The Marketing Strategist:

Marketing Through the Customer Lifecycle

September 23, 2016

 

As B2B business models continue to shift toward subscription and as-a-service, marketers are paying much more attention to customer experience and value throughout the customer lifecycle. A recent conversation with marketing leaders from Amdocs, Cisco, and Oracle highlighted some of the new approaches and priorities.

Rob Leavitt, ITSMA: With the growing corporate focus on customer success and not just sales, what role should marketing play in shaping the customer experience and supporting success throughout the lifecycle?

Customer Lifecycle MarketingSteve Pinedo, Vice President, Oracle Global Cloud Customer Success: I would argue that good marketers have always looked at their technology and operating capabilities from the customer’s perspective and communicated a customer-centric story. In this sense, customer success is just the next application of marketing in the newer customer context. 

But the as-a-service model is creating a tremendous amount of tension because it is disruptive to the traditional roles of sales, marketing, service, and support. What are these roles in a perpetual sales cycle with ongoing adoption?

The pace of change is significant, too. In the enterprise IT space, for a HCM or CRM application, the typical release cycle for on-premise was two-to-three years. In the cloud, it is six weeks. How do we define where marketing stops and support begins? It really calls into question all of our traditional roles and responsibilities that worked so well in an on premise world.

Caroline Robertson, Director, Services Marketing, Cisco: Marketing has a role to play in every stage of the customer’s life cycle. We can’t just walk away once the customer has made the purchase. We now have the insight that comes from data and analytics that allows us to go back and re-establish higher levels of value for the customer.

One of the challenges is to not immediately use this opportunity for one more sales play. It is so easy to go in and start talking about selling more or renewing, but that is not the point. The point is the relationship; it is the adoption and quality of the service and the overall customer experience. These are the things marketing should focus on.

Chris Williams, Head of Global Marketing, Amdocs: Marketing now has the permission to be more proactive based on the data and insight that we didn’t have previously. We used to operate under a premise that marketing should wait for the customer loyalty and satisfaction (CSAT) survey results to come in and then react. Doing a CSAT survey once or twice a year isn’t good enough anymore. Marketing has to get and stay involved.

We now take thought leadership to our customers before they have even identified a pain point, proactively approaching them on subjects they haven’t necessarily even thought about. We are pointing out to them what others in their industry are doing.

When marketing drives this activity or does the presentation, it isn’t intimidating because there is no purchase pressure at the end of the presentation. Instead, it is an honest discussion about what’s happening in the industry.

We hear it all the time from our customers in our CSAT feedback. “You guys are the industry leaders. Why aren’t you telling us what’s happening and what else we could be doing?”

Using the Data to Drive Conversations

Rob Leavitt, ITSMA: You have each mentioned the opportunity for marketing to take the lead in working with the customer throughout the lifecycle to make sure that they are successful. How are you doing this?

Steve Pinedo, Oracle: We have tremendous information that we are able to glean just from the fact that we are running their systems on our servers. What does all that information mean? What are the indicators that a customer is at risk for canceling versus ripe for expansion? These are complex questions and there is a lot of information that we are going to have. I don’t think we are ready as an industry to successfully analyze the data and make well informed, customer-centric decisions and recommendations.

Caroline Robertson, Cisco: Our customers expect us to know more and more about their usage patterns and their needs. We should be able to anticipate their triggers. We can go from being preemptive to proactive to predictive. It is a phenomenal responsibility that we all need to figure out how to meet.

Chris Williams, Amdocs: Part of our job as marketers is to help our customers understand the job to be done. You have to sit down with your customer and say, “Let’s rethink how you do business in a way that sets you completely apart from your competition.” Having these kinds of conversations is the fun part about being in marketing.

For the complete conversation, check out Marketing’s New Priorities in the Product-as-a-Service World, an ITSMA Viewpoint available at no charge to ITSMA members (password required) and for sale to everyone else.

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