John Deere touts customer service as a focal point of marketing campaigns
In addition to its forum, Symantec employs a customer advisory board and industry user groups to get more direct feedback. If a customer buys Endpoint Protection, it determines whether Holistic Protection or Data Loss Prevention might also be helpful to the company.
"We try to engage with them to understand what their infrastructure looks like, what are their needs, and where we believe there are gaps where we can partner together to resolve," says Mohindroo, adding that this may even mean suggesting a different vendor if Symantec could not best solve a customer issue. "We are more interested in a long-term partnership than a one-time sale."
Though Mohindroo acknowledges that "there is no perfect science for tracking this," the company does look at its retention rate, reviewing software renewal rates and other statistics.
"If we do see some weakness anywhere, we actively engage with customers to find out what's happening. Is it product-specific? Is it pricing-specific?" Mohindroo says the company aims for a retention rate "as close to 100% as possible."
Getting everyone on board
Tips for measuring ROI
in a b-to-b campaign
Gauging the effectiveness of marketing continues to be a challenge, but this is especially true of companies whose marketing activities support retention or upsell within existing accounts. But vague metrics can become manageable once marketers set specific goals.
Keeping the customer happy is a particular challenge when it comes to enterprise clients. A series of Forrester Research studies commissioned by Adobe Systems in May 2010 found that while 46% of b-to-c consumers said they were satisfied with vendors' online purchase process, just 17% of b-to-b customers were. Marketers say this sort of disparity is typical, since the relationship with the enterprise client is much more complex.
"There are more teams involved, so you don't have the luxury of a one-to-one relationship," says Ben Watson, principal customer experience strategist for Adobe Systems. "It's a many-to-many relationship — you've got more horses to corral."
That has driven Adobe to revamp how it tracks enterprise customer satisfaction and retention. A consequence has been organizational change, particularly the development of a "customer success program" connecting the sales, service, support, consulting and marketing teams.
"We all work with our customers in order to figure out what the problem is and where the opportunities are. But more importantly, there's now an internal process that's wrapped around that," Watson says. "I do think that retention is a higher priority than it used to be."
Adobe began doing quarterly business reviews for individual accounts, something previously reserved for product development or marketing campaigns. Earlier this year, Adobe also launched a "Customer Listening Post," featuring video feeds to all of Adobe's support centers, its social media monitoring and interfaces of active support cases, to discover leading trends or themes. The data can be filtered by client, Adobe program or issue. Adobe's marketers can use the data to get a sense of customer concerns and history, and shape the company's messaging.
"We eliminated the alt-tab problem. We brought all of the interfaces that are required for us to service a customer — Adobe.com, the store, our own CRM systems and our phone system — into a single application that gives a single view of a transaction or support case," says Watson.
He describes the company's email marketing efforts as a shift from "fire and forget" strategy into a "nurture" strategy, more sensitive to where the customer is in the lifecycle. That ensures the company can avoid over-communicating, as well as nurture the client as he or she purchases additional products over time.
Taking a lifetime approach
Focusing on the long-term value of a customer rather than the latest sales transaction is a growing part of marketers' ROI approach, says Rick Segal, president and chief practice officer of marketing agency Gyro.
"They have to look at not only how did they perform in the last quarter, but also what kind of revenue and contribution has this company made over the entire time they've been in relationships with them," says Segal. "That's one of the best metrics: 'This company has been a customer of ours for 23 years, and part of our revenue stream every quarter over the lifetime they've yielded this amount of revenue and productivity.'"