When you think about the goals of community marketing and customer success teams, it can be difficult to pick apart exactly how they differ. After all, they’re both trying to make the customer as happy as possible, right?
While that’s 100% true, the tactics, metrics, and overall approach of both customer success and community marketing teams differ massively.
But how exactly do they work differently, and can customer success and community marketing teams work together to better enhance the customer experience?
In this article we’ll look at:
- What customer success is
- What community marketing is
- Five differences between customer success and community marketing
- How both teams can work together
- If CS teams can benefit from implementing a CLG strategy
Let's dive in, shall we? 👇
What is customer success?
“The basic definition of customer success is simple: giving your customers exactly what they want. Instead of just treating your customers as cash cows, your products and services should be aimed at helping your customers achieve their goals and solve their problems.
“Customer success doesn't begin and end with your products. While creating products (or services) that solve your customers' problems is essential, everything you do should be steered by a firm understanding of what your customers actually need or want.
“It’s about going the extra mile to help customers reach their goals.
“An effective customer success strategy will explain to your customer why they need more than they think they need, and why your products or services are the ones to plug the gap.”
So, customer success is a business strategy that focuses on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes through the use of a company's products or services.
Customer success teams work closely with customers to understand their needs and goals, and to provide the support and resources they need to be successful.
The goal is to create long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with customers and to help them achieve maximum value from the products or services they have purchased.
What is community marketing or community-led growth?
Community marketing, or community-led growth, is a strategy that focuses on building a community of customers or users around a brand, product, or service.
It typically involves engaging with customers through forums, community platforms, social media, and more, in order to create a sense of belonging and loyalty among community members.
The goal of community marketing is to enhance the customer experience by providing a space for customers to learn and interact with each other and to unite them around their shared passion for a product or brand. The desired result will be turning them into brand advocates who will promote the brand to others and help to drive acquisition and retention.
Five differences between customer success and community marketing
The primary difference between customer success and community marketing is where they focus their efforts.
While customer success is focused on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes through the use of a company's products or services, community marketing is focused on building a community of customers around a brand, product, or service.
Customer success teams typically work with existing customers, while community marketing teams will largely work with both existing customers and potential customers.
The objectives of both teams also differ.
Customer success teams aim to create long-lasting relationships with customers and to help them achieve maximum value from the products or services they’ve purchased.
Community marketing teams aim to create a sense of belonging and loyalty among members of the community and to, as a result, turn them into brand advocates.
The main tactics employed by both customer success and customer marketing teams vary too.
Customer success teams tend to focus on tactics such as onboarding, training, and ongoing support to help customers understand their needs and achieve their desired outcomes.
Community marketing teams, however, will focus on using social media, events, and content creation to engage with and build the community.
Finally, the ways in which CS and CM teams will measure and define their success are contrasting too.
Customer success metrics are often thought of in terms of customer retention, renewal rates, and customer lifetime value.
Community marketing teams may measure success in terms of the size and engagement of the community, as well as the number of referrals generated by the community or response rate.
How can community marketing and customer success teams work together?
A shared goal between community marketing and customer success teams is making sure customers are as successful and happy as they can be. While they go about achieving this goal in different ways, there are a number of ways they can work together to ensure they maximize the potential to achieve it.
Here are a few examples:
Sharing customer feedback
Community marketing teams can gather valuable insights and feedback from customers to feedback to customer success teams.
As they’re interacting with customers on a regular basis on community platforms social media, forums, and other channels, they’re already tracking the conversations to inform how they can best engage with their community.
Sharing the common talking points, or insights they receive from their community with the customer success team can help CS go into their own conversations well-equipped to understand the needs and concerns of customers.
With this in mind, they’ll be able to easily identify ways to improve the customer experience, even without directly speaking with customers.
Collaborating on content creation
Content creation is a huge part of community marketing, and while it may not traditionally be a focus for customer success teams, they can definitely help to make it as relevant and helpful to customers as possible.
An example could be organizing regular meetings to discuss the pain points both teams are seeing in their interactions with customers and using the findings to inform the type of content that should be delivered to customers.
This could look like a best practice guide for using a product or a social post with a customer success story from a happy customer or a community member.
Planning and hosting events
Community marketing and customer success teams can work together to plan and host events, such as webinars, workshops, or meetups.
These events can be a great opportunity to engage with customers, share knowledge, and build strong relationships.
Plus, both teams should have a great insight into what customers are hoping to achieve next, so this can be actioned when forming event agendas by keeping customer feedback in mind and including topics of interest.
Providing support to customers is something that should without a doubt involve both community marketing and customer success teams. This can be taken a step further by ensuring there are processes in place to make sure both teams provide the best support possible and don’t have any conflicting messaging to customers.
For example, a community marketing team could monitor social media and forums for customer inquiries and provide quick responses, but when a more complex support request crops up, this can be quickly passed on to the customer success team who can help resolve any larger issues.
Having a system in place for issue resolution, and working together to understand what issues should be solved by which team, will provide an even better experience for the customer as it shows that the teams are united and removes any confusion on their end.
It’s always frustrating to be passed between staff at a business when it seems like they’re not even talking to each other about the issues, right? Get ahead of that problem and your customers will be even happier.
Can customer success teams benefit from their companies implementing a community marketing strategy?
Community marketing is still a relatively new strategy when compared to customer success, which many more businesses are familiar with. But, can a customer success team really benefit from their company implementing a community-led growth strategy?
Of course! 👏
Here are a few ways a solid CLG strategy can positively impact the work of a CS team:
Community marketing efforts can provide valuable insights into the needs, concerns, and preferences of customers.
This information can be shared with customer success teams, who can use it to better understand their customers and identify ways to improve the customer experience.
Building a strong, active community around a brand can help to increase customer engagement and retention - AKA: the customer success dream!
Customers who feel connected to a brand and its community are more likely to continue using the company's products or services and to recommend them to others.
That’s another bit of help for the customer success team in making their customers feel extra special.
A well-managed community can serve as an additional channel for customer support, with community members helping to answer each other's questions and provide support.
This can help to reduce the workload of the customer success team and free them up to focus on more complex issues.
Building a sense of belonging and loyalty among members of the community gives them a sense of added value and can increase the likelihood of them sticking around.
CS teams should benefit from this massively because customers who feel connected to a community are more likely to remain loyal to the brand and to continue using its products or services.
To sum up
While community marketing is focused on building a community around a brand, customer success is focused on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes through the use of a company's products or services.
While they ultimately employ differing tactics, measure success differently and approach customers in varying ways, there’s no doubt that having both strategies - when working together - can have a really positive effect on a company's ability to acquire and retain customers.
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