Unleashing Generative AI: A Visionary CEO’s Take on Customer Success
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape and digital age, CEOs play a pivotal role in driving growth, innovation, and sustainable success. Their decisions and leadership shape the destiny of organisations, leaving a profound impact on employees, stakeholders, and society at large. As companies strive to deliver personalised experiences and cater to evolving customer needs, visionary CEOs are turning to cutting-edge technologies to gain a competitive edge.
In this article, I delve into the insights of a forward-thinking CEO, You Mon Tsang from ChurnZero, who has harnessed the power of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to revolutionise Customer Success, internally and externally. By leveraging the capabilities of Generative AI, this CEO will unlock new levels of customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty. In this exclusive conversation, I gained invaluable insights into the game-changing role of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in revolutionising customer success.
Meet You Mon Tsang, CEO of ChurnZero
You Mon Tsang, CEO and co-founder of ChurnZero, a leading Customer Success software solution, has long been recognized as a successful repeat entrepreneur. He is a lover of software and a lover of tech, which has always been very interesting to him. This is the fourth company he has led so far, and he jumped into the world of CS after working as a CMO. You Mon was used to getting real state-of-the-art technology and a great level of detailed insights from prospects (sites they clicked on, emails they opened, events they attended, etc), but soon realised that once a prospect became a customer, companies didn’t have that level of insight for post-sales. Customer Success Managers only had CRMs that were designed for sales teams, email, and telephone, and this was not good enough to understand how successful and how healthy customers are. There’s a lot more information around usage, and the type of information that Marketing has been using so far to have timely, relevant and useful interactions with customers. That’s how You Mon got into the world of CS. He saw an opportunity to leverage the tech from Marketing into the world of CS and built this internally, and this is how in the end he built a company around it.
Churnzero was created more than eight years ago. Since then, the CS industry has changed a lot. At the beginning there was hesitation on whether CS was really “a thing”. The biggest change in this discipline since that CS has become an undeniable core part of what businesses need to do.
Generative AI is perceived as a game changer, but it’s also polarising. Even tech leaders like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have raised concerns on generative AI. In your view, is it a tool or a weapon?
I’m a big fan of Generative AI. I think it’s a tool that can be used in a number of ways, including as a weapon. It’s probably already been used for doing a lot of bad things, but it’s also being used for a lot of great things.
To me this is probably the most exciting tech advancement since the mobile phone and, maybe even since the web. What confuses a lot of people is that it feels like magic. People don’t really know how it works, and this frightens them. However, once individuals have more insights into the models that power AI and how they work, they will be more comfortable.
With your CS lenses: What do you think is most revolutionary about Generative AI?
Generative AI can help in almost all parts of a CSM’s day. Think about what they are doing: Writing a lot of emails, summarising notes from calls, creating templates, etc. All of these things can be augmented by AI by helping to generate content efficiently.
Any views outside of the generating written content use case?
Yes. Recently I was talking to a CEO of a company that creates avatars of people. This company could create a script to automate the avatar generation process. For example: “Natalia, let’s create an avatar of you. Please send us your picture. Also send a five-minute video of you speaking. We will use these assets to create a series of videos (welcome intro, software intros, short trainings, etc) with your voice, your face, and your tone.
These things can be done right now and would create significant productivity gains, especially in low-value CSM activities. The question is how are people going to react to that?
AI can also help automation. For instance, AI is quite good at helping with writing in different tones and writing styles. For example, imagine an invoice is overdue. The email you send to your customer would be different depending on your current relationship with the customer, how successful the customer is, etc.
AI can generate email templates that can be personalised depending on these and other factors. You can also train the AI models to adapt if the factors change.
You can also upload samples of your writings and ask that all communications are written in your personal style.
In a way we are now looking at humanising automation with generative AI, which I think is pretty interesting. And, in three years there will be a lot of new things happening that we can only think about now.
Future Trends: Where do you think Generative AI can impact CS the most?
I think it’s worth generalising the impact with anyone who interacts with customers, such as Sales, CS, Support, and Marketing.
As a CSM I’d be prepared to be really good at using generative AI, get comfortable with it, understand how you use it and what’s best use of it, taking advantage of it and all the tools. Encourage CSMs to do this because CSMs will be asked to focus on tougher problems, such as specific outreach, consultative advice, etc. Day to day of a CSM will be more focused on having consultative conversations as the routine tasks could be automated.
Related to this, there’s quite a bit of debate in the CS community on whether CSMs should focus more on the tech side of things, or or the commercial aspects. Do you have a view in terms of which area CSMs will need to focus more in the future?
I’d say neither. The focus should be on generating value. Tech is always important, but you can imagine AI would help there. In 3 yrs every solution will have a co-pilot where you can ask what’s going on, tell me about this, tell me about that, etc. It’ll be much better than the chatbots and knowledge bases of today. This will free up time of the CSMs in the lower level tech support.
On the business side, I think all the analytics, even today, are helpful to understand when a customer is ready to buy. There are a number of ways this can happen: by understanding the language in their email (ie: is it conducive to buying?), understanding whether you’re really delivering value, whether the customer is being successful with product, etc.
So in a nutshell, I think technology will be helpful in getting rid of some of the technical responses they have to deal with and with the analytics, allowing them to identify the right timing, and CSMs should be more focused on delivering value.
Does your CS team use any type of Generative AI today?
Yes, of course. We track the features that customers are using, and we use our solution internally. The number one user of CS AI is Churnzero, so we know our team is using AI more than any other account.
When we started it, we gave the team access to generative AI with a library of prompts that helped them brainstorm what was possible with AI. This was an introduction to all this great stuff, where we started to figure out what it is capable of. We realised we could customise to write emails, to write call scripts, to get some advice on how to deal with certain kinds of customers.
We also are using CS AI to suggest follow up emails (ie: here’s what we talked about, here’s the next steps, etc), based on call notes written by the CSM. So this is generally data that you’ve created, but then the follow up is initiated by AI.
We’re also about to release what we call these Customer Briefs, which is super helpful to CSMs, but it’s even more helpful to other people in the organisation.This is a summary of how the customer is doing. Right now, we have a great summary called the health score, which is a number between 0 and 100 and we tell you how healthy a customer is. The Customer Brief actually digs into emails, surveys, notes, etc, and provides you a really good customer brief instantaneously. CSMs have to do that all the time for the managers, sales executives, briefings for exec meetings, etc. This is a huge time saving we have final prototype for and we are going release very shortly.
Any tips and tricks using generative AI?
Start spending time with these systems. Ask them to refine answers in very imaginative ways, and ask lots of follow up questions. The two easiest tools to start with are ChatGPT and Google Bard. These tools complement each other. Chat GPT 3.5 only has access to information up until 2021, and ChatGPT4 up until 2022, while Google Bard has real-time access to the web. Each content generation option is very powerful.
Has Generative AI impacted any of your customer success metrics so far? If so, which ones?
So far we haven’t measured this, but I’d be looking at impact on productivity metrics to start with (i.e: response time, resolution time, etc). Over time I’d expect that it would allow to increase the size of the book of business a CSM can reliably handle, and then improve customer metrics such as NPS and CSAT which would ultimately impact GRR and NRR.
In your opinion, what are the main barriers to leveraging Generative AI in Customer Success operations?
The biggest barrier is data privacy. This is what scares people the most. ChurnZero removes all Personal Identifiable Information (PII) before providing. The AI is not supposed to use it, but we use all cautions just in case.
As a business customer, ChurnZero pays for the use of AI. We work hard on safeguarding data.
What improvements or additions would you like to see in Generative AI to further enhance its impact on customer success?
First thing I’d like to see is improvements in training the models, so they can be used for a specific to a product or service. The other thing I’d like to see is varied types of content, such as charts, ppts, clean PDF files, etc, much of which is already happening.
Any resources (reads, podcasts, thought leaders to follow) you can recommend?
My main recommendation is to start using it right away. Use Customer Success AI created by Churnzero which has handy prompts for a CSM, Open an account for ChatGPT and Google Bard. Look into Twitter to discover lots of very useful “tips and tricks” for leveraging generative AI.
You Mon Tsang, the CEO or ChurnZero, has harnessed the power of Generative AI to transform customer success strategies that are already impacting his team’s productivity, and will have a tangible impact in CS metrics including a positive impact on GRR and NRR.
AI is here to stay and it’s going to be a part of all SaaS products. Generative AI is here to stay, and it’s going to be everywhere. His recommendation is that everyone gets comfortable with it, looks for the partners that are using it, (and using it well), and engages with them to streamline workflows. First mover advantage is key here. Businesses that are already leveraging generative AI are already ripping the benefits, so jump into educating yourselves on it right away!
About the Interviewee
You Mon Tsang
You Mon Tsang is the founder and CEO of ChurnZero, which helps subscription businesses fight churn with a real-time Customer Success platform. Before ChurnZero, he was the CMO of Vocus (now Cision) and CEO of its marketing automation business unit, OutMarket. He is a serial entrepreneur, having founded four software companies, including ChurnZero, Biz360, Engine140, and Milktruck. All his previous companies have had successful exits.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and the interviewee. The writer has no endorsement, affiliation, or direct/indirect relation with ChurnZero. Any references to ChurnZero are made solely for the purpose of providing examples or discussing industry-related topics and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the company.