Most people understand the basic economic principles of customer retention. It’s always cheaper to keep an existing client than to sign a new one. But, are customer success strategies regularly being optimized around this principle?
Measuring customer success has shifted dramatically over the past decade. It’s critical to approach this aspect of marketing with a fresh perspective.
“If you are viewing the impact of customer success along a continuum, then every point on that continuum contributes to the growth and success of the business.”
- Mike Skeehan, Salted Stone CEO
Your Client Lifetime Value (or CLV) increases when you leverage your existing customer base as a profitable channel for brand evangelization and upselling opportunities. To an extent, current customers and leads should be treated the same — both audiences need nurturing, consistent communication, and proof that your service, product, or organization can provide value.
Reverting back to the inbound methodology, the final and sometimes overlooked stage is “Customer Delight.” This stage is what turns customers into reliable and consistent revenue sources, and attracts other leads through word-of-mouth advocacy. By neglecting this ‘Delight’ stage — and your current customers — you’re ignoring ways of making a product better. You are also missing out on opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
At the end of the day, your customer base is your brand’s most valuable asset, so supporting and nurturing these folks is absolutely key. That’s why HubSpot released the Service Hub earlier this year.
We spoke to David Barron, HubSpot's Director of Service Hub, about the new platform and the ideological shift behind it.
Q: What was the impetus behind building the HubSpot Service Hub? What was happening in the world of marketing, sales, and business development that warranted a new set of tools?
A: Overall, the biggest driver came from what were hearing from our customers about why they purchased from us. Referrals have slowly become one of our biggest sources of new business.
We realized that we had internally set up a way to deliver a delightful end-to-end customer experience, but hadn’t completed that vision yet for our customers. By building Service Hub, we complete the flywheel for our customers, and enable them to deliver a curated, end-to-end customer experience.
We also saw that for SMBs to deliver a great post-sale experience, they would often need to cobble together a bunch of different point solutions — live chat, ticketing, or NPS. This creates pain for Service/Success folks, and thus can negatively impact the customer experience. Putting all of these tools in one system that syncs with customer data and history (CRM) seamlessly felt like a necessary step for us to deliver more value to our customers and enable them to grow.
We have begun to enable our customers to think about their business as less of a “funnel,” where customers are an output, and more of a “flywheel,” where marketing feeds sales, sales feeds service, service feeds back into marketing. This shift allows our customers to optimize for the end-to-end customer experience and really leverage the interactions between functional areas in their business.
Q: How would you explain the difference between customer service and customer success?
A: I’m going to pull this answer directly from our GM and VP of Product for Service Hub, Mike Redbord. His article about these three categories really nicely summarizes the differences and similarities:
- Customer Support: Customer support is reacting to your customers' needs when they tell you, "I have a problem." It's about being there to help customers with whatever they need, whenever they need it. At its core, customer support is transactional, and the interaction is initiated and ended by the customer. Customer support consists of a business responding reactively to a customer's outreach.
- Customer Service: Customer service is saying to a customer, "I have something for you" — instead of a customer saying, "I need something from you." Customer service is more proactive. It consists of a business guiding the customer.
If businesses can provide both customer support and customer service by engaging reactively and guiding proactively, they're in great shape.
- Customer Success: Customer success is saying to a customer "let's be partners," then working proactively together to achieve their long-term goals. Customer success is something that's initiated by the business. In a lot of ways, it's doing something that a customer might not have even known they wanted or needed. It requires anticipation.
It's also about expanding value, for both the customer and the business, simultaneously. It might involve upselling or cross-selling by suggesting other products or services for customers that work with what they've already purchased. Customer success is the culmination of customer support and customer service working together successfully — and taking it to the next level by working in partnership with customers.
Q: How can members of the support, sales, and marketing teams work together to ensure a seamless experience and “customer delight?”
A: We think the biggest opportunity here is to transform the way you think about the sales journey. For example, start thinking about the business as a Flywheel versus a Funnel. With this new mindset, you start to imagine an end-to-end customer experience and, importantly, how each function fits into what your customers expect from you. It is also incredibly important for all of these teams to work out of one system of record. Maintaining a centralized record of each communication you have with a lead or customer can transform every net new interaction into one that is valuable for your customers.
Overall, the biggest impact we see here is simply putting more focus on the ‘interactions’ between each functional area. For example, what does the handoff between sales and service look like? Is that optimal for your customers and does it meet their expectations? This same question can be asked at all intersections between departments. If properly optimized, this approach to communication can improve the entire customer experience, which helps to create a loyal base of promoters for your company.
Making the most of HubSpot’s ServiceHub means getting comfortable with a new approach to marketing, new HubSpot features, and new ways of incorporating feedback into your operations.
Check out the Service Hub Product Overview Video