Technology can’t replace the human touch

LB Harvey

LB Harvey,

Chief Revenue and Success Officer at Front

28 April 20220 min read

There are some things technology just can’t solve. That’s why SaaS companies like MongoDB, ClickUp, CultureAmp, and Aircall use Front to build relationships at scale.

Sometimes I think back to the good ol’ days of SaaS, when the biggest challenge was getting IT to approve an application that resided in — gasp! — the cloud.

Today, we’re at the opposite extreme: for every business problem, it seems like there are a half-dozen SaaS solutions. The average company now has 89 SaaS apps, and for large companies, it’s 187.

But there’s one problem that there’s no tech solution for. And I don’t think there ever will be: building customer relationships.

I’m not talking about customer service transactions. There are plenty of bots to answer simple questions or knowledge bases to surface quick answers. These transactions are simple, bounded, with clear terms: I give you this, you give me that, goodbye.

Customer relationships — the kinds that make customers loyal to brands — are richer and more complex. These relationships can contain some transactions, sure, but they’re rooted in intangibles like trust, empathy, and compassion. 

The most successful companies are the ones that master these uniquely human traits. What’s clear to me is that these companies look at their tech stack differently. For them, the priority is not what tech can do — it’s what tech can take off their plates, so that their people can focus on what only people can do. Like strong customer relationships.

Invest in tech that frees up your people to thrive

Most SaaS companies already acknowledge that strong customer relationships are the top catalyst for recurring revenue. Studies by Bain & Company and Harvard Business School have shown that even a five percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent. More importantly, as I’ve learned in my fifteen years in Silicon Valley, nothing stalls growth like poor customer retention. Beyond your direct balance sheet impact, it demoralizes your teams, it hurts your recruiting, and it slows word-of-mouth.

Great customer relationships start with your people, not your tech stack. The tech isn’t a substitute for the human touch — it has to be viewed as a multiplier of it. That’s why many of the most successful SaaS companies, like Atlassian, Shopify, and Dropbox, are relying on Front: a communication hub designed specifically for building strong customer relationships.

More than a fifth of companies on the Forbes Cloud 100 2021 list and in the 50 largest SaaS companies ranked by market capitalization on U.S. stock exchanges are Front customers. Here are four of their stories.

ClickUp scales its business without diluting relationships 

ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity platform and one of the fastest growing privately-held SaaS companies in the world. Today, ClickUp uses Front to collaborate internally and communicate with customers. As ClickUp grew rapidly during the pandemic, Front scaled with them.

“In the last year, ClickUp has tripled our revenue and grown our customer user base to more than 800,000 teams worldwide. We have plans to continue expanding the company internationally, where 40% of our customer base is located. Front is an important part of ClickUp’s technology stack helping our internal teams collaborate seamlessly across time zones to increase alignment and efficiency with everything related to email and as a result, better serving our customers.” – Aaron Cort, VP of Operations at ClickUp

CultureAmp breaks down information silos and communicates with customers faster

CultureAmp’s employee experience platform is used by thousands of organizations. Their customer service team relies on Front to collaborate behind the scenes to get back to customers quickly. 

“Before Front, one of the biggest challenges my team faced day in and day out was that information lived in many tools, and team collaboration was happening across many systems too. All of this impacted our ability to deliver the best customer experience possible. There was a lot of chasing communications or one person had this piece of information and this person had a different piece of information. Front allowed us to get customer information centralized from a lot of different sources and deliver fast, consistent responses to customers that ultimately delight them. Front has transformed how we communicate with customers.” – Chris Schwass, Director of Customer Revenue Operations at Culture Amp

Read more about how CultureAmp increases customer retention using Front.

MongoDB reduces email volume by over 90 percent

MongoDB is the leading modern, general-purpose database platform empowering innovators to create, transform, and disrupt industries by unleashing the power of software and data. Their finance team uses Front to streamline workflows and collaborate behind the scenes, cutting down on email volume significantly. 

“Before Front, the volume of email our team received was becoming increasingly unmanageable and was impacting our ability to manage vendor requests and collaboration with other teams in our organization. With Front, we reduced missed messages by implementing shared inboxes with automated routing and guaranteeing clearer ownership for every message. When escalations arise or a team member is out of the office, we have built-in triaging—all within our shared inboxes—to make sure each request is handled on time. In reducing MongoDB’s email volume by over 90%, Front has empowered our team to gain operational control and dedicate more time to strategic projects." – Karin Roettgering, director of finance at MongoDB

Aircall saves 1,500 hours over 5 months

Aircall is a cloud-based phone system, which integrates seamlessly with popular business tools like CRMs and help desks. Aircall’s European-based customer success teams rely on Front to collaborate across time zones and communicate quickly and accurately to thousands of customers.

“Front is our primary channel for communicating with customers. With Front, we can treat every customer like they are a high-priority customer, and it also makes collaboration between teams much easier than systems we’ve used in the past. Front helps our team be more productive, collaborative, and helps save us time, which is one of our team’s most important resources. Our team saved 1,500 hours in five months by leveraging Front’s product capabilities.” – Kai Horstmannshoff, Director of Customer Success at Aircall

Designed for relationships, not transactions

What’s so different about Front from email, or a ticketing solution? Well, email makes collaborating quickly a mess. And ticketing solutions can be great for transactions. But neither give you both speed and personalization at scale. Front’s designed for exactly that. With Front, you can:

  • Increase revenue and retention by making customers happier. Since tech companies rely on a lot of software and apps, context and customer data are easily scattered. With Front, conversations — over email and channels like SMS text, live chat, and beyond — live at the center of the team’s attention. Teams can comment directly on messages, share drafts, and assign message owners. As a result, messages don’t fall through the cracks, and it’s easier for teams to give fast, personal replies.  

  • Work efficiently through a single hub. Fast-growing tech companies are constantly finding ways to do more with less. Front integrates with all your tools and systems, so there’s no context switching and sifting around for the information you need. And Front’s workflow engine automates repetitive tasks, like manually routing or tagging customer messages. Teams can spend time on work that moves the needle.

  • Improve productivity with strong employee retention and engagement. Employees are working longer hours and burning out faster than ever. For team leaders, analytics in Front give insight into performance to help manage workloads. For employees, retention and engagement improve when they can see their work making an impact on the business. And with happy teams, you get happier customers.

Technology can solve a lot of problems — but not everything. And relationships are a big one. The most innovative tech companies are investing in tech that lets their humans do what humans do best: build relationships that keep customer coming back for more. 

Watch the full video on how Culture Amp increases customer retention with Front

Written by LB Harvey

Originally Published: 28 April 2022

Stories that focus on building stronger customer relationships