Integrating Customer Insights to Help Reduce Churn: A Conversation with Christian Wettre of SugarCRM

With changes in the process of Customer data acquisition, the issue of Customer Churn is a growing problem for companies to solve.  We spoke with Christian Wettre of SugarCRM who says his technology helps solves that by infusing the customer DNA across their integrated platform.

See the transcript of our conversation below.


TheCustomer:

What is Sugar CRM and how are you different in the Marketplace?

 

Christian Wettre:

We’ve always been a platform for customers to build a customer experience with. In in the beginning, we were an open-source package for people to do that. So probably people more on the technical side appreciated us because they could create anything they wanted. We always had a focus on the customer experience, CRM customer, relationship management, customer service marketing has always been a platform for us and we continue to be that platform. And I think, you know, what’s different about this and it’s from our open-source days is that we want our customers to use our platform to build their DNA as an organization into their CRM system. We don’t want to be a commodity where we tell you how CRM is supposed to be done. We want to give you a good start and we want to give you the building box to take it to the last mile, to make sure that your identity, your competitive advantage as an organization is reflected in our CRM platform. And that’s kind of something we’ve taken a lot of pride in over the years.  We’ve also migrated away from kind of that pure open source to be more of a commercial solution where a SaaS solution, these days we provide kind of a turnkey application that delivers that experience in the cloud.

 

TheCustomer:

How does enabling Customer DNA to conform to your platform work?  That doesn’t seem like a cookie-cutter approach?

 

Christian Wettre:

Our customers these days are mostly mid-market customers.  We’re solidly a mid-market customer and those mid-market customers, I think particularly expect a balance of having their DNA reflected in the software. We have also really rapid deployment rate.  We recently had a research report by Nucleus Research that kind of ranked the various CRM providers and they ranked us as the fastest time to value. And that’s kind of time something we take really pride in. And to do that, we have to balance that approach of the configuration to make it your DNA with a perspective on how to do business processes in a system like that. We focus in on the ability to do “no code” customizations.  For instance, the ability for a business analyst, to be able to put a business process into effect by dragging blocks of decision-making criteria and data actions in a non-programming way so that we don’t have to make this a development, or kind of application versus it’s a business analyst. So, kind of a serious business administrator with a little bit of sense of logic and process should be able to get their processes into the system snf that DNA that I’m talking about.

 

TheCustomer:

How do you integrate sales, service and marketing stacks together?

 

Christian Wettre:

We offer a platform that works together, and that’s really important for organizations to move fast and communicate internally. But basically we have a saying of “mind the gap”, you know, the mind the gap between departments.  How do you mind the gap between marketing and sales mind the gap between sales and service and back again? So big part of our value proposition is that we offer the three applications together, working as a platform with common data platform, common KPIs. So, the departments can create KPIs that mean the same across the different departments. They can communicate and hold each other accountable. That’s a huge part of our value proposition, but at the same time, the reality is how do people buy CRM? It’s usually not a chief executive saying we need a whole platform. We need to replace our whole platform.

The reality is that it’s probably a marketing leader, a sales leader, a service leader that says we got to upgrade our capability in my department. So, we lead with that. We are able to provide a service platform, an SFA platform, a marketing platform to that marketing leader. But once we have established that we can serve that department, then the secondary value is as you are ready for it, you can expand to the sales, expand to the service and benefit from that entire platform where you share data, you share KPIs, you share business processes and have a fast, agile and really insightful view of your service and customer organization. We can live on premise. We can live on the cloud. We can quickly migrate from one to another. We have had customers who’ve been on our AWS hosted solution, but moved to a Google solution, taken from premise and moved to AWS, very transferable.

So, I think we’re, we’re stack independent and can move freely amongst those. And that’s one, one of Sugar’s specific attributes and something we think is unique in the marketplace. Not, not a lot of other CRM systems can claim that.

 

TheCustomer:

Why are customer churn rates higher and how do you solve that problem?

 

Christian Wettre: 

When we think about it in a customer churn, why is there a renewed focus on customer churn? Of course, we all want to keep our customers for a long time. Why is it a particular concern right now? And I think as we talked about in the beginning, before we started recording this, we talked about basically the speed of change in the marketplace. The society and economies and marketplaces have increased the pace of change dramatically.  In the last couple of years, we’ve seen incredible technology changes in business and in consumer worlds, right? So, the pace of change has infiltrated into the mindset of consumers and also to businesspeople.  People have incredible access to information.

They have incredible independence of action. They can research and change and migrate their technology stack very quickly. So, and they can do it very independently. And as I mentioned, all these systems are open. That means there’s less barriers to change. You can take a system and move it to another system fairly rapidly, fairly inexpensively. So, that is just a reality. Things are happening faster. Change is happening faster. That means customer churn is happening faster if the organization is not prepared for that.  So, speed kills unless you’re prepared for it. So, where does that fit into what we’re doing? It fits in basically we have to provide a CRM system that allows our customers to be proactive but understanding their customer sentiment as they engage with us.  We need to make sure that our users have no blind spots in the organization when they’re dealing with their customers.

A sales rep has to know what’s happening with a service organization. They have to know what’s happening with service requests. They’d have to become proactively aware of kind of increased service requests from specific customers. They have to be aware of negative sentiment that’s coming from specific customers.  And, marketing has to be aware of that as well. If a customer is  requesting information or education or reporting problems about a product or a service, marketing needs to be able to engage with knowledge campaigns and reaching out to those people.  Customers are flooded with information. That means how do we communicate with our customers from a marketing perspective, from a customer perspective, from a service perspective?  We have to be really relevant and aware of the customer situation down to the detailed, granular kind of high definition level. And, that puts demands on a platform such as Sugar.

When it comes to CDPs that is also a part of a platform. How do we keep track of all this information and make it available to all our different departments? So, Sugar has for the past five years been investing in what we call our CXP or customer experience platform, where it takes all those change elements from CRM and service and marketing and tracks every single change. And they track it over time so we can see how data points change over time. So we could surface that amongst the information provided to our users so they can see not only what snapshots are in time, but how it’s developed over time. And that’s a layer of information that is really valuable and I think is also another unique point of Sugar that time based on view of the information, whether it’s the sales forecast and how the sales forecast changed from this week, from last week, how account relations changed over time, how it grew over time and not just what it is today, but how long did it take to get to where it is today and what was kind of that escalation? That is the one way we’re trying to fulfill that kind of rich high-definition information picture to our customers so that and our users so that they can fulfill the expectation of a customer who needs information quickly and a lot of different formats.

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