Customer Centricity: The Evolving Marketplace- Katelyn Bourgoin [Interview]
About Katelyn Bourgoin
Katelyn Bourgoin is the founder and lead trainer at Customer Camp. She is a highly sought after growth strategist and speaker. She’s been named as an influential entrepreneur by Forbes and was one of the top 20 wonder women of SaaS marketing and growth. She also conducts workshops on improving customer relations. Bringing with her an experience of over a decade, we are happy to have someone of her stature on our interview series.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Katelyn Bourgoin today to our interview series. I’m Sumitha Mariyam from the peopleHum team. Before we begin, just a quick intro of PeopleHum – peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated human capital management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome, Katelyn. We’re thrilled to have you.
Thank You so much for having me.
It’s our pleasure. So moving on to our questions,
The very first question I have for you, can you tell us a little bit about your interesting work with Customer camp?
Sure, so Customer camp is actually my fourth business, and it’s the evolution of the things that I’ve done in the past. So I had started a branding agency about 10 years ago, and then I started a consulting business that I sold off fairly quickly. And then I decided I wanted to build software.
And that’s how I launched my tech startup, which is what most people know me from and we had some bumps in the road along the way, things were looking really good. At one point, Forbes said we were going to be the next LinkedIn for women, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So when we ended up winding down that company, I went back to working as a marketing consultant and I had the opportunity to work with all of these amazing software teams that I’ve met in my own journey, and they needed our help.
We weren’t so great at building products. We’re really good at the marketing side. And I found that a lot of teams have the opposite problem. They’re really good at building products but they struggled with the marketing side. And so I would sit down with these teams and I would ask them what are the most important questions they need to answers to. Just tell me about your customers. And What I was surprised by was how often people didn’t have a lot of clarity on their customers.
“What I was surprised by was how often people didn’t have a lot of clarity on their customers.”
They knew that they were going after people like this or you have two people on the team who would debate back and forth who the most important customers were, and I thought this is so interesting.
So you’ve got these incredible teams that are really good at building great products, but they’re not super clear who their customers are. So I actually did a poll on Twitter, and I asked other freelance marketers and copywriters, and I said, ‘How often when you go out and start working with a new client, do they need help figuring out who their customers are?’, and it came back to 88% of the time businesses needed this help.
They didn’t know who their customers were, and that was really what propelled me to do what I do today. So I started off over being one on one with companies helping them figure out who their best customers are, understand why those customers buy so they could just market a lot smarter.
And then there was a lot of demand, and so I created Customer camp, which is training and workshops where we work with companies to help them figure this out in a group trading environment. That’s kind of like how I got there, but it’s just that journey and all of those different things that I did for my own career that got me there.
That is wonderful.
We’ve seen the evolution of organizational cultures and we’ve seen it going from business-centric to customer-centric. Then it evolved to employee-centric and the most important thing that all organizations tried to put out there is once your employees are happy once you treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. Everything is done so my next question would be, how would an employee-centric culture lead to a better customer service experience for an organization?
Well, I know that you guys probably have all the data behind it but I’ve heard from so many studies The happier your team is, the faster the company grows.
“The happier your team is, the faster the company grows”
…because when you have really engaged, happy employees, they treat your customers really well. And those customers become loyal and they tell the people about you and they’re really happy. So it really comes from understanding as an organization that you need to make your customers happy.
But if you’re not focused on making your employees happy and really making them engaged and excited about the work that they’re doing, then that will ripple up to your customers too. So I’m sure you guys have tons of data on it that I don’t have, but I just know that it starts with if you want happy customers, first you have to have happy employees.
Yeah, that’s right. So talking about employees.
Can you tell us you know the importance of the talent brand for an organization to improve its profit?
I think that right now we live in the knowledge economy, right? Where a lot of the best businesses in the world, there are knowledge workers who create these amazing products and solutions that we love so much, and what’s one of the biggest competitive advantages the team can have is having the best team.
And how do you get the best team? You need to be able to attract that team by showing them why they should work with you.
And so there have been probably economies in the past where employees were at some disadvantage, they were competing for jobs. Now companies are very much competing for talent in a major way, and you see the companies that just take off like a rocket. Many of them have incredible corporate cultures, and so that now is actually a thing that teams understand. If we want to compete, we can’t just have the best product. We can’t just have the best marketing. First, to have those two things, we have to have the best culture.
“If we want to compete, we can’t just have the best product. We can’t just have the best marketing. First, to have those two things, we have to have the best culture.”
Yeah, so even I think a lot of the new age organizations are finding it fairly easy to put out a very good organizational culture and keep the employees happy and build a good employer brand, a good talent brand. So keeping that in mind,
What according to you are the greatest challenges that startups are facing, when it comes to establishing a good ground for customer relations?
I think that there are so many challenges. I think that one of the things that I talk about often is that It’s never been easier to build a company than it is today because there’s just so many amazing tools out there that make the actual challenges and barriers in creating a business really low.
“It’s never been easier to build a company than it is today because there’s just so many amazing tools out there that make the actual challenges and barriers in creating a business really low.”
We can all have a Shopify store in 30 minutes if we want to start selling stuff. We can all kind of put up a website, become a freelancer in like a matter of moments if that’s what you want. If you want to build a tech company, there are tools that allow you to even launch an app without needing to know how to code, so from one perspective, that’s terrific.
Because it means a lot more people can start companies but from the other perspective, it just means there are tons more competition and for your customers, they’re being inundated with messages from companies that want to basically steal them getting it to be their customers, so it’s never been more important for companies to realize that it’s all about the customer, it’s all about making sure that you create this incredible experience for that customer and the way that you do that is like talking to customers.
In the past, companies worked particularly well at this. They would send out massive surveys and hope that they get all the information that way or they look at only analytics and data and hope that they could find it all the information that way. But really a huge, huge opportunity that’s often missed by companies is just to have conversations with the customers, especially customers who have recently bought from them because those are going to be the people that remember they’re buying journey the best. They can explain to you why they chose you.
So really, it just comes down to know who your customers are. Why should they choose you? And the way that you continue to make sure that you continue to deliver the best experience for them is just keep engaging and keep talking to them.
Yes. So, I would also like to ask you,
This is a very different time as the Coronavirus and quarantine and all of that. So in this situation, how would you advise organizations to provide the best customer support, if I may add to it, how important is technology in giving your customers the best experience?
I think that depends on the businesses that they are running, the type of customers that you serve. There’s no one size fits all solution for that. Right now, I’d say, what companies need to do really well, is they need to be listening to their customers.
They need to understand how their situation may have changed over the last several months and what it looks like and how it’s going to be changing in the future. They need to listen, paying close attention, and look for ways that they could help because The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing, it feels like helping, like you’re learning, like you’re engaging, you’re entertaining and it’s very relevant and it feels like, ‘Oh, you read my mind. That’s exactly what I needed.’
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing, it feels like helping, like you’re learning, like you’re engaging, you’re entertaining and it’s very relevant and it feels like, ‘Oh, you read my mind. That’s exactly what I needed.’”
Well, the way that you can figure that out is by talking to your customers because what might work for one company, even your competitors may not work for you. And so brands need to stop looking at just the competitive landscape and, like copying each other and really get narrowed on how can we understand our customers so well that we can help them right now in a way to build a lot of loyalty and trust, and that they stay customers and they tell their friends.
So when you work in the B2B space, when you sell software as a service, right now all your customers are cutting down their costs to what is essential to them. So how would you advise an organization that sells software as a service, to connect with their customers and engage them?
I would say there’s a couple of different ways that I would go about doing that. Again, it comes back to talking to your customers. So who has bought from you recently since this has happened because those customers probably have stories that are relevant to lots of different types of customers.
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So it’s really understanding, Why did they buy? Why now? What was it that motivated them to make the decision now? It is incredibly important, and it’s like brands are going to focus on what is essential and that’s why it’s more important than ever for software companies to understand what does matters to the customs and to communicate clearly.
Really getting tight on your value proposition and understanding that that may have changed from what it was a month ago, and the only way that you can get clarity on what they need now is by talking to them. If you have customers that all kind of hang out in a particular place like maybe there’s forums where they’re talking, they are speaking at online events, you can go and you can listen, and you can glean some insights that way.
That’s not going to be relevant to you as talking to your own customers, and it could be people who, let’s say that you haven’t had a lot of sales since the Coronavirus. Those things have really slowed down. It could be talking to those people who were in your pipeline and who were moving along and then suddenly hit, pause, and try to understand from a research perspective why they pause.
That’s really good research that went out a couple of years back. It showed that software companies specifically that speak to 10 customers a month in a non-sales capacity, grow 2 to 3 times faster than the ones that don’t. Yet 70% of companies aren’t doing this, and it’s because we’re all busy. We’ve all got a lot of stuff on the go so we don’t make time to have those conversations.
We’re not making that time to have those conversations because we’re probably wasting time and resources on things that aren’t working as effectively as it could be.
So I would say right now, if you are seeing sales slow, then you need to know what your customers need from you now so you can adjust your messaging and adjust your approach for it. So the way you figure out what your customers need, you can guess, and you can hope that you’re right or you can go and talk to customers have a better chance of being right.
“So the way you figure out what your customers need, you can guess, and you can hope that you’re right or you can go and talk to customers have a better chance of being right. ”
So do you see a generational gap and different methods to market to different groups of your customers like you have the millennials, and then you have a different generation and older generation? So do you think we have to go about in a different way to approach these two groups of customers?
I would say you want a party where your customers’ party. That’s all the way to say it right? So if you are serving, Generation Z, right? They’re not signing up on Facebook the way that millennials even did. They’re more active on other channels. If that’s what you’re serving, you want to party where they are. If you’re serving multiple different types of customer segments, then you might need to be in a few different places to have meaningful conversations, but Go where your customers are and engage in a way that is relevant to them.
“Go where your customers are and engage in a way that is relevant to them.”
So, yes, the channels that you choose, whether you do Facebook or whether you do a blog or whether you do Snapchat or TikTok, will depend on some of your customer’s demographic information like their age and their location and stuff like that.
The type of content that you created, the stories that you tell all of that comes back to, What are your customers trying to get done? What matters to them? How do they want to feel? And you can find that by talking that it might actually not be that different between generations, right? Like right now with Coronavirus, all of us want to feel secure. We want to feel safe. We want to know that the future is not going to do dark. We want to feel connected because we probably feel unconnected right now. That’s probably true whether you’re 22 years old or whether you’re 72 years old.
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So understanding how your customers want to feel that bridges generations and where you go to have that conversation with them, where you share your story, that might be a lot specific to the type of channels that they’re using whether it be Facebook or LinkedIn or Tiktok. But the way that they want to feel, that is the same.
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great thought and also being an entrepreneur,
I would like to know your thoughts on the increasing momentum of the gig economy. I mean, with the increase in the millennial and Gen Z workforce, it’s not just delivery boys or coffee servers in the gig economy it’s a lot more. So how do you think the gig workers are going to fit in the organizational setup that we have right now?
Well I think that humans, in general, are very adaptable. The gig economy has emerged because it is something that people needed because we know a lot of young people, especially have more debt than they used to have, their costs are rising, and they have all these unique and interesting skills that they wanna be able to use, people don’t want to be stuck in one job from, 24 until 60 and then retire.
They have different desires and needs to that. So I would say that…
“The gig economy will certainly change the way the world works; in some ways for the better, because it gives people choices.”
It gives you new avenues to explore new types of offerings you could be doing, and it gives you a chance to test things out to see if you do want to go on with business on your own or maybe you just want to do a little bit on the side.
You know you want to drive an uber or, like do graphic design or whatever it is on the side to make a little extra money right now. I think that the gig economy, it’s really neat opportunity for people to try things out and figure themselves out. Because I don’t think any of us really know what we want to be when we grow up. Like I think we’re always still searching to figure that out and more things that you can try and explore, the more clarity you get on what you love and where you should be and what you should focus on at work.
Yeah, so I think working for the gig economy as a part of your whole job, or career is the better option that we can have. I was also talking to this influencer named David D’Souza, and he had this opinion that you know, the gig workers are not going to be just gig workers because we see a recession a depression coming and people need financial security so we might see a dip in just the gig workers but as you said, we’ll have gig workers who are also full-time workers for other organizations. So yeah, I think that’s very relevant also Katelyn to wrap up the interview.
The last question I have for you is if there are any important soundbites that you would like to leave her audience.
We’re looking at a future that feels a bit uncertain. I think that this is going to change us. It’s gonna change the world, it’s gonna change the way the world works, and we’re going to see things are going to be different. But different doesn’t have to be bad and different can actually be how do we design a better workforce? How do we design a better economy? How to redesign a labor force that actually works the way that people want to work that respects people?
So I think that at the end of the day, we’re looking forward and we don’t know exactly what it looks like. But let’s also look at that as a positive.
This gives us a chance to design something that’s better than what we came from. The companies that are the most successful in this, they’re gonna be the ones that really deeply understand their customers, they are gonna be the ones that are listening and paying attention to these customers.
At the end of the day Whoever gets closest to their customer, wins.
“Whoever gets closest to their customer, wins.”
That’s one of my favorite sayings. So right now is a time where if you want to survive and thrive in uncertainty, get close to your customers, spend more time understanding them, and really making sure you’re serving their needs.
That’s great that you can always stay positive. I’m sure our viewers are going to enjoy this. I had a very enriching experience with you Katelyn, thank you so much for coming to our interview series and sharing so much information.
Thank you for having me.
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