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The future of customer collaboration - w/ Varda, Ziv, Or and Boaz

We had the opportunity to discuss the future of customer collaboration with three Customer Success leaders. Varda Tirosh @Optimove, Ziv Peled @AppsFlyer and Or Guz @Velocity together with our own Boaz Arbel.

Here are a few highlights

And the full session

Here is the full transcript.

Boaz: Hello everyone. And thank you for joining Worknet's first webinar. My name is Boaz Arbel. I'm a co-founder and chief revenue officer at Worknet previously vice president customer success at profittech and and the leader of ICSEF, the Israeli customer success executives forum. I'd like to ask our panelists today to introduce themselves.

Dear panelists who wants to go first.

Varda: I guess they say ladies first. I'll go first. Uh, thanks. I'm Varda Tirosh chief customer officer at Optimove. I'm leading the customer organization, which includes different disciplines other than customer success. But CS is definitely my passion. I've been one of the pioneers of the customer success movement in Tel-Aviv and really happy to be here today.

Ziv: Okay. I am Ziv the chief customer officer with AppsFlyer, um, been doing customer success since 2013 and I'm very connected to these webinars. I have teams, they all over the world in different platforms, different IMs, et cetera, Go ahead Or.

Or: Or Guz the VP of customer success at the velocity. And I've been living in breathing customer success for a while. I'm excited to be here today.

Boaz: All right. Thank you very much. Varda Ziv and Or. Team collaboration platforms, mainly slack and Microsoft teams have recently become widely used for business collaboration from POCs through onboarding, ongoing customer success, service, and support, but like with most things too much of a good thing can cause problems.

When it comes to working with customers, you don't want to miss messages or lack the ability to properly manage those communications, right. Are you concerned that customers will abuse the team collaboration tools and circumvent support? Perhaps you feel customer's messages will be lost in a black hole or that your customers will expect an immediate reply.

That's all legit concerns. So thank you for joining us today to hear from. These top customer success leaders, how they experienced more than collaboration and learn about the latest technologies and best practices to help you develop personal connections with customers and create a stellar customer experience using team collaboration platforms during the webinar, we'll be asking you some questions.

So please stay tuned and reply to the polls. We will then analyze the results and the panelists will refer. Also as we go, please make sure you write comments and questions for us. We'll leave some time at the end of the webinar and we'll try to answer most if not all of them. First things first, let's start with a basic question.

What is the added value using slack with customers? Is that for better customer engagement? Is that for casual communication? You can pick more than one. It can be all of them. If you want.

All right. So 77% of you said better customer engagement. 50% of you said casual communication drives unique insights. And 50% said becoming one team with a customer. I'd like to hear more about that. And the third of the answers said higher customer satisfaction, that's actually a pretty surprising, I thought that would be more, so I'd like to ask you panelists, why would you establish a shared slack channel with customers. What are the different use cases for doing that? Who do you have on each channel and what are the benefits for you? I invite you to jump in whenever you're ready to answer that.

Ziv: So I'll, I'll say right. I think if you look at the survey I think that all these answers are exactly what we want to have with an enterprise customer.

I think the role of the customer success manager evolved to be a strategic trusted advisor. And I think that the advantages of having, this customer one slack message away and the responsiveness and, you know, I preach over non-commercial customer success manager. So that the customer also shares with us everything.

So I think that that's definitely the biggest advantages of having that direct challenge and responsiveness from the customer.

Varda: I'll go next. So we use this mainly to, increase like the. When we initially started using slack with customers, and this is still the case, we're mostly using it for technical onboarding and what we found that sometimes, like we have engagement with technical people on the other side that they live inside of slack and they want really quick communication.

And we wanted a time to value and many times we're dependent on the technical people on the other side. And on their responsiveness and their ability to implement things quickly. So we can have the end users start using our platform. Having slack with those teams really, really helped getting better results and just faster time to value.

So this is the main use case and the most important one. And we do feel that it gave us what we wanted..

Or: I'd like to second Varda here from my experience when the audience is very technical, it's really natural to use slack and we get better engagement talking about things we wouldn't be discussing otherwise through more traditional channels, like email

Things move faster. If you'd like to solve something quick, you can do that. Whether it's an outage and onboarding. A tactical or more strategic type of fare for it. And there are many different use cases I've been using. We've been using slack for, from a break fixes and how to solve those quick. You can push productive announcements, you can use it for alerts.

Even internal use cases. So all of the above.

Boaz: Or, you said even for internal. So do you have double channels for each external channel with the customer? Do you have an internal one?

Or: We have it's not a must. You need to understand the need and the capacity, you know, when you have many customers and you'd like to support tech touch, maybe it's impossible.

But when you deal, uh, Ziv mentioned the enterprise customers. So when you have the capacity to pay additional attention, then you can have multiple channels with a customer, one with a commission for alerts, one with a small team. Very technical one with the entire company where you can show the value, you can push the value in front of the customer.

So, yeah, I've been using multiple channels with customers in my past and sometimes just internal ones. So we can have internal discussions within the company about a specific customer. Uh, all worked for us.

Varda: I would add to that for us. We have an internal spectrum for everyone. Um, sometimes a lot of teams are working with the clients and it's great for fast collaboration between the different teams.

And many times we don't want the customers to be involved in those discussions. So it's about the clear advantage of collaborations between multiple people. And going back to the first point, basically talked about it all goes back to quick and rapid engagement. Another use case that I can mention here is under. What we call ME major events. If we have major technical incidents with client, we immediately open a slack channel with a client for, you know, really quick resolution of whatever the issue is. And I think today, this is kind of what people expect is that when there is a problem, like, especially if it's a major one, they want to be served very, very well and very, very quickly and a join slack channel.

Ziv: I must add here one. I think that we speak specifically about slack, but there's a lot of channels. And I think that if you look geographically per country, they're the instant messaging service of the country. Specifically also I think that the business was advanced to slack everyone, or over slack.

We have hundreds of customers over slack. And I think that the advantages, in addition to what the audience said, I think that there is a kind of a fatigue in email and there's less responsiveness in email. And now the same information we are sending on a newsletter, we are sending to those 400 enterprise customers over slack.

And then I know that they saw it. I see emojis. I see engagement on that. I think that. It's the next level of communication even open rates of 30% of over email and click everyone sees you as something different, but I think we want to have the direct channel and to see the engagement of 50 to maybe 80%.

Boaz: Okay. That's a very good point. It's very valid for different companies working with different industries, different geographies. That's really good. But a short question I want to ask all of you is how early actually would you start in the customer journey? Would you set up a slack channel. And do you see is that after the onboarding is completed or did you just go with it along the customer's journey all the way?

Varda: My most common use cases for technical boarding, it starts from day one, right after the contract is signed kickoff, starting technical awarding. So it's immediately when it moves to the customer organization.

So really quickly we don't continue the slack channel after onboarding is completely. It's a decision we've made as a company. We don't think that CSM can be available in response to clients. Eh, the expected time that, you know, instant messaging is basically coming with and after like the technical implementation is completed, the customer, know what cutting off this channel, where would bring it back only for a major events. And also this will be temporary..

Or: So for us, same thing when it comes to, when do we start a channel? In my experience we started the channel right after the onboarding kickoff call when we introduced the people and, right away, we create a channel as for when the, we closed the channel. From one company I worked with where we worked with enterprise customers. It was cradle to grave. We kept the channel on and later on into the conversation today. We'll talk about how we were able to support that. Cause we vowed to additional technology and implementation. it was just, it wasn't possible. Cause we couldn't support it. And. Jacob wrote, uh, as a recent vintage.

Yes. As is if you use slack as is. Yes. I agree to disadvantage, but there are ways to solve it. Then only wants it to solve. We're able to continue and support customers using our support platform through slack. But we'll talk about that.

Ziv: I see more and more prospects starting our engagement. They get with us with the safe. over slack, not from the beginning, but when it's coming to the negotiation security, the, latest, steps in the deal. And again, I, I don't see any reason to stop that after. I think what's really, really important. And again, I think here there's a. Huge product gap. But I think that the set of expectations is what's really needed here. So if we are, you know, we signed a deal of half, a million dollar with an enterprise customer, and we are now setting the expectation saying this is a channel that will be live, but when the CSM and the key champions and then support is via Zendesk.

So if you want to get the support, if you want to get the SLA that you expect, that you go to Zendesk and we will orchestrate that from here. I think that a set of expectations is a great step. The product gap is something that we will see will be very interesting. In the next years.

Boaz: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you when in speaking of gaps and concerns, I'd like to ask the audience the next question about your concern.

So. What are your main concerns using slack or any other immediate messaging system today? You can pick more than one. So the most majority it equals to cannot commit to immediate answering. Of course, how can you, if it's not all aligned to measurement and SLA, I would like to hear more about that from our panelists and can easily miss messages.

Okay. Then the next concern is customers will abuse the channel and I would like to be more about setting expectations with customers. So yeah, it goes when to use what to ask, how soon, how. You can expect the answers and half of you a little more than half said that it's hard to manage priorities. So with that, I'd like to hear from our panelists, what are, what were your concerns when using slack with customers and how did you handle it now?

I mean, your personal concerns, your leadership concerns, your own team members share with us.

Or: Well, I guess I didn't go first yet. I'll take the lead on this one. Um, so I had the same concerns as the people here in the crowd, you know, SLA is missing messages. Daniel Goldfield mentioned, how do we actually document all the communications?

Um, so we had all, all the concerns. The same ones and we squashed most of it by implementing an integration between slack and our support platform. At first, it was Zendesk, then it was Salesforce, but we're, and we use a third party and then we build something in house, but eventually we were able to take a thread. Over slack whether it's us or the customer, ideally the customer using an emoji to create a ticket and behind the scenes for every thread, you have a support tickets. You're committed to SLA is the same SLA as a support ticket, you have historical knowledge capturing you can run statistics on the types of tickets and metrics that, customer support users, it helped us prevent customer success from becoming a customer support. So we were able to define some roles and responsibilities and processes to know that, okay, the ticket was created. We'll handle it as a support ticket and in some cases, customer success chimed in and took the conversation forward.

But overall, it was very important for us to have an actual ticket to behind the scenes wired to our support platform. So it's more of the same and it's just a different GUI. And you may say for your ticketing system. So that's how we solved most of our problems with the technology and some process definition.

Varda: I completely agree about the process, the process part. Obviously I had the same concern. About, mostly about like responsiveness people are have meetings during the day. They have other tasks that need to feel it's really hard to be on the chat all day. It's very distracting. But I think we made like a very, very good alignment with customers on, you know, what their expectations should be. And, what kind of SLA they can expect to have to answer as an admitted, very clear, who should they tag on which issues? So they're not like tagging everyone for everything and like having everyone had to deal with everything. So putting those alignments and limitation into the engagement and have clear processes, internal and external really made it so much better.

And we've seen that customers don't typically abuse. All right. And it's like, okay, I have a question. I need an asset for this to get moving to the second part of the implementation. Okay. Technical person comes in, answer the question before they don't use it for, you know, things that are completely irrelevant.

And if, if they do so there's always going to be someone that's going to direct them to another channel, but all in all having processes and alignment, it's what makes it like a manageable.

Ziv: From the leadership perspective I'm missing. And again, we have slack, but we're also other channels. We're missing, security and authentication and governance. I want to see a world where. Even if it's not sold for commercial, a sum of money, but I do want to see an asset in Salesforce that will say that this customer.

It should get select supports, like connect support, and then the Slack connect channel connects to the asset. And we, I also know, what is that channel? And also, when we have meetings and emails with customers, I have the metadata of that. As a leader, I don't have the meta data of the instant messaging, which is a big point for us to measure the responsiveness, by the way of both sides, again, set of expectations. The customers knows that we don't expect the CSM to answer within four hours, whatever, we set, but I also want to know what is the responsiveness of the customer? It means a lot.

Boaz: Yes, absolutely. And yeah, I wouldn't even, I wouldn't even add that to a, if I could, to a, a health score of a customer, because if the customer expects me to be on top of everything and reply immediately, but they are slacking. Pun not intended here, but if they are slacking to reply and they take their time, I would like to be able to reflect that. And at least internally to show us what it means and to compare.

But I would like to double click on setting expectations. That's something that I hear a lot from people saying I don't know. I have. enough issues to deal with customers. I don't need another front to open, if I don't have to. So how did you solve that? Or how are you still solving that ahead of time? And when you actually hit a, someone who is using it too much or, or is expecting you to be faster on answering.

Varda: I'll start. So, I think, for me, like we many times that we had a situation with customers when said, okay, onboarding is completed, we're shutting down a channel. There were like, no, we want to keep it on we're we're going to have some more stuff. Please leave it on. We want to have this engagement and just said no. Politely, but very firmly, sorry, this is how we're working. This is how we manage our engagement clients. You're going to get the best service costs, slack as well, but it's going to be a no. Okay. So felt like we have to be firm with that because we decided knowingly that we're not going to have a slack channel with every client and the same quick instant messaging on an ongoing basis.