Driving Customer Lead Marketing with Customer Success

For many of us buzz terms can create confusion. Big data. Machine Learning. Cringe.

Today I would like to address something on the back of a fantastic radio show I heard today on Customermarketingradio.com with Lincoln Murphy – the pope of customer success and host Steve Gershik, ex-Eloqua and CEO of Koyne Marketing, what is the difference between customer marketing and customer success.

Customer Success Defined:

How we approach customers post-acquisition is extremely important as if we have gone through all the hoops to make a sale, it is extremely important that we hold onto it – the cost of loss (churn in our industry) is simply too high.

Lincoln spoke today about customer success being the state in which your customers feel they are achieving their desired outcomes through continual interactions with your company.

To break this down further – this may not necessarily pertain to the way in which they USE your product but the way in which they feel like you are delivering as an organization based on their requests and needs at any point in time. This involves a commitment to service right from initial explorations on your website all the way to sign up and eventual ongoing usage of your product.

How many times have you proceeded with a company when they got back to you after a week? Did you proceed with the rep who committed to send a customized follow up but sent you a standard template?

Customer Marketing Defined:

Lincoln defined customer marketing in possibly one of the best ways I have seen to date. He gave us two common ways that I have also seen the concept expressed – the first is marketing as method to your existing customers in a way which nurtures them and adds value on a continual basis.

Secondly – and possibly the most relevant to my current role at TrustRadius, is using your customers to market for you –  with Lincoln citing the power of client advocacy in driving prospects through the funnel.

Another thing I am in complete synergy with Lincoln on is that in order for customers to go on the record – we can’t ask them to do so unless they are successful examples.

How do we create Customer Success and what is the mentality we need to have?

Right now creating successful conditions relies on understanding the tenants of customer success. In alignment with Lincoln and other industry executives, I find creation of a success vector crucial to this – which algorithmically ranks and weights various measures of success like platform usage, time on app, age of the account e.t.c to rank accounts in order of priority for both automated and manual methods of providing beneficial continual interactions.

One key mentality shift is to stop thinking of customers as “happy or unhappy” which Lincoln does mention – but as successful or non-successful. This data-driven approach is in synergy with my beliefs in order to yield results in any area of a SaaS business or startup. We also need to focus on what I call activating the invisible customers (which I will write about at greater length later this week or next) – defined as accounts where we next to nothing or little about. Taking a normal distribution of sentiment – 2-3 standard deviations from the mean and beyond on either side of this graph are likely super advocates or detractors – using a solution like TrustRadius to engage and unlock the middle is crucial to driving further predictability in customer success. Furthermore – if we use a success vector, the more insights from the “unknown” middle we can drive – the more likely we are in to achieve this in less of a reactive and more of a predictive fashion.

customer-success-sentiment-distribution

Two examples which were raised which highlight the lack of insight in mainstream viewpoints are: Firstly – the way in which organisations currently conduct NPS scores- which as I have said in many presentations simply serve as an arbitrary score from 1-10 – without any real flesh behind the causes for improvement.

We here at TrustRadius have attempted to solve this problem via our widget- which can provide ongoing, passive insights in the form of an initial NPS score- with users being invited back over time to contribute valuable content and insights which can give the marketing, product and success teams critical insights. Also as our widgets can be embedded in outgoing autoresponders and other non-human communications – Lincoln cites the inherent bias that reps place on customers, particularly in an outbound setting where employees are often measured on NPS scores and encourage clients to review favorably. Although I feel that this may not be mutually exclusive with our technology – it is an interesting point.

trustradius-widget

The other example is in customer churn vs revenue churn. Teams can often hide results from encumbered management by stating no customer churn when really large concessions are being made from a revenue standpoint to hold onto accounts. If a success vector is implemented and used effectively – then these concerns are highly likely to be mitigated.

Turning Successful Customers into Brand Advocates

Once successful customers are created – Steve made an interesting point noting the importance of optimising messaging to illicit support which doesn’t center around your needs but instead is based on the conditions of the customer profile.

For instance – if we look at the industry-standard arbitrary 90 day feedback survey – wouldn’t it not be more strategic to have this come earlier or later based on if the customer has met their goals. This is just one of many examples of how vendor driven policies can limit what should be client centric exercises.

Furthermore – I believe the most insightful point out of this article is in relation to how we can programmatically approach the derivation of customer feedback. For one – I see it as extremely counterintuitive to ask for referral permission and logo use when deals are initially signed. Wait for a moment of success to ask for a review or feedback – not when the customer is giving you time, money and faith at the start of a working relationship. Continually provide value.

By extension – you can program you customers throughout the process to become mentally prepared to support you in the future without asking for such support now. I call this inferential nurturing, and Lincoln made the same point. Instead of asking for something now – lay the foundations for what you might like in the future if certain conditions are met i.e. If I am able to improve X by 10% in 2 months, would you mind if I asked you to submit this form.

Once you have provided value you no longer have to prove value – and this methodology can be cultured using automated tools or with a more sensitive manual approach, both of which we offer at TrustRadius, which can nuture engagement and ask at the right time using signals.

I believe upsells also follow the same vein of logic – with a common technique I use creating a future driven focus on additional features which may not be needed right now but become more relevant when customers feel like their desired outcomes are being met further down the line i.e. You should think about the mail merge feature for your CRM once you reach over 1,000 contacts.

Summary

Avoid awkward, premature conversations and focus on developing a customer success orientated growth strategy. Focus your efforts around the desires of your clients and continual measurement of the interactions you do have. Measure the time and place this should occur by examining historical and live data and integrate this into a success vector for your team to follow. Once marketing jumps on board to create more nurturing for these continual positive interactions to take place and both you and the client can measure that goals have been met – sensitively transform your clients into advocates with greater ease as they will already be conditioned to expect to be involved by using inferential nurturing.

Thanks to Steve Gershik and Lincoln Murphy for the inspiration

 

About The Author

Dailius Wilson

Dailius Wilson is the 24 year old founder of WolfofYorkStreet.com – helping the world's top SaaS companies to optimise their sales and marketing efforts. Dailius is currently a Director at TrustRadius and a digital blogger at increasemyonlinebusiness.com. Dailius was named as one of the Top 30 Entrepreneurs in Australia for 2015 by Anthill Online and was ranked in the Top 100 SEO Experts in the World. Dailius has also been a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show and has over 10,000,000 views on Youtube