The next generation of customer success platforms is launching now. Mike Redd, CMO of Quala, explains the evolution of these platforms and reveals how frontline intelligence offers a clearer insight into customers than ever before.
How long have businesses been using customer success platforms?
The first big player in the space for customer success platforms was Gainsight. They recognized that a company’s salesforce was an underutilized source of customer information. Before Gainsight, there wasn’t a tool enabling customer success teams to manage all the data from their customers.
Since then, several next-gen customer success platforms have joined the market. The features across customer success platforms are becoming very similar. You see all your customer data in one place. That data triggers work for the team. You have visibility of your customers, and the team knows how to serve them better.
What businesses are using customer success platforms?
Software as a service (SaaS) businesses gave rise to customer success platforms. SaaS businesses create tools users can connect with and use over the internet. Some common examples include Google Apps, Dropbox, DocuSign, MailChimp, and Slack. Because SaaS businesses provide software purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis, they attempt to monitor customer feedback closely.
Early-stage SaaS businesses rely on live customer interactions to understand customer needs. As SaaS businesses grow, interaction with so many customers becomes overwhelming, and the business leaders can no longer fully understand their customers. This disconnect results in lost sales, missed customer opportunities, fewer upsells, and overlooked roadmap priorities.
What insight into customer habits do customer success platforms offer?
Customer success platforms allow SaaS leaders to tap into a data source they are creating every day. The interactions with prospects and customers and the observations of frontline teams become straightforward, actionable information. By collecting this data, businesses are far more customer-centric. Insights from the information drive tactics to engage customers and inform the business’ overall strategy.
By allowing businesses to see their customers, customer success platforms offer insights into the following areas:
- How customers are using the product
- How much customers are paying
- Customers’ recent interactions
Customer success platforms automatically trigger workflows based on this data. For instance, customers using product functionality could be ready for an upsell.
Without a customer success platform, a business would need to mine data from mountains of reports and spreadsheets to obtain the same level of customer feedback. Taking the right action at the right time would require constant monitoring.
How are customer success platforms evolving today?
Quala has been diligently working toward the next step in the evolution of customer success platforms. We’re now a customer success platform powered by frontline intelligence. At some point, we will no longer be a customer success platform. We will be a frontline intelligence platform.
At that point, you could have a customer success platform like Gainsight in place and use Quala alongside it. Gainsight would manage your workflows and get that view of your customers all in one place. Quala would be the learning engine that would report what you’re hearing from customers in hard data.
What sets Quala apart from other customer success platforms?
Quala sees a hole in the customer success platform market. Every day, customer success teams hear customer feedback and read through notes from customers. Currently, there is no system to collect the input that these frontline teams are learning. There’s no way to collect data on what customers are saying. We want to bring data behind what the frontline teams are hearing all the way to the SaaS executive suite.
We launched the first iteration of our customer success platform powered by frontline intelligence internally and tested it out on ourselves. We launched this program with our customers over Thanksgiving.
The internal testing of this new platform benefited our own company as we decided which software to integrate with the program—Zendesk or Slack. Based on our customer success team’s reports, we were well down the Zendesk path, but we noticed a few requests come in for Slack at the last minute. We used Quala to perform an analysis of all our customer data. Lo and behold, the data showed we had a few loud customers asking for Zendesk but much more interested in Slack. It also showed that our highest value customers were requesting Slack. Quala informed our roadmap for December by shifting our focus to Slack integration.
Quala allows your business to search through all the qualitative data in notes and emails. You can see how keywords or phrases trend over time. Additionally, you can see the data by specific customer. This will show you how valuable each customer talking about a particular topic is to your business.
Qualitative data offers more precise insight into customer health than the quantitative data used by customer success platforms today. For example, many platforms score customer health by examining how engaged customers are in using the product. What if someone’s using your product a lot but hates it? The amount of product use is important to know, but so are other signals from the customer that are difficult to capture. A qualitative observation such as a phone interview stating that a customer is unhappy doesn’t update the health score in standard customer success platforms. We’re filling in that gap.
How do you make sense of the things people are picking up in conversations? How do you make that information usable to your business? That’s the premise behind our name Quala. We capture qualitative data and make it useful.