Marketers that feel they have a good connection to the customer lifecycle and spend more time and money on keeping current customers engaged are also winning more revenue, according to a new survey sponsored by Act-On Software.

There’s some confusion over the definition of customer relationship management in an online survey of marketing directors, managers, and executives at mid-sized firms in the U.S. conducted by Gleanster Research. Here’s how different marketers chose to define CRM:

Act-On marketing survey

“There’s a lot of confusion about what CRM really is,” says Atri Chatterjee, chief marketing officer at Act-On. “People don’t seem to have a good sense of what their role is in the whole customer lifecycle.”

As Chatterjee explains it, the different ways that marketers explain CRM is related to their perception of their own role relating to a customer’s experience with their firm. The survey also revealed that eight out of 10 marketers believe that “marketing currently has a peripheral role in the customer relationship.” Also, 85 per cent of marketers say that sales and support hold responsibility for the customer experience at their mid-sized firms. Yet more than six out of 10 marketers feel that they should own the end-to-end customer experience.

“They don’t feel empowered,” Chatterjee says. “They don’t feel they have the mandate in their organizations.”

But it’s a mandate that more marketers should be looking to have, the survey shows. The top two per cent of performers that beat 2013 revenue goals and estimate that 90 per cent of customers are happy are also effective at managing the en-to-end customer lifecycle.

While average firms are spending more time and money acquiring new customers – 67 per cent of their budget and 54 per cent of their budget – top performers only spend 52 per cent of their budget and 46 per cent of their time. Instead, they are putting more time and budget on customer retention and expansion.

Act-On Software survey segments

“When you have a customer and you’ve built up a relationship with that customer, that’s when you have success as a business,” Chatterjee says. “Marketing is the only organization that has visibility throughout that journey the customer goes through.”

As a CMO himself, Chatterjee says he owns the customer experience at Act-On. His group created a customer journey map, looking at the process that customers went through from onboarding, to the point of contract renewal. Since Act-On’s cloud software is offered on a subscription basis, keeping customers engaged and happy year-to-year is important.

“If I don’t have that attitude that we have to own the entire lifecycle, the business is going to suffer,” he says. “Keeping them satisfied and giving them what they want is tantamount to my success.”

After customers on-board at Act-On, they interact with the firm’s customer success team. Beyond onboarding the new users and walking them through the software to get them started, the team also checks in every three months to see how the client is using Act-On’s software. They might notice they are running email campaigns, but not using the SEO components, Chaterjee says, and can educate the user about how to do that.

“We share information with them on how other companies in other industries use that information,” he says. “Every customer is not the same. They have strengths and they have weaknesses.”

In addition to creating a customer journey map and taking responsibility for it, marketers should be looking to partner with an agency to help them. Marketers should also be looking to segment their customers and offer pesonalized interactions for them based on behaviour and demographics, advises Act-On.

 

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