What does marketing have to do with customer success?
“Why should my customer success team think about marketing?” is a question I often hear from customer success leaders in various domains and industries. My short answer is that customer success must evolve with the customer experience, and the customer experiences are more digital and personalized than ever before. Marketing departments wrote the book on digital and personalized engagement, so “thinking marketing” in customer success is an easy win for higher engagement. But there’s a much deeper rationale I’d like to share here.
Customer success has evolved
A few years back, customer success was predominantly customer support driven. However, customer success has evolved and elements such as adoption and onboarding came to play, alongside pillars like satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. For some companies, customer success kind of ends there. For others, customer success is also taking on revenue-related elements, such as quarterly business reviews, recurring revenue, cross-sell, or expansion; or marketing-related aspects such as advocacy–be it reviews, event speakers, advisory councils, success stories, and more.
This domain is still forming, and every company and industry has unique needs–what works for SaaS companies may not fit other markets, and B2B might act differently than B2C… Responsibilities shift, and so do KPIs. However, across the board, I see three elements of sustainable success–Engagement, Growth, and Advocacy. To win in all three, I believe sales, customer success, and marketing need to build meaningful bridges of streamlined customer data flow and actions. Let me explain why and how this can be achieved.
Building bridges between customer success and marketing
Customer success teams are not marketers, but they can empower a smarter customer marketing strategy. They have a good hunch as to who might be relevant for cross-selling, they know of use cases that succeeded with their upsell and can be used as a success story for others. Rather than focusing solely on leadership advocates, they can point out good technical references to refer to in the decision process about specific products or services. They might even be able to pinpoint the best person within the customer organization to support an expansion campaign.
On the other hand, customer success managers can benefit from marketing-driven insights. It could be really helpful for them to know what content customer X is reading or if she’s a contributor to the online community. They can leverage success stories by industry, country, and use-case in order to get the customer excited about specific outcomes of full adoption. The customer health score could indicate if a customer is engaged on various touchpoints, such as educational, community, or online content, even if they haven’t visited the product for a period of time.
The customer experience is dynamic across the customer lifecycle and creating an accurate customer health score is not an easy task. Yes, customer success platforms provide a health score, but it isn’t complete. For example, wouldn’t it be great to add elements such as individual utilization, social media engagement, acts of advocacy, and C-level content engagement to that score?
Basically, you want to collect, measure, and gain insight into customer behavior across omnichannel touchpoints throughout the customer journey. That includes things like: (Click to Tweet!)
- Maintaining a digital relationship with each customer/product-user and building loyalty mechanisms as an inherent part of the customer journey. This will increase satisfaction and reduce churn, and it can also help indicate when something goes wrong so that you can do something about it in time.
- Leveraging your customer community for advocacy while acknowledging their contribution and preventing customer success manager overload.
- Creating a fast and easy mechanism for customer success managers to ask for advocacy with one click after a positive customer interaction and streamlining advocacy input for customer success and marketing utilization.
- Knowing when existing customers are interested in content regarding a new feature and automatically initiating a post-sale campaign/call.
In other words, you want to create structured bridges between your customer success and marketing teams. Structured bridges can prevent some “collisions”, and keep your traffic flowing smoothly. Think about it this way–how many times has marketing requested a C-level speaker with a specific use-case, from a well-known brand? Without the right setup, bam! You’re on a collision course (one of many collision asks). Why is that? Why does that happen?
Part of the problem is that customer success teams don’t necessarily engage/nurture these types of brand advocates, and even if they did, they don’t have any way to know if the executive likes to speak at events, is available to speak, and is a good speaker, let alone access that information in real time. However, with a structured bridge, customer success teams could tag those leaders on day one, nurture them for customer success and marketing, identify their preferences and capabilities, and streamline the ask, getting real-time customer service platform “approval” for healthy accounts only.
YES, customer success teams need to align with marketing teams in a way that streamlines individual user and customer-base loyalty, long-term growth, and advocacy and supports customer market. Marketing data can add depth to the customer score, campaigns, and touch-points. Platforms like Base also add insight about customer engagement, provide tools for automation, and build relationships and customer activation at scale (Tweet this!). Most importantly, the customer experience can be improved, and LTV can be increased when this customer success and marketing bridge comes to life.
Move away from the “who owns the customer” conversation and go build those bridges!
To get started, I recommend the following: Set a Short Demo
- Map out all customer digital touchpoints, on all platforms and in all departments.
- Set up a marketing process, including campaigns to meet your objectives, and identify sub-activities that can be automated.
- Align on KPIs – not customer success KPIs or marketing KPIs – but company-wide Customer Engagement Marketing KPIs.
You’re also welcome to contact me to discuss any of this. My grandfather built bridges, so it runs in the family…
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If you’re doing it already – I would love to hear about your experiences and best practices.