Journey To The C-Suite: 4 Ways Marketing Can Elevate Customer Success

Published: April 15, 2024

When prospects and buyers are stymied by a fragmented customer experience, it generates feelings of frustration, confusion and disappointment, followed by an eventual acceptance that it’s time to move on. This often happens when companies are operating in siloes, which causes them to lose sight of customer needs and desired outcomes — and leaves revenue sitting on the table.

Customer-focused companies expand 2.5X faster than businesses failing to prioritize customer success (CS), and businesses recognize the need (and feel the pressure) to drive more growth from their customers. With that in mind, many organizations are starting to see the value of adding CS and Chief Customer Officer (CCO) roles.

CS leaders comprise a critical piece of the revenue strategy, and as the function expands and intertwines with various facets of business operations, a C-suite member championing customer outcomes becomes essential. CCOs and heads of CS drive growth with their unique view of customer health, adoption and moments of value delivered throughout the customer lifecycle.

To demonstrate their value to the C-suite, CS leaders must showcase business impact and collaboration benefits to post-sale teams, including marketing, product and sales. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and heads of marketing emerge as great allies to help CS leaders navigate this mission. Not only were marketing leaders the latest to cement their role in the C-suite, but like CS, marketing serves as the face of a brand and contributes to customer loyalty and customer-centric growth.

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Here are four ways marketing leaders can leverage their expertise to help CS leaders establish their unique role in the C-suite:

1. Ditch The Linear Sales Funnel

Instead of the outdated linear sales funnel, imagine a different paradigm: A bowtie. On the left side, marketing and sales attract, engage and convert customers through marketing campaigns, demand generation and sales engagement. The right side would include the post-purchase journey, which is where CS can focus on retention and expansion strategies and customer advocacy.

Connecting these two sides is customer marketing, which includes creating an endless loop of lifetime customer value that supports both acquisition and expansion motions — and eliminates gaps between the buyer and customer journey.

2. Cultivate Impactful Brand Experiences

When collaborating and drawing inspiration from customer insights, marketing and CS foster the creation of effective strategies that:

  • Reduce churn;
  • Increase retention rates;
  • Drive expansion; and
  • Enhance customer loyalty and advocacy.

Expansion, in particular, remains a vastly underrated growth engine even though businesses spend 5X more winning over new customers versus retaining current ones. Customer marketing assumes a pivotal role in identifying and capitalizing on these expansion opportunities, as it allows marketers to analyze customer data, uncover hidden gems and package them into compelling case studies and campaigns.

3. Use Data To Drive Outcomes

CS stands out as a treasure trove of insights driving an enterprise forward. Equipped with real-time customer data, CS teams and executives can:

  • Present a 360-degree view of customer health;
  • Use product engagement and feedback to propel innovation; and
  • Identify ideal business outcomes and nurture clients’ goals.

Marketing can amplify CS’s influence by connecting the dots for the wider organization. Highlighting CS’s impact throughout the customer journey requires aligning its efforts with a key corporate-level goal like net revenue retention (NRR). However, relying solely on NRR can obfuscate the influence of certain actions, like price increases. Monitoring gross revenue retention (GRR) alongside NRR paints a clearer picture of churn resulting from downgrades or losses.

4. Assemble & Unify One Revenue Team

When someone mentions the “revenue team,” sales and marketing usually come to mind. Yet, excluding CS dismisses a vital contributor to growth. CS leaders deeply understand the post-sale customer journey, providing insights into adoption, usage metrics and customer health scores.

With a solid foothold on each side of the customer lifecycle bowtie, marketing facilitates the connection between sales and CS teams, fostering a more unified revenue team by:

  • Developing ideal customer journey maps that include first contact to sales to post-purchase value;
  • Establishing feedback loops that enable all stakeholders to exchange customer insights and feedback;
  • Championing collaboration through cross-functional teams and meetings;
  • Fostering a joint mindset around community; and
  • Introducing shared customer relationship management and customer data systems to truly drive customer success.

When integrated into the revenue team, CS employees gain insights to create more customer value and mitigate churn risks. And now, many companies task CS teams with owning retention and renewal numbers and generating new leads from the customer base.

In today’s customer-centric enterprise environment, CS is indispensable to growth. Powered by marketing partnerships, CS is evolving into an essential C-suite voice. By showcasing CS impact, marketing leaders pave the way for CS leaders to join the executive table. This alliance delivers unmatched customer experiences and fosters a customer-first organization.

Karen Budell is the CMO at Totango, a customer success platform. In her role, she leads brand and content, events, growth marketing, product marketing and sales enablement. Budell serves on the Dean’s Board of Advisors at Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago and is an active member of CMO communities, including Pavilion. Budell previously worked at SurveyMonkey, where she served as VP, Brand Marketing. Prior to that, Budell spent nearly four years at Google, where she worked on YouTube Ads and was a pivotal member of the Google Marketing Platform launch team.


Posted in: Demanding Views

Tagged with: totango

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