3 ways to use a ‘listen-and-learn’ approach to drive alignment and growth

Madhavi Bezwada, VP of Client Success, Waystar

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Our leadership team embraces a culture of ‘listen and learn,’ redefining how we share and act on customer insights. We’re more inclined to work proactively together versus being reactive and defensive.

Madhavi Bezwada, VP of Client Success at Waystar.

What could your organization accomplish if your workplace embraced a culture of listening and learning from one another rather than being siloed off and defensive? For Waystar, a technology platform that simplifies payments across the revenue cycle for healthcare organizations, this consultative approach unlocked cross-functional alignment, customer satisfaction, and exponential business growth. So, how did they do it?

Waystar’s VP of Client Success, Madhavi Bezwada, shared her views on the importance of a listen-and-learn culture as a means to drive customer satisfaction, retention, and growth. These are the three takeaways that stood out to me:

1. Practice tactical listening and learning

In recent years, Waystar has seen a high amount of growth, both organically and through acquisition, which has changed the leadership dynamics within the organization. To support this growth and realign the organization, Madhavi explained how Waystar’s leadership team implemented a listen-and-learn approach that included tactically listening to their clients, gathering insights, cross-functionally sharing those insights, and then building a nurture strategy around them.

“The practice of ‘listen and learn’ is really simple in nature, but it’s really intentional in practice,” she said. “Rather than gleaning actionable insights from siloes or single sources, our focus in 2023 has been gathering insights directly from our clients from areas that all of us are familiar with: NPS, surveys through support, post-implementation, product insights, business reviews, and more.” From there, Beswada explained that the insights are grouped into relevant segments and then aggregated into dashboards accessible across the organization to marketing, product, operations, and sales. The goal is then to use these insights proactively to build cross-collaborative nurture strategies that will promote customer satisfaction, retention, and growth.


2. Make customer retention a team sport

For customers to be satisfied and grow, the alignment of product, marketing, sales, and customer success is critical – and that alignment needs to be enforced from the top down. Beswada explained that this practice is so important to Waystar that they began implementing quarterly meetings with their C-suite rooted entirely around retention. These meetings highlighted areas where they had gaps in communication and alignment that were causing them to be reactive and miss out on key opportunities. 

“I do believe that retention is really the root of both satisfaction and growth. We can’t have one of them unless we’re retaining our clients,” she said. “Partners [product, sales, and marketing] are active participants in building those retention strategies. What we’ve found is as we’ve approached [retention] as a team sport, it’s driven tighter alignment for us, and it’s continued to keep us at a great retention rate as well as drive growth.”


3. Use baselines to track customer outcomes

It’s typical for organizations to measure their client’s performance against industry best practices and use those numbers as a benchmark for success. The challenge with this, Beswada explained, is that it may not be your clients’ most important metric or KPI. “We shifted to outcome-based KPI tracking, meaning we’re baselining the client’s performance during the sales and scoping process,” she said. “We’re then aligning those baselines during the implementation process, measuring performance early on through the implementation process, tactically through weekly dashboards, and weekly meetings to go through those performance metrics against their baseline, so that it’s outcome-driven versus just industry standard.”

Waystar has found that measuring against this baseline of performance throughout the entire customer journey has been beneficial not only to CS but to sales as well. By delivering against expectations defined early on, the sales and CS teams can partner to drive upsells and cross-sells.  


Listening and learning into the next generation of customer success                    

When teams embrace a culture of listening to and learning from your clients, it fosters tighter alignment because cross-functional partners are all focused on the same thing: your customers and their needs. Not what each department wants. Beswada emphasized the importance of aligning with organizational partners and committing to customer satisfaction and growth as critical skills for the next generation of CS. “I think it’s twofold,” she said. “I think it’s our CS team members who are always rooted in satisfaction but can identify where there’s risk, and turn that around into a positive experience for our clients. And then, being able to align with sales for growth because we are in a high-growth environment and we have to keep our clients satisfied. Showing that we are committed to our clients’ experience and journey and then parlaying that into growth is key.”

Watch my entire fireside chat with Madhavi for more ideas and opportunities to implement a listen-and-learn approach in your organization.

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