Customer Retention is the New Growth
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 this year has pushed businesses into uncharted territory, forcing many companies to face the difficult decision of where to cut spending. The likelihood of earning new business during a pandemic becomes much lower, and just like the companies needing to make budget cuts, the customers are also evaluating what services and vendors they should eliminate as well. So what does this mean for marketing departments specifically?
During the August Technology Marketing Alliance (TMA) Roundtable, moderator Bob London, CEO, Chief Listening Officers, asked a panel of marketing executives and experts to share advice on how companies can strategically shift from their overarching goal of securing new business, to a re-focused goal of maintaining customer retention to limit the effects COVID-19.
Here’s what our experts shared:
Is it mission critical?
This is a question that all top executives should be asking themselves when considering what stays and what goes in their current budget. Is “x” mission critical to the success of our company at this very moment, and why is “x” important? Cindy Zhou, CMO of LogRhythm, stated “you’re seeing an accelerated loss of customers if you’re not considered mission critical.” Zhou continued to explain that being able to think like a buyer of your product, service or solution and ask your team these same above questions, is what is crucial to success during these unprecedented times. According to an in-webinar poll, one-third of respondents said that 20-30% of their marketing resources/budgets were allocated to customer marketing.
Switching to this new mindset of thinking like a customer will allow you to have a much bigger insight into how to effectively pitch your services and products so they are seen as essential to the success of your customers. Koren Stucki, VP of Strategic Consulting and Analyst Relations at ClaraBridge emphasized that these times mean “all hands on deck”, and it is beneficial to be one step ahead of your customers and servicing their needs. Perhaps facilitating the creation of a webinar series to help seamlessly pivot their events and engagements online, or creating templates to streamline their shift to the remote world.
As result, your focused behavior on tending to existing customer needs will increase your company’s potential customer retention and create a mutually beneficial outcome to weather the storm of this pandemic.
The Courtship of Customer Success
Hands on customer success is what undoubtedly drives customer retention. According to our experts, there are two things that customers want in order to be happy: immediacy when they are in need of help, and the feeling of being cared for personally. Shashi Bellamkonda, VP of Marketing at Leap, said it best: “you have to treat it like a courtship, if you’re not giving your relationship chocolate and roses it is going to get stale.” The equivalent of chocolate and roses in customer success is creating personal check-ins with your customers to ensure that their experience with your team is meeting their expectations.
In addition to maintaining a personal connection and working relationship, reevaluating the way your team thinks about customer-specific marketing can change the way your customers see your company. The first step towards doing so can be as simple as ensuring that your customer marketing managers are directly reporting to the CMO.
Lastly, fostering more internal collaboration between customer success, sales, and marketing teams will generate more opportunities down the road, and create countless positive outcomes that are benefited by instilling a collaborative company culture. Stucki has reaped the benefits of this within her own organization, as she suggests that collaboration from the top to the bottom in her organization is helping customer relations and boosting the overall company culture.
Anuj Agrawal, CMO of Earth Networks, also insisted that collaboration and reassignment of tasks to different departments has improved his company’s productivity and customer satisfaction. Agrawal suggested that “if you can leverage your customer success organization to essentially engage with customers, it frees up sales to focus on bringing in new business.”
There is no quick-fix to a perfect, long-lasting customer relationship. However, taking away some of the key messages of customer retention from our expert panelists, we can all get one step closer to ensuring customers are happy and their needs and expectations are being met. Bob London, TMA board member, summed up the discussion with one final point: “the way we not just treat our customers, but the way we help them succeed is a huge part of our value proposition.”