2021 is barely past its first quarter, and B2B fintech companies have already raised over $910 million combined in funding. Companies are maturing in the space, growing revenues and customer accounts. B2B fintechs are predicted to generate over $1 trillion in total aggregate value.
With all this attention coming from investors, competition is brewing among B2B fintechs. These companies are therefore constantly looking for ways to keep their customers satisfied. B2B requires a lot of resources to bring in new customers, so keeping them happy is paramount.
For many of these high growth companies, scaling in new customers means finding ways to scale its customer success function. Synapse is a banking as a service platform that enables companies to build and launch financial products. Lauren Diehl, VP of customer success at the company, says that the key to continuous growth is continuous automation.
“You streamline, then you optimize, and then you repeat that cycle over and over again,” said Diehl. “And you're really never done. The minute you think you're done is the minute something becomes outdated, and then has to be rebuilt.”
Being able to scale customer success through automation isn’t simple. It needs to be aligned with a B2B’s objectives. Measuring the right things can be the difference between being proactive with customers versus being reactive. And sometimes when a vendor is reactive, it’s already too late. So, identifying the right KPIs is really important.
“What gets measured gets done. You can't just run your business in reactive mode. So it's really taking metrics, and asking, ‘what do these metrics look like? What metrics do we have today? What don't we have that we need to start measuring?’” said Diehl. “You have to try to look around the corner.”
One thing that Diehl has done is launch a customer survey to figure out what customers are looking for from Synapse’s platform. This has also helped her pinpoint any unique things customers need.
“It’s really about building relationships with our strategic customers,” said Diehl. “Understanding their business, what their challenges are, and that individually and uniquely, we are partnering with each one of them.”
Synctera is a B2B fintech that especially relies on data to ensure its customers are happy. The company connects fintechs with community banks by providing a platform that fintechs can use to connect to APIs to expand their own offerings. The more companies connect to the platform, the more Synctera can use this data to figure out what works and what doesn’t for its users.
“What we're doing is getting insights into earnings from people,” said Peter Hazlehurst, co-founder and CEO of the company.
He uses overdraft fees as an example. Fintechs can use the data available to figure out if a consumer can pay them back.
“Overdraft is traditionally a huge revenue opportunity to the big retail banks, where they can charge $20 to $35 fees to consumers for going negative,” said Hazlehurst, who previously led Uber Money. “And many fintechs can use data science to more accurately predict when a customer will pay you back. And as a result, they can choose to offer overdraft as a sort of a free component of their fintech offering.”
Then there’s the point of a B2B firm becoming an expert in its field. Demonstrating a deep industry knowledge is an important component to the vendor-client relationship. And while that may seem obvious, it’s not always so easy in B2B fintech. The payments industry has been described as ‘evergreen’, constantly growing. So, there’s always new technologies, methods and tools to stay on top of.
PPRO is a payment infrastructure provider that partners with local payment service providers. The fintech allows merchants to offer their customers different types of local payments to choose from. For Matthew Jackson, head of partner development EMEA at the company, keeping up with new payment trends and methods remains a big challenge that has to be overcome in order to maintain customers’ trust.
When Jackson first started at the company a couple of years ago, there were about 350 relevant global payment methods, he says. Now that number is over 500, and is likely to continue growing.
“Keeping on top of what is relevant, where it is relevant, and why it is relevant is a big challenge for us,” said Jackson. “But we need to position ourselves as experts. And so making sure that we can get that information, digest it, and start putting it out is key for us.”
But even if a B2B fintech is able to demonstrate deep thought leadership, that in itself might not be enough. Taking the time to show customers how to get the most out of a fintech’s technology is also important.
“You can give somebody the best software in the world, but if you don’t tell them how to use it, if you don’t guide them all the way, the results aren’t going to be great,” said Ron Bergamesca, CEO of Payveris, an open API, cloud-based platform that allows financial institutions to move money across applications and devices.
As a B2B2C fintech firm, Payveris has the additional challenge of making sure the information it delivers to its clients is easy to understand for both financial institutions and their end consumers.
“It's our business, serving the credit union or the bank. And the consumer is a layer removed from us,” said Bergamesca. “So our challenge is working with that intermediary -- the bank in this case -- and making sure they’re unleashing the value of the platform.”
But guiding clients is not synonymous with controlling them. So knowing where expertise is required and where it isn’t is also important to ensure the best results, according to Bergamesca.
“We know this specific domain better than our clients do, but they know their business better than we do,” said Bergamesca. “So we have to make sure that we mesh these two things together.”
But it works in the other direction, as well -- where companies want their services to be used in a specific context, but that requires the customer to try something new. For a new B2B fintech breaking into the industry, that can be tricky.
Tesorio is a cashflow performance platform that uses AI to manage and predict cashflow. A lot of the company’s customer base are firms that have been managing account receivables for a while, said Darlene Ritter, team leader of customer success at the company. So convincing them to try things differently is also a step that sometimes has to be taken.
“It's almost changing that mindset to let the computer do a little bit of the work,” said Ritter. “And so we work with them to say, ‘Okay, I get it, but just humor me -- let’s try this different way for a week or two.’”
Then there’s also building trust by making sure all the different systems within a vendor are synchronized. If things aren’t synchronized well, fintechs can make mistakes that cause them to look less trustworthy with their customers. Carlos Vega, CEO of Tesorio, says that’s especially true for B2B fintechs, where so much relies on reliable software.
“When you're dealing with fintech, you have to synchronize with all these different systems, at least on a daily basis,” said Vega. “And that can fail.”
According to Vega, it’s crucial that the technology the fintech uses to stay in touch with the customer is sound. Faulty tech that leads to miscalculating payments or routing them to the wrong person could make the fintech look unreliable.
But ultimately, to look reliable as a fintech, they have to be trustworthy. And the way to be trustworthy, according to Vega, is to build a good customer success team.
“They’re our eyes and ears with the customer, informing product and informing what we do on our side,” said Vega.
“Because building trust -- and that's the key word here -- is critical when you're in fintech. And if you don't develop it, or if you lose it, you're kind of in trouble.”