B2B Marketing Blog

What Our Customer Success Team Taught Us About Referral Marketing

By Lauren Frye
Aug 17, 2015
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We find it fascinating when a company pivot in one business area causes fortuitous side effects in other departments. In this case, our customer support team changed their approach in order to offer enhanced customer services, and our marketing team saw remarkable, unanticipated effects reflected in our marketing data. Here’s the story.

The-Referral-Effect

Moving from Customer Support to Customer Success

During the early stages of Bizible, as deals were consistently closing, all seemed well in the land of sales. After their product demo, system installation, and onboarding process was complete, customers seemed satisfied. However, while our sales team was paying attention to our current pipeline of leads and opportunities, we also needed to support our current customers.

But we had a problem. Our customer support team... was also our sales team. We were pulled in two directions, unable to fulfill either one of these roles proficiently. At the end of the day, we realized that we weren’t dedicating enough resources to be able to serve our current clients well and move them along in their understanding of Bizible’s role in their marketing. This was very concerning.

As we sought out a solution, we began to design a new division within Bizible. It wasn’t long before we concluded that merely solving technical issues wasn’t the only service we wanted to provide. We actually didn’t need a ‘support’ team. Instead, we needed a team that would identify with the customer’s marketing goals and help them achieve those objectives. So, we formed our Customer Success Team.

The Customer’s KPI Became Our Success Metric

All of our customers have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they measure, along with goals for each of those metrics. Whether it’s increasing sales revenue, decreasing cost-per-acquisition, raising marketing ROI, or reducing wasted ad spends, they all have finish lines that they’re trying to cross. And when a customer chooses Bizible as a way to achieve those goals, our Customer Success Team rallies around them.

We knew that our customers didn’t just deserve to be satisfied, but they deserved to be successful. Our customer’s goals became our goals, and their KPIs now mattered to us as much as they mattered to them.

The 5 Specific Goals of Our Customer Success Team:

1. Availability - We didn’t want to be a faceless organization in the eyes of our clients. Instead, our Customer Success team is available to every customer, able to answer any questions or help with any problems from day one.

2. Education - There is a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) that runs right alongside new customers, making sure that they understand the features, reports, and system functions of the Bizible app. 

3. Support - Troubleshooting, problem solving, and technical assistance is one of our highest priorities as well. We never want difficulties with our system to throw a monkey wrench into our customer’s marketing success.

4. Communication - We don’t just wait for our customers to reach out to us. Our team takes an interest in reaching out to them. Our customers can expect regular communication from their CSM, who is ready and willing to talk about marketing strategy, reporting and even to chat for a minute.

5. Sophistication - As we continue to work with our customers, they eventually become experts themselves. They dive deeper into the data, and they begin analyzing the metrics on a more granular level. Instead of simply understanding the data that Bizible provides, they start exploring that data to create informed and effective marketing campaigns. Bizible becomes a tool in their belt as they become more successful at developing their craft.

As we pursued these goals, we began to see incredible feedback from our customers. Our focus on facilitating their success was apparent to them, and we started to see a consequent impact at a marketing level. All marketers know that word-of-mouth marketing and social proof evidence have an impact on referrals, but we started to see those principles come to fruition.

Lincoln Murphy (@lincolnmurphy), a marketer who writes extensively on the topic of customer success, explains it this way in his article Customer Success: The Definitive Guide saying,

“Having worked with over 300 SaaS companies – as well as Enterprise Software vendors migrating to SaaS – I can say without a doubt that Customer Success must be a fully-integrated, tightly-coupled component of a complete SaaS Business Architecture… You make sure your customers are successful and they’ll make sure you’re successful.”

Resulting Impact on a Marketing Level

Not long after our Customer Success Team began their work, we began to see a consistent uptick in referrals. Let’s take a look at the chart below.

Bizible-Opportunities-From-Referrals-v3.jpg

While this graph doesn’t depict specific numbers, it does show the ratio of increase. The specific number of referrals in the fourth quarter of 2014 corresponds to the number 1 on the line graph. The figure ‘x2’ means that the number of referrals doubled, ‘x3’ means the number of referrals tripled, and so on from there.

After our Customer Success Team began, we saw our ‘opportunities from referrals’ metric more than quadruple in the first quarter of 2015. While we had always focused on helping our customers, it was apparent that they really appreciated the vested effort from our Customer Success Team to ensure that they were well equipped with everything they needed and more.

What We Learned about Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

While we understood in principle the impact that strong WOM marketing could have, we were able to see this firsthand through the data. When customers have an exceptional onboarding (and ongoing) experience with a SaaS company, they’re far more likely to recommend and promote that company’s services on their own time.

We also learned that marketing is really a full-company undertaking. Yes, the marketing team writes content, publishes posts, creates ads, and coordinates events, but every single employee, regardless of which team they belong to, is a vital cog in the marketing wheel. Although their mission is specifically to help our customers be as successful as possible, our customer success team incidentally supported the company’s marketing goals. 

Our success team was immensely encouraged, our marketing team was very impressed, and our sales team was ramped and ready to connect with these new referrals.

When it comes down to it, everyone sells, everyone markets, and everyone serves customers. There is meaningful overlap in the services rendered by each team. Yes, we all specialize for the sake of efficiency, but we see blurred lines between departments all the time and for very good reasons. It keeps our company mission holistic.  For us, the key is to be communally focused on the same goal - serving those people who choose to partner with us to make marketing more effective.Definitive Guide To Pipeline Marketing  Everything you need to know to be a revenue-focused B2B marketer.  Download Now

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