Aligning Marketing & Customer Success Teams

By Madison Taylor
September 24, 2019
Tetris pieces all together

Marketing is primarily about attracting strangers to your company or your product, giving them useful information, and eventually converting them into paying customers, right? Wrong. In the old days of marketing, that was the end of the story. Companies had an 800 number you could call if you were unhappy with the product or needed help, but it was written on the back of the package in six-point font. Essentially, once the handoff was made to sales, marketers stopped caring about that customer.

That’s not how things work anymore. Customers consult their friends and family on social media before they make a purchase. They don’t buy anything without reading reviews — 91 percent of customers regularly read reviews, and 84 percent of them trust reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend.

Speaking of trusting friends, customers are far more likely to trust each other than to trust messaging from the brand itself. They consult friends on social media before making purchases, and they make recommendations to each other when they’re happy with a product or a customer.

What does this all mean? It means that retaining your customers — keeping them happy enough to keep coming back and telling their friends about you — is just as important as acquiring them in the first place. And if your marketing team is going to do its best to delight customers, you need to be thinking about Customer Success.

What is Customer Success?

Customer Success isn’t just a synonym for customer service. In fact, Customer Success professionals tend to object to that comparison.

The big difference? Customer Success is all about anticipating customer challenges and questions, then providing solutions and answers, sometimes even before the customer themself knows about them.

Why is Customer Success so important? Why can’t customers just tell you when they have a problem? Simply put, because they don’t want to. Customers don’t like seeking out answers to the problems they’re experiencing, so you need to come to them.

How Marketing and Customer Success Can Work Together

When marketing and Customer Success teams are on the same page, businesses can engage, nurture, and delight their customers better than ever. Marketers know how to tailor messages to specific people, and Customer Success teams know the ins and outs of customer needs and desires.

But Customer Success is about more than just customer delight and retention. Customer Success can even help with acquisition in the first place. SaaS businesses often offer free trials, where customers can download the product without paying for it.

Those customers need to be nurtured as well. Customer Success teams can help to ensure that they have the best possible experience with the product, making it much easier to up-sell or cross-sell and turn them into paying customers.

Aligning Customer Success and Marketing

A lot of marketing goals are based on quantity. If you can get more shares, more likes, more signups, and more leads, your marketing team is doing its job. But any good marketer knows that quality is crucial — 100 bad leads are certainly not better than 10 good ones.

Instead, focus on customer outcomes — how the customer uses the product, whether they’ve adopted it into their daily workflow, whether your customers are referring other customers, or something more specific to your product — as long as the metric is tied to the customer’s success using the product, it’s helpful.

Next comes the most important part: communication. You’ll need constant feedback loops between the marketing and Customer Success teams in order to find out the most useful information.

Look into the usage patterns of customers that renew and customers that don’t. Is there something that they have in common? Maybe customers that install your software on multiple machines tend to renew more. Maybe there’s a certain feature that’s correlated to upgrading. Maybe the people that churn are all from small businesses. It might have nothing to do with your product — they just can’t afford your pricing.

Solicit feedback from your customers. Strike up conversations with your customers on social media, run surveys, and send follow-up emails asking what customers like and don’t like about your products and services. Talk to customer service teams too — anything that can help you identify patterns in your customers is useful.

Keep an eye on demographics, too. There might be certain industries, age groups, job titles, or verticals that keep appearing in either your promoters or detractors. Sometimes, it’s a matter of adjusting your approach to make those demographics happy. Sometimes, it’s just not a good fit.

Focus on Convenience

Convenience has always been a driver of progress, from the ATM to the personal computer to on-demand services like Netflix, Uber, and DoorDash. Your customers are experiencing that convenience in their daily lives, and they’ve come to expect it.

That means helping customers help themselves. Like we mentioned earlier, the customer doesn’t want to ask for help. They don’t want to get on the phone or wait until business hours to solve their problem. They want to be able to solve their problems themselves, or not to encounter those stumbling blocks in the first place.

This is where Customer Success gets a chance to shine. Onboarding campaigns that guide customers through setting up the product, useful knowledge bases that customers can consult when they need help, and automated systems that help CS team members predict where customers are most likely to need help can really help your company shine.

Marketing and Customer Success Go Hand in Hand

The more you can help your customers achieve success, the happier they’ll be. The happier they are, the more likely they are to say positive things about your company and your product. The more positive feedback your products get, the easier it will be to market it to new prospects, especially the friends and colleagues of existing customers — after a positive customer experience, 77 percent of customers are likely to recommend that company to a friend.

And the better your Customer Success program is at onboarding new customers, the more you’ll retain. When you put the customer’s needs first, everyone wins — the customer, the marketing department, the Customer Success department, and your bottom line.