern.  

It is this commitment to customer service that I look for in organizations I do business with and that I strive to provide to my customers every day.

Q: What sort of common mistakes do businesses make these days when interacting with customers?

A: It’s too easy to forget our clients are people too. Especially in this challenging business environment, we need to remember to connect.

In our fast-paced world, we can get so focused on achieving outcomes, we forget the people involved.

People want to do business with people they enjoy. Slow down and take the time to get to know your customers as it will pay off in the long run.

Q: Do you think AI chatbots are effective for SaaS businesses? Or do they lack engagement with customers due to their artificial nature?

A: AI Chatbots are Customer Service tools. A screwdriver, similarly, is a tool. A screwdriver itself has no value.  

It’s the way you use the tool that adds value, or doesn’t. I believe Chatbots should be leveraged similarly.  

How many times have you been chatting with a Bot only to end up in a loop and unable to move past it? I certainly have.  

We need to architect these tools to facilitate self service where possible but to recognize when and where human interaction is necessary.  

Failing to do this can actually have adverse effects on brand perception and the business overall.

Q: What sort of future do you see for customer engagement over the next decade in SaaS?

A: This is an extraordinarily exciting time for those of us in the Customer Success profession.  

As SaaS becomes the dominant business model, ensuring alignment with the customer’s business objectives will become more and more critical.

Executive stakeholders will expect more than ever before to understand and see a return on their investment.  

At the same time, the barriers to entry in the market are decreasing and resulting in more competition.  

Companies that embrace this and drive customer interaction and engagement will thrive in the long term.

Q: Finally, what is it you love most about working in customer success?

A: I am a people person and always have been. I am genuinely curious and enjoy interacting with customers.  

Additionally, I love solving problems and thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to learn about and help solve my customers business problems.

Customer success allows me to truly become a partner to my clients and drive business through lasting relationships.

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