I’ve talked about my belief that Marketing and Customer Success should talk more. In thinking about it, and in having conversations with many of you, I think it could go a step farther, into something a bit more radical and innovative — most of us are striving for innovation with products and services, so why shouldn’t our teams reflect that? Shouldn’t our business practices be just as next generation as the technologies we leverage?
What if Customer Success Managers were empowered to help their customers market themselves, making them more successful overall, not just in using the product, or service they’ve bought? Because, at the end of the day, if a customer is successful in using your solution, getting more customers with your help, and generating more revenue for their business, isn’t that a win for you?
My belief is that successful customers who find value in your product or service, are likely to tell other people about that, championing you and the way you do business. This reminds me of an experience I had at a vegan restaurant called Rosalinda in downtown Toronto. It was suggested as a date spot, and I had no idea it was vegan when I agreed (I’m not sure he did either, but that’s another story). I had never eaten vegan before, and I had no idea what to expect, let alone what to order. If I am super honest, I assumed all vegan food must taste like cardboard — if it tasted great, why aren’t we all vegan? So I went in with curiosity and perhaps a slight distrust. I quickly let the server be our guide, because it was clear he had a passion for the food and the process, as he offered suggestions on drinks, plates, and additions to make the night amazing. I ate a potato & mushroom flautas, and I don’t even like mushrooms…and it was delicious.
And guess what? The experience was amazing, and exceeded my expectations over and over again. So good in fact, that I spent more money than I thought I would, wrote a stellar review on Google, went back multiple times (in the same week!), brought friends, and told anyone I could about the amazing food, but more importantly about the service and experience I had there. And now, I’ve told you! And it wasn’t just the food, it was the experience with a server who wasn’t just trying to sell us a meal, but an experience which lead to a larger sale, multiple return visits and a Rosalinda champion for life!*
The same can be attributed to a customer’s experience with a product or service, and the team. Your customer has come to your product for a reason: the food. They’ll know they have a basic need for what you’re offering them, but outside of that, a little unsure about what they’re about to experience. Your onboarding, training and support is what they expect, much like I expected to be given a cocktail, some food and lively conversation. But where I believe CSM should shine, is in the additional experiences. Suggesting ways in which to use your solution that will increase their overall revenue, or extra add-ons, through thought leadership, or best practices, enhancing their business: the experience.
It all starts with the tools you give your Customer Success Manager. Empowering CSMs starts with a solid foundation of the product, a passion for your customers, and I believe, a marketing tool belt. Enabling that person, or team, to showcase the best you have to offer, and provide exceptional support, knowledge and value to the customer. With growth companies though, I think CSM should stand for Customer Success Marketer, being able to not only manage customers, but to go that extra mile, provide extra layers of assistance, and exceptional additional services including marketing best practices, so that customers find it easier to find more customers and revenue for themselves. Being able to nurture, grow and retain your current client base yields much higher rewards in shorter timeframes. And happy, well-fed customers are more likely to return, which opens the door to additional services, and to bring friends, which means a decrease in barrier to entry for new customers!
I think not only aligning, but combining Customer Success and Marketing makes for an innovative and holistic approach to customer teams. There will always be a need for marketing at the top of the funnel, working with sales, and shouting from the roof about who your company is, and why you matter. But I think the top-tier, next level service comes from combining forces and creating a new generation of CSMs: Customer Success Marketers, that help customers experience exceptional service. Do you agree or disagree?
*If you’re ever in downtown Toronto, go to Rosalinda’s, and definitely try the house-made hot sauces: out.of.this.world. And the pineapple cake. Did I need it? No. Am I glad I know it exists now? 100%.