Hi Olivier, Tell us about yourself, MetaData.io, and your background?
I joined the Metadata.io team 18 months ago as President to oversee our GTM efforts. I received my break into tech when I joined a small company named Glassdoor back in 2012 to help with their sales efforts. Since then, I’ve been focused on helping companies scale after they find market traction. Over the last 7 years I have been working in the MarTech space with stints at Fliptop, G2 & Metadata. The reason I decided to join Metadata was in part based on my passion for the B2B marketing space & the capabilities of the product.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
I’ve been a massive fan of online reviews for years and based on my career background you can see that definitely holds true. Here are my thoughts on how to leverage reviews to improve your customer experience:
- Third Party Validation – Reviews are the best way for buyers to get unfiltered insights into the product they are looking to purchase. Even though I’ve spent most of my career in sales I truly believe that the best way to get insights about a particular product is to hear feedback from current customers, good or bad. Buyers crave this information so it’s on the company to ensure they generate reviews across various review sites to ensure they are visible in these online marketplaces.
- Tracking Buyer Intent – Many review sites now offer vendors the ability to buy a list of companies who are actively researching software. These reviews site sell this information as “buyer intent” data. They are several types of buyer intent data across the internet but to me, the most effective one is tied to the intent that comes from review sites like G2.com. Reviews are a great way to get insights into who is interested in purchasing your product based on their online actions. More importantly, individuals who read reviews are typically educated buyers looking to find the right solution for their problems and they tend to be further down the sales funnel. Marketing teams can generate very effective marketing campaigns by targeting these groups of individuals who are researching their product while the sales team can be very focused on engaging with the right accounts at the right time!
- Bad reviews are better than good reviews. By that I mean when a customer takes the time to share valid feedback with the brand, it’s very important for the company to respond to this feedback both publicly and internally. By answering the review publicly, you automatically promote to future buyers that you understand their concerns and will address them. Secondly, it’s critical for the product & dev teams to listen to the feedback to make the appropriate changes to ensure a better customer experience for future customers.
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience strategy?
It all starts with understanding your buyer. Many companies will spend a large amount of time building out their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to gain insights into their customers’ day to day needs. Once you understand your buyer’s needs, you can create a customer experience that is based on those needs. This will increase conversions rate across your entire funnel.
The second most important thing to focus on is removing friction in the sales process. Whether you sell a pair of shoes or a million-dollar piece of software it’s crucial to remove roadblocks in the buying process. I’m a big fan of a new B2B category called Self-Guided Tours. For example, if a prospect comes to your website and is interested in learning about your product. Do you think they should be able to watch a pre-recorded demo, jump into the tool to play around, and see pricing all in the same visit? Well, I think so & most buyers would agree.
I strongly believe that companies that will succeed at scaling quickly in the future will deliver this buyer experience for their customers as that’s how we already buy on the B2C front. Prospects do not want to speak with a BDR, and a sales rep to better understand your capabilities & see pricing. They want to do their research without engaging with the company until they are ready. Let’s ensure we deliver this journey to reduce friction and save everyone time.
How much has the role of customer experience changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
The customer experience is currently completely reliant on online engagement at least for a little while longer. Therefore, building out custom journeys for your buyers is more important than ever. To maximize results, I believe marketers need to focus on experimentation to find out what users really care most about. By this I mean you need to take A/B testing to the next level. Instead of trying out one ad vs the other. Try out 20 ads that are all very different to see which ads convert better. Through technology, you can now leverage tools that can let you experiment at scale with your website or in your advertising campaigns.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
You don’t need to constantly be running around from meeting to meeting or from city to city to meet customers & prospects to be effective at your job. As a sales leader over the years, I spent a ton of time traveling to meet people at tradeshows and at their office to build relationships to grow my company’s revenue & understand my customer’s needs. After last year, I can safely say that I no longer feel this way. While I do miss the ability to make deeper connections quickly, my company was able to grow revenue by double digits in 2020 without meeting anyone in person. I have a feeling we will see fewer companies spend large amounts of money on sponsoring tradeshows in the future as the costs do not always lead to better results. The pandemic gave us a reason to take a step back to analyze the efficacy of these events and for the most part, they were not that effective. Online communities will play a larger role moving forward in how people engage and learn from each other. I don’t think it’s will be required to attend 5-10 industry events in-person moving forward in part because of the digital infrastructure that was fast tracked in the last year.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite one?
One of my favorite parts about in-person events was my ability to block off my calendar for a few days to go meet with customers and prospects, while also taking the time to attend presentations to learn from other executives. When everything shifted online, I found it very hard to focus on events during working hours as my computer would light up with messages and notifications making it very hard to focus on the content which was being shared. For that reason, I have I’ve decided to not participate in these types of online events, so I have refocused my energy on learning via a new medium, podcast.
Given I no longer need to commute, I save 1-2 hours each day. I have repurposed my time to include a walk in the middle of the day to clear my head and listen to a podcast. My favorite business podcast is by the team at The Hustle titled My First Million.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?
I agree that we will not go back to the way things used to be. In fact, before the pandemic, I was a firm believer that you had to go to the office every day to work with your colleagues to build a cohesive team with a strong culture. I’m now rethinking this.
While it can be hard to stay on the same page when you do not get in person face time, to me the benefits of a remote culture outweigh the limitations. Overall, employees like to have more freedom around their schedule. Commuting to the office 5 days a week is no longer going to be the norm and I think we will be better off in the long run. That said, I believe a hybrid culture where select groups of people come together to work in person to tackle important problems is very important. I foresee companies will have scheduled office hours a couple of days per week where people come to work together in an office setting. Alternatively, if the team is spread out you can now use the office space savings to plan quarterly offsites for the employees so they can still build strong relationships with their colleagues.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
To me measuring customer satisfaction is the most important. At Metadata, we tract everything starting when the customer makes the purchase until the end of the customer lifecycle. I’m a strong believer that CSAT is one of the most important metrics we can tract to ensure the customer is receiving value from their purchase at every step.