Andrew Yates from Artesian Solutions talks about the importance of a tech-based customer-centric approach in today’s martech world.
The analogue techniques of the past are disappearing into history and technology enablement is a key focus of investment
1. Tell us about your role at Artesian?
As CEO at Artesian I’m responsible for leading the development of our long term strategy as well as driving overall business growth and new customer acquisition. For over 10 years, we’ve specialised in solving the biggest challenges facing frontline teams and we’re continuing to push the boundaries of what that means – more recently by pioneering unique methods which allow you to capture what your subject matter specialists do, so that it can be replicated and automated for the benefit of other teams.
I am operationally focused and aim to spend as much of my working day equally with customers (we serve 80% of the UK’s major baking institutions, as well as insurance, professional services, and a growing user base of IT service providers), colleagues, and our investor community.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I co-founded the business in 2006 with two industry colleagues – Mike Blackadder (CCO), and Steve Borthwick (CTO). We had experienced the birth of the business intelligence software category and were using computer logic to interrogate and make sense of structured databases to help people make better decisions based on their internal data. We had this crazy notion that we could do it to unstructured data too – for example webpages, text in news articles or social media – using Natural Language Processing to understand not only the context of the content, but who it was about and what bits were most relevant to our users. We then combined it with structured firmographic data so that frontline teams could search by their target companies
We couldn’t use traditional data query technology to make sense of that data and make it useful, so we had to invent something that would. Something that would prioritise the high potential insights and make connections between these insights.
Artesian has come a long way since then. We now offer an integrated and highly configurable platform for our customers, allowing for the re-invention of business models and creation of new value through technology. We’re re-imagining the customer journey (and customer experience) between the customer and the frontline and from the frontline to the middle office. Driving improved efficiency, collaboration and advanced decisioning at every stage was always the goal – from new business prospecting and engagement, to customer onboarding (including KYC and risk management), and finally long-term customer success and relationship management.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing Sector?
The fact that technology will play a pivotal role in the future of sales, marketing and relationship management should come as no surprise. But more than this I believe that the marriage of technology and engaged sellers/marketers ready to serve and delight customers will be the key to future growth, success and rising revenues.
The analogue techniques of the past are disappearing into history and technology enablement is a key focus of investment.
Today B2B sales, marketing and relationship management is less art, and more science – more data driven. In the next decade predictive and cognitive computing engines will keep frontline teams one step ahead of customer needs – gathering trends and patterns and analysing historical and behavioural data – to model and predict the future of customer engagement.
It’s easy to paint a picture of a robotic dystopia where sellers/marketers have been replaced, dehumanising the nature of customer engagement. But I don’t believe it will play out that way. The best performance will be achieved through collaboration between human knowledge, big data, behavioural insights and repeatable machine logic. Technology will not fully automate sales, marketing or relationship management roles, it will however automate and augment certain aspects and processes, leaving the people to focus on the innately human tasks such as relationships and creative thinking.
4. What is the significance of customer engagement for frontline teams?
It’s everything! The B2B buying process has changed dramatically in the last decade, driven largely by customer expectations. The future is going to be customer-first, and the agenda for change led by the need to adapt to the demands of the empowered customer.
Hyper-personalisation has been a top priority for some time, but despite this, a large percentage of frontline teams seem to still be struggling to implement the strategy in an intelligent and scalable way. ABM (account based marketing) and more recently ABS (account based sales) strategies have helped to drive the focus towards personalisation, but the challenge has always been how to scale this up. As we move forward, creating personalised engagements across a customer’s journey – from discovery – to purchase – to advocacy – will become even more critical to success.
It’s about delivering optimal customer engagements that make the customer feel like they are in a community of one – that they’re remembered, treated with attention and consideration, and that their needs are being addressed throughout their unique customer journey.
5. How do you think digitisation can amplify reaching new customers?
Digitisation (and automation) is vital to growth. 24 hrs a day, cognitive engines can collect and analyse millions of customer data points, so that frontline teams are equipped with the customer’s intent, needs and challenges. This puts them in a prime position to pinpoint opportunities to solve challenges, prioritise high value customers, deliver creative solutions, and intuitively know the actions they need to take to move the customer towards a sale.
6. Why is it necessary to know your customer before onboarding them?
By placing Know Your Customer (KYC) at the heart of the business, banks and financial service organisations have been forced to transform client onboarding and deliver consistent customer experiences that meet changing regulatory needs. In the long term it pays to get the basic information right at the start of the conversation, at the interface between client and the bank – the relationship manager. Not only does this help win business, but having the right KYC information at the start of client onboarding is the difference between starting on the back foot, or taking a proactive stance.
This is where technology has a critical role to play. Sales and onboarding teams alike can know in seconds how many possible concerns they will need to address, and how potentially complex the onboarding process is likely to be. This puts them on the front foot in terms of managing client expectations, aligning internal stakeholders, and getting in front of any particularly tricky issues that need additional attention.
Forward-thinking financial service organisations are using technology to bring automation, comprehensive data, sophisticated rules and collaboration together in order to kick-start KYC transformation. The result is a more streamlined process which brings consistency to onboarding efforts across the organisation.
7. What according to you is the best way to retain and grow customers?
Quite simply it’s all about customer obsession.
Customer obsession embedded deeply from the beginning to the end of every relationship – defining use cases, engagement touch points, processes and behaviours to share mutual value with customers – not transactional journeys but living, breathing relationships.
Sales, marketing and customer success must always start with the customer and build out from there – how to grow revenues via new customers, how to drive long term value from existing customers, and how to turn customers into raving fans.
Sales technology and the advanced customer insights it delivers can drive this customer obsession. But companies must be willing to adapt. They can no longer afford to have chasms between the front and middle office – they must merge these functional disconnects, put the customer at the heart of driving the company and use technology to assist them in working toward the mutual goal of awesome customer experiences.
8. What differentiates Artesian Risk & Compliance Hub from its competitors in the market?
It works on the basis of Distributed Compliance, a term Artesian coined – bringing together data, collaboration and automation to improve an organisation’s ability to meet its regulatory KYC requirements whilst at the same time delivering advanced onboarding.
Distributed compliance involves giving compliance teams control of a sophisticated decision engine to enable data coming in to have rules applied and tasks created. Further, it means distributing these tasks to appropriate staff, monitoring the completion of the tasks and evidencing the whole process. The automation aspect of this is fundamental because it brings efficiency, consistency and control to the areas it transforms. Combine this automation with improved collaboration and it gets really interesting. Distributed compliance gives a KYC view to Relationship Managers on the front line of new relationship building, and also involves them in the first stages of the onboarding journey. It puts risk at the front line of the business and at the same time distributing actions to allow compliance analysts to focus on work that requires their skills and experience and less on the time consuming research tasks that a computer can do instantaneously.
We have also seen the number of use cases for the platform grow as we have deepened our relationships with the top tier banks and insurers. Applications in automating insurance underwriting, credit decisioning, risk screening and supplier management have all seen a transformative effect both in terms of an increase in accuracy as well as efficiency savings.
9. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Achieving differentiation in any market doesn’t happen by chance. It’s about working hard to build a clear understanding of what customers want and need, both now and in the future. ‘Eat your own dog food’ and practice what you preach. Likewise, track market sentiment, gather feedback and ideas, and analyse user data to inform each stage of your product development, exceed expectations at every pass, and stay ahead of the competition.
Most importantly, never rest. Keep building, developing and innovating. Keep pushing the boundaries to future-proof your business by designing and deploying dynamic new features that deliver new opportunities for your customers
10. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2021?
Building relationships will always be at the core of the great sales professionals skill set, business in 2021 must invest in developing agile business models that put the customer first, and incorporate the technologies that will act as the catalysts for B2B sales transformation.
The success metrics that will count in 2021 are the ones that get sellers closer to the customer quicker. Tools that augment the sellers ability to interpret data, discern its story, identify opportunities and capitalise on them, gain insights on the most fruitful sales activities, and take informed decisions will become even more critical to success.
11. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Machines haven’t taken over yet. It’s up to humans to make the big strategic decisions and set the course for how AI and related technologies will help deliver profitable growth and transformational change. Business leaders that wish to be part of the AI evolution need to invest now, not just financially, but in helping to shape the future by sharing feedback on lessons learned and what will make the biggest difference in their world.
When it comes to investment my advice is don’t jump too quickly. We have seen many software vendors repackage their solutions and claim them to be AI-powered, but in reality the evolution of AI is still very much in its infancy. Choosing a solution must not just be about the short term gains that can be made, but also about how the solution will evolve in the coming 3-5 years and beyond.
The best AI solutions of the future will not be built on algorithms alone, but on a rich understanding of the B2B landscape – what sales and marketing teams need now, where the biggest gains can be made, what the future looks like through the user’s eyes, and how it can improve their decisions, business processes and interaction with their customer.
Choose a trusted partner that has the right pedigree in data mining, the most advanced business intelligence delivery platform, and background of working with innovative market leaders. Look at what they have learned from their journey so far.
The potential return on investment is huge, but before making a move business leaders must be sure they’ve invested in a solution that will evolve with their enterprise – that holistic approach again.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I have a wonderful team and that’s not by chance. Assembling a great team of people is about more than just credentials and qualifications, especially when scaling up a business. Anyone you hire must not only be skilled at what they do but passionate about what the business is trying to achieve and invested in its success. Culture emanates from the bottom up – leaders provide direction but it’s the team that ultimately defines the pace and quality of what any business, start-up or otherwise, can accomplish.
Once you have great people, the key to retaining them is to constantly challenge and empower them to venture beyond what they think they’re capable of. Nurture an environment where everyone is equal. Investment in personal and professional development is a given, however rewards should be based on contribution and drive, not on age or time served.