Today the customer support experience is critical to revenue at every phase of the customer journey, from pre-sales through renewal and expanding customer relationships. Krishna Raj Raja founded SupportLogic in 2016 to help transform the role of customer support, bringing deep experience in the service and support industry.
As the first hire for VMware India, Krishna built the company’s support organization into a multi-thousand headcount global organization. Now at the helm of SupportLogic, he and the company help some of the largest B2B technology companies in the world to optimize their support experience.
M.R. Rangaswami: What are some of the trends driving the need for companies to focus on their support experience?
Krishna Raj Raja: There are several key trends that are accelerating the need for every company to invest in the customer support experience:
- Velocity of technology adoption. It took 80 years for the invention of the telephone to reach 100 million users. Mobile phones took only 16 years and Whatsapp took less than four years. ChatGPT took only two months to reach that milestone. Not only is the rate of adoption faster, but we are also updating the technology at an increasingly faster rate. Both these trends stress vendors as it’s far more challenging to handle growing support issues without compromising the brand experience.
- Focus has shifted to post-land. The rise of the “subscription economy” and SaaS put the spotlight on customer retention. Today more and more companies are transitioning to usage-based-monetization models. The focus has now shifted from landing customers to driving product adoption post-land. Support plays a crucial role in this transformation. Customers are more likely to adopt a product that is backed by a world-class support experience.
- Product-led growth models for enterprise. This is part of a continued trend of “consumerization of the enterprise” which vendors may falsely assume means that it’s easy to design a perfect product that does not need marketing, sales and support to be successful. The opposite is true, in fact, and while some companies that are PLG-native may have an easier time, many companies who transition from traditional a sales-led GTM motion require even more investment in support experience to evolve successfully.
- Big Data vs. Thick Data. Big Data’s focus historically has been on metadata and machine data. This is the first time in the industry we can process unstructured data at scale. The ability to process customer sentiment and unlock the Voice of the Customer from support interactions has led to the rise of thick data. Emerging business trends can now be spotted in thick data that were previously untapped in big data analysis.
M.R. Rangaswami: AI has jumped from being in the hype cycle to being a more mainstream technology. What role does it play in support experience?
Krishna Raj Raja: ChatGPT has recently gained much media attention and AI technologies in general have accelerated greatly to serve more real-world applications including Support Experience. Companies are using AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to mine and organize raw customer sentiment signals like “frustration,” “needs attention,” “looking at alternative solutions” and turn it into predictive scores such as “likely to escalate or churn” and guided workflow steps for support managers and agents to coach, assign cases to the right agent and feed a more intelligent product feedback loop.
The use of AI enables new levels of speed and precision to take the right steps to improve the customer experience at a scale of millions of customer interactions.
M.R.: How do companies make the business case for solutions like SupportLogic during an economic downturn, where all costs are significantly scrutinized?
Krishna: In light of the current economic headwinds, every purchase is under a microscope and the business case must be rock solid. A few factors that are helping to move technology purchases forward:
- An ability to consolidate and reduce other technology spend – i.e. a typical company may be spending money on hundreds or thousands of SaaS applications that get marginal use. If you can demonstrate that you perform the bulk of use cases and the same value as a bunch of them, it’s an easier internal sell to finance leadership.
- Showing clear financial metrics and speaking the language of finance – e.g. calculations on how you help with Net-Dollar Retention, Margins, Customer Lifetime Value and the “Rule of 40” go a long way in getting support from finance and business decision makers.
- Demonstrating benefits across multiple functions/departments in the organization vs. being narrowly focused on one role or function.
The good news is that investing in Support Experience with solutions like SupportLogic addresses all of these areas, making it a top investment priority for organizations that may be cutting back in other areas. We have content that walks through how to make the business case in more detail.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com