Nathan Rabold is a Zilliant veteran; he’s worked closely with our customers for more than seven years on both the solutions and customer success teams. Prior to Zilliant, his background was in software implementation and consulting. He now leads Zilliant’s global Customer Success organization, which delivers a best-in-class customer experience and is coming off Zilliant’s strongest retention year ever in 2021.
Nathan sat down for a question-and-answer session about Zilliant’s customer-focused mission and plans for continued success in 2022 and beyond.
Q: Zilliant customers continue to renew and expand their subscriptions at an industry-leading rate. What do you attribute this to?
A: First and foremost, the products work and do what we promise. Zilliant’s solutions continue to deliver for B2B companies during these unprecedented times.
Within the Customer Success team, I think of two factors. The first is the strength of our team. Our customer success managers are immensely talented and have maintained our customer-first mentality as our team has gone through methodology and structure changes. They truly are trusted partners and virtual team members for our customers.
The second is the development of our annual success planning framework. We’ve spent a lot of time developing a framework to understand each customer’s strategy, define common goals for business impact and adoption outcomes, develop joint plans to execute against those goals, and then measure the results. Our success planning exercise lays the groundwork for fruitful long-term relationships and ensures that we define expectations for mutual value upfront.
Tactically, we support these success plans with a series of recurring touchpoints for each customer. In monthly strategy reviews, we carefully review performance against relevant analytics to document where expectations are being met and what, if any, course corrections are necessary. Twice a year, we use our periodic business reviews to confirm ROI to date, align on executive temperature, and provide updates on relevant Zilliant product releases or enhancements. These touchpoints ensure we are defining, communicating, and confirming value at multiple levels within each customer.
Q: When it comes to pricing and sales solutions, performance measurement is of utmost importance. Can you expand on Zilliant’s approach to analytics?
A: Absolutely. An important component of our shared success with customers was the standardization and creation of reusable frameworks for business impact measurement for each Zilliant product. We needed methods to measure benefit that would apply to all customers but also allow individual CSMs to make low effort alterations for each customer’s specific industry and business dynamics.
For example, for Price IQ®, we updated our Margin Driver Analysis and rolled it out to our customers over the last year. The waterfall format is familiar to most pricing professionals and the output gives customers a holistic view of changes over any user-defined time period and explains exactly how much of the margin, profit, or revenue change is due to price, volume, and cost.
Getting each Price IQ customer onto the driver analysis format and using it to measure their financial outcomes has been a huge part of our Customer Success transformation. Customers and CSMs can adapt the time periods considered, the definition of comparable business, and drill to actionable lists (for example: all repeat customer/product combinations where price change is not fully covering cost increases). The data keeps success plans honest and illuminates areas of opportunity.
Q: Has the team identified patterns across our customer base?
A: Yes, and these patterns are now tracked in a formal customer journey. We found that there are key inflection points as we onboard customers that can accelerate or slow time-to-value. Our lessons learned formed the initial customer journey, which we piloted as a hypothesis to provide faster time-to-value in 2020 and now use for all customers.
The result is a repeatable, consistent and rapid value realization journey that covers major milestones from a customer’s start date, to first value, then to expansion or renewal. We have reliable intervention methods and defined listening points to know when a customer might need extra help or when Zilliant needs to make an adjustment ourselves. If at any point in the journey a customer falls off track, we know who to call and what the escalation path is.
Q: You mentioned the strength of Zilliant’s products. How has the product release and enhancement schedule over the past 24 months impacted customer projects?
A: Without a doubt the increased product capability set has given us more ways to tackle specific customer challenges. I want to call out our rapidly expanding price management features in particular. Our CSMs have done a great job listening for customer pain points, such as cost management, inflationary pressures, and rebate management, and then working to scope configuration enhancements or use existing product capabilities to provide repeatable price management processes.
Our team was struggling to address these use cases three years ago. Now, we hear them and can quickly apply a Zilliant price management solution.
Q: Can you talk a bit more about the people on your team that connect the dots between customer challenge and Zilliant technology solution?
A: Absolutely. Our CSM team is the strongest it’s ever been. These are polished, experienced people that know their industry verticals well. We’ve designed the team structure to take the best advantage of our people. Our Success Directors, each leading a team of CSMs, are assigned to certain industries based on their experience. Each Director has five-plus years of experience understanding their specific industries’ strategic dynamics and best practices. Our individual CSMs also align with industries but intensely focus on defining success plans and connecting specific customer challenges to components of their existing solution or the broader Zilliant solution set.
Q: Have you received any recent customer feedback about the team or the technology that you’d like to share?
A: As we do every year, we asked our customers to complete the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey and the feedback in 2021 was overwhelmingly positive on the level of service and support delivered. I’d like to share a few notable comments from that exercise.
- “Top-quality services, knowledgeable people with fast reaction time.”
- “Great products, great service, great value, and proven ROI!”
- “I am a big fan of what Zilliant does for us … [I’m] really happy at the support we are getting navigating through unprecedented issues.”
- “The flexibility to adjust pricing quickly and the analytics to help us improve performance continue to add significant value.”
- “Our experience with Zilliant has raised the level of pricing knowledge in our company and has greatly improved our overall pricing strategy.”
Our mission as a success organization is always to maintain and grow customer relationships, define and execute plans to meet desired business outcomes, and coordinate the right people, product features, and departments at Zilliant to address any concerns. These comments validate that our mission is coming to fruition.
Of course, we also receive and appreciate honest feedback on where we can improve. We make sure to keep lines of communication open with our customers for positive or negative feedback so we can quickly course correct when needed.
Q: What’s next for Zilliant’s success team and our customers in 2022?
A: As each year as we continue documenting, measuring and implementing business improvement plans, we gather more and more data on what our customer benefit and adoption benchmarks look like over time.
Customers can expect more clarity in terms of where they fall in the pack as far as benefit attainment, product usage, and what needs to be done to maximize that benefit. We’re extremely excited about the prospects for 2022 and beyond.