Predictions Series 2021: TechBytes with Holly Aresty, SVP of Customer Success at Rokt
Holly, please tell us about the Marketing- Sales alignment strategies during COVID-19. How did you cope with the expectations from your customers?
Marketing and sales always need to be aligned in order to drive sales and revenue, but these teams also need to align with the customer team so we can ensure we are identifying opportunities for our existing customers to best leverage our technology. As COVID-19 has impacted our clients in various ways, (and continues to) it has become even more essential that the customer and sales teams work together to identify solutions that help our clients.
One of the key strategies that sales and marketing has been closely aligned on during this unprecedented time is a focus on client communication and tone of brand. Every customer and individual contact is being faced with different challenges – there is an incredibly emotional aspect to what we are all going through. As a brand, and as a true partner to our customers, we need to be conscious of this and express our care, patience, and understanding at every customer touch point. We’re here to help our customers, in any way we can, get through this time and come out stronger on the other side.
What are your predictions for the year 2021 as far as customer retention and acquisition strategies are concerned?
2020 impacted many businesses, and we will continue to see the effects of the pandemic throughout 2021. In many cases, Rokt has been a pivotal part of a brand’s COVID-19 response. We offer technology focused on achieving greater profitability, higher customer lifetime value, and on acquiring new customers – all of which became even more vital through the pandemic.
As the shutdowns closed brick and mortar locations, brands needed to shift their customer retention and acquisition strategies to purely digital. The Rokt marketplace has acted as an essential platform for clients to drive revenue and acquisition. Our current commerce customer retention rate is around 95%, and we expect this to continue as reliance on e-commerce remains strong, and brands seek new revenue and acquisition channels.
Human intelligence versus technology – what would you trust more to manage customer success for you, and why?
This is a tricky one, in order to achieve success it’s really about finding a combination of both human intelligence and technology. As a technology company, we focus on how our solutions can work for our customers. Our award-winning AI can intelligently manage trade-offs between short-term conversion and revenue and long-term customer loyalty and value, and our smart-bidding tool can determine a one-to-one individualized bid price for each prospective customer that could be exposed to your campaign, based upon their propensity to convert. – this technology solves problems for our clients and ensures they are reaching optimal value. However, it is crucial to include the human lens as well. At Rokt, we view our customer team as an extension of our clients’ teams. We believe that the best way for all of us to be successful is to develop a strong strategy for how to implement our solutions to best serve our clients. Our technology helps our customer success team, but could never replace them, they need to work in tandem. We believe it’s the combination of our talented team, a world-class product and a Customer-Obsessed mindset is what achieves success.
Recommended: MarTech Interview with Bruce Buchanan, CEO at Rokt
Podcast / webinar series that you are / were keenly following through the pandemic crisis.
I’ve loved keeping up with the “Reply All” podcast. The show features stories about how people shape the internet, and how the internet shapes people. Through our ‘Women Who Rokt’ employee group, many of us discuss the episodes together. It’s a great podcast to ponder while cooking dinner or working on a puzzle.
Tell us more about your Work from Home technology stack and how these tools/ technology enabled you to stay on top of your game?
It’s vital to have collaborative work tools, especially though Work from Home. At Rokt, we use Google suite which allows us to communicate easily over chat, and work together on documents and spreadsheets – meaning we can iterate the work in real time across teams and continents. We also use project-management tools like Asana and Jira which help keep the team aligned on priorities. In terms of marketing automation, we use Hubspot as our company CRM. These tools help us stay connected and aligned as we continue to navigate working out-of-office.
Tell us about your journey into account management. What inspired you to start at Rokt?
I’ve always worked in sales in some capacity. Whether project management or business development, I’ve always chosen roles that have kept me close to the customer. I was inspired to join Rokt because of the kind of customer problems they were solving, and where they were in this journey to achieve their mission of making ecommerce smarter, faster, and better. When I first joined we were a team of under 100, and despite being spread out over several global offices, the company culture was incredibly strong. By culture I don’t mean team building (although that was strong as well), but more so the core values that everyone lived and breathed in order to bring our customers the best experience and fuel growth of the business. Four years later we are almost four times the size and that culture is still very much intact.
As a woman business leader in sales, what message do you have for young female professionals in the B2B technology industry?
I’m no stranger to Imposter Syndrome, and I think the tech industry can especially be a breeding ground for this. It’s a constant struggle, but it’s a fight that needs to be fought. We as females need to overcome these feelings in order to pave the way for other young women and hopefully break down some of the barriers that they face. My advice is to never assume that your opinion doesn’t matter, own what you know and what you don’t know, support and grow other women, and take risks by putting your hand up for things that scare you.
What kind of team and technology do you handle at Rokt?
I manage the Customer Success team, which is the team that owns relationships with existing clients. Our technology helps our clients achieve marketing objectives in the Transaction Moment. It’s a tech stack built on a Customer Data Platform with a robust optimization layer. We have several different products focused on solving customer problems such as achieving greater profitability, higher customer lifetime value, and acquiring new customers.
Customer Success and Account Management are closely linked. What factors do you focus for customer acquisition and retention?
These are one and the same for us. We don’t retain customers without helping them achieve first success and then solving more complex problems from there. We don’t lock our customers into contracts, so our team has to consistently deliver results. We take a ‘land and expand’ approach with our customers by first understanding their objectives, starting small to prove the value of the platform with very little commitment and risk from the customer, and then expanding from there. All of the heavy lifting and account management is done by our team, so we need to know our customers’ industries incredibly well. In order to do this, we have verticalized teams focused on six major industries: retail, financial services, travel, entertainment, B2B, and subscription. These teams are experts in these industries and therefore are able to bring this vertical expertise to every client they manage.
Which Marketing and Sales automation tools do you leverage to stay on top of your account management goals?
We’ve recently started using CultureAmp to track team KPIs. It’s a new feature they just launched, so it’s new for us but has been really beneficial in capturing and tracking key results that ladder up to organizational objectives. In terms of marketing automation, we use Hubspot as our company CRM.
Tell us more about your interaction with Rokt’s Product Development team and how you leverage their feedback to improve your current Sales and Customer Services?
There needs to be a balance between driving innovation through our product roadmap that is focused on achieving our mission, and leveraging customer feedback to inform product development. A lot of the best features of our platform have come from our ability to learn our customer pain points and pivot our product to solve these. In an agile environment, we are able to shift priorities and take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves, while also not losing sight of our longer term development goals.
We’re seeing a rampant adoption of AI, Blockchain, and RPA in the SaaS and Cloud businesses. What approach should Customer Success and Support teams take in digitally transforming their functions and operations using the AI ML, and RPA techniques?
Digital transformation of manual processes at Rokt is consistent, iterative, and necessary for our growth and scalability. Our machine learning algorithms (aptly named Rokt ML) become more sophisticated and robust in nearly every sprint. Over the years we have incorporated more and more of the manual tasks our Customer Success teams used to do on a daily basis into the intelligence of the platform – but this is certainly a journey and not a destination. It’s our job as a CS team to relentlessly pursue this digital transformation by constantly looking for ways to drive efficiencies, process more data points, and solve more complex problems in a streamlined and automated way. The outcomes of this are performance results for our customers that humans wouldn’t be able to achieve, and at a breadth and scale that surpasses anything else in the market.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.
Also Read: TechBytes with James Wilson, CTO at Rokt
Thank you for answering all our questions!
Holly Aresty is a SVP of Customer Success at Rokt
Rokt is the global leader in e-commerce marketing technology. When customers are buying online, they increasingly expect more personalized and relevant experiences. We unlock the hidden potential in every single Transaction Moment.
Founded in Sydney, Rokt now operates in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, The Netherlands, and Japan.