Podcast May 2, 2023

How to build strong customer relationships – and when to walk away

With the economic climate rattling businesses and investors alike, keeping your customers happy is more important than ever. But some clients are more vocal than others, making it hard to see the bigger picture of customer sentiment, let alone understand the causes and themes behind it. 

In this week’s Payments Innovation podcast, host Piers Marais caught up with Saskia de Jong, Director of Customer Success at business aviation firm Avinode Group, and Sergi Albiol, Commercial Director at employment software specialist Lano. They discussed the importance of identifying patterns of customer feedback to understand where to focus resources. But they cautioned that you can never please all your customers all the time – and sometimes it’s better to know when to walk away.

Here are three key takeaways from their conversation:

Data is your friend

Happiness is subjective, and some customers can be more forthcoming with their frustrations than others, which is why de Jong and Albiol both emphasised the importance of gathering customer feedback such as customer satisfaction scores to build a clear, objective picture of how your customers feel about your business over time. 

“There’s a lot of data out there,” Albiol explained. “But the key, from our perspective, is to try and identify patterns. So we try to monitor as many things as we can track. Trying to understand the evolution over time helps us to cut through the noise and simplify to (understand) what are the most important or pressing things.”

The customer isn’t always right

No business can please all its customers all the time, so instead of wasting time and money trying, it makes sense to focus resources on fixing the problems and building the features that will satisfy the most customers at once. 

For Albiol, it’s important to identify the customer segments that bring the most value to your business and focus resources on meeting their needs and expectations, in order to bring a better return on investment and contribute to your business’s long-term growth. 

De Jong agreed and underlined the importance of understanding which customer relationships are worth pursuing, and which, ultimately, might not be built to last. 

“For us, it’s really important that we see our (customer relationships) as a partnership,” said De Jong. “And that partnership (works) two ways. I have absolutely told some members, maybe we’re not the perfect match. And I think that’s OK. Ultimately, if we’re not the right match, then they should maybe look for a different provider.”

Technology can assist — but won’t replace — human relationships

Hybrid working and productivity tools have changed all areas of business, and customer success is no exception. But while some have brought businesses closer to their clients, such as being able to join customers’ internal Slack channels to respond more quickly to their needs, both de Jong and Albiol agreed that customers still treasure the human touch. Clients are once again craving face-to-face meetings, which have a  significant role to play in helping businesses build lasting relationships with customers. 

Similarly, while generative AI has become impressively proficient at answering customers’ Fintech problems, Albiol thought it would be a mistake to assume it was about to replace human interaction. 

“Human relationships play a key role (in customer success),” said Albiol. “Obviously you’re trying to automate the vast majority of your queries as much as possible, so you don’t need to have as many people supporting things that can be done automatically, and you can focus on continuously building those relationships, and not just (being) a faster FAQ. So I think the combination of the two will be very powerful.”

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Until next time!

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