How can marketing work effectively with the growing Customer Success teams on the customer-facing front lines of their businesses?
The question has been on my mind since I attended the Totango Customer Success Summit recently. Businesses are staffing and expanding Customer Success teams at a rapid pace. These growing teams are filled with people who talk to the customers every day and are passionate about helping customers realize value from the solution. They are important allies for marketers, particularly in businesses with subscription-based models that need customers to keep renewing.
Yet many of the Customer Success professionals I spoke with struggled to collaborate with colleagues in marketing.
In large organizations, turf battles or budget wars get in the way of collaboration. In smaller businesses or startups, marketers are often so overwhelmed getting new leads that they hand off all responsibility for customer engagement after the sale.
Some forward-thinking organizations are making an organizational commitment to customer lifecycle marketing by embedding a marketer within the growing Customer Success team.
The Embedded Marketer: On the Customer Front Lines
In wartime, embedded reporters carry stories of what’s happening on the front line to the public at large. A marketer embedded on the Customer Success team can do much more, carrying intelligence in both directions and participating in the battle.
- Inbound intelligence: The embedded marketer can gather customer feedback, nurture relationships, and generate customer success stories to help the marketing team.
- Outbound communications (the front lines): Marketers can create proactive, “low-touch” campaigns that align with marketing messages to help the Customer Success teams operate at scale.
Having someone on the Customer Success team participate in marketing team meetings and initiatives will strengthen the links between the groups, creating a culture of nurturing customers after the sale.
Or, Try Talking
Not every business is ready to make organizational changes to link marketing and Customer Success. If you don’t have that top-down commitment, you can still take action the old-fashioned way – through personal connections. If you’re in marketing, go meet the Customer Success Managers. Sit in on calls and meetings and ask them what they need. Set up a monthly check in, or go out for coffee.
Remember the old saying about asking forgiveness rather than permission? That certainly applies here. As one of the participants at the Customer Success Summit told me, “Sometimes it’s easiest to reach across departments and not wait for top-down direction. I took it upon myself to be that person.”
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Image: Ernie Pyle with 191st Tank battalion, 1944 Source: US Army Center of Military History.