Marketing vs. Customer Success: Who Should Own The Customer Experience?

shutterstock_417696208An interesting debate has played out at two very different conferences this past month.

At Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit, one of the biggest and best events for B2B marketers, there was huge emphasis put on the need for “customer lifecycle marketing.”

In the age of the customer, experience is everything. Marketing teams are increasingly being encouraged to use their technology and budgets to deliver a delightful customer experience from a customer’s first interaction and beyond, with the goal of turning them into a vocal advocate. According to a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 86% of marketers believe they will become responsible for the entire customer journey by 2020.

But marketers aren’t the only ones who want to throw their hat into the ring for the job of Chief Advocacy Officer.

Gainsight’s 2016 Pulse Conference, the top event for customer success practitioners, had a similar message for CS leaders: make customer advocacy the ultimate measure of success. By tracking valuable acts of customer advocacy, this often overlooked (and underfunded) department can show their true business value to their entire company.

The benefits of focusing on customer advocacy are two-fold:

  1. It will improve retention, loyalty and cross-sell/upsell opportunities among current customers.
  2. It will also generate valuable social proof from customers (like reviews, referrals and testimonials) that can fuel demand generation more effectively than traditional marketing tactics.

So, who should take the lead when it comes to nurturing customer advocates: marketing or customer success?

Who’s better equipped to tackle the advocacy challenge?

The Tug o’ War debate at our own Advocamp conference in March, which touched on this topic, didn’t have a decisive winner for the owner of the advocate experience.

The natural winner might seem like CS; after all, they usually take the lead on all customer interactions after a deal is signed. At many companies, marketing loses touch once a prospect becomes a customer — they’re focused on customer acquisition, not customer engagement.

CS teams also seems have the power, more than any other function, to tap into moments of customer delight to generate advocacy. They have the most one-on-one interactions with customers, and know whether or not it’s a good time to ask customers to be in a case study or to become a sales reference.

However, CS often lacks the technology to gather the necessary data to deliver the right messages at the right moment in the customer lifecycle. Their budgets also pale in comparison to marketing, which makes delighting and rewarding customers tough.

Analysts seem to believe the CMO is best-equipped to tackle the customer experience challenge. And analysts aren’t alone in their thinking. According to a Gartner study (conducted in conjunction with the CMO Club), one quarter of CMOs say leading the customer experience is the most-increased expectation their CEOs have of them.

Marketing teams definitely have the know-how, data, tools and budget to improve the customer experience end-to-end—and create raving brand advocates in the process.

However, when I speak with fellow marketing executives about leading the charge, they sheepishly admit that it’s more of an aspirational message. They often feel they have no control over large parts of the customer experience. Taking over the customer journey may mean stepping on CS’s toes. Moreover, CMO’s don’t know how they can justify investing time in generating customer advocacy when their marketing teams have aggressive growth goals to hit.

So, what side of the fence do I sit on?

Bringing CS and marketing together

The truth is, neither team is 100% able to tackle this challenge alone. Not today.

At Influitive, our marketing team owns the advocacy experience. However, we work closely with CS to better understand our customers’ evolving needs and nurture our relationship with them. Marketing uses our resources and talents to make the advocate experience fun, rewarding and scalable. CS offers the intimate customer knowledge and human touch that makes creating advocates possible. You can’t really have one without the other.

This debate will likely continue this week at SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville.

If you want to learn how your company can improve the customer experience to drive business value, I highly recommend that you attend these sessions on Thursday afternoon (descriptions pulled from the SiriusDecisions Summit website):

Customer Advocacy: Its Impact on Demand Creation

Thursday, May 26th at 1-1:40pm

Jennifer Horton, Sr. Research Director, Demand Creation Strategies
Lisa Nakano, Research Director, ABM & Customer Experience
SiriusDecisions

No one can argue that having more customer advocates isn’t a good thing, but when it comes to quantifying specific benefits, B2B leaders often struggle. Is there a way to pinpoint better demand performance in companies that invest in improving the customer experience?

  • Understand how a balance of focus between pipeline and customer experience goals leads to more rapid, predictable growth
  • Learn how to appraise current customer advocacy, and then how to account for it in demand creation modeling, program planning and tactic execution
  • See how other organizations are allocating resources to customer advocacy and the customer lifecycle to maximize demand performance

lifesaver-infDon’t miss the boat on advocacy!

All aboard the S.S. Influitive at SiriusDecisions Summit 2016! You can find us at booth #352 or cruising the waterways of the hotel.

Let’s talk about advocacy and the customer experience as we sail amidst lush gardens, majestic waterfalls and breathtaking architecture.

Meet Influitive at Summit

Customer Experience In The Channel

Thursday, May 26th at 1:50-2:30pm

Megan Heuer, VP and Head of Research
Kathy Freeman Contreras, Research Director, Channel Marketing Strategies
SiriusDecisions

While a greater number of b-to-b leaders have recognized the importance of customer experience and are resourcing it accordingly, they often ignore the role of channel partners. As a result, suppliers often lack visibility into customer needs, and partners lack the ability and resources to forge better customer experience. How should suppliers better enable partners for success in the post-sale customer lifecycle?

  • Understand the role of suppliers and partners in designing and delivering customer experience
  • Understand how to assess partner capabilities around customer experience delivery and enable partners to extend higher-quality customer experience

Aligning Customer Marketing and Customer Success

Thursday, May 26th at 2:40-3:20pm

Lisa Nakano, Research Director, ABM & Customer Experience
Bob Peterson, Research Director, ABM
SiriusDecisions

Meet the new b-to-b power couple: customer marketing and customer success. As companies strive to understand more about current customers to drive retention and growth, these two functions play increasingly critical roles. What they often lack is an aligned approach that optimizes customer experience while providing valuable insights and productivity improvements to the company.

  • Understand how customer marketing and customer success can deliver opportunities within existing accounts, and how these functions keep sales focused on the most productive activities
  • See examples of companies that have successfully leveraged an aligned customer marketing/customer success ecosystem, and how sales benefitted from it
  • Understand how an aligned approach provides clarity around marketing’s roles and responsibilities in the post-sale customer lifecycle
  • See how a coordinated approach to supporting the customer lifecycle delivers benefits ranging from advocacy to brand enhancement and sales productivity
  • Find out how to leverage new sources of insights about adoption rates and utilization to guide product direction, enhancements and product satisfaction
  • Understand product’s role in providing expertise and support to customer marketing and customer success teams to improve their productivity and enhance customer experience

The Key to Unlocking Customer Advocacy

Gainsight_eBook_coverThe customer experience starts with strong alignment between customer success and marketing. 

This partnership has the power to unlock the true potential of your customers: genuine advocacy that will help you grow your business faster not just through upsell and cross-sell revenue, but also through second-order revenue generated by advocacy.

Download your FREE copy!