When people think about product-led growth, they think it's about the product, but customer experience extends far beyond product. Customer experience is one of the most vital aspects of any business, but many companies fall short. Things like community, docs and resource centers, and the ability to contact someone for support, are some of the ways to help your customers get the most out of your platform.
In this episode of Product-Led Revenue, Breezy Beaumont sits down with Vikas Bhambri, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Customer Success at Kustomer. They get into Kustomer’s go-to-market strategy, the importance of listening to the customer, and the reasons companies fail to deliver a great customer experience.
💡 Name: Vikas Bhambri
💡 What they do: Senior Vice President of Sales and Customer Success at Kustomer (acquired by Meta)
💡 Company: Kustomer
💡 Noteworthy: Kustomer was acquired by Meta, the parent company of Facebook, in 2022.
⚡ Product-Led Growth Goes Beyond the Product Itself
"A lot of times when people think about PLG, they often think about the core product itself, and that is probably 70% to 80% of it, but there are all the ancillary things that you need around it. You need what we call ‘customer university,’ which is our platform for people to come and learn. We have a global support infrastructure. We have a community forum where customers can get creative and ask each other for advice and solutions. So, there are all these different things beyond the product that you also need to consider to make sure it's optimal because, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the customers are getting what they need out of your platform."
⚡ Work to be considered a partner, not a vendor
Vikas aims to become the organization's partner rather than just another vendor. Being a partner is much more valuable, he says. "The more we can bring to customers, the more we're thought of as a true partner, and not just a vendor. And as a B2B SaaS company, when you pivot from being considered just another vendor to a partner, that's when you become an integral part of that company's ecosystem."
⚡ Listen to your customer
Vikas highlights the importance of listening to the customer and creating products to meet their specific needs. "Customers will tell you what you need to do. Everything — from the feature function set that you need to develop to how you price, the messaging you use, and how you go to market — can largely be driven by your customers, what they're seeing, and the impact that they're looking for you to have as a new player in the market."
💜 Customers Still Want to Solve Problems on Their Own
"We've all dealt with this — the customer service agent asking you a dozen questions before [they solve your problem]. You have to give them your name, serial number, etc. before you get any help, if at all. They don't have the full context of who you are, what your relationship is with that brand, and so, they're not able to deliver an optimal customer experience.
It could be delivery apps where people are saying that your order was received, but it wasn't the right order. It could be FinTech companies where people are saying that their balance is incorrect. All those types of things are still a challenge. And when we reach out to these brands, they still don't have an awareness of who we are. [...] In this day and age, most customers want to figure out the solutions to these problems themselves. But, without having the context of who the customer is, it's very hard to assist them, even through automation, to support themselves."
💜 Customer Service is Changing
"I think the unique thing about our business is that this is not a new space. The contact center has existed since the early ‘70s. But there's a lot of technology out there today, whether it's the old on-premise vendors or the SaaS 1.0 vendors. There are a lot of things that people are out there using. So, it is incumbent on us, as a disruptor in this space, to knock on the door and not only talk about Kustomer, but evangelize that there's a new way of treating your customer. [...]
We do a lot of consumer surveys, and there's a defeatist attitude among customers who think that customer service is bad. [They think that] it's always going to be bad, and they don't see any improvement on the horizon. That's amazing because we've added more channels. Back in the day, we could only call somebody. Now we can call, chat, SMS, etc. There's more data, more training in the contact center, and more thought going into the wellness of agents, yet customers continue to say that the service is getting worse. So, something isn't working. And, as a disruptive space, it's important for us to knock on the door and say, 'Hey, there is a different way to do things, and you don't have to sit there with the status quo.'"
💜 It's All About How You Take Advantage of Additional Features
"For us, it's very unique because it doesn't even start with our customers. It actually starts with their [customers'] customers. So, one of the things that we look at is your customer journey and how you are trying to optimize. And because we've gone with this suite-based approach, there's so much capability within the core platform that 90% of the things that you're trying to do are all about how you take advantage of additional components within the platform configuration automation without ever spending another penny. And that's how Software-as-a-Service should be thought of.
We think of it as a service because, for us, it's not just about getting that initial sale and getting the customer. We want this customer to be a customer for life and be with us for a long time, so they continue to get value out of our product. Ideally, if you want them to renew, make sure they're continuing to optimize. And if they're trying to do something, then it's like, 'Oh, we have other things that you can bolt on that may even give a better experience to your end customers.'"
💜 There's so Much Data Available Today
"So much data exists today in terms of what customers are doing with the product, which channels they've set up, how they've set up their teams, what automation they're building, and what messaging they're building for their customer. [...] It's about unlocking some of those key components — not down to the data layer, but to the usage layer — so that our customer success people can offer the best advice. [...] If we had it [SMS support service], that would be an example of using the data to do some cool things and making sure that we're addressing the full needs of our customers."
[13:58] "At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the customers are getting what they need out of your plan."
[14:40] "Sometimes you have to see what the market appetite is and then how do you course correct. And that's really key because the challenge most people have with that is actually not in the technology again. It's in the leadership."
[14:49] "I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all."
[15:19] "We've seen different things that work, and we were able to really kind of tailor what the market was asking of us back to our product and solution set. So we didn't get fixated like this is the only way we can do it because that's all we know. We were actually able to be nimble and flexible."
[17:27] "We get pretty creative in terms of the different things we can do."
[25:08] "We continue to innovate and add on additional features outside of that core set, whether it be net new areas of the business that we can help a customer tackle, whether it's automation tools or automation packages to actually help them optimize, not having to go out and hire more people. Those are things that we're always looking at."
[30:38] "It's not just about getting the initial sale and the customer. We want this customer to be a customer for life."