Commentary

The Dynamic Duo: Customer Success And Customer Marketing

In the B2B recurring revenue economy, customer relationships are increasingly owned by a team of professionals like Customer Success Managers who earn customer loyalty by continuously demonstrating the value of their solution to their customers. Ideally, they have a defined customer lifecycle as their model for customer engagement, and in doing so, are churn mitigators. 

As part of the charter for customer success, marketing teams are joining the charge to facilitate customer loyalty. In collaboration with their CS colleagues, marketers are increasingly dedicated to delivering targeted content to existing customers, thus becoming brand expanders.

This dual approach to cultivating loyal customers is the ideal engagement strategy. 

In a conversation I had with former ExactTarget CMO Tim Koppabout the collaborative power of customer success and marketing, he pointed out that the lifetime value of customers is a key concern for CEO’s. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon executive leadership to align the functions and teams that work to ensure that value. Chartering customer marketing and customer success organizations as collaborators who tag team to deliver value to customers, ensuring their success and loyalty, is the key to optimizing their lifetime value. 

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The First Step is Forming the Team

Most companies establish marketing and customer success as independent teams. Unfortunately, when these two units work independently, there’s a potential for miscommunication between the teams and the absence of a unified plan for garnering loyalty through engagement.

An organization that aligns customer success and customer marketing incorporates a culture of advocacy, data consolidation, and aligned leadership. Below, I’ll explain how these pieces of the puzzle all fit together.

A Culture of Advocacy

Customers need to be continuously engaged and inspired to become advocates. These experiences happen when an enterprise adopts and implements their own culture of advocacy. Intentionally aligning your customer engagements around the following principles is part of building this culture:

  • Have integrity
  • Be credible
  • Be consistent
  • Help your customer shine
  • Recover from your mistakes with integrity
  • Treat your customers like trusted advisors
  • Don’t be afraid to share insights from other customer relationships
  • Be Interested

These basic principles of customer engagement are the lifeblood of positive customer experiences, which form the basis for loyalty. 

Data Consolidation

It’s virtually impossible for entire enterprises to fully know their customers. This happens because business units work in siloed, disparate systems, and rely upon different data sources to assess the status of a customer. This failure to know a customer’s entire relationship with your product (lifecycle stages, stated goals, marketing metrics, etc.) can result in embarrassing moments, strained relationships and customer dissatisfaction. 

When a single unhappy customer can result in as much as $2 million in lost revenue, account transparency is a function you can’t afford to neglect.

Technology that provides transparent and full knowledge of customers (account data, standardized processes, history, marketing metrics etc.) allows business units to collaborate and act with consistency

Aligned Leadership

If customer success and customer marketing are the dynamic duo in fostering customer retention, loyalty and, ultimately, advocacy, then they must be virtuously aligned and led. In other words, the two teams must agree to a systematic approach, adopt a shared technology, and, most importantly, be led within a culture which supports this alignment. 

As Tim Kopp affirmed, alignment must be forged from the top down. Whether your organization has a CMO, CCO, CSO, VP of Customer Success, and/or some other leadership structure tasked with customer retention and growth, it’s unproductive if marketing and customer success aren’t aligned. 

In an age where “helping is the new selling”  it’s more important than ever to “focus on the customer relationship, not the transaction, and add value each time you interact with them.” When customer success and customer marketing are working their magic, they are the machine that can affirm a customer’s lifetime value. However, this cannot happen without executive leadership and an authentic culture of advocacy.

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