MarTech Interview with Bart Hammond, Chief Customer Officer at Drift

Any customer success strategy needs to help drive growth and revenue opportunities while enhancing the overall customer experience; Bart Hammond, Chief Customer Officer at Drift shares his insights and tips:

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Welcome to this martech chat Bart, tell us more about your new role as Chief Customer Officer at Drift and how it’s been since joining recently? What are some of the things you are most looking forward to here? 

I joined Drift in April, and couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.  You don’t often get a chance to work for the company who helped create the category for its space!  

Impressive thought leadership, market leading certifications, world-class and truly differentiated product, and an enormous repository of benchmarking metrics.  The customer mission has always been front and center for Drift as our #1 Leadership Principle is “Put the customer at the center of everything you do”.  

I’ve come on board at an exciting time, as we just revitalized our internal operations to unite every customer-facing division to become our “Global Field Operations” unit. GFO, as we call it, merges our sales team, customer success, and customer support teams under one umbrella to ensure we’re delivering the best experiences within every facet. 

And, we are more than doubling our Customer Team across Success, Services, and Support this year alone as we invest to help customers (1) Generate more qualified pipeline faster, (2) Grow revenue more efficiently, and (3) Deliver better customer engagement and customer experiences.

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How are you seeing customer success methods, processes and choice of martech-salestech change in today’s environment?

We are living in the Revenue Era where engagement is predominantly digital and the buyer has all the power — they and their competitor’s websites enable tremendous advanced research and planning long before someone formally interacts with sales.  Being able to engage prospective customers and meet their needs at the moment of highest interest / intent is paramount.  

Our job within the Customer Team is to help customers map out those engagement points and optimize the interactions by leveraging our patterns and best practices so that their customers get real time value and they stand out.  

The fun part is that it is so dynamic.  Every day new products are launched, existing products evolve, business priorities change, and digital transformation is at the top of everyone’s agenda.  So, we often enjoy a front row seat helping evolve their customer engagement methods with their business priorities.

A few of the most impact-oriented customer success initiatives and stories you’ve come across from the tech marketplace?

I think for B2B marketers, some of the best practices of customer success to emulate come from B2C brands. One that comes to mind immediately is Nordstrom; they’ve mastered multichannel customer service and have built a large, loyal customer base as a result. In an online shopping experience, they replicate the in-store experience seamlessly, with support specialists on-hand in just minutes to streamline the buying process. 

Even before joining the Drift team, I think they’ve done an outstanding job of evangelizing the success of their customers. From 24/7 technical support, to the Drift Insider community, where marketing and sales pros can stay up-to-date about what’s happening in the industry, to the blog –Drift prioritizes sharing best practices and tips to help marketers be better. 

The last thing I’ll mention is the advocacy for customers when their programs succeed. Drift released their Top 15 Revenue Accelerators list this year, which focused on telling success stories of leading companies like Tenable, Zenefits, and Okta.

How do you address common challenges in industry customer success strategies?

The most important element for Customer Success is moving beyond great customer service to bring real proactive value.  Success planning is driven by the customer’s objectives first and foremost, then figuring out how your product or service can best enable those objectives. 

Customers appreciate best practices, patterns, and approaches that we bring to the table to accelerate timeframes or reduce the incremental effort required.  Equally as important is being able to measure stepwise progress towards those objectives.  

Here we are very lucky to be able to show a trail of success from revenue, back to pipeline, back to leads, back to interactions which actually has the effect of bringing Marketing and Sales closer together in their shared mission of growth. 

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A few predictions that you have for the future of martech and its impact on customer facing roles?

Despite advances to tools like AI continuing to proliferate business functions, the root of customer-facing roles is inherently human. There is something profound and necessary about giving people the tools they need to enable meaningful, productive interaction at scale. . Even if a chatbot is guiding a conversation with an early stage prospect or a customer returning to the site, the means to an end is to allow humans on both sides to access much-needed information and taking the human involvement out of time-consuming administrative processes like scheduling. I believe we will learn how to utilize technology to maximize our time and accelerate revenue. 

Beyond AI for engagement at scale, many of the security & privacy initiatives currently being driven by the likes of Google and Apple will disrupt those MarTech players (many of which are our great partners) who rely on 3rd party cookies or other enrichment methods that in the future will require consent.  

The implications of these changes are yet to be fully seen and felt, but we can infer: (1) the ample data that marketers currently rely on better target customers will likely be affected which means (2) that already narrow window to act when a high intent buyer is ready for help or engagement is only getting smaller and smaller, (3) leaving us as marketers with no choice but to be more human focusing on really relevant, focused, and helpful real-time experiences that drive customer value.  Drift is in a very fortunate position to help customers navigate this shift.

Some final words and takeaways before we wrap up?

Drift was founded with one simple but powerful observation — a paradigm shift was happening where power was moving from the seller to the buyer. This shift meant the way we purchased and experienced making highly considered purchases was going to change forever. 

We believe this paradigm shift is good for our market, our business, our world, and most importantly the buyers we serve.  

However, this tectonic change means that every part of the sales and marketing technology ecosystem will have to be reinvented in a buyer-first way.  Meeting the customer wherever they are, whenever they are ready, and providing a better, more human, relevant experience is the key to driving revenue. To meet the customers where they are every part of an organization needs to be aligned in their engagement and also their goals. Surviving and thriving today is about more than winning new customers. It’s about keeping existing customers – renewing, expanding and advocating. Because customers are driving business growth, and ultimately — revenue. 

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Drift is a Revenue Acceleration Platform that uses Conversational Marketing and Conversational Sales to help companies grow revenue and increase customer lifetime value faster. More than 50,000 businesses, across multiple industries, use Drift to align sales and marketing on a single platform to deliver an experience where customers are free to have a conversation with a business anytime, on their terms.

Bart Hammond is the Chief Customer Officer at Drift

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