Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Emma Raz, Director of Commercial at NumberEight. She gives us insights into customer engagement strategies and startup management. Read more about Emma in this interview:
Hi Emma, thanks for taking the time! Please tell us: what are common customer engagement strategies?

Deciding on the best customer engagement strategies starts with a question: what is your customers’ core motivation? Once you know that, you are well on your way to developing an effective engagement strategy.
The next step is to conduct a touch point analysis to understand how, when and on which platforms your customers will interact with you. How to proceed from here then depends on whether the customer is a B2B or B2C customer. 

For B2B customers, I break the customer journey down into clear goals based on small, iterative commitments. Breaking goals down and having clear communication regarding the stages and expectations helps them stay engaged. I also make sure to invest in people, even if I don’t see an immediate return. This helps build long-term relationships and trust; more often than not, if we can’t work together immediately, prospects reach out with a new opportunity at a later point in time. 
Finally, be reliable. That means that if you make a promise, small or large, always keep your word. That helps make sure you build trust with your customer, leading to higher engagement and loyalty. 

For B2C customers, many of the above tactics work as well, but they take a slightly different form because there’s typically less of a 1:1 relationship. In this case, building a brand identity that matches how our customers see themselves is extremely important.

During my research work for World Animal Protection (an animal welfare nonprofit), I researched what makes people decide to support a charity. I learned there that customers need to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories. That means that it’s up to us to tell better stories.

Does your knowledge of various different cultures and languages provide direct advantages for your day-to-day job?

I have always worked in international environments, with teams in different countries and customers in various markets. This job is no different as I manage our commercial operations, which include marketing and business development efforts. 

As I see it, language builds a bridge between people and allows them to connect. When you learn a new language, you get to learn a critical piece of that nation’s culture. The phrases they use, their sayings, and their slang are all a part of their cultural identity.
To connect with someone, all you need to do is to find one common interest. That will make you feel familiar to them; they understand you because you are like them. No matter how different your upbringing may be or your origin.

A big part of commercial work is communication and forming connections. For example, I was hired to help fix relationship issues with Taiwanese vendors because I spoke Chinese in my first professional role. While the language definitely helped me build trust, the biggest help was using my knowledge of the culture to form stronger connections. The head of logistics at the vendor was very well versed in Chinese philosophy and proverbs; as I also studied ancient Chinese and was familiar with at least some of the history and philosophy of China, we built a true friendship discussing this topic.

Could you tell us about your current role as Director of Commercial?

Working in a startup has its advantages and challenges; I get to help build the business from the ground up, which is fascinating, challenging, and engaging. As part of my role, I manage our marketing, business development, and account management efforts. Building the infrastructure and the teams that will allow us to grow. Having a small team also means we must be very mindful about what we choose to do and choose not to do. Prioritization is often brutal and means more than ‘saying yes or no’ – it also means strictly defining how much time each task is worth. 

Another important element is ensuring that every commercial aspect is aligned and leads to the same overall goal. This is why we established joint commercial goals and ensured they all funnel to the company’s overall goals. Working in silos is bad for every company, but especially at a start-up, because startups need to be more agile and flexible than other companies. This is one of the reasons why we decided to keep marketing and business development under the same management, providing us with the ability to be agile and quickly respond to market changes. 

Another aspect of having a small team is balancing time on strategy and future thinking with immediate planning and execution. I can’t -only- think of what’s next, but then, not spending enough time thinking about what comes next can lead to time waste, inefficiencies, and missed opportunities. 

Finally, I try to spend time with my team. The commercial operation is relatively new, which means there is a lot of work in building how commercial works with other functions within the company and how we work with one another. We have a strong company culture and would like to maintain and nurture it.

Thanks for this interview, Emma!

Emma’s links: LinkedInNumberEight WebsiteNumberEight on YouTubeNumberEight Blog

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Sophie Brugmann