best-of-breed-customer-success

The Best-of-Breed Software Secret? Customer Success.

Best-of-breed software makes all the difference to large ecommerce companies, but too often retailers have to learn that lesson the hard way.

Months after leaving another product discovery vendor, one of Constructor’s account executives received a message on Linkedin from a former customer at her old job. She’d been their only real relationship in the company, and now, they had no idea who to talk to… or who was supposed to help them.

This is the state of vendor relationships today: a landscape of ticket submissions, delayed email replies, and self-serve video demonstrations in place of actual instruction and conversation.

When you have thousands of customers, building strong customer relationships just isn’t possible. It’s everything you can do just to keep your head above water.

Self-serve software has a place in the small business. The company without a lot of unique needs. The entrepreneur with the skills to develop and tweak the software to align with their site who wants to just figure things out without talking to anyone. 

But for enterprises, it doesn’t make practical or economical sense. 

The bigger the company, the more complicated its needs tend to be—and the more important it is to find a best-in-breed software partner really determined to listen, understand, and meet those needs. These companies also tend to benefit most from working with experts in their space who are used to working with companies like them. 

Generic, one-size-fits-all solutions often sound good on paper, but fall down both in the product and in their support as soon as you need help with a unique ask, or often when you need help at all.

Here are some of the cries for help shouted when enterprise companies try to make the one-size-fits-all software work:

Look for reviews like these, and you won’t even have to dig. They’re plastered all over the internet because they reveal a universal truth:

Best-of-breed software is better for enterprise. 

Why Generic Solutions Don’t Work for Enterprise Ecommerce Companies

All-in-one, self-serve product discovery platforms pander to the masses. 

Consider them the fast food of the ecommerce software world: they might fill a gap and be better than no product discovery at all, but they’re not going to provide you the satisfaction of software prepared to order—designed for your goals, your KPIs, your products, and your customers.  

If you’re working with generic search software, for example, you’ll notice that every action is treated as a conversion. Because that solution is built for general search and not for ecommerce, there is no difference to the software between an add-to-cart and a purchase. That’s a problem in ecommerce, when it’s clear that there is a world of difference between those two actions—entire marketing campaigns are built around them. 

And when you have needs that are off the menu (optimizing facet ordering ahead of the holidays, for example, or unique merchandizing asks like ensuring new items get enough visibility)… well, you’re on your own. 

Look at the example from my introduction.

When an ecommerce company had questions and issues with optimization, they sought help from their vendor’s customer service team only to find that there was no help available. 

Each time they’d had any type of interaction with the vendor, they’d spoken with a new person. Each CSR lacked the context of past conversations and issues, had to relay questions to other departments, and could never fully resolve issues specific only to the ecommerce industry because they lacked niche expertise.

Best-of-breed customer success is different.

Working specifically within the ecommerce industry, best-of-breed software is a partnership. Your partners know the pain points each of their customers face. They speak the language, from product variations to gross margin to PDPs.  

They understand what metrics and goals you’re striving for in your business, and they take the time to learn what success means to you.

What to Expect from Best-of-Breed Customer Success 

Best-of-breed software is, by definition, the best software of its kind and of its niche. But what most people get wrong when thinking about what makes software best-in-breed is that it’s not just about the software itself, but about the ecosystem supporting that software. 

And arguably the most important element of that ecosystem is customer success.

Your customer success team should build a relationship with you over time, understand the nuances of your industry, and help you maximize the software and therefore the outcomes it produces. When those things happen, success takes on a new definition—one that points to better customer experience, less work for your ecommerce team, and measurable growth and ROI.

Customer Success at Constructor

“White-glove” service—in which there’s an actual team assigned to you, walking you through setup and optimization, helping you use the features and tools to the highest capacity—is normally only rolled out for the highest payment tiers in most companies.  

For Constructor, white-glove service is our standard practice for working with all enterprise ecommerce customers. It’s ingrained in everything we do. 

What does our customer success process look like?

Step 1: Discovery and Team Building

When you sign on with us, you are immediately and proactively introduced to our customer success team, who are there to make sure your experience with Constructor is a good one. We spend time digging into your KPIs, products, brands you work with, customer base, and mission to develop the best customer service team possible for your needs. 

At this time, we also establish connections between our team and those that will be implementing and requesting any optimizations. You’ll work with the same team—a dedicated customer support manager and a few developers and data scientists—throughout the life of our relationship. 

 

Step 2: Detailed Product Orientation

Next we do an in-depth demo of the software—even if we’ve already run through it during the sales process. We want to make sure everyone’s questions are answered upfront and that we’re proactive in getting you started. You can use our excellent documentation as well, but we also want you to be introduced to real humans who can help, in case you’d prefer to speak to someone instead of digging through docs.

A discovery or kick-off meeting often brings additional employees to the table as well, such as tech stakeholders and primary users on the ecommerce team who will be implementing or using the software. 

The demo covers an in-depth tour of the platform’s functionality:

  • How Constructor’s AI ranking model impacts search results and category pages
  • How to use the Constructor dashboard to find insights and suggestions for search optimization and product ranking modifications
  • Merchandiser tooling for “managing by exception” with slotting, boosting, and burying rules
  • Category navigation and faceting
  • Using Collections, Recommendations, and Quizzes to create holistic shopping experiences across your entire ecommerce site
  • Behavioral tracking capabilities

 

Step 3: Implementation

Building a timeline and execution plan are the next critical steps. This timeline outlines the process and sets expectations on both sides:

  • What comes next
  • How Constructor will work together with you on your implementation 
  • What we’ll need to get started
  • How long it will take before you’ll be up and running
  • When you should expect to see first results

At this point, we also establish communication routes between our custom-built team and the instrumental points of contact within your company.

Our customers often tell us that their customer success team feels like an embedded part of their own ecommerce team. Making sure that communication processes and practices are up and working is a critical part of driving long-term success.

 

Step 4: Ongoing Partnership

The classic way of looking at customer support, especially in a product-led growth company, is that you might have a representative meeting with you four times a year for a quarterly business review. Their main purpose is often just a cursory check-in followed by trying to get you to buy more from them. 

To Constructor, customer success means more.

Most interactions with your vendor shouldn’t be when you have a problem or when they want to sell you something new. Becoming a true partner—rather than simply a vendor—requires proactivity far beyond ticket submissions and quarterly reviews. 

At Constructor, our customer success process is specifically designed to build an ongoing relationship with open lines of communication:

  • Our Slack and Microsoft Teams channels are a direct line to corresponding CS managers, and a fast, easy way to get answers at any time. Customers typically get a response within minutes.
  • Once live, we generally meet with each of our clients weekly (sometimes even more frequently) to provide updates and continual reviews. This gives us an opportunity to surface more opportunities to use the platform effectively and drive even higher lifts.

Changing the Customer Success Landscape

No one makes a digital transformation just for the software itself. You shift for a business-altering transition. You shift for the expected business lift. The truth is that not even the best software alone will provide that, but a partnership with your product discovery solution can. 

Alexander Sienkiewicz, Chief Marketing Officer at SwimOutlet, makes this pretty clear when he talks about the company’s past vendor experience: “We weren’t able to look at the data to see which facets mattered more than others… [and] we had no CSM support whatsoever to answer our ecommerce-specific questions. It just wasn’t built for ecommerce, and we were lacking the key insights that we needed to be able to take action.”

Using advanced software isn’t enough when there’s no path to maximizing it for your specific business needs. 

By getting the data they needed to make continual optimizations, SwimOutlet was able to make more informed decisions on which brands mattered most to their business. The result? More than 3% increase in conversions and a nearly 4% rise in Site Revenue Per Visitor.

Lifestyle brand Life Is Good saw the difference in our support when they went from manually sorting categories to AI-assisted searchandising with Constructor. 

To get the full benefits of our software, Life Is Good was provided with Constructor’s white-glove support—and it made a world of difference in their ecommerce team’s quality of life. “Constructor’s dev team is smart and solution-based,” says Linda Shore, Director of Web Operations at Life Is Good, “…and it’s very rare to have access to a product manager like we do.”

And it’s not only our customers that benefit from best-of-breed customer success. Being proactive and developing long-term relationships means that Constructor stands apart from the rest. Customers refer new customers, and once they come to Constructor, they don’t leave.

Constructor is the only product discovery solution that can claim a 100% retention rate. 

But don’t take our word for it.

See for yourself how Constructor partners with leading ecommerce retailers to drive the critical lifts in KPIs that matter most. Our free and risk-free proof schedule gives you actionable search insights and estimates how much lift you can expect to see from Constructor on your website, using your data. Make us prove it.

 

Chris Hogan is VP of Customer Success at Constructor.