If you hear “customer service” and think “call center,” you’ve got a major problem. Thanks to constantly evolving tech and experts rising in this field who understand the nuances of building strong and scalable relationships with customers, the customer service experience has become something entirely different from the transactional relationship of the past. We sat down with Kevin Goodwin, Vice President of Operations & Customer Success at Vector Solutions, to learn more about the optimal customer experience, as well as the common pitfalls organizations face when addressing their customer journey.
For Kevin, the journey of a customer goes far beyond the initial purchase or interaction and certainly should not be limited to tech support issues when something goes wrong. In fact, at Vector, the term isn’t “customer service,” but “client success,” -- an ongoing partnership between Kevin’s team and Vector’s clients. As Kevin says, “we look at the whole customer journey, not just at pain points, and work across the whole experience to maximize the long term benefits to the customer.”
At Vector, Kevin has created a culture that views customer experience as a robust opportunity for creating deep relationships, and seeks not just to solve problems, but to actually make their lives better.
“It starts at the beginning, before issues pop up -- which they always will. We’re not trying to avoid issues, we’re trying to establish trust and communication so that we can resolve them quickly and efficiently and optimize their overall customer success,” says Kevin.
This starts by truly understanding the customer’s journey and strategically thinking through the timeline from when they approach Vector, to when they purchase a product or solution, how it will be implemented, how they plan to use the product, how they will adapt it for their unique needs and, finally, keeping the lines of communication open to resolve issues, so they can retain their business and continue to grow the relationship. “The old way was to sit back and wait for their call when something went wrong. The new way involves us driving the relationship, guiding our clients on a journey to success.”
Customer service technology isn’t just a phone number or an email link anymore, thanks to advances in tech and the ability to stack technologies. From chat support to web forums and knowledge bases, and even automation, there are so many opportunities to harness the power of tech to make the customer service experience impactful and seamless.
“Many companies do not take advantage of the data they are capturing or leverage it for the benefit of the client. This data is powerful, it lets you know your customers -- where they want to help themselves and where they want your support and guidance,” says Kevin.
Luckily, there are some great ways to capture data that can help you optimize the customer service experience for your clients. Kevin suggests surveying customers about the customer support team members they work with, utilizing Customer Effort scores (a score that reveals how hard it is for a customer to get an issue resolved), Net Promoter Scores (an index that measures customers’ willingness to recommend a company's products or services to others) as well as online reviews and customer feedback software. Then, you’ve got to put that data to work, thinking holistically about the results to optimize how you work with customers.
One common misconception that Kevin dispels is that you always need to be talking directly with customers to improve their experience. “The data allows you to be constantly reviewing and auditing the experience through exploring usage, tickets, team members, bugs and other elements on the back end that your team can be proactive on, many times solving problems before a customer experiences them.”
The client success journey begins with the purchase of a product, but, under Kevin’s leadership, that is only the beginning of a multi-year relationship. “When we begin working with a client, our perspective is that there is no end in sight -- we want to make sure it’s a great partnership and we’ll never rest in our efforts to constantly be delivering a great experience.”
He gives an example of a successful effort to do so: “We have one client who had been wanting to utilize a new technology, but it wasn’t ready for the way their organization was set up. The problem was that they felt they were missing out on features and enhancements that they thought they needed. So we explored their core challenges, and audited what they wanted to do. We discovered that the product they were using was in fact the right one for their needs and that it just needed a little tweak. Because we had a great relationship with them, they trusted us. Our product engineering team made the necessary adjustment to the product they already had and together we saved this client a huge amount of money and time and kept our relationship strong. To make that story even better: we were able to offer that same adjustment to several other clients, who were impacted in a positive way as well.”
The bottom line: your clients' needs are constantly changing -- your customer service experience should be constantly evolving and adjusting to keep up. “It’s a long process and many steps, it’s not a task you can check off,” says Kevin.
Kevin says it best: “Our clients want more from us. We need to constantly be innovating in the way we’re providing tools and tech and resources beyond just learning content. From software technology that can make their life easier, to expanding the ways we support clients and create a great experience, it's constantly evolving. Customer experience has changed so much in even the past five years, there are many new theologies and tech solutions -- but it’s a race to who can provide the best solution, not who can get there first.
Kevin Goodwin has 20 years of experience leading customer-facing organizations in high-growth technology companies. Kevin is currently the Vice President of Operations & Customer Success at Vector Solutions. His global organization is responsible for ensuring that Vector Solutions customers are maximizing business value and impact from their products. Prior to Vector Solutions, Kevin led the Global Customer Success organizations at Malwarebytes, a leading SaaS Cyber Security solution. Kevin’s career also includes a variety of startups and leadership roles in the SaaS and Service industries. Kevin is active in the Customer Experience community and lends his experience to organizations to help transform the way businesses interact with their clients and products.