Empowering our customers is at the core of AppNexus’ values. It is what drives our services and support teams every single day. In my group—Customer Enablement—we believe the relationship between our company and our customers is at its best when we target and align to our clients’ needs. Powering this alignment is a client-focused mindset that leads to:
- Customizing the client experience
- Integrating our business models with our customers’ business models
- Empowering customers to be self-sufficient
These goals come together and foster something that is essential to any great customer experience: community. A thriving customer community ensures long-lasting relationships between companies and their customers.
As I reflect on customer enablement in 2014 and think about our team’s goals for 2015, I hope that our experience and observations will inspire you to develop a customer enablement program that will empower your own customers:
Aligning to customers’ needs is the key to empowering them to succeed. A one-size-fits-all service model leads to poor customer experience. It’s about understanding the goals of a customer’s business in order to create a specific customer experience. Product, engineering, and customer enablement need to go hand in hand to create a unique, holistic customer experience. In order to improve the product support we provide for clients, we divided up our support team into smaller sub-teams called “Houses”. Each House looks after a portfolio of clients, ensuring that clients work with a smaller group of support specialists, and that specialists gain a deeper understanding of their clients’ business goals and unique use cases. This support model allows them to become better advocates for their customers.
The AppNexus business model is unique. We make our money on transaction fees, so our success is directly linked to the success of our customers. Our customers’ goal is to optimize their marketing budget’—meaning, they win when they execute a full campaign and achieve the best possible results for their spend. We want our customers to achieve this goal, because success makes them want to continue using our platform. Their incentives and our incentives are completely aligned—it’s the most authentic service model in the industry! We are truly partners and we truly care about our customers, because if they succeed, we succeed; if they fail, we fail. When a provider’s and a customer’s business models are fully integrated, an authentic match of incentives is created.
Part of empowering customers is setting them up to be self-sufficient. No one wants to spend time submitting cases or making phone calls to support teams—they just want their campaigns to run. So we provide alternatives to submitting tickets and making phone calls: we focus on creating materials that allow our customers to succeed, such as troubleshooting guides, webinars, e-learning modules, or self-diagnostic tools like Campaign Doctor. Over the next year, we’ll work to integrate all of these resources into one interactive environment, where an integrated knowledgebase and e-learning can come to life. We want our customers to have everything they need at their fingertips so that they can resolve issues on their own, without having to submit a ticket or pick up the phone.
Customer service is important to us because of our business model and our company values. And because we like our customers! We want to help them and get to know them. In November, we launched “Cases and Cocktails,” an event designed for customers to meet the AppNexus Support Team, and to ask any technical questions they may have (over drinks!). Over 30 clients attended who were thrilled to meet face-to-face the people on the other end of their support tickets. An event like this supports our goal of creating customer communities—environments in which customers can really interact with the company and with one anothers. We aim to go beyond the typical relationship in which a customer submits a ticket, and a support person answers it. We provide consistent, quality experiences, as well as the tools that empower our customers. In 2015, I expect more and more companies to focus on the design of the customer experience.
I am excited to continue to craft and align our Customer Enablement offerings in 2015. At AppNexus, we know that success only comes when our values align with our customers’ and our service models evolve with their needs. We strive every day to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers to create helpful, meaningful experiences that pave the foundation for long lasting relationships. 2015 is shaping up to be a thrilling year!
As we kick off this new year, here are a few tips for empowering clients through customer experience:
- Create a holistic, targeted customer experience – integrate product and service offerings.
- Integrate business models—understand what the mutual incentives are, and figure out a way to link successes.
- Empower customers via self-sufficiency – provide everything they need at their fingertips.
- Don’t ask customers to cater to your needs—figure out how to cater to theirs.