AI is the word on everyone’s lips. Its possibilities are being explored in every industry, from AI improvising along with musicians to new tech allowing restaurant workers to replicate Michelin star meals.
The B2B sector is no exception. Recent research from Forrester shows that AI is used in marketing by 67% of B2B organisations, with the top use case being targeting, followed by personalisation and marketing automation or tactic orchestration. More than 70% of the organisations surveyed plan to moderately or significantly increase their AI plans in marketing.
But there are applications for AI in B2B organisations that extend beyond marketing. And one such area crying out for innovation is Customer Success.
Customer Success is the new world of Sales
Customer Success has never been more important. With inflation and interest rates high, running a business is much more expensive - for many, untenably so. In the first 3 months of 2023, business insolvencies in England and Wales remained close to the 13-year high that closed out 2022, exacerbated by the end of government pandemic support. Over the past year we’ve seen even the biggest companies feel financial pain, as evidenced by the tsunami of tech layoffs.
In this climate, wastage is dangerous. This puts B2B companies in a precarious position. Fail to deliver consistent value or provide a service that isn’t up to scratch - or your price point - and you’ll be cut quicker than you can say ‘customer loyalty’. Or you could see your client base walk into the arms of a competitor.
That’s why it’s crucial Customer Success is at the heart of your business. If you’re to drive renewals and expansion you need to adopt this approach and deeply understand your customers, their evolving needs and challenges and the friction they face with your offering.
But so far B2B businesses are being thwarted in this attempt. They’re struggling with siloed customer data which means they can’t properly join up the dots and see the bigger customer picture. They’re sinking time in low-value housekeeping tasks and trying to collaborate with tools that don’t fully let them. This means confusion around customer needs, capped Net Revenue Retention, lost opportunities to upskill and grow and an increased danger of being eclipsed by your competition.
Enabling proactivity and serious efficiency
This is where AI comes in. One key role AI can play in Customer Success is by taking the seeming chaos of customer behaviour and making it predictable and therefore manageable. This knowledge is power for every department, from the C-suite to product development and onboarding.
How can businesses achieve this? The first step is consolidating all your customer data from every customer channel in one place, so you’re working with complete clarity: drawing from sources including product adoption data, email conversations, surveys, support interactions and financial information. The next step is applying AI techniques such as Natural Language Processing and predictive algorithms to identify patterns and trends and suggest the best course of action to take. This gives businesses the superhuman ability to forecast net and gross retention as well as anticipate future customer behaviour, acting on early warning signs to halt client loss and jump on every opportunity to expand. AI gives teams the power to avoid surprises, even in a volatile market.
As part of its predictive role, AI can generate business dashboards and reports, helping organisations hone in on specific data points to better understand their customers. But this isn’t the only way it helps reduce teams’ workload. Embracing automation enables serious efficiency within businesses, taking the drudgery of mundane tasks off teams’ plates so they can focus on higher level tasks that need maximum attention.
With the right tools, businesses can automate actions including emails, tasks, playbooks and surveys and programme actions based on specific events, such as creating a new account or building a segment for ‘unhealthy’ customers who need extra special care. This automation works hand-in-hand with AI predictive analytics: AI will analyse customer data to flag a new action that’s needed, which can then be automatically carried out. It’s a new way of working that allows organisations to work at unheard levels of efficiency.
As Customer Success becomes increasingly harder, businesses need to transform the way they’re working. Emerging AI tools give organisations this ability and - quite literally - make their performance superhuman by anticipating the future and working at hyperspeed. As every industry races towards AI, it’s time to elevate your game.