The customer success vs marketing battle has been waged for years. Both are important to any SaaS business, but who will come out on top?
I remember when I was first starting my career, I was torn between these two departments. Both seemed equally important to the company’s success. But as I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve realized that customer success is the true key to a company’s longevity. Marketing may bring in new customers, but it is customer success that keeps them coming back. Marketing may create buzz around a product or service, but it’s customer success that turns that into lasting loyalty and advocacy.
In the SaaS world, the importance of customer retention cannot be understated. So if I have to choose between customer success vs marketing, I believe that customer success should be every company’s top priority.
Customer Success vs Marketing: What’s the Difference?
Customer success is the proactive approach to ensuring customers are successful with a company’s products or services. Marketing is the process of creating and delivering messages that promote the company and its products.
What is Customer Success?
Customer success is quickly becoming a recognized industry, and more and more companies are investing in it.
Customer success teams play an important role in each organization by depending on individual business models.
There is never a one size fits all approach when it comes to customer success — everything needs to be tailored to the specific needs of the business.
Customer Success Managers (CSM) and Account Management (AM) are closely related, but their roles are slightly different. While both work with customers, AMs are more focused on driving sales, while CSMs are focused more on retaining clients.
The head of customer success is the person in charge of managing the customer relationship after the sale. They are the liaison between the company and the client, making sure that the product meets their expectations.
They want to make sure their customers are happy with their products.
The CSM will use metrics to gauge the stability of their customer base and work to prevent customer churn.
Customer success is all about making sure our current customers are happy and successful. We focus on nurturing our relationships with them, so they stay with us for the long run.
Although customer success, marketing, and sales have different objectives, they all share a common focus on the customer. This intersection is what makes these fields so important in ensuring customer retention and satisfaction.
Your customer success team is responsible for keeping current clients and customers happy but does so in a non-intrusive way. They don’t want to feel pressured by an aggressive sales team, nor do they want to be part of a push-and-pull marketing campaign.
Customer Success Managers need to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with others to succeed.
Each department in a company will have its own goals, but how do they all fit together? And how do interdepartmental communications work in an organization?
How to Measure Customer Success
Customer success is more focused on providing long-term value to the customer, which sets it apart from customer service and customer support which are more reactive.
It’s used to nurture customer relationships after initial purchase, taking customers through the steps necessary to onboard them and calculate important things like their satisfaction level, their NPS, and their value to your business.
How to measure customer satisfaction
The Customer Satisfaction Score (or CSAT) is a survey that asks customers to grade their experience with your business from very unsatisfied to very satisfied. By asking customers about their experience, you can gain a better understanding of how happy your customers are.
The customer selects the option that corresponds to their level of satisfaction. The responses are then tallied and divided by the total number of survey respondents to give the CSAT score as a percentage.
A high CSAT score indicates that the majority of your customers are happy with your product or service. This, in turn, is likely to lead to increased loyalty and repeat business. A low score, on the other hand, should prompt you to take a closer look at what’s causing dissatisfaction among your clientele.
(Number of satisfied customers / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers
How to calculate the Net Promoter Score
It’s important to be able to calculate your net promoter score so that you can measure customer loyalty and see if they would recommend your product.
NPS = (% of promoters – % of detractors)
How to calculate the customer lifetime value
To calculate your customer’s lifetime value, you’ll need to gather a few pieces of data: annual revenue, length of time the customer has been with you, and original cost of acquiring that customer.
Once you have this information, you can calculate the customer lifetime value (CTLV) of your customers. The CTLV is the average amount that a customer will spend with your business over their entire relationship with you.
CLV = (annual revenue per customer x length of relationship) – original cost of customer acquisition
Once you’ve got your organizational goals, you can measure your success using specific key performance indicators (KPIs).
Customer Success Tactics
Listen To Your Customers
To ensure that your customers are successful when using your product, you’ll need to create your own guidelines. Never forget: your customer is your most valuable asset.
By aligning your goals with your client’s, you are setting yourself up for success.
What are your goals for this sale? What does your client hope to achieve?
How can you both benefit from your work together?
It’s a lot like going on a first date – once you’ve decided that you’re compatible with someone, having good communication skills right off the bat will help you build a strong relationship.
The goal is that you and your client will be in sync so you’re not just answering troubleshooting questions.
By building strong relationships with customers, you can show them what your company’s culture is like, and ensure that it will be a good fit for them. Once you’ve got this down, you can move quickly and with purpose.
If you want to have a truly successful company, you’ll need to create a dedicated customer success team that will work with your customers and clients to help them succeed. This team will be on the lookout for problems before they arise, but they’ll still be there to answer questions as they come up. Having this team available will make the entire process smoother.
When you have questions, it’s helpful to have somebody there who can answer them. Having a team available to clients makes answering their questions much easier.
Your Customer Success team’s goal should be to be both proactive and reactive. They should be proactively setting you up for success by setting up meetings, preventing any roadblocks, and providing any resources that you need. They should be responsive in responding to any requests and issues that you might have.
When problems arise, it’s important to work reactively to fix them and move forward with the customer. By ensuring that your customers’ needs are met, you ensure their satisfaction, build their loyalty, and increase revenue through growth.
Although the definition of success varies by industry and company, one thing is for certain: it’s different for everyone.
Success means different things to different companies. What one company may deem as successful, another company may not. It all depends on the goals and objectives of the company.
First, define what it means for you and your business to be successful.
As you help customers through their journeys with your business, you must keep them involved and aware of what’s happening. This means that you need to consider what needs to happen at every stage of the journey to make sure customers are happy and satisfied. By being responsive and communicative, you can make sure you’re delivering what customers want while achieving your own company objectives.
Having a solid plan, working with others, and being reliable will help you and your customers reach your goals.
How to Make Customer Success, Marketing and Sales Work Together
The success of your customers is a collaborative effort between sales and marketing.
Both marketing and customer service play important roles in customer acquisition and retention. To create a cohesive customer experience, both teams need to work together.
But like any team, there are often miscommunications between departments. After all, no department is exactly the same as another.
Different departments within a company are bound to have different approaches, but collaboration is key to success. Having identical departments would be a waste of time and money, so it’s important to work together.
By collaborating, customer success, marketing, and sales can achieve great things.
How Sales and Customer Success Align
We recently spoke with Debby Senra, the Senior Vice President of Sales at Hireology, who explained her organization’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis and the steps it took to pivot its sales strategy to meet the needs of its customers.
“We had some customers who were doing layoffs and, in some states, you are not legally allowed to post jobs when you’re doing a layoff for that role. So some of our customers were calling in, and they were saying, ‘It’s illegal for me to use your software right now’, and, for that customer, it just made no sense to do a 50% discount: 50% off of something that they can’t use isn’t enough.”
While other companies were laying off employees, hiring freezes, and cutting benefits, we remained committed to our employees and helped them find new jobs.
“We built a decision tree for our customer success team that essentially looked at what was happening with the customer and the decision tree led the team to the concession that they were allowed to offer.”
For customers who were worried about their companies failing, canceling their contract was the right decision.
It’s important to remember that your business needs to profit just as much as your client.
Rather than follow their competitors’ lead and offer a 50% discount on their services, the marketing department at Hireology realized that 10% was a better offer.
If you’re a software as a service (SaaS) business, one way to keep your customers satisfied is by providing them with discounts. Another option would be to temporarily reduce access to your product.
Empathy is an admirable trait, but how does it factor into sales and business?
With a customer-first mindset, the Sales team at Hireology was able to be more adaptive and reactive when reaching out to new potential customers.
“[We] transitioned that mentality to our sales team and mirrored the options that we had for our customers to our new business prospects. Now, there weren’t as many [as when] we’d offer 10%. But it did help them be more consultative based on what they thought was best for the dealership and how they could help them.”
The success of our customer success team has played a key role in helping us stay competitive in the recruitment industry.
The key point from this interview is ‘consulting’.
A consultative sales process puts more emphasis on the customer’s needs and wants, and less on the product.
1. Basic Communication
To optimize communication between your team and customers, you need to implement a system that’s easy for people to use.
If there’s any kind of misunderstanding or confusion, then you can be sure that there will be negative effects both inside and outside of the organization.
An organization that implements tools to encourage collaboration between its teams can ensure that all departments are working towards the same goals.
The challenge of unifying every element can be difficult when businesses are growing rapidly.
Not only should each department of a company be aligned, but the company as a whole should have objectives that are aligned with each other.
It’s important to make sure that all of your departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service, are on the same page. Otherwise, you may run into some internal conflict.
For sales and marketing, it’s important to share strategies and tactics for identifying the different personas of your target audience. One way to do this is by incentivizing current customers who use your product frequently.
This is an excellent way to engage your customers, which will drive more productivity and engagement with your product or service.
Sales teams are often focused on acquiring new leads and customers. However, it can be more economical to reactivate former customers who have stopped using your product or service (i.e. churned).
By identifying which clients have been lost to churning and focusing your marketing efforts on winning them back, you can reduce spending on new campaigns and focus instead on clients who already have an interest in your product or service.
If a customer is lost due to churning, they were likely interested in the product or service at one point and were familiar with your company.
Most customers that cancel their contract because of price are more likely to do so than because of poor customer service.
Since a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to winning customers is not an effective one, and it is impossible to win over every customer, it is important to focus on those customers who are more likely to convert.
The key to successful win-back campaigns lies in technology. By using sophisticated customer databases, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of how customers use their service. This knowledge is essential in targeting the most profitable customers for marketing strategies.
Customer success vs marketing: which is more important to a SaaS business? In the end, customer success is the true key to a company’s longevity. Marketing may bring in new customers, but it’s customer success that keeps them coming back. Marketing may create buzz around a product or service, but it’s customer success that turns that into lasting loyalty and advocacy. If you want your business to succeed in the long run, make sure you’re investing in customer success!