How can a software-as-a-service company strengthen its brand and create a customer-centric culture? By focusing on customer success at every single interaction with a business, says tech veteran Bill Macaitis.
Previously CMO of Zendesk and Slack, and a SVP with SalesForce and Slack, Macaitis is now a board advisor to SaaS companies, who helps them to achieve hyper growth and scale. During his presentation on day one of SaaStock 2017 in Dublin, Macaitis said many B2B companies rely on organic growth yet they deliver a “horrible” website experience to customers by making them fill out forms in order to watch a video or get help solving a problem.
Measuring with metrics
Simple metrics like net promoter scores and customer satisfaction can be the foundation for building a customer-centric company, Macaitis insisted. Businesses should ask for the top three reasons why customers recommend them, and the top three reasons they don’t. “That’s really powerful data that can help shape your messaging and value proposition,” he said.
This process lets fast-growth companies spot a disconnect - such as adding more advanced features even though customers are asking for a simpler product.
Hiring for customer empathy
Slack incentivised salespeople not only on whether customers bought the product but whether they recommended it. In its hiring process, Slack looked for characteristics like empathy, knowledge, courtesy and responsiveness. “It was a big differentiator for us,” said Macaitis.
Content marketing is a great way to introduce the brand. From his experience at Salesforce and Zendesk, Macaitis realised that it can take up to 12 months from the first time someone notices a company to when they buy from it. Some studies say a person has to see a brand more than 20 times in the meantime.
Branding as a long-term play
Branding is about emotion and building long-term sales leads, Macaitis said. Companies can measure branding campaigns through their traditional funnel. “Don’t listen to people you can’t measure brand. There’s recall, aided recall, sentiment, share of voice, share of conversation. All these signals help give you confidence that you’ve got the right payback and are making right decisions.”
Businesses should create brands with personality, as that builds greater affinity from customers, and carry that brand consistently through the website design to the user interface of the product. “I’ve seen so many companies with a great website and the product is a sterile, lifeless hospital room. You’re expecting people to love you and recommend you. When you have a great brand, that’s a differentiator.”
Customer marketing is a powerful tool for companies. “We can say why our products or services are amazing, or you can have customers say it. Guess which one a prospect is going to respond to? That was a big success of Salesforce,” Macaitis said
Another tip is to see what product feature that customers use most, and refine it. “We would polish stuff intensely at Slack. Ease of use is one of the best things you can differentiate on, early,” Macaitis said.
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