“How does marketing aid Customer Success?” This was the question I was asked recently by our CEO. Luckily our CEO fully understands and sees the importance of both Customer Success and Marketing. However, he was probing how the two departments can best work with each other to deliver a great customer lifecycle.
When talking about Customer Success I love the concept of going on a journey with a customer. Usually I visualise this as a walk along a riverbank. Starting from onboarding and walking along the riverbank to the next milestone and so on. The illustration below aims to depict this journey, having completed milestone 1, the journey to milestone 2 commences.
As the customer is walking along the riverbank towards their next milestone, the river is flowing next to them in the same direction of travel. Now imagine throwing some sticks into the river at the start. Some will not travel far before stopping on the river bank, some will catch up with the customer, some may sink, some will pass the customer, and some may get the customers attention and cause them to change their path.
Running within the river are two constant flows of sticks caught up in the flow. The first is product development. Product Development is continually flowing, minor changes are introduced as well as new and improved features. Some of these features and improvements will have little or effect on a customer, some will have much more of an impact and some will not be on the customers roadmap, just yet.
The second flow of sticks comes from marketing. A flow of case study’s, success sharing, new features explained, white papers, research, training videos etc. Again, some will not catch up with where a customer is, some will overtake the customer and some will have a big impact on the customer.
On occasion Product Development, Marketing or a combination of them both deliver a feature/marketing message that reaches the customer and results in a significant advancement in a customer’s journey.
This acts like a bridge over the river that allows a customer to advance significantly within the same number of steps and possibly even skipping a milestone.
Examples of this might be a Marketing piece showcasing how another customer utilises the software by using it in a slightly different manner.
A feature is introduced such as an integration with the customers CRM.
This allows the customer to use your solution far easier and in more ways.
In my opinion Marketing helps to share the success of other customers, introduce new features/updates and educate customers on different ways of doing things, especially best practice.
It can also act as an authentic source to educate on the sector as a whole.
Within the business I work for we predominantly deal with the charity sector. As part of this we are continually learning and researching the sector and have gathered information such as new trends in fundraising, new and proposed regulation changes and produced several white papers on our learnings.
Running in tandem with Customer Success, Marketing supports the customer lifecycle and adds in additional pieces of information that aid the customer journey.
The phrase bill shock has been used within the telecoms sector for the past two decades. With the rise of subscription/value-based pricing the concept of bill shock has spread to most sectors. Bill shock is used to describe the negative reaction a customer can experience if their bill has unexpected charges/rises.
It is referred to as ‘shock’ as it triggers negative emotions and can result in a customer dropping their usage or even terminating their subscription. Bill shock can also be a main trigger for turning a customer into a detractor.
As with anything, the best way to resolve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. In reality it is quite likely that the more a client uses your service, the more value they are getting from it. However, clients can be sometimes quick to forget this if they are confronted with a bill that is 50% higher than their last. Especially if they haven’t budgeted for the increase.
Pricing is often very emotional. If a customers invoice increases and it comes as a shock, this can drive emotions that are very hard to overcome, such as the feeling of mistrust.
Top Tips for preventing Bill Shock.
If you have a customer with Bill Shock the first three questions you should be trying to answer are.
As I mentioned earlier, there will probably be a big benefit to your customer from their increase in usage. E.G Your customer spent £1000 more but were able to produce 500 more marketing materials for this. Done without your service these items created manually would have cost £20,000.
Once you have the answers to these questions you will be in a much better position when speaking with your customer.
Talk through the emotions and bring the conversation back to the value that they have received. If they hadn’t have increased their usage, what would the impact have been on their business. E.G. Less marketing materials to support new sales.
Your customer needs to be moved from seeing a rise in cost to a rise in returned value.
In short, the best way to manage Bill Shock is to stop it occurring in the first place. Regularly review usage with your clients, this can be through automated reporting, or during catch-up calls and reviews. Make your pricing as simple as possible and ensure your clients understand it.