Customer email intelligence

Steve Hazelton
January 3, 2023
12 Min Read
Customer Intelligence

Before Sturdy, we worked for a B2B SaaS Software company called Newton. At Newton, we spent an enormous amount of time tracking and recording customer insights that came from customer feedback. 

In fact, we had a training program, Alchemy, where every person at Newton was trained on what to do when they read or heard certain things like, “how do we download our data?” or “can we get a copy of our contract?”. We had a rule that every “happy” customer was sent to marketing for a potential reference. Every unhappy customer got a call from an executive. We thought we were a well-oiled machine. And yet, with all this, whenever we wanted to get on a call with an important customer, we needed to get several people in a room to discuss the account because we could never be sure what state the account was in.

The challenge was that logging and identifying these important account triggers was entirely manual. If we logged every email, it just became noise. If we logged nothing, we had no idea what was going on.

And at Newton, we realized that in a year, we generated 15,000 support tickets, 15,000 phone calls, and almost 100,000 customer conversations via email. 

Email. Almost every executive knows they have data gathering digital dust in email inboxes. Unread messages, Bug Reports, Cancellation Requests, and Unhappy sentiment are just a few examples of critical business signals that flash in and out of inboxes daily. The challenge is, and always has been, to ensure that every signal is recognized and acted on.

When we started Sturdy, the idea was simple, “the way we record and monitor customer feedback is insane. It has to change”. So we decided to tackle customer email first. Along the way, we realized we had built the first “Customer Email Intelligence Platform.” 

In building Sturdy, we learned that a customer email intelligence platform must do four things very well, all at once: 

  1. Safely and securely extract only customer emails while ignoring all other emails;
  2. Accurately merge all of a customer’s information into one view, a “single pane of glass”; 
  3. Classify, categorize and Identify critical themes, topics, and sentiments in each email;
  4. Route and alert the teams and teammates who need to know.

Safely and securely extract only customer emails while ignoring all other emails

For a long time, technologists have developed technologies that attempt to extract customer email data from an inbox and put it somewhere more useful: Outlook plugins, BCC addresses, Salesforce logging, Activity Capture, and Do-Not-Reply Email Addresses. These systems often create more issues, like duplicated data, missing emails, and lost headers. 

Modern CEI solutions will not rely on “hacks” like BCC to get customer emails. At Sturdy, we have a patent-pending suite of tools that ensure only emails from/to customers can be ingested. This toolkit also allows Administrators to ask Sturdy to ignore emails sent by certain people, or it can be restricted at the API-level. 

Bottom Line: Extracting customer emails needs to be rock-solid, secure, and highly configurable.

Accurately merge all of a customer’s information into one view, a “single pane of glass”

 

“Hey, I need to call Acme Corp. Let’s all get together for 20 minutes to review their account.” Having all your customer emails in one organized spot will make wonderful things happen. The most obvious and time-saving will be the virtual elimination of the “hey, what’s going on with this account meeting?” Getting together to discuss accounts will never go away. But, having a 20-minute meeting so everyone can share their email inboxes should.

In fact, Sturdy estimates that in a typical B2B SaaS company, an Account Manager spends almost 30 hours per month in Account Review meetings. 

Bottom Line: Moving customer email out of the inbox will vastly improve account management and add time to everyone’s day.

Classify, categorize and Identify critical themes, topics, and sentiments in each email

The third pillar of CEI is where the heavy lifting happens. Today, your business can convert and categorize every piece of customer feedback into something actionable or insightful, at scale, without manual labor.

If you're considering using AI or machine learning, remember that almost all language models today are trained using consumer data. This means they weren’t trained using business language, which tends to be far more restrained and professional. 

We have reviewed over 10 million customer emails at Sturdy and built language models identifying the key themes and topics driving B2B SaaS and Services businesses. We have found that over 20% of customer emails have an essential theme or topic relevant to another business team. 

Bottom Line: Modern AI technologies will illuminate insights, topics, and themes in your customer base at scale.

Route and alert the teams and teammates who need to know

You have likely worked in a company that attempted an early version of email intelligence. It was just done manually.  “If you get a feature request in an email, log it to Jira and forward it to the engineering team.” Identify, Classify, and Route. Manual labor doesn’t scale.

Imagine if every time a customer was confused by a product issue, it could be routed to the design team. Imagine if every bug report ever reported by a customer was searchable at its source. 

As modern Customer Email Intelligence identifies and routes business themes and topics without requiring human interaction, the hidden costs of recording, saving, and logging customer requests will go to almost zero.

Sturdy’s automation engine allows our customers to harmonize email intelligence with CRM data. So you can say, “If one of our top accounts requests a copy of their contract, let the CEO know.”

Bottom Line: Customer Email Intelligence will ensure that the correct information gets to the right team every time.

Customer email intelligence. The time is now.

There’s never been a better time to upgrade your tech stack to include Intelligence solutions. Businesses can maximize productivity and accuracy by scaling these intelligence solutions while eliminating mundane and time-consuming tasks. This type of automation allows companies to scale quickly, adapt to changing markets faster, reduce costs and increase efficiency. New technologies like Customer Email Intelligence also allow for more intelligent decisions that can save time and money in the long run. Sturdy might be your solution if you want to understand your customers better at scale and remove manual labor from your business. Let us know.

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