Learn From Jon

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why Empathy Is Necessary for a Customer-Centric Strategy

Sarah is a successful marketing manager, someone who snaps alert with the alarm, happy to see the day dawn, eager to put into action that new content strategy for convincing an unsuspecting group of buyers to make the leap with your company’s product.

James is a savvy sales person, someone who is supernaturally comfortable picking up the phone and calling a random contact in the database, someone who glances at everyone in the line at Starbucks, and if your glance is rewarded with returned eye contact, even for a second, he'll strike up a chat.

Roland is an outstanding customer success manager, someone who relishes those moments when your customers achieve the milestones set on the plan that you created for them. He would rather work in the background, though, removing obstacles for customers than facing them directly, selling ideas.

What if all three employees had to do each other's jobs? How long can one fool themselves into working at something that doesn't come to them naturally? Not long, I suspect.

What If the Marketer Does Sales?

No need to call anyone. I’ll just connect all the seemingly random dots of their online behavior and send them some collateral they had no idea they needed. They’ll be wowed and buy the entire bundle. I’ll be a rock star!!

What if the Salesperson Makes an Effort in Marketing?

How wild would it be if James, a talented employee in Sales sent out an email to everyone in the database and invited them to a wine and beer tasting event. With a background largely in Sales and not Marketing, he assumed that he could just pitch solutions and the target audience would clamor to know how they can buy the stuff. How hard could it be?

What if the Customer Success Rep Tries Their Hand at Sales?

If given a Sales position, Roland would first need to first see what prospective customers bought from everyone else, why they aren’t happy, what they hope to achieve. He'd need to match their needs with what we have and help educate them on why they should consider giving us a chance. If that doesn’t work, surely being friendly with them and perhaps offering some pro bono work to demonstrate the strength of the product would! 

Doesn’t sound like a very productive use of skill sets, resources, experience, or training; does it? It's not scalable for one thing. Until artificial intelligence takes over completely, companies are going to need skilled specialists to fill each of these roles, and these roles are suited for certain personalities for a reason. But it might be worth it for a company to have people play the roles of members of other teams for a day if only to give the opportunity for the individuals to gain some empathy and understanding of the other roles. All of the roles mentioned (and others, too, like product management and support) are critical to a company’s ability to deliver on the promise of customer-centricity, putting the customer at the heart of everything it does. Without those roles, gaps would exist in the delivery of a customer-centric mission.

Without Sales, there would not be an ongoing focus to develop a base of committed customers, resulting in ongoing financial momentum for the company. Without Marketing, there would not be scaled outreach, no nurturing and building of interest, no steady systematic improvement in understanding of what constitutes the company’s ideal customers. Without Customer Success, there would be lower odds of product adoption and customer advocacy, and a lack of knowledge behind customer retention.

Break Down Barriers

These roles can no longer work in isolation. Organizational barriers are preventing true customer-centricity. The barriers need to come down and for that to happen, the roles need to appreciate each other to a deeper extent.

Empathy can be learned, as discussed in this article from the BBC, but let’s face it, it’s not a tremendous stretch for the roles mentioned to drop their natural guards for a day and get to know the roles of others.

A customer-centric strategy is a whole company strategy. There are a lot of tactics available for companies interested in achieving it, including improvements to executive communications, dismantling organizational silos, process redesign, data collection and integrations, skills development, technology adoption, and more. A low tech way to start breaking down organizational silos is to have people understand the roles that other people play. Empathy for others — it’s a soft word that can yield some hard results.

Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success are not the only areas that will benefit when they are used together. When Account-Based Marketing and Marketing Automation work hand-in-hand, the end result is relevant, persona-based, educational content about your prospects. Download the Marketing Automation Fundamentals guide to learn how to do this.

ABM and Marketing Automation

Image Source: Pixabay



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