744: How to Retain More Customers by Going on Customer Safaris w/ Eric deLima Rubb

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Eric deLima Rubb, Head of Customer Success at BuzzSumo.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

Wouldn't it be nice to have several fault leaders in your industry know and Love Your brand? Start a podcast, invite your industries thought leaders to be guests on your show and start reaping the benefits of having a network full of industry influencers? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to be tob growth, a daily podcast for B TOB leaders. We've interviewed names you've probably heard before, like Gary Vander truck and Simon Senek, but you've probably never heard from the majority of our guests. That's because the bulk of our interviews aren't with professional speakers and authors. Most of our guests are in the trenches leading sales and marketing teams. They're implementing strategy, they're experimenting with tactics, they're building the fastest growing be tob companies in the world. My name is James Carberry. I'm the founder of sweet fish media, a podcast agency for BB brands, and I'm also one of the cohosts of this show. When we're not interviewing sales and marketing leaders, you'll hear stories from behind the scenes of our own business. Will share the ups and downs of our journey as we attempt to take over the world. Just kidding. Well, maybe let's get into the show. Welcome back to the B tob grows show. We're here today with Eric the Lima Rube, head of customer success at Buzzumo. Eric, how you doing today, man Loogan, how you doing? I'm doing really well. How you want? Thanks for starting your morning with us, Eric. We really appreciate you coming on. I am really excited to talk about this idea that you have and a really cool analogy, talking about marketing to current customers and focusing on how you can retain them better. Of A customer Safari. But before we jump right into that, I'd love for you to take a second just let our listeners know what you and the team at Buzzumo we're up to these days. Yeah, so, I'm head of customer success of Buzzumo. BUZZUMO is a content discovery platform. We help you to...

...find the most engaging articles on any topic or from any domain across the range of time, so that you can create better content for yourself, so that you can create content for your social feeds and then ultimately find the right people who are helping to drive a lot of the conversation around the topics that are interesting to you and your clients. Nice. Yeah, Eric, are really excited to to hear from your perspective. You know, a lot of our listeners, I'm sure, are familiar with buzzumo and is a tool they've used in the past. With your role in customer success, I think you have some some unique perspective into customer retention, marketing to your current customers and working with them to figure out ways to improve your product and improve customer retention. You know, one thing is we were talking offline. Eric. You mentioned in your current role that that you guys have internally had to think through a little bit is getting comfortable with a certain amount of churn. Can you share with our listeners a little bit about, you know, what that internal process was like for you guys? Yeah, absolutely so. First I came through marketing. I kind of wound up in customers success almost, almost by accident. Okay, my background was in marketing and so when I cott into customer success I was really thinking about it from a framework of how do you engage with customers, how do you grow your business, how do you market to them? But most of the people that I was dealing with on a daily pasis. We're already paying us, they were already clients, so they don't want to hear some broad marketing message. So how do we communicate with them in a smarter way? So that was sort of the angle that I was coming at from and and then the other challenge that we were facing was that. But sumo is primarily a research tool. A lot of our users that rely on US daily for updates and alerts and understanding what's trending in the news...

...cycle. But there's also a lot that use us just for projects that they've got going on our campaigns and and they would sign up and they do their project, have a great experience and then they leave and we would get really stressed about that. How do we keep those people around? And and at a certain point we we realized that as a self serve platform, we're always going to have some level of churn that we're going to have to deal with and it was up to us to obviously, you know, continue to fight churn and get that to a number that we were really happy with and that we felt would help contribute to our our growth and not drag down the business, but that we were never going to get it all the way down to zero percent or something. There was always going to be some level of churn, and so getting comfortable with that number was really a big learning curve for us and we've had a lot of conversations about where do we feel comfortable with that and and how do we then, on a monthly basis, kind of look at a churn number and see it as a positive potentially, rather than always a negative? HMM. Yeah, I think just figuring out, you know, where you're comfortable with that was the key part for me. Depending on you know what your products like, what your customer base is like, your ACV, all those sorts of things kind of kind of play into that. It's not necessarily a one size fits all and if you're always aiming for zero then you're probably setting yourself up for disappointment right so I think that's a great place to start. No matter you know what your part of the market is. Eric, we were talking a little bit about this idea of a customer safari. Can you unpack the analogy for us a little bit and how that lines up with learning about your customers and how you can improve your product market to them and retain more customers and eventually, you know, lower your...

...turn rate depending on, you know, where you feel comfortable with it being. Yeah, so I can't take credit for this term. I heard it from a colleague of mine, Brand Watch, really really smart, amazing person, and basically the idea of customers safari, a lot of the listeners probably know is just getting out and talking to customers. But but in my experience talking to customers was always well, let's find a way to invite them in and have them give us their feedback. Is that in around table? Is that online, a video conference, a feedback session? Is that a Beta testing group where people can explore the features? But the general framework always seems to be bringing your customers into our environment and then observing them. And then I heard this term customer safari and that's how what do you mean by that? And my colleague said, well, it's not bringing your customers into your environment and watching how they do things. It's actually everybody piloted into a vehicle and going out into the wild, going where the customers live and then observing how they behave their natural environments. So kind of like being on a spar versus zoo or something and right, that I'm saying that customers belong in a zoo. Right, right, we're not going there. We're not going I think you know the natural habitat part is. Yeah, and the algae. We could all, you know, kind of understand. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and and I think by shifting the kind of framework of that it it opens up the possibility to get more critical feedback. I think oftentimes when you bring clients in to give you feedback, they we're all, I don't want to say all of us, but a lot of us are really we're Nice. We don't want to offend somebody or hurt somebody's feelings, and so even if we have something critical to say, we try to find a really...

...positive and and soft landing in a sense, to to the feedback that we have. And when you get that shifted around and you go out into the environment where your customers fear feel comfortable, they're much more willing to just say exactly what they think. This doesn't work for me, or this is really problematic, where I wish your product did this instead of this. That's where real growth opportunities lie. It's that kind of critical feedback that we need to take. What is you know, a general idea about improvement and turn it into, you know, actual product and experence. HMM, yeah, if all we're getting or, you know, kind of softballs tossed at us and and pats on the back with them. Yeah, mostly it's okay. You know that. That's great, but it doesn't really lead to action, that that you can go off of and that you can really do things that are going to affect growth. So setting people up in a position to really give honest, critical feedback is crucial because we need that. We need that critical feedback in order to grow, just like we do personally. We need it for our products and and for a business. Hi was just going to say. It just made me think about it made me think about NPS scores a lot. We all rely on net promoter scores for for getting feedback about our product and and I've heard, I've heard a couple of people say, well, if somebody gives you a seven or an eight, it's because they they don't want to give you a low score. But if they're giving you a seven and eight and they're not committed, and if they're giving you anything lower than that, whether it's a five or six, they may as well give you a zero right now there as ter mean anything unless they actually kind of tell you what's behind why they gave you that score. HMM. Yeah, and so we were talking a little bit about obviously, with Buzz Sumo,...

...you guys have a very large customer base. You've got customers all over the globe, so physically going out to your customers, you know, just doesn't make logistical sense. But we were talking off flying a little bit eric about a couple of key ways you guys have have made it possible to, quote unquote, go into your customers environment and set them up to give you that critical feedback, even if you can't physically go out to their office. So I think a couple of those things that you guys have done that have set your customers up to give you that critical feedback would be great for our listeners to hear a little bit about how you guys do that and some practical things that they could do as well. Sure, this isn't really reinventing the wheel, but I'm a real big fan of, when I get on a video chat with one of our clients, to turn over the screen controls to them let them walk me through how they're using our product. Not only can I see how they move from feature to feature, but it's much easier for me to see the experience of the product through their eyes. Potentially they might be trying to do something in the product that they're using the wrong part of the tool for. Maybe they should be in the research section but they're in the monitoring section and I want to be able to see that so that I can make recommendations. But if I'm just showing them how to do that, it doesn't lock in the learning. Really it's that show show me rather than that. Or was that teacher, teacher, man to fish that kind of hole analogy of really want somebody to to actually do it for themselves so that they have the experience of what it should be like. But if they get the learning by doing concept there, yes, exactly. And but at the same time it's really easy for me to then see how they expect the product to work based on the job that they're trying to do and that concept. I...

...can just kind of sit in the background and take notes. Watch them try to execute on a campaign, watch them try to find influencers for a project that they're working on, see how it is that they're designing a surge query to find topics and key words within a particular category, so that I know not just how to make suggestions to improve, but also how I can turn around to our product guys and say, Hey, I think the way that this is potentially designed or an improvement down the line for something we can add in makes sense based on the expectations were setting for the client on the page. HMM. Yeah, I love that idea of kind of getting a peek into their expectations of the product, not just their feeling of what works what doesn't work, but how are they navigating? Where are they expecting to find things? Because that's kind of a nuanced piece that you're not just going to get in a feedback questionnaire or even in around table when you're not watching someone use the product. So I think that's phenomenal advice. We were talking a little bit eric about. You know, as you go through this process, or customer safari or whatever you term it in your organization, to think about, you know, it's not always just about adding new features that you can upsell. It's sometimes about making sure that the core of your product is still lining up with what folks need. And you had a previous experience with an event management software company where you guys went through an exercise and really found something that was it was kind of core to making the product usable as opposed to, you know, adding new features and new things to upset right. Yeah, we it was really interesting because that product had really grown out of a pain point that the founders of the company had. They were also working in the event management world and they were just struggling a lot with the tools that were available to them and they wanted to find a solution and after a lot...

...of searching and a lot of disappointment, they just decided, well, let's build our own and so they built something that kind of addressed the challenges that they were having and then at a certain point they had colleagues and freelancers, people that were working with them and looking into their their products and saying that's really interesting it, but that would really work for my company or I know somebody that probably benefit from that. So, you know, they do what we all do in growing up a business. You'd bring in some early testers, you given the products, you let them kind of try to break the thing and and so in a sense there was immediately a slight disconnect because the founders had been dealing with this issue and then building a product to solve challenges that they had been living with for a couple of years, but they're now handing off a product to people that are not just facing their own challenges, they're also looking at a product for the first time. HMM. So frinds there? Yeah, yeah, and so we so what happened was the founders were really iterating on these very, very complex ideas to automate schedules and bring in calendars and schedules from a lot of different programs and other teams and and it was complex work and it was iterative work. It was slow and incremental improving this. It was probably going to take, you know, a good year to get it, I think, to the place where they wanted to get it to. What they realized within this first couple of months testing with some early users was that, yeah, that was going to be helpful for people, but it was too far down the line in terms of learning the product to get them what they needed and what they needed right off the bat with some quick insight of where do I need to be, who needs to be there with me, and what are we doing when we get there? And it really led them to kind of take step back and say, okay,...

...we might have a long term product road now, but right now these customers are really struggling with a core experience. So that led them to kind of reshuffle the priority list of features and and start working on kind of a minimal, viable dashboard that just pulled in some basic information that you know, with a couple of quick clicks and you log in, you can see that most important information that you have to know in any given day. And once people had that, then they gave them the time to keep iterating on these more complex and and structured features down. Yeah, so they were really figuring out what we're you know, they had some really great automation goals for the calendar, but at the end of the day, they're users right now. Just needed a snapshot feature right. That really led to a lot more adoption early on so that they could build those other features further down the road that we're going to benefit them, but they weren't need two right now. Right. Yeah, that's absolutely right and we think we all, we all, you know, have an idea when we're when we're looking to retain customers and and grow. You know, our customer base that that if they just let us get to this one touch point in the future, if they just stick with US till we get to that point, then all of their problems are going to be solved. And the truth is is that their work is changing just as fast as our work is changing. So we need to try to find that balance between what's going to benefit them right now and what's going to benefit them down the line and we need to recognize that that if we ignore something that's very, very important to them to get their work done or get a report out to a client or or deliver something to their boss right now, that they're going to churn and we're not going to have the opportunity to realize a big improvement down the line. So we need to make sure that...

...what's happening today for them is good and working and a good experience for them in their current role so that we can continue the conversation and lay out for them the other improvements that we have down the line. Sus that they're willing to say, yeah, I understand that you're working on this thing or you're trying to improve this other thing. But I'm going to stick with you while you do that, because the core of the product is doing what I need right now. Man, that's a phenomenal advice, Eric. I've loved this conversation. You know, first of all, the framework of a customer safari, ways that you can put customers in the driver's seat really so that you can give them the opportunity to give you the critical feedback that you need, and then looking at, you know, what are the the long term things that they need, but making sure that in this process of building new features, that you don't forget to focus on what your customers need right now, and all of this really, you know, helping our audience think about ways that they can reduce churn. So this has been a great conversation, Eric. I really appreciate the stories and in the thoughts that you shared. If anybody listening to this would love to stay connected with you, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? Man, Oh, find me on Linkedin. I'm I'm enjoying linkedin these days. To Man, I would I would say I would say I maybe like two months ago, I would have said twitter, and then my twitter feet is just sports and politics. And as much as I love I think if we're going to have some really cool conversations related to this stuff. Yeah, let's let's chat on Linkedin. Yeah, there are some great conversations have it happening every day on Linkedin these days and I'm we've been really doubling down on that platform because we just see it as as a hub that man, even in just last the six the last six months, it has changed a lot and the growth of good conversation and content happening there. So I totally echo that. So I would definitely...

...recommend anybody you know go and follow Eric on Linkedin. Will have a link to his profile in the show notes for you guys. The other thing for our audience. We wanted to let you guys know, if you've been listening over the last week or so, you know that we are really excited some of our teams going to be at the flip my funnel conference in Boston, happening on August eight and for beb growth listeners, if you're going to get tickets at flip my Funnelcom, you're going to the two thousand and eighteen conference. Link when you go to buy your tickets, use the Promo code be to be growth. Be The number to be growth, just like the show name, and you'll get fifty percent off the price of your ticket. So use that Promo Code be to be growth and we're looking forward to seeing guests and a lot of our listeners there and connecting. It's going to be a great conference. Lot of stuff about account base marketing going on here in just a few weeks. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the bed growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people. Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a be tob growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be to be growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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