There are a lot of buzzwords constantly flying around the B2B marketing industry. It can sometimes feel like every marketer has their own made-up set of terms for the same set of basic tasks and goals.
This is especially true for the ways in which marketers discuss their relationships with customers. In fact, you’ve likely heard phrases like “customer relationship management” and “customer success” at least a handful of times.
But what do they mean? And why do they matter?
Keep reading for an in-depth answer to that question, along with four actionable tips you can use to better manage your customer relationships.
What are “Customer Relationship Management” and “Customer Success”?
B2B throw these terms around often, and sometimes even use them interchangeably. And while they’re certainly related to one another, there are a few key differences between the two.
Customer relationship management, or CRM, is an umbrella term that encompasses everything your business does to manage your relationships with customers.
But when marketers use the term CRM today, they’re often referring to the tools and platforms they use to store and access data like customer contact information and purchase history. As a result, CRM is typically associated with specific software.
Customer success, on the other hand, refers to all of the efforts you make to help your customers get the most value possible out your product.
In many companies, the existing support team handles customer success initiatives. But more recently, some brands have started created dedicated customer success teams that go above and beyond the standard responsibilities of a support agent.
But regardless of how your company approaches customer relationship management and customer success, the two should be able to work together seamlessly.
CRM solutions can help you keep track of customers, and customer success is the approach you take to helping each of those customers get the most out of their experience with your brand.
This means that with the right CRM, you can gain the insight you need about each customer to figure out how to best serve them.
And while the benefit of this approach to customers is clear, it’s also one that’s beneficial from a company standpoint.
After all, the better you’re able to help your customers succeed, the more likely they’ll be to stick around and stay with your company long-term. And retaining customers with a customer success strategy is far more cost-effective than earning new ones with sales and marketing.
So if you’re not yet looking for ways to maximize the value each customer gets from your company, developing a strategy could help you not only improve overall satisfaction but also take a much more cost-effective approach to establish a solid customer base.
4 Ways to Better Manage Customer Relationships and Drive Customer Success
Managing your brand’s relationships with customers isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together a quick list of four tips you can use to manage customer relationships more effectively and drive customer success.
1. Use your CRM to Learn About Customer Needs
As you look for ways to help your customers succeed, it’s essential to consider what they need and expect from your product. And one of the best ways to get the insight you need is by digging into the data in your CRM.
Today, sales teams can use CRM software to store information about their interactions with individual prospects. As they speak with potential clients, they can ask what those clients are looking for, and what factors will play a role in whether they choose your brand or a competitor.
And while this information is largely used for sales purposes, you can also use it to make positive changes to your company as a whole.
If you learn, for example, that many of your customers share a specific need that your product isn’t yet meeting, this indicates that it would be worth your time to find a way to meet that need.
And when you introduce that solution, you can be confident that it will help a large portion of your customers get more value out of their relationship with your brand.
2. Monitor Each Customer’s Level of Success with Your Company
Focusing on customer success means regularly monitoring whether your customers are seeing value from your product. Fortunately, some CRM tools will now let you monitor this for not only your customer base as a whole but individual users.
And as you look for ways to determine success, the first metric you’ll want to look at is how many of your customers make it through the onboarding process.
From there, determine how engaged your customers are with your product on an ongoing basis. Of course, the exact metrics you aim for depend on your product and industry.
If you’re a software company, for example, you might expect your customers to log in to your product every day. If you’re a service-based business, on the other hand, you might expect them to respond to updates and reports each week or month.
Regardless of the exact ways in which you measure in engagement, you’ll want to monitor this regularly. The more your customers use your product, the more value they’ll see — and the happier they’ll be with your brand.
3. Remember that Your Customers are Companies
If you interact with a specific point of contact from each of the clients you serve, it can be easy to start viewing those individual people as your customers. And that’s not the case.
While building relationships with individual contacts is beneficial, it’s important to remember that your customer is ultimately the company they work for. That company is footing the bill for your services, and there are likely many people who have a say in whether they continue to do so.
This means that it’s in your best interest to get as many people from each of the clients you serve involved with your company. Offer in-office training on your product, and encourage your points of contact to invite more senior members of their teams to attend.
The more you’re able to illustrate the value you provide to a company, the more likely they’ll be to maintain their relationship with you in the long run.
Plus, you don’t want to risk your entire rapport with a company on a single employee. If that employee leaves their position, you should be confident that others in their department will be able to vouch for the value you’ve provided, and want to continue working with you.
4. Collect Feedback on a Regular Basis
Customer success is ultimately all about helping your customers get value out of your product. And in many cases, the best way to learn how your customers can get more value from your company is to simply ask them.
If you’re not yet doing so, start sending surveys to each of your customers and ask a few open-ended questions about their experience.
What could be better about your existing services? What additional services could you provide? What parts of the customer experience are confusing or frustrating?
Then, read through these responses and look for any recurring themes or common responses. These are the issues you’ll want to focus on first, as fixing them will have a positive impact on the most users.
And beyond surveys, it’s worth your time to ask these questions during the course of your regular interactions with customers. If a point of contact reaches out with a question, for example, don’t just answer their question and move on to the next task as quickly as possible.
Instead, take a few extra minutes to ask whether they have any other concerns or any feedback they’d like to share.
Giving your customers the chance the voice their opinions can lead to valuable insight you won’t find anywhere else. Then, you can use this insight to determine how to maximize the value that each of them gets from your company.
Building a loyal customer base is an important goal for every company, but developing a strategy for reaching this goal is often easier said than done.
After all, every customer is unique — and a cookie-cutter approach is unlikely to yield the results you want. But the right CRM and a focus on customer success can help.
First, use your CRM to learn about customer needs, and about what you could be doing to better meet those needs. Then, monitor each customer’s level of success with your product, and look for ways to maximize the value they see.
As you shape your approach, however, it’s essential to remember that your customers are ultimately companies and not individual people. Aim to create relationships with more than one point of contact at each company you work with, and establish your brand as an integral part of their success.
Finally, make it a priority to collect and read feedback on a regular basis. The more in touch you are with your audience, the better you’ll become at helping them succeed — and on creating the kind of relationships it takes to build a loyal base of customers.