There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Traditional customer success processes and playbooks are outdated and not working well. The good news is that AI and Generative AI in particular is here. B2B businesses that want to grow efficiently in 2023 will need to join the early adopters or they will be left behind.
Let me start off with a quick clarification. We are NOT heading towards a doomsday for customer-facing professionals. Humans are still going to be needed for years to come because AI is still in its infancy and businesses will always require the human midas touch. Artificial Intelligence is going to blend in by acting as a safetynet and driver of productivity for CS teams – optimizing operations, providing actionable insights in real-time, and much more. It’s the natural evolution from yesterday’s automation.
“The Numbers Don’t Lie: CS Playbooks Are Getting Noisier”
A recent Staircase AI survey revealed some surprising facts. While 82% of post-sales executives confirm that CS playbooks are a mandatory requirement today, over 62% feel that they are inaccurate. The disappointed respondents claim that many of the tasks are irrelevant and create unwanted noise for their teams, This leads to abandoning the playbooks altogether.
The idea behind a playbook is to drive efficiency and success by following a preconceived list of tasks and steps to guarantee a desired outcome. Unfortunately life is not so simple, reality is dynamic and ever changing while playbooks are static, limited in scope and their ability to deal with complex situations.
The overwhelming majority of surveyed executives also voiced the need for improved CS operations, real-time functionality in existing CS platforms, and a need for efficiency when it comes to investing more time in customer relationships.
Things are getting even more challenging with the current macro economic climate. Budgets are getting tighter, businesses are focusing on efficiency, and competition is getting tougher. Unfortunately, in many B2B scenarios across multiple industries worldwide, customer-facing departments and teams are Not going to get the headcount they need to expand and may even experience painful cuts in order to meet strict unit economics and profitability.
Can AI help B2B businesses achieve growth despite these issues?
“Artificial Intelligence in the Grand Scheme of Things”
In a detailed opinion piece published in early 2023, Seth Earley elaborated on ChatGPT and how it can help B2B businesses address specific use cases more effectively such as bots and virtual assistants. He emphasized that this advanced technology is still in its early phase and “tools like ChatGPT are impressive and powerful, but they will not solve your information challenges today”.
Tools like ChatGPT often generate answers or responses that are inconsistent or wrong because they lack knowledge or context relating to the topic in question. This raises some valid doubts over Generative AI’s capabilities as a stand-alone solution that can replace human intuition. So how can Generative AI help post-sales teams achieve success in an efficient and scalable way?
The solution is a two step process: analyze and then generate a response by providing generative AI the right data.
- The first step utilizes AI and relationship intelligence to analyze and derive actionable insights from customer interactions. Trends such as a drop in sentiment over time, relationship changes within accounts, changes in engagement with people or a product and other signals need to be tracked in real-time. Spreadsheets, task management software, and even dedicated CS platforms can’t get the job done today.
- The second step is to generate a response that is accurate, fitting to the situation and personal. In order for that to happen ChatGPT needs to get as input contextual data relevant to the situation at hand. For example when responding to a frustrated customer, ChatGpt will need details about the problem, most recent attempts to solve it, people involved etc just like a person would need in order to craft a satisfying response. When using generative AI this way it becomes truly magical, helping scale by saving time and energy as responses take considerably less time to write. It overcomes writing shortcomings such as style, language proficiency, tonality and more. Not all CSMs are gifted copywriters, nor can everyone grasp the nuances of writing in a service-minded tone. Culture and regional dialects are also challenging for B2B businesses trying to scale globally.
With more and more B2B businesses moving to a 1:many service model, the operational challenges within CS teams have been amplified, with out-of-sync playbooks being one of the biggest ones, CS needs Generative AI today.
“Only Early AI Adopters Will Survive the Recession”
With the implementation of Generative AI, humans are no longer the weak links in post-sales lifecycles. With real-time human insights, always-in-context responses, and independence from CRM eco-systems, CS professionals can now focus on building relationships, eliminating churn risks, and attacking newly discovered growth opportunities at a scale that was impossible till now. Efficiency is the name of the game in 2023.
Many post-sales executives are playing a waiting game or merely dipping their toes in the ChatGPT pool. I strongly believe that a speedy adoption of AI and Generative AI tech will help achieve sustainable growth in the near term and long run.
Don’t resist the change. Embrace it.