The theme of Nama・Okyaku (Live Customer) vol. 9 was ‘marketing started from the customer and their viewpoint’
This time our guest speakers were Jiro Tanaka, Sansan, and Shonosuke Shinagawa, SMARTCAMP.
Customer Success Div., Customer Marketing Associate
Mr. Tanaka’s Twitter
SMARTCAMP Co., Ltd.
Marketing & Sales Div., Customer Success Manager
We were able to talk about what to think about when starting a customer success division, real experiences with the implementation of customer success, and the experiences of the attendees.
In this article we first talk about the guest speakers’ presentations, then the panel discussion with questions from the audience, and finally the networking party.
What is ‘Customer Success’ at my company? Determining a clear definition.
First to speak was Mr. Tanaka who is the person in charge of managing seminars and the customer community in the Customer Success Div. at Sansan, which is a company that provides a business card management system. He began at Sansan in 2013 after graduating college. For over 4 years now, he has been a part of the Customer Success Div. and he is known within the company for having the longest relationship with the clients.
“Sansan is a SaaS company and has a subscription service styled business model. Within in this business model you often here the question ‘what is the difference between customer success and CS?’ The answer to that question is ‘approach’ and ‘wait.’
In the field of CS, the general style is to wait for a customer’s inquiry, and then respond to that inquiry with the solution to their problem. However, in the field of customer success you search for potential challenges and then propose how your company can solve them. Due to this difference, Sansan has separate divisions for CS and customer success. In the Customer Success Div., we follow customers who are already subscribed to our service.” (Mr. Tanaka)
Mr. Tanaka explained that the reason so many companies are now focusing on customer success is because all around the world businesses are beginning to offer Amazon Prime styled subscription services. Because of this, the consumer has changed their buying activities.
In a subscription-based business, or in other words a business that is predicting the customer will use their service for a long period of time, does not profit after the initial purchase of their product. It doesn’t matter how many new customers the business makes if there is a high rate of customers ending their subscription the business will not grow. On the other hand, if a business can decrease the number of customers who end their subscription, then they will experience rapid growth.
The marketing activities of many companies has changed in response to this growing flow of business. The conventional marketing of cutting marketing costs and using methods that only focus on making new customers will be ineffective. In order to decrease the number of customers terminating their contracts, a lot of companies are begging customer success programs in their structure.
Mr. Tanaka then asked the audience ‘What is the customer success service that your company provides for your product or service?’
There are not many companies that do not understand the ‘customer success’ they provide .
“Customer marketing is the work of using the ‘customer success’ your company provides as marketing contents. It starts with clearly defining the success that your company provides” (Mr. Tanaka)
“The 4 roles of Sansan’s customer marketing”
Here are the 4 roles of the customer marketing that Sansan is currenting undertaking.
1. Raising LTV
Sansan is placing their marketing message in their product when they are upselling or cross selling to existing customers. On the other hand, you will need to create entirely different content for the potential customers that are debating whether to purchase your product. ‘It is important to think about where your customers are looking the most at.’
2. Raising the value of your product
Incorporating the market-in thought of ‘let’s make a product that will solve the problems of our customer.’ An important role of customer marketing is to modify the product taking in both the viewpoint of the customer and the company.
3. The creation of contents
Take the success stories of you customers and turn them into case studies that can be used for your marketing activities.
4. Utilizing data
You are probably already looking at the process in which your customers are using your service. In the field of customer success, this is incredibly important. Utilize that data in your marketing.
“The final goal of Sansan is for our customers using our service to feel their success. In fact, we want them to feel so successful that they then spread word of our brand and product. We want to create an environment where we are making our customers succeed and then we are getting new customers because they are going around sharing their success stories.” (Mr. Tanaka)
What SMARTCAMP learned from incorporating customer success into their structure.
Mr. Shinagawa started at SMARTCAMP in the Spring of 2017.
SMARTCAMP only had one sales team at first, but in the 2 years since Mr. Shinagawa started that sale team has been divided into the inside sales team and the field sales team. The field sales team was further split into the field sales team and the customer success team. Through these changes, Mr. Shinagawa has said that he has consistently overseen existing customers.
Mr. Shinagawa oversees ‘BOXIL’ which supports the marketing of SaaS vendors. BOXIL is a service that matches SaaS vendors with companies who are looking introduce a SaaS into their company. He manages the SaaS information site, ‘BOXIL magazine,’ where he provides vendors with the data of readers who have subscribed to the magazine as leads.
“The BOXIL customer success team’s goal is for our users’ business to expand as a result of using BOXIL. If we direct our customers to success, and they feel truly satisfied with our service, then they will keep using our service, use our service more, and spread information about our service. The end result is that our LTV goes way up.” (Mr. Shinagawa)
Mr. Shinagawa was the person at the forefront of the customer success team’s establishment at SMARTCAMP.
“In Customer Success: How innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue it says, ‘sell to the right customer.’ That means sell your service to a customer with the right qualities that will lead to success through your product.
On the other hand, if you sell your service to the wrong customer, then it will be very hard to provide them with value. This in return will lead to the customer terminating their contract. This causes all the money, time, and effort spent following that customer to go to waste. And it creates the feeling that you weren’t able to do anything valuable for your customer” (Mr. Shinagawa)
Last year, Mr. Shinagawa experienced this failure exactly as it was written in the book. He experienced while the number of orders for BOXIL was on an upward slope. In one case, he was unable to manage the customer’s case well. When trying to understand why he was unable to manage well, he realized it was because the customer was someone who didn’t fit well with BOXIL.
“The characteristics of a customer that can succeed with BOXIL has started to slowly become clearer. We are keeping those characteristics in mind while we structure ourselves to be a service that a wide variety of customers can utilize for their success.
"If you sell your service to a customer that clearly doesn’t match it, then you won’t be able to provide that customer a value. You have give more time following that customer to help them succeed with your product. This reduces the amount of time to follow a customer that matches your service and it creates a vicious cycle. We are being very careful not to do this” (Mr. Shinagawa)
Learning from their mistakes in the past, they are analyzing the customers who have been successful and have the longest LTV. With the cooperation of the customer success, sales, and marketing teams, they are deciding who the best targets are.
“Because the customer success team is the one who is closest to the customers, they are the ones who know the most information about the customers. We then give feedback and cooperate with the marketing team to focus our marketing resources onto potential customers that we can provide the most value to. I think the result is that we are able to increase our customers satisfaction and raise our LTV.” (Mr. Shinagawa)
Customer success is what marketing and sales desires.
At the end of the seminar, we had a panel discussion with our guest speakers where the two answered questions from our audience. Here are some excerpts from the passionate discussion.
How do you separate the roles of field sales and customer success?
At SMARTCAMP, once the customer has signed the contract and started using our service, the field sales team then hands the customer off to the customer success team, where we follow them.
At Sansan we have a similar system, but we also have a renewal sales team that that focuses on ensuring customers renew their contracts. If you are focusing on getting new customers, then the existing customers will fall lower on your priorities. Because of this we have our customer success and sales teams completely separated now.
Customer success divisions aim to increase the number of customers who continue using your company’s product, and field sales divisions focus on increasing the number of orders and contracts. What KPI have you set up to ensure that field sales will sell to the ‘right customer’?
Although we haven’t strictly set a KPI yet, we make sure that the field sales team isn’t only looking at the number of new orders and contracts. They also look at the rate of customers who continue to use our service. The inside sales team isn’t only looking at the number of created business opportunities, they also look at the number of orders as well. We think it is important to incorporate all the numbers into the KPI.
In order to ensure that we are selling to the right customer we include the numbers from other divisions into our KPIs . For example, if a customer terminates their contract before its set period, then it also goes in the negative numbers of the sales team.
But, that can create an environment where people blame each other for negative results. In response to this we have set time aside for the entire comapny to periodically think about what our mission is and what value we want to provide to the customer.
How are you using the information held by your customers success teams as a sales tool?
One thing we do is turn the way the customers are using our product and the results of our product into contents. We distribute the content through our companies chat tool. We also have customers who are succeeding with our product speak at our seminar.
It’s incredibly simple but the Customer Success Division takes notes on the CRM of our customers The field sales team is looking at those notes. The field sales team also asks us to look out for good case studies when go out to meet our customers.
We also have set weekly meetings between the field sales and customer success team. We relay information on the customers who are succeeding at these meetings.
We hope this seminar report helped you understand the important role customer success will play in the future of marketing.
The networking party.
After the seminar came the networking party.
Like every Nama Okyaku, the Katsu tataki (which we have delivered directly from our CEO’s hometown Kouchi) was a big hit. Our audience and guest speakers were able to enjoy time where they could freely interreact and network with each other.
If you are a marketer who finds themselves struggling with some sort of challenge, please come and share your story at Nama Okyaku. While sharing your challenge, you have the chance to think about the problem with others and possibly find the solution.
At Nama Okyaku, you do not only listen to the guest speakers, but also interact and trade ideas with them and the other audience members. We hope to see you at the next Nama Okyaku!