Customer Insights Platform: Why You Need One, and Why Now

With B2B products and services now required to be customer-first in their approach, customer success leaders need to adjust accordingly. They need to know more about usage patterns, customer sentiment, engagement fluctuations, and stakeholder changes to improve their decision-making. The Customer Insights Platform is generating customer intelligence to do just that. Let’s learn more.

What is a Customer Insights Platform?

The customer insights platform is a bi-directional mechanism that helps understand the customer experience (CX) and how they feel about your product or service. With CS pros managing so many accounts in parallel, it’s impossible to gather all conversations and generate insights without proper tools. The customer insights platform helps uncover blindspots from what customers are saying, without manually scrutinizing emails, calls, chats, and other pieces of data.

You can now optimize the product life cycle by breaking down stakeholder status changes, account events, product usage patterns, communication data, and customer sentiment, while translating them into actionable insights and shareable information. Sustainable business growth is all about putting the customer first. Companies now need to understand customer sentiment in real-time to be more responsive and address critical issues. 

Customer insight platforms are helping this very cause.

Adopting these platforms helps companies become more customer-centric, thanks to the ability to break down the plethora of service, product, usage, and communication data. With actionable insights and trend intel derived from this information, CSMs can engage with relevant stakeholders when required to create stickier accounts and build healthy relationships that last.

Related: The Evolution of Customer Success Tools

The Components of a Customer Insights Platform

With customers engaging with your product in more than one way and communicating with you via multiple channels, your customer insights platform needs to be dynamic and versatile. It should essentially be able to break down the various engagement aspects and allow you to create accurate custom profiles to help CS teams be proactive with effective and customized playbooks.

Here are some key customer insights platform components:

  • Integrations – Businesses are using a wide range of third-party solutions for emails, direct messaging, support channels, and product communications. Integrations are important because the more data the merrier.
  • Data Processing – Harvesting and recording data from the various channels is just the first step. You’ll also need to process and analyze the siloed data to detect sentiment trends, churn risks, and growth opportunities.
  • Prioritization – Once you have ingested the cross-channel data to create unbiased customer insights, the next step is prioritizing the key ones and sharing it with relevant stakeholders, without overwhelming them.
  • Compliance and Security – Data privacy is a sensitive topic today). With GDPR and other privacy laws in full effect, topics like data processing (with audit logs), access control, and consent management need to be addressed.

Customer Insights Platforms: The CS Benefits

Data-driven business decisions allow customer success teams to create better retention strategies and also implement growth plans, all with a strong focus on elevating customer satisfaction levels and maximizing engagement.

Here are three key benefits of having a Customer Insights Platform in place:

1. Real-Time Customer Feedback

Traditional methods like surveys are not reliable for two main reasons – participation levels are low and they aren’t real-time indicators. Customers expect a smooth onboarding experience with high levels of engagement from the get-go. 

The Customer Insights Platform helps customer success teams feel the pulse and react to developments (positive and negative) in real-time. Customer feedback can be harvested from underlying data via multiple channels. Doing so manually isn’t realistic anymore. A modern Customer Insights Platform can help collect this siloed data, analyze it, and generate actionable business insights.

2. Discover and Track Customer Engagement

Gone are the days when customer success managers would call stakeholders and stay in touch. The rapid digitalization of online services and rise of SaaS offerings has triggered a massive rise in digital communications – a huge CSM challenge.

Replying to emails and resolving open tickets is always a good idea, but today’s businesses need to dig deeper to track customer engagement. The written communications, chatbot content, slack conversations, and ticket context can reveal a lot about your customers’ engagement levels. Any drastic change can have massive implications on your KPIs, churn rates, and roadmap planning. 

3. Improved UX with Better Cross-Department Collaboration

CS teams use today many Customer Success Tools to gather customer feedback, understand sentiment, and monitor engagement trends to help CSMs improve performance and elevate their KPIs; but what about cross-department collaboration?

The actionable insights and transparent data need to be conveyed to other departments, mainly the Product team, to help create the optimal user experience (UX). For example, the Customer Insights Platform has shown the CSM that users want to have a “Dark Mode” to save battery life on their smartphones. Conveying this information to the Product team can help develop and integrate this feature ASAP.

Related: CS Strategy: Identify the Blind Spots

Data-Driven Decisions: More Complex Than It Seems

The data age is here. Making informed business decisions is now a must. Unbiased and data-driven insights with your Customer Insights Platform will help you make better strategic decisions and create a better playbook. Acting upon insights and customer sentiment also helps create a better user journey that’s tailored for the specific customer types.

Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy with a Customer Insights Platform:

  • Customer insights don’t just improve the customer experience, but also lead to new customer conversions (upselling and cross-selling).
  • You’ll also need to invest less in market research and surveys because you’ll already have data from your customers and target audience.
  • When customers feel that someone’s listening and implementing their feedback, they are more likely to be loyal. (don’t we all?). 
  • Creating more brand advocates by demonstrating value and sprinkling achievable milestones (i.e – gamification techniques).
  • Develop a granular approach towards different accounts and stakeholders from different locations – because all customers have different needs.

While the aforementioned philosophy sounds good on paper, implementing it is becoming extremely challenging in today’s dynamic SaaS space. Online businesses are facing many roadblocks while trying to make data-driven decisions.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Siloed Data – Applying data to relevant stakeholders is becoming equally difficult. These siloed datasets can also be stored in different databases in multiple locations or datalakes, making it even more difficult to merge them.

2. Different Data Quality and Formats – Siloed data is just the beginning. There’s also unstructured data in complex formats, lack of attributes in chat records, and voice recording transcriptions with questionable quality/clarity.

3. Manual Process Fatigue – Accessing customer data, filtering the required information, and updating everything into the CRM platform can become extremely time-consuming and error-prone. A true roadblock.

Related: Customer Sentiment Analysis

Staircase AI – An AI-Driven Customer Insights Platform

Staircase leverages AI to analyze millions of customer interactions and turn them into insightful information that is impossible to spot with the naked eye. This next-gen technology also helps tackle the data problems by merging all datasets smoothly and accurately for consistent data-driven insights created especially for customer success managers, all in a user-friendly and centralized dashboard.

This Customer Intelligence Platform reveals deep human signals and uncovers customers’ health, sentiment, journey events, risks, and opportunities to build an optimized user experience, minimize churn. and create sustainable growth.

Get More Customer Insights with Staircase AI

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The Top 9 Product Analytics Tools

Launching or upgrading B2B SaaS apps today must include a data-driven approach. Gone are the days of taking shots in the dark and hoping it sticks. Product Analytics tools are helping achieve this by uncovering usage patterns and engagement trends. But which one is best for you? This detailed guide will help you get started.

What are Product Analytics Tools?

Product analytics tools are solutions that provide SaaS vendors with actionable insights about customers’ engagement and interactions with their applications or online services. They collect insightful data from crucial touchpoints in the applications and analyze how users are interacting with various features. These tools help businesses feel the pulse and make better roadmap-related decisions.

Product analysis tools help understand key engagement information:

  • User Behavior Patterns – These tools help track user behavior in real time and understand what makes them tick. For example, which features are the most popular or features that are time consuming to build but no one uses. There is also the need to determine how active users are (MAU/DAU).
  • Feature Engagement – Developing and implementing new features is a good thing, but users need to start using them as well. Product analytics tools help understand what features are more popular and attract more users.
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Tracking – Product analytics tools offer added visibility and analytical capabilities with a centralized dashboard where all relevant notifications are displayed for optimal performance calibration.

Gaining visibility into application engagement and usage has become extremely important today. It helps understand feature adoption levels, frequency of usage, underlying trends, and also creates the foundation for proper SWOT analysis.  

Related: Top 10 Productivity Tools for the Modern CSM

Product Analytics Tools: The Key Features 

Looking for a new product analytics tool? You need to understand what key features to look out for before shortlisting a few of them. The best practice is to find a proven and tested solution that ticks most of the following boxes for best results.

Here are the key features your product analytics tool should have today:

  1. Tracking – This is probably the most important feature. Your product analytics tools should have to give you end-to-end visibility across your app – think tracking page visits, clicks on CTA buttons, and creating journey funnels.
  2. Segmentation – Your toll of choice should also be capable of identifying users based on their geolocation and their specific industries, or custom segments per your needs. 
  3. Profiling – This is another important functionality where you can establish user profiles based on specific criteria based on your use cases and needs.
  4. Measurement tools – Your product analytics tool should be able to quantify and evaluate the feature usage and engagement, ideally in real time.
  5. Centralized dashboard – The UX should be simple enough so you should be able to use the interface to gain (and share) insights with just a few clicks.
  6. Notifications and alerts – You should also be able to act on user behavior insights, and implement customizable alerts, notifications or flows to improve adoption.
  7. Funnels and A/B testing – The product analytics tool to provide me with funnel investigation and tracking. It means that we can define specific flows we wish users to go through and see where they drop, or detect in-app friction. The tool should also show you the different funnels users go through, and show what users are actually doing and how they navigate.

Comparison Criteria

With SaaS consumption coming from different entities, product analytics tools need to address even the most complex use cases. We have shortlisted the best solutions based on the most important parameters that are needed in today’s ecosystems.

Here are the evaluation criteria we have taken into consideration:

  • Onboarding/Usability: The focus here is on features that allow all users to get started with minimal issues and low onboarding friction.
  • User Interface (UI): Having advanced features is great, but the product analytics tool need to have a easy-to-use interface that’s easy to utilize
  • Integrations: With SaaS ecosystems using more and more complex, the solutions need to integrate well out-of-the-box or have dev-friendly APIs.
  • Customer Service: Quickly getting answers to questions and having a professional support pipeline is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity 
  • Pricing: With even enterprise-size companies now becoming budget-conscious, pricing is something you will need to keep an eye on

Related: Top 10 Productivity Tools for the Modern CSM

Top 9 Product Analytics Tools

Without further ado, let’s get started with the product analytics tool list.

  1. Pendo

Pendo is a popular product analytics solution that’s helping onboard users more effectively with in-app messaging capabilities as a bonus. It’s a proven and tested customer retention booster thanks to advanced features like feature adoption monitoring and usage pattern monitoring. Its sister-offering, Pendo Feedback also helps collect feedback and understand what feature requests may help with growth.

Founded: 2013
Pros:
Good integration capabilities
Exceptional support
Highly Configurable

Cons: 
Setting up can get tricky
Can get pricey for Startups and SMBs

Main Features: 
User onboarding
Engagement tracking
Feedback collection 

Pricing: Free trial available, paid plans not shown on website

2. Smartlook

Smartlook helps analyze user behavior and create qualitative insights that help improve adoption and engagement rates. With clients like Volvo, Sky, Vogue, and Kiwi.com already enjoying its services, Smartlook has become a true force you must consider. Session recordings are taken care of, with drop-off analysis available on tap. The detailed and real-time heatmaps are also highly recommended by users.

Founded: 2016
Pros:
Great onboarding
Best in class recordings and heatmaps
Good support

Cons:
Too pricey for startups
Comes with a learning curve

Main Features: 
Session Recordings
Heatmaps
Funnels and events tracking
Mobile Analytics

Pricing: Free for up to 1500 sessions/month, paid plans start at $39/month

3. Heap

Heap is seen by many SaaS businesses as a leading free ad-hoc product analytics and reporting platform. It captures all user actions and uses this data for in-depth reporting. Top features include path analysis, conversion charts, and also an event visualization. Heap can do complex tracking and funnel management, but it also comes with a steep learning curve. The Freemium version is also very capable.

Founded: 2013
Pros:
Quick integration and onboarding|
Good Freemium Version

Cons:
Sharing and collaboration problems
Limited dashboard customization

Main Features:
Conversion charts
Path analysis
Event visualization

Pricing: freemium (up to 10k sessions/month), paid plans start at $3,600 annually

4. WhatFix

Whatfix is a product analytics tool that focuses on reducing in-app friction and reduces overhead by 45% as per the company’s claims. With clients like Cisco, UPS, Microsoft, and Sentry, we tend to believe that the claims are credible. It offers customizable app flows that can be tailored to specific use cases for elevated engagement and adoption levels. 

Founded: 2014
Pros: 
Good documentation
Strong support
Active post-Sales pipeline

Cons: 
Lack of customization
Outdated UI/UX
No automatic translation 

Main Features: 
Granular insights
Behavior Analytics
Interactive in-app widgets

Pricing: Free for startups, paid plans not shown on website

5. Amplitude Analytics

Amplitude is a product analytics tool with hundreds of satisfied customers, a pattern that’s only trending up. It is a comprehensive end-to-end solution with useful features like cross-platform tracking and real-time insights. Attribution modeling is strong, as is the user interface. Amplitude Analytics offers a fully customizable dashboard that quickly elevates performance and data sharing capabilities.

Founded: 2012
Pros: 
Strong customer support
Focus on security, fits enterprises
Good visualization

Cons:
Can be complex for newbies
Integration can get tricky

Main Features: 
Unlimited data streams
Collaboration tools
User management

Pricing: Free for startups, paid plans not shown on website

6. Mixpanel

Mixpanel enables organizations, both enterprise-level and SMBs, to analyze user behavior. This product analysis solution generates interactive activity reports, shows which new features are gaining traction, and even highlights power users. This information can help you create better retroactive funnels and perform better conversion rate analysis. All user actions and steps are recorded and analyzed. 

Founded: 2009
Pros:
Good integration capabilities
Great reporting capabilities

Cons:
Comes with a learning curve
Lackluster alert customization
Support issues

Main Features: 
Customized report generation
Engagement tracking and analysis

Pricing: Free for startups, Growth plans start at $25/month

7. FullStory

FullStory offers SaaS businesses a Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI) platform that captures every user interaction within the application and uses it to create action-driven insights. A unique feature FullStory offers is the ability to “retroactively” capture user actions and create a Session Replay to enable better analysis. Privacy is taken care of with text element masking performed at the source.

Founded: 2014
Pros:
Interactive interface
Strong customer support
Good click tracking

Cons:
Many reviews mention bugs and stability issues
Pricey

Main Features:
Customer segmentation
Record entire sessions
Error tracking

Pricing: Free for startups, paid plans not shown on website

8. Quantum Metric

Driven by the power of ML and big data, Quantum Analytics gives SaaS businesses an insightful overview (user logs) of how customers are behaving and also provides actionable insights with dynamic heatmaps. All of this is achieved by implementing interactive customer experience journeys with multiple strategic touchpoints that are crucial for success. There’s also integration for Slack, Salesforce, and more.

Founded: 2015
Pros:
Solid integration capabilities
Data based features
User-friendly interface

Cons:
Integration and setup can get messy
Can get pricey

Main Features: 
Customer experience journeys
Heatmaps
Session replay

Pricing: No free trial, paid plans not shown on website

9. LogRocket

LogRocket helps SaaS businesses fix software problems, increase adoption, elevate engagement, and improve conversion rates. It offers a wide range of useful features such as  product analytics data, session replay, and performance tracking, all via one centralized dashboard. The actionable insights can then be implemented to create a better product experience. Integration is available for GitHub, Jira, Trello, and more. 

Founded: 2016
Pros: 
Strong integration capabilities
Engaging interface

Cons:
Slow and buggy performance
Iffy support, limited featured suite

Main Features: 
User session replays
UX analytics
Performance monitoring

Pricing:
Free for startups (1000 sessions/month)
Paid plans start from $99/month

product analytics tools
All Platforms Are Graded On a 5-Star Scale (5 Maximum Score, 1 Lowest Score)
Based on User Reviews from the G2, TrustRadius, and Capterra Platforms

Product Analytics is Dandy, But What About Human Analytics?

Any one of the aforementioned product analytics tools should put you in a good place and help you track applications adoption and engagement. But in the B2B realm relationships are still playing a big role in your account’s health. What’s on their minds? What relationship changes are affecting the health of your enterprise accounts? Are you picking up the right customer cues that may lead to churn?

The only answer to all these questions – a Human Analytics platform.

Staircase AI is a next-gen platform that leverages AI to analyze millions of customer communications (emails, Slack chats, calls, product analytics, and more.) to discover churn risks and potential opportunities you can’t possibly be reach manually. Staircase AI paints a full picture of your customer behavior to cut through the noise and boost NRR.

Customer Intelligence: A Customer Success Playbook Essential

Customer Intelligence (CI) is a relatively new concept that’s allowing Customer Success executives and teams to connect the dots in an increasingly complex ecosystem that has multiple stakeholders, communication channels, fluctuating sentiments, and other underlying dynamics. Let’s take a closer look at this upcoming methodology. 

What is Customer Intelligence?

Customer Intelligence is a methodology that allows the ongoing analysis of customer data that’s harvested from cross-channel conversations and interactions. Unlike conventional methods, these insightful and actionable human insights are derived from text, verbal, and video channels between customers and internal company personas, all previously considered to be huge blind spots.

Why is Customer Intelligence so crucial today?

The reason is simple. Product analytics paint an incomplete picture when it comes to gaining visibility into customer accounts. These product-based insights are different from customer activity-based insights, which is what CS teams need today.

By adding human analytics to supplement product and usage data, CS teams can dissect communications with stakeholders, understand what internal personas are currently engaged with accounts, and uncover sentiment blind spots. By doing so, Customer Success teams are creating more and more bridges between the organization and the customers for a more robust book of business.

Related: Relationship Intelligence Matters

Customer Intelligence Benefits

Customer Intelligence is helping Customer Success teams gain a bird’s eye view of their accounts and internal operations for added clarity. This is proving to be a true game changer, especially in complex use cases and companies scaling up fast.

Here are some benefits:

1. Identifying At-Risk Accounts

Human insights are crucial in recognizing sudden customer sentiment drops, communication frequency issues, and other underlying account risk factors. Recognizing at-risk accounts helps reduce churn and boost key KPIs like NRR. Risks include sudden champion departures, underlying negative sentiment about specific features or services, or ongoing deterioration in CSM-stakeholder communication.

2. Recognizing Growth Opportunities

Besides reducing risky stakeholders and accounts, CS teams can now also leverage this methodology to identify champions, nurture key stakeholders, and create more brand advocates to promote sustainable growth. For example, a stakeholder who the CSM is not in close touch with may talk about an upcoming team expansion or mention a feature that the customer needs, both golden growth opportunities. 

3. Customer and Account Segmentation

Every use case is different and is also changing with time as new business or operational requirements come up. Segmenting accounts helps CS teams create a more granular and targeted approach to identify each account’s needs. and unlock customer happiness. This is achieved by creating personalized user journeys based on the actionable insights gained from the Customer Intelligence solution.

4. Crucial Roadmap Inputs and Optimizations

Product analysis tools and marketing solutions can help point roadmaps in the right direction, but none of them provide any insights into customer communication trends and relationship dynamics. Customer Intelligence is helping on that front. For example, if the overwhelming majority of your customers has a specific view about some feature, you can navigate your product in that direction. Besides the obvious business benefits, you can also add more brand advocates to the ranks.

Customer Intelligence: The Main Challenges

Now that we have established the benefits of having a Customer Intelligence solution in place to generate insightful human insights, it’s also important to understand the main challenges that come with its implementation. 

Spoiler alert: It’s not as straightforward as it may seem at first.

  • Communication Data is Siloed – All the B2B businesses today are using multiple communication channels to engage with their customers. This can include in-app chatbots, ticketing systems, Slack chats, Zoom video calls, phone conversations, and of course email communications. Is your Customer Intelligence solution capable of digesting this fragmented information?
  • Too Many Xs and Ys – There are often too many blind spots when it comes to company-customer communications. You can have multiple focal points in an account, along with a dozen of internal personas engaged with them at any given time. Tracking these Xs and Ys on an ongoing basis is extremely crucial (and very challenging) when it comes to Customer Intelligence.
  • One Too Many – One focal point (for example, the CSM) communicating with an account that has multiple stakeholders, has all the visibility. But this CSM doesn’t have the capacity to keep track of everything, nor the ability to constantly share vital data with other personas (for example, CS executives). One person owns all the data and others have no idea what’s going on.

Related: Customer Relationship Score

The Future of Customer Intelligence: Building Bridges

Customer Intelligence is not going to be a niche or optional concept for long. Online businesses are realizing that they need human insights to create separation from the competition. While product and usage insights will always have a place in the grand scheme of things, Customer Success teams need to bridge the gap between customers and teams in the organization – sales, marketing, product, and more.

These internal and external bridges will become primary “churn busters” and also “NRR boosters” by helping in creating more upselling and cross-selling opportunities. With go-to-market concepts like Product-Led Growth (PLG) gaining traction, extra attention needs to be given to the customer experience and user journey. Customer Intelligence will be an integral part of this shift in coming years. 

Furthermore, Customer Success is also expected to evolve from just tracking customer sentiment and relationships to evaluating customer commitment. There will also be a need for automated feedback loops rather than manual feedback loops that creates a lot of overhead.  This will be possible only by implementing AI-driven Customer Intelligence solutions. Enter Staircase AI.

Staircase AI: Pioneering Customer Intelligence 

Although Customer Intelligence is a newly introduced concept that’s still not being used universally, its benefits are being recognized by more and more Customer Success executives. Staircase AI is pioneering this growing technology with its customer-centric solution that can work in a wide range of use cases. Customer Success teams can now shift to a proactive approach – the holy grail.

Creating sticker accounts was never easier. Our AI-powered and customer insights platform analyzes millions of customer interactions and converts them into actional human insights that previously fell between the cracks. This is allowing Customer Success executives to cut through the noise and get more information on customer health, sentiment, risks, journey events, and also new growth opportunities.

Get Started with Customer Intelligence Now 
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Customer Intelligence Platform: What Is It and How to Leverage It

Customer Success is one of the fastest evolving components in the modern B2B space. This transformation is being made possible by advanced technologies and solutions like the Customer Intelligence Platform, which is eliminating blind spots and allowing CS leaders to make more data-driven decisions. Let’s learn more about this growth accelerator.

What is a Customer Intelligence Platform?

The Customer Intelligence Platform is a smart AI-powered engine that harvests and analyzes crucial customer-vendor communication information to unlock deep human relationship dynamics and optimize interactions with accounts. 

These platforms help understand user behavior and tendencies around crucial touch points in multi-channel communications – think of it as human analytics. Understanding what customers are saying and understanding what they are struggling with eventually helps create a better customer journey and optimize the overall experience for both new and existing users.

Customer Success leaders can use these AI-powered platforms to feel the pulse, understand customer sentiment regarding key factors, and uncover the crucial pain points to make the right business decisions with data-driven insights. 

Customer Intelligence Platforms are helping answer a wide range of questions:

  • What customers are talking about? What topics are trending? What features or processes add friction and frustration to their experience?
  • How engaged customers are with your brand and Success teams? What are the engagement levels? Are there good relationship health signals? 
  • What are you missing between the lines of what customers are saying? Is the data you are using in your decision in the right context?
  • How do customers feel about you and your service and product? Are there any new sentiment trends you need to follow? Any bad signs or risk factors?

Related: Customer Insights Platform: Why You Need One

Customer Intelligence Platform Benefits

The Customer Intelligence Platform is helping CS executives and managers gain a bird’s-eye view of all customer relationship activity. This technology is eliminating blind-spots and allowing better process optimization for added customer happiness.

Here are some key benefits:

1. Persona-Based Communications

Not all customers are the same, especially in the B2B space. They have different use cases, requirements, and needs. Customer Intelligence Platforms can be used to segment stakeholders or accounts and set different thresholds for relationship health. This granular approach can help treat each segment differently for better results. For example, Tier 3 customers can’t be treated like Tier 1 ones and vice versa.

2. Customer Journey Optimization

There are more and more customer details to be taken into consideration today – onboarding requirements, different success criteria, engagement tendencies, customer relationship friction points, satisfaction levels, feature feedback, and many more. Manually collecting this information and making sense out of it simply isn’t possible today. The Customer Intelligence Platform does exactly that.

Also, you can have a dream journey map, but it’s based mainly on assumptions that often don’t match reality. The Customer Intelligence Platform helps challenge your assumptions and connects the dots to uncover what the customer is experiencing. Once you have this kind of visibility, you can then anticipate issues, optimize the customer journey map, and make data-driven decisions. 

3. Activity-Driven Decision Making

We all know about data-driven information, but Customer Intelligence Platforms are allowing businesses to generate activity-driven insights that can trigger immediate actions to your playbook. Assuming the platform has the required integration and sharing capabilities, it can allow your team to strengthen key relationships proactively, generate better engagement, and create upselling opportunities.

4. Better Cross-Department Alignment and Collaboration

Customer Intelligence Platforms are also playing a key role in creating more transparency with your entire book of business. Customer Success, Marketing, Product, Sales, IT, and Support teams can now discover how customers feel about specific features or topics. They can also unearth new friction points that need to be fixed and discover new champions or advocates in accounts.

Also, as a result of this improved visibility around customer feedback and insights, it can provide opportunities for all teams to communicate better in general, since the feedback no longer has to constantly be monitored manually or verbally.

Related: Customer Sentiment Analysis 

Customer Intelligence Platforms for Customer Success Teams: The Key Requirements

Modern Customer Success teams need to go beyond scheduled interviews and Net Performance Score (NPS) surveys. While these methods still have their place in today’s CS playbooks, much more is needed to achieve customer happiness and NRR growth. 

The Customer Intelligence Platform needs to have the following capabilities:

  • Breaking Down Multi-Channel Communication Data – This is probably the biggest challenge CS teams are facing today. Emails, Phone calls, Zoom chats, Slack conversations, Chatbot activity, and Tickets are just a few of the ways customers are contacting businesses. All of these touchpoints need to be covered by the Customer Intelligence Platform to get a full picture.
  • Stakeholder and Account Segmentation – Your CS team is interacting with a wide range of personas. This can be an executive, all the way down to a junior manager. Are you prioritizing the right tiers? Are you tracking customer team changes? Are there any loopholes that your team isn’t detecting? Your Customer Intelligence Platform should be able to answer these questions.
  • Customer Sentiment Analysis – Understanding customer sentiment is one of the biggest challenges in Customer Success today. With so many variables in play, only an advanced data-driven solution can help connect the dots and eliminate human intervention. Sudden drops in customer sentiment can trigger churn and brand damage. Is your Customer Intelligence Platform up to the task?
  • Real-Time Feedback – Analyzing and understanding the current health of your customer accounts is important, but your Customer Intelligence Platform should also be able to notify the relevant internal team members in real-time with customizable alerts. Only being alerted early can help contain the damage by reaching out to at-risk accounts and taking the required steps.
    Furthermore, when both Customer Success Leaders and CSMs are in the loop constantly with updated insights, they can collaborate better and come up with better action plans instead of just being reactive and passive like before. 
  • Integration with your Customer Success Platform or CRM – All platforms today are expected to be user-friendly with minimal onboarding and your Customer Intelligence Platform is no exception. It should have good integration capabilities with leading reporting tools, CS tools, or APIs, not to mention your Customer Relationship Platform (CRM). Also, data on a dashboard is great, but it has to be actionable when it comes to your customers. 

Related: Customer Relationship Score

Unfortunately, more often than not, Customer Intelligence Platforms simply cannot tick all the boxes. This is why there’s a growing need for a dedicated CS-centric platform that can perform all aforementioned tasks. Enter Staircase AI.

Staircase’s CS-Centric Customer Intelligence Platform

Staircase is disrupting the Customer Success space with its AI-driven Customer Intelligence Platform. Besides providing stakeholder relationship tracking with ongoing customer sentiment analysis, it  helps you pick up on signals about how your customers are feeling to help you proactively prevent dissatisfaction and churn beforehand, while also clearing roadblocks to help them achieve their goals.

This Customer Intelligence Platform leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze millions of customer interactions and turns them into actionable customer insights that can’t be spotted with the naked eye. By adopting this solution, you can uncover deep human signals, customers’ health status, sentiment fluctuations, journey events, and underlying risks, while creating new growth opportunities. 

Relationship Intelligence Matters: What Your CRM is Missing

The B2B space is becoming increasingly complex from the customer success standpoint. Stakeholder relationships have become highly unpredictable and fluid in nature – many people get promoted and some are fired, while companies often expand or get acquired. These high-maintenance accounts are creating multiple relationship building challenges for CSMs. Enter relationship intelligence. 

What is Relationship Intelligence?

Relationship Intelligence is helping Customer Success Managers (CSMs) and Account Managers (AMs) build and nurture relationships with the help of data-driven information and insights. It’s helping them upsell, cross-sell, and unlock other hidden growth opportunities. Not only that, it’s helping them address at-risk accounts in real-time to reduce churn and other kinds of brand damage.

A successful customer success professional still requires good interpersonal, multitasking, and project management skills. But there’s also a growing need for data-driven decision making due to the amount of siloed data that’s piling up. Only digesting this information in real-time and converting it into actionable insights with relationship intelligence can help build, nurture, and grow accounts today. 

The Benefits of Embracing Relationship Intelligence

1. Breaking Down Omni-Channel Communications

Gone are the days of getting everything done with phone calls. Today’s CSMs have to engage with customers via a wide range of communication channels – emails, text messages, chats, Slack conversations, and even on social media, just to name a few. Processing and handling this plethora of information manually can become overwhelming pretty fast.

2. Recognizing At-Risk Accounts

Another problem with handling customer accounts manually is that humans have a biased view, which is often formed without taking historic trends into account. This created a false sense of reality that doesn’t coincide with the company’s growth plans or product strategy. Relationship intelligence helps connect the dots in an unbiased manner to detect customer sentiment drops and at-risk accounts.

3. Detecting Relationship Dynamic Fluctuations

The B2B space has become very unpredictable and dynamic. Stakeholders are always on the go – some suddenly get promoted (new champion opportunities), while others are transferred or laid off (irrelevant personas). Tracking these fluctuations manually is simply an unrealistic goal, something that creates multiple blind spots in accounts. Relationship intelligence to the rescue yet again.

4. Improving Productivity and Cross-Department Collaboration

With relationship intelligence harvesting customer data and converting it into data-driven conclusions, customer success managers and teams get to enjoy a reduced administrative workload. They can focus on analysis, planning, and creating a transparent ecosystem. This also helps involve other departments to further improve their productivity and align the company towards the North Star Metric. 

5. Sharpening the Customer Success Playbook

Relationship intelligence helps create better customer success playbooks thanks to the deeper knowledge it brings into play. The new information about at-risk accounts and accurate analysis of stakeholder sentiment lets CSMs be more focused in their efforts. They can now know which personas can and should be targeted with customized strategies to create stickier accounts.

Related: Customer Success Strategy: Identifying the Blind Spots

Relationship Intelligence: The Requirements 

With a focus on the human relationships and important stakeholders, a well-implemented relationship intelligence solution should be able to identify key stakeholder changes – has your Champion gone dark? Changed roles? Is your Decision Maker unresponsive? Or upset? Maintaining those priority relationships is critical to success. But how do you do it at scale and efficiently? 

Here are a few components you’ll need to integrate into your ecosystem:

  • Access to Communication with Customers – All customer conversions, emails, tickets, and chats need to be constantly tracked, analyzed, and broken down. Only doing so will give you a complete and comprehensive picture. 
  • Access to Internal Communication Data – Businesses need to make sure that all product, CSM, support, and IT communications are transparent. For example, three personas can unknowingly be talking to the same customer or account. Your relationship intelligence platform should be able to track all verticals and eliminate siloed communication channels.
  • Integration with Your Single Source of Truth – Your relationship intelligence platform needs to be able to stream information and data into your primary customer or task management platform, which is often the CRM. 

Before we move on to understanding more about relationship intelligence, it’s important to understand that CRM tools were designed primarily to manage the sales funnel of leads and prospects rather than the funnel of existing customers that a company needs to retain and grow. Because of that focus, leveraging a CRM tool for Customer Success activities can be rudimentary and limited. 

The CRM vs Relationship Intelligence

In a nutshell. Customer Success is the thread that holds the entire customer journey together; end to end. CRM functionality generally stops at the sale. Additionally, there are some more key differences you must take into account.

Here are the three main differences between the two methodologies:

  1. CRM Updating is a Tiring Manual Process – Your customers are dynamic. Your CRM is static. You need your tech stack to keep up without demanding hours of your time and attention just on maintenance and data inputting.
     
  2. CRMs Can’t Help with Making Deeper Human Connections – CRMs offer a centralized way to view your leads. But they offer very little when it comes to understanding customer sentiment or analyzing your customer health scores.
  3. CRMs Won’t Help Reduce Churn or Promote Growth – Relationship intelligence promotes relationship building by leveraging advanced AI-driven analysis, prediction, and monitoring to make deeper human connections. 

Staircase AI Relationship Intelligence

Staircase works 24×7 to analyze thousands of interactions (emails, messages, conversations) to safeguard accounts by understanding the sentiment of these interactions, the context and issues that are being discussed. These understandings are then summarized and surfaced to CS teams to take corrective action or double down on opportunities to upsell and expand. 

Staircase boosts collaboration and diffuses FOMO around customer interactions. With all client-facing interactions viewable on Staircase, it’s easy to track customer engagement and learn how the customer is feeling. This allows quick and accurate alignment on account status versus working in the dark. Your teams can now identify potential risk indicators and create strategies to address them proactively.

Staircase Relationship Intelligence will change the way your business does Customer Success forever. It bridges the gaps between businesses, internal team members, and most importantly – the external stakeholders.

Get Started with Relationship Intelligence Now 

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