Drive Customer Advocacy With Customer Success And Marketing Alignment

Customer advocacy - thumbs upMany B2B companies use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure Customer Success.

Unfortunately, this single number doesn’t give you an accurate picture of how well you’re engaging customers – or how likely you are to generate customer advocacy.

A high NPS score is good in theory, but it often fails to generate real value.

For example, you might have a customer who identifies as a “promoter” and says in the survey that they’re willing refer your company to a friend or colleague.

But what good is a rating of 9 or 10 if the customer isn’t an active ambassador for your brand, flooding the marketplace with customer advocacy?

It’s time to stop asking your customers if they are promoters and start asking them to actually promote you. This is where advocate marketing comes into play.

Advocate marketing turns the tables on NPS by motivating your promoters, fans and evangelists to spread the word about your company. They might send you referrals, provide references or recommend your products. These actions lead to shorter sales cycles and a significant increase in revenue – not just a number to put in front of your boss each quarter.

How customer success drives customer advocacy at Influitive

At Influitive, our entire business is centered on building advocates. Our executives and Advocacy Coaches (a.k.a. Customer Success Managers) are compensated based on how much advocacy they generate for Influitive from happy customers.

We are 100% focused on customer success and our clients see that we are committed to helping them achieve their goals – without any ulterior motives. Like most SaaS companies, we’re interested in up- and cross-selling of course. The difference is that we believe customers naturally grow their accounts with us when they are so happy that they’re referring new customers.

Our marketing team also provides a great second experience for customers through our advocate marketing program – Influitive VIP. In this program, we recognize our best clients by giving them opportunities to learn and grow their personal brands.

This one-two punch has allowed us to create a customer experience that snowballs into exponentially more revenue over time.

  • Advocates grow their accounts: Approximately 80% of customers who have renewed or converted in 2014 have been active advocates for us.
  • Advocates spend more: According to Forrester’s recent Executive Primer on Customer Success Management, customer advocates typically spend twice as much as non-advocates. Here at Influitive, our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) from the renewals and upsells of customer advocates is 227% greater than the MRR increase from non-advocates.
  • Advocates make great matchmakers: The same Forrester paper found that advocates refer new business in excess of 3X their average lifetime value. In line with that, approximately one third of Influitive’s current customers have come from referrals. In fact, referred customers are now referring other customers!
  • Advocates make more referrals: 33 referrals from Influitive customers alone (not including referrals from investors, partners, employees, friends, etc.)

Customer advocacy best practices

Align CS and marketing around advocacy

Trying to stand large money symbol for success

Both teams should have a pulse on what’s happening in your advocate marketing program and your customers’ needs.

For example, a customer may rave about your product or customer success experience to their account manager.

The account manager should build on this momentum by asking marketing to invite the customer to advocate for your company in some way.

A formal advocate marketing program makes this easier to co-ordinate – so customers are presented with the right asks at the right time – but there will always be a need for communication between the two organizations.

Let CS focus on making customers happy

Marketing should manage the day-to-day operations of your advocate marketing program so your customer success team can focus on keeping customers happy.

Your success team will often need to invite their customers into your advocate marketing program or reach out to high-potential advocates who have gone quiet, but for the most part their communications with customers shouldn’t be dominated by asks for advocacy.

We ask our customers to join Influitive VIP right away – it’s even part of our customer onboarding process. Our Advocacy Coaches are also upfront about the fact that their compensation relies in part on their clients’ advocacy. Customers appreciate their transparency and are willing to become engaged, active advocates for Influitive right off the bat.

Why? Because they really value the experience and expertise that their Advocacy Coach provides them on a weekly basis. Our customers – even brand new ones – consistently mention amazing customer service in reviews on websites like G2Crowd, TrustRadius and Quora.

Learn more about Influitive’s CS philosophy at Gainsight Pulse

Gainsight Pulse 2014Customer Success for Marketing Software
Tuesday, May 13 at 3 p.m. PT
Chad Horenfeldt, Director of Customer Operations at Influitive, shares his “agile customer success” strategy on a panel of other customer success professionals at marketing software companies. 

Leveraging Customer Success with Advocates
Wednesday, May 14 at 3 p.m. PT
Influitive founder and CEO Mark Organ explains how customer success organizations can tap into their full potential by focusing on customer advocacy.