When customer success and marketing work in close alignment, the entire customer journey changes for the better. Customers enjoy a seamless, cohesive experience that works to establish trust from that first point of engagement and continues to strengthen that relationship for long-term satisfaction. And satisfaction of course fuels more growth.
How much growth, you ask? Forrester research shows that highly aligned companies grow at a 19% faster rate and are 15% more profitable than less aligned counterparts.
While these metrics sound ideal, the reality is customer success and marketing aren’t always as intertwined as they should be. Many companies struggle to bridge the gap between these two business functions and fully understand the value they can provide to one another.
Having spent 17 years in the tech industry — most recently at Salesforce — Ben Stein is no stranger to this divide. After 13 years in marketing, Ben moved to a customer success role to broaden his perspective on the customer lifecycle. Although the KPIs differ between customer success and marketing teams, the tactics and tools that drive success are similar. So while Ben was made clearly aware of the key gaps between these two business functions, he saw many opportunities for alignment that would ultimately benefit the customer and both departments.
We recently had the chance to talk with Ben and hear his insights about the gaps between customer success and marketing alongside practical solutions to address these gaps and create a seamless customer journey from start to finish. Here’s a look at the thoughts he had to share!
Ben’s Take on Customer Success & Marketing Gaps
The first thing to acknowledge is that gaps between customer success and marketing can vary depending on company size and goals. But on a broad scale, many of the companies that I talk to are still struggling to unify these business functions or even understand the value that each side of the organization can bring to the other.
Some common gaps that I see between customer success and marketing are:
- Inconsistent Messaging – Often, the messaging that we are putting into the market, driving customers through a demand generation funnel, isn’t consistent with what the customer sees once they’ve purchased the solution and are engaging with it.
- Customer Insights – Marketing tends to use a broader view to define its target audience, looking at data points from customers who previously bought to find similar companies (the propensity to buy model). Customer success teams have a deeper understanding of customers and their specific needs, including key insights about the health of the customer and utilization metrics.
- Lifecycle Management – Marketing typically focuses on the initial stages of the customer journey (lead generation/acquisition), while customer success primarily deals with post-purchase stages (onboarding/support/renewal). Both teams generally have a limited understanding of the stages of the lifecycle they’re not managing, resulting in poor expectation setting and customer experience. (As a side note, if marketing is providing the messaging that sales delivers to the customer, it is only widening the gap of the poor customer experience.)
- Aligned Goals/KPIs – Goal misalignment between marketing and customer success teams can create understanding and priority gaps. Marketing is likely focused on short-term metrics (lead/pipe generation, conversion rates, revenue), while customer success is focused on customer satisfaction, retention, and growth. Without shared goals or an understanding of how other KPIs impact your numbers, it is difficult to value the need for customer success and marketing alignment.
Ben’s Take on How to Address These Common Gaps
We all want to create a more seamless experience to ensure we’re setting the right expectations for our customers and create more revenue and growth opportunities for the company. So how can we bridge these gaps between customer success and marketing? Consider these solutions:
Structured Communication Between the Functions
Establishing a cadence of communication to share insights, collaborate on messaging, and align on the customer journey is a good place to start. Clear messaging establishes trust throughout a customer’s journey with you and helps avoid unmet expectations. When marketing and customer success have a shared understanding of the full customer lifecycle and collaborate on changes that need to be made, they’ll create a consistent and positive customer experience and improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
Share Every Data Point
Customer data is powerful, and marketing teams often underutilize the valuable data collected by client success teams. By sharing health, usage, and feedback data, marketers can gain valuable insights into customer pain points, preferences, and feedback. Integrating this data into propensity models allows for more targeted and personalized campaigns that resonate with customers and drive better results.
At the same time, this data will help marketing teams understand how important the way in which the data entering the system is captured and structured is to customer success. The cleaner and more structured marketing can make the data coming in, the more equipped customer success teams are to make the customer’s post-sale experience cohesive.
Align Goals and Metrics
While not every goal and metric needs to align between customer success and marketing, identifying shared company goals between the two groups fosters collaboration and maximizes customer value. Understanding how each team’s efforts contribute to the bigger picture ensures shared objectives, improving collaboration and overall performance.
Ben’s Take On the Value You Can Expect from These Solutions
Addressing the gaps between customer success and marketing is key in creating a customer-centric organization, improving collaboration, and driving long-term business success. By leveraging the solutions highlighted above to address these gaps, you’ll enjoy the benefits of:
- An Enhanced Customer Experience – Aligning customer success and marketing results in a seamless and consistent customer experience. Consistent messaging, efficient processes, and shared insights lead to higher customer satisfaction, reduced churn, and increased customer loyalty.
- Increased Efficiency – Improved collaboration and communication between customer success and marketing teams can eliminate redundancies, reduce miscommunication, and streamline processes. This increased efficiency results in cost savings, optimized resource allocation, and more effective operations.
- Better Decision-Making – Bridging data gaps allows for the sharing of customer insights between customer success and marketing teams. This exchange of information can lead to better-informed marketing strategies, product development decisions, and customer-focused initiatives. By leveraging the comprehensive understanding of customer’s needs and behaviors, businesses can make data-driven decisions that align with customer expectations and drive long-term success.
- Revenue Growth – When customer success and marketing work together, the alignment can lead to improved customer acquisition, a higher customer lifetime value, and increased revenue. Satisfied customers are more likely to become brand advocates, referring others to the company and contributing to business growth. By prioritizing alignment and collaboration, businesses can unlock new growth opportunities and maximize their revenue potential.
- A Continuous Feedback Loop – Establishing open lines of communication between customer success and marketing teams is essential for ongoing success. Regular meetings, joint planning sessions, and shared dashboards allow for real-time updates on customer feedback, challenges, and successes. By nurturing a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing, businesses can continuously improve their customer experiences and identify areas for innovation.
Ben’s Take on the Weight That Customer Onboarding Carries
One of the many bridges that connects customer success and marketing is customer onboarding — and it’s undoubtedly one of the most critical. With my years of experience in the onboarding and implementation stage, I can confidently say that a poor onboarding experience is the number one reason that customers drop off. Considering the cost of retaining customers versus acquiring new ones, it’s only natural to invest in onboarding solutions that create a better experience for customers and help them realize the value faster.
Thank you to Ben for his helpful insights on bridging the gaps between customer success and marketing! One of the points in the client journey that is often overlooked, but is important in this alignment conversation as Ben highlights, is the client onboarding process. After all, research has shown that 74% of potential clients will switch to an alternate solution if the onboarding process is complex.
Setuply is proud to provide a client onboarding automation platform that allows for structured communications across teams as well as shared visibility into data, goals, and metrics. You’ll have the tools to onboard new clients faster and the insights to keep enhancing the onboarding process so it’s as engaging and enjoyable as possible for clients. To experience the possibilities, request a Setuply demo today!