Unchurnable, Episode 2: Tactics for earning customer trust


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This interview has been edited for clarity.

The Importance of Trust

Sarah Norton:Welcome back to Unchurnable. Sam, in our last episode, we talked all about the evolution of customer success. But today, I want to know what tactics you are using to keep our customers happy. So, I've heard you say, "Trust is earned in drips and lost in buckets." And I want to know a little bit more about what you mean by that.

Sam Loveland:You know, people buy and work with people that they like and that they trust. And so, it's such a critical element. And if you think about some of the stories that you read on Wall Street about companies dealing with data privacy and security breaches, you lose trust immediately. They don’t want to work with you anymore, and they leave. How do you build that trust and maintain it? How do you keep that going every time you engage with a customer? That’s what's ingrained in how I work with our customers and how I want my team to work with them.

Sarah Norton:Is there anything you think helps, that can be done, that contributes to the trust that's earned? You mentioned it's consistency over time, but are there any tenets you would always recommend in those interactions?

Sam Loveland:Be honest and be your authentic self. If you don’t know an answer, say, "I don’t know the answer, but I will get back to you," and then follow up. It’s important to follow up. Sometimes bugs happen, and if you call a customer and explain honestly what happened, this is the root cause, this is what we’re doing to mitigate it, you’re being upfront versus hiding behind it. That’s what I mean by being trustful and honest with your customers.

Executive Sponsorship Program

Sarah Norton:Love that. Now, you spearheaded the executive sponsorship program here at Salesloft, which has been wildly successful. Can you tell me more about that program and why you think it's working?

Sam Loveland:It’s working for a few different reasons. We talk about one team, and it really is one team. We have the account team, the executive sponsors, the customer success team, the post-sales organization—all working together on the account. The Executive Sponsor Program allows us to get higher and wider in the account. When one individual leaves, you’re not impacted as much. By having those executive sponsors and their regular communication with key leaders in the company, it helps build that relationship and you avoid missteps when stakeholders leave.

Sarah Norton:Do you think the executive sponsorship program contributes to the trust that is earned? If so, how?

Sam Loveland:Absolutely, it builds trust. The executive sponsor reaches out and asks questions. We often do quarterly business reviews with the expectation that executive sponsors from both sides attend. It’s important to follow up and ask if we’re meeting expectations and what more we could be doing. This builds trust through continuous improvement and helping the customer achieve their outcomes.

The Link Between Education and Retention

Sarah Norton:Now, education is a huge passion of mine. Is there a link between educating customers and retention and renewal rates?

Sam Loveland:Absolutely. There are stats that range from 17% to 20%, showing that customers who are more educated on the product and processes are more likely to achieve their outcomes and want to renew. They invest their time and resources, and as a result, they not only renew but often expand their relationship with us because they have trained resources driving engagement. Education is critical both internally and for our customers.

Sarah Norton:I picked up on the time investment piece. If you’re putting in your own time, you’re more willing to see it through. It's true. Also, dedicating time to educating is crucial.

Key Roadmap Elements for Customer Success Leaders

Sarah Norton:For all the customer success leaders listening and watching, what are three things they need to include in their roadmaps this year?

Sam Loveland:First, AI. Be strategic about it and know the outcomes you’re driving towards. Don’t just implement AI for the sake of it. Second, invest in business value resources from a post-sales perspective. This helps you discuss the outcomes and value customers are getting. We’re investing in value engineering resources to help with post-sales discussions. Third, building and investing in the community. This includes online communities and building a user community of educated administrators and end users who are passionate about your product. Those are the three I would include.

Sarah Norton:Love it. Espcially the customer education aspect. In the next episode, we’re going to talk about the role of skills in AI in customer success, next-generation onboarding, and using experimentation to unlock expertise.

In Episode 2 of Unchurnable, Salesloft’s Chief Customer Officer Sam Loveland shares how customer success teams are earning trust, why using certain education tactics can boost retention and renewals, and which critical initiatives your team should have on the roadmap this year.

Watch the entire Unchurnable series on YouTube >