We sat down with Danielle Cyrus, ARKK’s Chief Customer Officer, to discuss ARKK’s Customer Success strategy and the function’s importance in business – particularly SaaS companies.
How long have you been working at ARKK and how long have you been in the Customer Success team?
I’ve been at ARKK, previously Arkk Solutions, for about 8 years and in the Customer Success team for roughly a year and a half.
What is a typical day in Customer Success?
This is a very tricky question as no two days are the same. Our function has to be very reactive to Customer’s requirements and needs as they may have deadlines approaching. I would say one of the biggest challenges in Customer Success is time management, we’ve worked incredibly hard to put together a team structure with robust processes that can cope with last minute requests while also being proactive.
If I did have to try and describe a typical day, it would involve activities which immerse us in customer feedback and understanding their objectives as much as possible. A really great example of this is hosting quarterly business reviews. These are in-depth meetings with relevant stakeholders within the Customer’s business where we get to really understand the companies challenges and how our products can help alleviate some of them. These meetings give us an opportunity to ensure we are understanding expectations and delivering on those.
One of our primary aims in Customer Success is to make sure Customers are getting the most value out of our platform and using it to its full potential. It’s important that stakeholders are fully trained on how to use the platform and completely understand the capabilities of the system. If we have learned anything from COVID, it’s making sure multiple users across a business are skilled at using the platforms as in these turbulent times, that is invaluable to a business being able to adhere to their regulatory reporting responsibilities in the face of likely resource constraints.
Can you give an overview of the Customer Success process?
Overall, Customer Success seeks to be as proactive as possible. We want to get ahead of issues and put remedial action in place before there is ever a problem, a prevention is better than cure philosophy. To achieve this the Customer Success and Product Support team work closely together, one way we do this is through ticket analysis from the Product Support team to assess whether Customers require remedial action, training or if there’s potential to introduce other product lines that could help their business.
Our team isn’t just focussed on individual issues, we have a larger strategic goal in mind to understand what is and isn’t working for our Customers.
What do you think is unique about ARKK’s Customer Success strategy?
The Customer Success and Product Support teams, or ‘Team Customer’ as we call it at ARKK, working as closely together as they do in ARKK is unusual. You can find in many companies that departments are effectively siloed, which doesn’t work to the benefit of the Customer. There are numerous insights that can be gleaned from cross departmental knowledge transfer, particularly ones that work directly with the Customer such as Customer Success and Product Support.
But Team Customer isn’t really just a department. At ARKK “Customer Success” is a mantra that runs throughout the entire organisation. We all understand that we have a role to play in the Customers enjoyment of working with us and our products. The Customer Success team spearhead this, but every employee contributes to our Customer’s ultimately achieving their objectives.
Why is Customer Success important for companies?
Customer Success is vital for firms to understand if Customers interactions with both us as a Company and the platforms we provide, are furthering Customers achievement of their objectives. This is managed through a continuous, bi-directional feedback loop. In a SaaS business, like ARKK, Customer satisfaction is crucial, and we pay very close attention to Customer attitudinal loyalty - we want them to be raving fans. Our ways of working have made us fortunate enough to have a very high referral rate amongst our Customer base, and as that is something we treasure, we are always looking for ways to ensure high levels of service and best in class technology.
When a company buys into one of our products, there is a clear Customer journey that we want them to follow. This involves, training, usage and benefits of the product and their overall experience. Our aim is to try and keep them as close to this path as possible, ensuring a consistent journey with us that sees them achieving value and verifiable outcomes.
It goes without saying that Customers are what keeps companies going, without Customers you don’t have a business. Investing in a Customer Success team is a very clear indication of a company’s commitment to their Customer.
Can you highlight any successes within the team?
I’m pleased to say the Customer Success and the Product Support team have had numerous successes. This year we won a Stevie award for best use of customer feedback strategy, on our Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) we achieved an 85% satisfaction rating across all product lines which is above industry average. I would say we respond roughly 90% quicker to tickets than our SLA’s stipulate.
I’m also very proud of how the team handled the pandemic, this was a stressful time for both us and our Customers. The sudden adjustment to working from home, combined with a constant stream of upcoming filing deadlines can be overwhelming. However, we swiftly implemented new processes to manage the change ensuring there was minimal disruption to Customers. During COVID our average customer satisfaction rating on support tickets was consistently 100% and we almost always over exceeded on SLA response times. Not an easy feat!
What do you find most rewarding about working in Customer Success?
It’s the team we have in place. The Customer Success and Product Support teams at ARKK are incredibly driven, all pull together when needed and support each other in difficult situations. They are outstanding and I’m so proud of them. We’ve developed incredibly fast into a team that is reassuring for Customers and we build a real rapport. We also have a very high team tenure, and Customers come to rally know the representatives as people, a rarity in this industry.
It’s also the Customers. It’s an amazing feeling when you’ve been working with a Customer and they get to the end of part of their journey and you receive positive feedback for the service you’ve delivered - nothing beats it. It’s also fantastic to know that even when Customers are going through incredibly stressful deadlines, they still have positive things to say about their interaction with ARKK and our team. I honestly have the best job in the world!