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Keeping Client Engagement Human in the Digital Age - Q&A with Our VP of Customer Success

By The Direct Commerce Team in partnership with Future of SaaS

When our customers succeed, we succeed. At the Future of SaaS’ Customer Success Festival, our Vice President of Customer Success, Chris Simpson, shared his approach to helping clients in his talk on “Keeping Client Engagement Human in the Digital Age.” You can watch his talk here. And read the Q&A below to hear Chris explain how to bring a personal touch to achieving business goals.

Video calls, emails, chats and chatbots – our daily customer interactions have changed rapidly over the past few years.  With all this digital interaction, how do we keep the human connection that builds trust, drives retention and maximizes long term growth? Direct Commerce's Vice President of Customer Success Chris Simpson took to the virtual stage at The Future of SaaS' Customer Success Festival to share how human interaction online can drive your customer success strategy.

Alex Morris, Copywriter at Future of SaaS, caught up with Chris to talk about his presentation, views on the role of customer success in today's business environment and where his passion comes from.  Read the full interview below. 

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Alex Morris: Hi Christopher! First of all, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and your talk at the Customer Success Festival? 

Christopher Simpson: 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.


Take a Client-centric Customer Service Approach

AM: 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? 

CS: 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.


Look for Companies Who Commit to Customer Service

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

CS: 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.


Remember to Treat Your Customers Like People

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

CS: 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.

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

CS: 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.


Embrace the Digital Age of Customer Engagement

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

CS: 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.


Become a Trusted, Long-Term Partner for Your Customers

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

CS: 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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If you missed Chris's talk on “Keeping Client Engagement Human in the Digital Age,” contact our team today. We'd love to share with you what world-class customer service looks like and our best practices for providing clients, and suppliers, with that human touch in an increasingly digital world.

Topics: Automation, IT Agility, Customer Service, Customer Support