Published by Brooke Goodbary - August 10, 2017

Collaboration across Customer Success and Growth Marketing drives a more positive customer experience

If someone were to ask who at your technology company owns growth and the customer experience, who would raise their hand? Or perhaps a better question is who wouldn’t raise their hand?

In the early days, growth and a positive customer experience are everyone’s responsibility. But as companies grow and employees continue to specialize, it makes sense to form teams to own certain responsibilities. The downside of specialization is siloed teams that have misaligned or even conflicting goals.

Customer Success and Growth Marketing teams have sprung out of a need for internal teams to work better together, offering a more effective customer experience while driving new and existing customer growth. And yet, these two cross-functional teams often forget to work together.

At one technology company where I previously worked, the Growth Marketing folks forgot to inform Customer Success of pricing plan changes before they went into effect. This meant that Customer Success Managers (CSMs) learned about the update during an awkward conversation with their customers. Another time, Customer Success failed to let Growth Marketing know that customers found their monthly invoices confusing. CSMs had to field monthly questions about pricing and had a harder time upselling customers to more expensive plans because it wasn’t clear what they were paying for. Both the company and customers benefit when Growth Marketing leverages insights the Customer Success team gains from working with customers.

The majority of the experiments and optimizations Growth Marketing teams analyze fall under stages of the growth marketing funnel. We’ll use this funnel to take a closer look at how Customer Success can provide insights that multiply the impact of Growth Marketing teams.

Incorporating Customer Success insights into the growth marketing funnel

During my time at technology companies, I’ve found it’s common to focus on specific stages of the growth marketing funnel at different times. For instance, while riding the momentum of a product launch you might have no trouble acquiring new customers but struggle to convert just 5% into active users. The old adage that “growth fixes all problems” is only true until a poor customer experience at one (or more) stages of the funnel leads to lack of growth.

Acquisition- Reach potential new customers through distribution and acquisition marketing channels and capture people interested in your product as new leads.

  • Insights from Customer Success: Identifying which characteristics are more likely to result in a successful customer allows Growth Marketing to target prospects and companies that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP). These leads will be more receptive to marketing campaigns and are more likely to become satisfied long-term customers.
  • Benefits to customer: Pursuing potential customers who are more likely to find value in your product allows you to optimize your messaging to clearly outline how your product can solve their problems.
  • Benefits to company: With SaaS companies spending a median of $1.13 to acquire each dollar of new customer annual contract value, targeting companies that fit your ICP can greatly lower your customer acquisition cost.

Activation- Motivate new leads to sign up for your product.

  • Insights from Customer Success: Sharing customer stories and the benefits they’ve received from your product or service makes leads more likely to buy into your company’s vision (instead of just a list of features) by identifying with the problems your product addresses. This aspirational mindset can also be helpful if you hit implementation roadblocks during the retention stage.
  • Benefits to customer: No one likes signing up for a product that doesn’t solve the problem it was “hired” to solve. Testimonials and case studies allow customers to see what they can expect to accomplish with your solution.
  • Benefits to company: Streamlining your targeted messaging of potential new customers during the acquisition and activation stages decreases your customer acquisition cost while increasing your customer lifetime value. This means that new customers can sign up at a lower cost and will bring in more revenue by sticking around longer.

Retention– Onboard new customers to expose the value of your product and create long-term user engagement.

  • Insights from Customer Success: Getting users to sign up is just the beginning! For companies that have both a self-serve and sales-owned sign-up process, Customer Success and Growth Marketing need to work together closely to create a consistent customer experience. The two teams should collaborate on identifying key actions that increase the likelihood of customer success and use this data to create engagement campaigns that blend automation and a human touch.
  • Benefits to customer: Post sign-up, customers are full of optimism and hope, and it’s your job to shorten the time it takes for them to gain value from your product. Properly onboarded and engaged users can use your product to solve their problems and receive maximum value. Onboarding campaigns should not only teach users how your product works, but also illustrate how it will benefit them.
  • Benefits to company: A great onboarding workflow has compounding benefits.

A 5% increase in customer retention leads to more than a 25% increase in profits.

Revenue- Connect revenue to the value customers receive from your product through expansion, cross-sells and upsells.

  • Insights from Customer Success: Ideally, your company should capture additional revenue as customers receive incremental value from your product and services. Customer Success teams directly impact this process by assisting customers in achieving the goals they have for your product. This impact can come in the form of expansion revenue (ie. a customer pays more as they use your product more), cross-sells (ie. buying additional products or features) and upsells (ie. purchasing additional seats). With pricing impacting the experience of every single customer, these two teams need to work together to ensure the pricing model makes sense for your company and your customers.
  • Benefits to customer: Customers will be pleased to hear from your team if you can offer additional products and services that allow them to solve the problems they face each day.
  • Benefits to company: According to a Totango study, 70–90% of a customer’s lifetime value is generated via renewals, cross-sells and upsells.

Referral- Leverage the success of your current customers to drive growth through referrals.

  • Insights from Customer Success: Because Customer Success cultivates loyalty and advocacy in users, they are able to identify which customers are most likely to act as references and collaborate on case studies.
  • Benefits to customer: Customer stories can provide co-marketing exposure that is mutually beneficial to your customers.
  • Benefits to company: 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral.

Building a system for Customer Success and Growth Marketing to work together

In order to effectively work together, teams need to establish shared goals and priorities. To this end, both teams focus on encouraging users towards behavior that they know drive long-term customer success.

Because Growth Marketing runs growth experiments that often impact current customers, they need to work closely with Customer Success to ensure the customer experience is never being sacrificed in exchange for short-term growth hacks. Creating opportunities to share tribal knowledge that exists within these two teams (and the numerous other teams they work with) allows them to be more effective by not having to learn the same lessons twice.

Examples of Customer Success and Growth Marketing collaboration:

  1. Growth Marketing manages an automated new user onboarding campaign in a customer communication platform, like Intercom. Customer Success digs into the performance of this campaign to see how each message performed for different customer personas and reaches out to users who did not complete all onboarding stages for additional training and feedback.
  2. Customer Success wants to automatically trigger an in-app message to customers who have reached their seat limit. In this message, the CSM suggests the user use the Calendly link provided to schedule a time to chat about expanding their account. Growth analyzes the performance of this campaign. Because personal outreach is shown to increase account expansions, they A/B test personal touchpoints from Sales or Customer Success into different stages of the growth marketing funnel.

Customer Success and Growth Marketing teams share the goal of creating a more positive customer experience that drives long-term growth. Customer Success teams need to have an open channel of communication with Growth Marketing to share knowledge gained from working with new and existing customers. When the Growth Marketing team takes the time to incorporate the insights the Customer Success team gains from working with customers, both the company and the customer benefit.

This post comes from Brooke Goodbary. She has spent the past 6 years delivering more value to customers. She was most recently an Account Manager at Intercom, a messaging platform that empowers businesses to have human conversations and create personalized experiences with users. Brooke enjoys exploring her new surroundings in Barcelona, practicing yoga, and blogging about Customer Success on Medium.

  • To this end, both teams focus on encouraging users towards behavior that they know drive long-term customer success.

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