There’s no need to leave your customer advocacy to chance.
In fact, in today’s competitive SaaS world you won’t find yourself very competitive unless you address how you’re cultivating advocates on behalf of your product and brand.
The good news is, you can operationalize various processes that engage customers to cultivate and convert them into advocates, not only for your benefit, but first and foremost for your customers’ benefit.
When done successfully this approach turns more of your customers into thought leaders in their industry while they actively advocate on your behalf -- a true win-win.
Such efforts create meaningful gains in specific metrics from NPS and CSAT to hard dollar impacts on new sales pipeline, cross-sells and upsells.
Want to learn how to achieve this?
Join the “Customer Success + Marketing” webinar hosted by Gainsight and Influitive on February 22, 2018 at 10am (PT) / 1pm (ET).
You’ll learn real-world, practical advice on how to reach customers at the right moments to bring them, and you, value, allowing you a repeatable method to cultivate an influential team of customer advocates.
Learn cross-functional ideas about how you can motivate customers to take advocacy actions like contributing to case studies, webinars, videos, online reviews, and other valuable assets.
Join, me, Howard Tarnoff (Founder & Managing Director of Customer Success LLC) and Carlos Gonzalez (Vice President of Customer Success Operations at Ceridian) as we reveal the advocacy playbooks we respectively use to:
Even if you can’t attend live, register and get the recorded replay emailed to you.
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Over the holidays, I spent a great deal of time looking into what I like to call the Prospect Experience. In our first blog, we talked about how necessary it is to break down silos within your organization, and why many organizations need to better streamline their customer success process to do just that. So, let me connect the dots.
What many organizations fail to realize is that this process shouldn’t just start once someone becomes a customer. Instead, it’s key to start investing in your customer's experience before she has signed with you—and should even start with the very first steps of the Prospect Experience.
This is because at the beginning of the prospect journey, she is searching in places where marketing can’t even find her. Although these seekers have identified a business outcome they want to solve—for which your solution might be the right fit—it’s impossible for your marketing team to influence them your way because they’re only looking for social recommendations and talking to their peers.
Although marketers may think that the solution is to bombard potential prospects with even more messaging, you then run the risk of alienating them. If marketing’s voice is too loud, it can drown out the voice of your happy customers—which is what prospects really want to hear.
So, rather than driving away future customers with too much marketing, how do you support your happy customers instead?
Holistic Customer Success at every step of the way
Throughout the traditional buying journey, prospects usually become aware of your Customer’s Experience far before they make a buying decision. This is important because their evaluation of your organization won’t just be based on their appraisal of your solution. It’ll also be based on what they can see of your commitment to their success, such as how they support customers and celebrate their successes.
This will serve as a key differentiator when making their final buying decision. For example, Company A and B might have a very similar service… but at the end of the day, if it’s difficult to do business with Company A, whereas in Company B, customers are asked for input and have opportunities to share their successes with the solution, prospects will feel supported even before signing on with you.
That sharing of successes is what influences companies in their buyer’s journey well before they ever talk to the company, because prospects will see that customers are happy and engaged – which is much more trustworthy than marketing messaging alone. That’s why it’s important to make it as easy as possible for customers to Advocate on your behalf.
You also have to show customers who are willing to engage with their peers about their successes with your solutions that they can reap rewards from doing so. They have to see that, in talking about their successes, they’ll see benefits like becoming thought leaders in their field.
Once you have a system in place that allows your customers to feel valued for their contributions, it becomes a self-fulfilling circle. The people who are engaging fully with your organization are those who will be blogging about your solution, or commenting on LinkedIn. They’ll be speaking at events and talking to analysts. This participation then feeds the pool of potential customers that marketing can’t touch with direct insights about your business.
Holistic Customer Success in every part of the business
As we stated in our last blog, this approach to CX relies on the full participation of your company. Anyone who touches the customer experience in some way needs to be fully bought in to make it successful… and you might be asking yourself, why would anyone else in my organization care?
To sell Holistic Customer Success within your organization, you have to find the message that will resonate within each part of it. For example, your salespeople will care because they’ll have customers who are ready, willing and able to share successes with prospects. Sales management will see that their sales efficiency rises when new opportunities are peer-influenced and educated before the sale. Product marketing will see more input from customers on product releases, from those who are truly committed to being part of a customer experience community.
Even your engineering and product development team will start to see the benefits. With a group of happy customers who are ready and willing to share their feedback on your new products, the development team won’t need to spend as much time internally testing. The feedback they’re getting will also be more useful as it will be coming from the end user’s perspective rather than only from engineering. Plus, with an engaged and excited customer base, they’re likely to see a growth in early adopters—which benefits everyone else too.
How to measure Holistic Customer Success
Of course, to most organizations it all comes down to the hard KPIs that can be measured and tracked. Some of the categories that can be measured as KPIs are:
The bottom line is that real value will first and foremost be seen in an improved customer experience even at the prospect level. In supporting your happy customers throughout their time with you, and by rewarding them for their success, you’ll soon see why Holistic Customer Success affects the entire organization.
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Welcome to Customer Success LLC
Throughout my time as a customer success leader, I’ve noticed a troubling trend in customer success. Rather than simply focusing on making your customers as successful as possible, it seems like customer success is becoming all about putting out fires and ensuring renewals.
That’s where the creation of Customer Success LLC comes in. Quite simply, I saw an opportunity to help customer success leaders drive a more integrated customer experience—and make their organization stronger by doing so.
What holistic customer success means to us
Today, far too many customer success experts are doing great work in silos. Instead of having a consistent workflow, which allows the customer to move seamlessly from one part of the organization to another, there are gaps and divisions in the process. One person owns customer experience, another customer engagement, yet another customer success, and then finally another owns customer advocacy.
This means that the customer experience often ends up being disjointed. Loyal customers are shuttled from one department to the next, or one point of contact to another, without having a clear idea of who can really help them–or having a clear plan for their own success.
Sound familiar? If you’ve noticed something similar within your organization, it’s time to start creating a more holistic journey for your customers. This means establishing a clear success plan, from the time a prospect becomes a customer all the way through their onboarding and beyond.
Think like your customer thinks
That’s also why you need to start thinking about this from another vantage point. Rather than being confined by the silos that exist within your organization, try to imagine your customer’s point of view.
Ideally, they’d see you as one solid organization. Right now, though, they might be seeing you as a disjointed group of people who mean well. To build customers who truly believe in your brand and who are willing to advocate on your behalf, you need to make sure your customer success operation is running without a hitch.
And how can this be done? You begin to think like a customer when the organization collectively owns the customer experience, and is dedicated to their success at every level—from your customer service reps on the front lines all the way through to your CEO.
Achieve company success through customer success
Your success as an organization, as I’ve said for years, is equal to the sum of your customers’ successes. By creating a culture that values customers’ successes above all else, you’ll begin reaping the benefits of a more engaged customer base: increased retention, accelerated sales revenue through referrals and references, and added social proof for your brand.
But developing a customer-centric company doesn’t come easy. Before you can empower your customers, you have to make sure you’re listening to their voices. The best driver of all of the benefits I mentioned above is passionate customers… but you need to reach out and cultivate them throughout the customer lifecycle if you want to see it happen.
How to create the best customer experience
So, how can we at Customer Success LLC help you do this? Quite simply, by focusing on the ways your organization can transform your customer success processes to hone in on what your customers really need.
We’ll help you create well-defined swim lanes and owners for each part of the customer journey, your organization will be able to create a road map that drives customer successes at every level. By using the voice of the customer as our guiding principle, we’ll help you make your customer success stronger than ever.
Our upcoming blog series will be dedicated to helping you get from one mindset to another: from “The Customer is Mine” to “The Customer is Ours”. Follow this space for more insights on the customer journey, advice on customer success strategies, and more. I’m excited to begin the journey to longtime customer success with you—and with your customers.
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