Customer Success doesn’t always have to be called “customer success” for it to be an integral part of your companies values and responsibilities of each of your team members. At Infunnel - a Swedish marketing automation consultant agency - they don’t have a team with the title “Customer Success,” but their team is incredibly invested in helping their clients reach their full potential and the foundations of customer success are in their DNA.
I spoke to one of the founders, Martin Stenke, about their customer success methodology and culture they have created. And how they use maturity scales, personas and data to help their team understand more about how to better assist their clients in reaching their full potential. And also, to help them close the right types of customers.
Meg: So before we get started into the topic of customer success and customer marketing, tell me a bit about Infunnel - your company.
Martin: Yes, so the short answer is that we help companies with marketing automation and the thing marketing automation does is to help the to generate more and better leads. And it’s really about help the companies reach their full potential in terms of lead generation. And then marketing automation is like our main method or our strategy to achieve those goals.
Meg: And give us a little bit of your background and what you do at Infunnel.
Martin: I’m one of the founders - I’ve been in the IT industry, or the internet industry for like...basically all my business life, at least. So what we try to do and what I try to do is work really closely with our customers to ensure that they reach their full potential and that is always a journey and it takes time.
We’re never done, but it’s all about getting customer success in the end. So both success for the individual that we work with, that could be a marketing manager or a sales manager, and it’s success for the company - our client. But even more so for our client’s client because those are the ones that are buying the stuff that we’re helping them to market.
Meg: As a founder, what was the moment that you realized that customer success was really important to your business?
Martin: Well I mean customer success is a wide term and if you don’t bring success to your customer you won’t have any customers - so from that perspective we’ve had it as part of our DNA from the start. And also being a consultancy firm you have to have happy, successful customers to have a business so it’s really, like I said, in our DNA and really one of the core things that we just constantly just need to work on.
Meg: And have you had experience in previous work places where it might have not been a strong part of the culture?
Martin: Yeah, of course. I mean there’s a lot of different types of organizations and companies, and of course there’s many that just focus on the sales - so if they’ve sold the product or service they’re kind of done. And they don’t realize the full value and potential of continuously communicating and helping and adding value along the journey...to have them [the customer] happy, to have them recommending you as a partner, or even buying more services or products from you.
So yes, I think still it’s kind of common to have that focus of just getting that first sale and then you’re done. Which is maybe not the most effective way of doing things.
Meg: And now we’ll get into customer success and marketing at Infunnel. So the customer success and marketing teams are very close at Infunnel, what’s the reasoning behind that structure?
Martin: Since what we do is marketing then very close is almost like an understatement because we work together so we don’t really separate marketing from customer success. And that goes both for when we’re actually out consulting at a client, then we have a team of individuals working very closely with mostly sales and marketing at our client’s, and one might have the hat of being a customer success manager and another [might have the hat of] working with marketing and campaigning. But we do it together so it’s really two sides of the same team.
But then again, we do exactly the same thing for ourselves, we try to treat Infunnel as one of our clients. Of course we are the least important client, because the clients are more important, but we still really try to treat Infunnel just as we do our clients and do the same set up and do the same type of marketing.
Also to be able to demonstrate that we do that and that it works when we talk to prospects and leads.
Meg: And how do you think that this type of structure benefits the teams at Infunnel?
Martin: I think knowledge sharing is really one of the most important things and that is a market that is both growing and developing at a very rapid pace. So it’s constantly changing and for that reason we have to communicate and share everyday.
And since we ask our clients to work cross-departments, cross-knowledge and try to break old ways, or ways habits a part and have marketing talk to sales and sales talking to IT and have them working together along our customer journey.
Then of course we try to do the same thing ourselves.
Meg: What are some of the ways that you ensure your customers are reaching their full potential with your product? (i.e. trainings, having dedicated campaign builders and customer success managers)
Martin: Sometimes I [joke and say] maybe 40% or 50% is marketing automation and lead generation, and the rest is politics and psychology because it’s all about change management in this. It’s getting people to work in a new - partly of course digital way, but also in a new way to cooperate.
Like I said, sales, marketing, IT focusing on the client rather than on the separate tasks. So from that perspective I would say the main way of ensuring this cooperation with a client is to really get close to them and work in teams where we actually solve things together. So it’s kind of like...it takes two to tango...and also in business.
Meg: As you’ve worked with your customers to define expectations and see where they are on the maturity scale, how has that helped you to further define your marketing personas/your ideal customer to make sure you’re bringing on the right types of customers and not selling churn?
Martin: That’s something that we put a lot of effort into and talk about constantly. So, based on our experience we’ve actually developed two guides - or methods if you’d like - and one thing...and these are of course top secret [haha]...is the Infunnel maturity chart.
What we try to do is to map a lead or potential client to that maturity chart to find out where they are, how much they know, and what we could teach them or sell them.
The other part of that formula is looking at the buyer personas or their characteristics. So we have a buyer characteristics map…[and] we try to identify functional behaviors from people and, of course, we base that on people who previously bought stuff from us.
And that’s part of what we do, we have a lot of data about people and organizations and of course we use that for ourselves as well.
Meg: Have you adjusted your strategy as you’ve see what works better, who the better persona is?
Martin: Yeah we constantly do that. We have a, you could say even on a monthly basis we look at these modules or guides or methods, if you’d like, and try to map new clients and old clients into it and see where they are and what’s the proper next step for them. And while doing that we also slightly twist the way we do it and try to improve it over time. So it’s an ongoing process.
Meg: Do you have one of your biggest learnings from doing that?
Martin: Oh biggest learning...I think that biggest learning is that it’s very dangerous to think that you have a fixed model like personas and that you’re done. Because when you look at the data you get into how different companies behave, how different individuals behave, how they behave in a specific role, how they behave in a specific situation changes. And it changes more quickly now than ever.
So I think that’s the overall big learning - don’t stop changing and adapting. Work in an iterative way.
Meg: What are some of the tools/metrics or data that can be used in a customer marketing strategy? Then what can you do with those (using that data to adjust your messaging internally and externally?)
Martin: There’s thousands….of tools and the number is increasing very very rapidly. But the main tools that we are using to try to do our work are the bigger marketing automation tools...and, like I said before, what we do is try to identify hundreds and sometimes thousands of different data points and that can be [profile and demographic mix, to activity and engagement data]...And then we combine that data into a lead score. And, of course, there’s a lot of KPIs along that journey that we measure. So like best referring channel, if you’re a contact or an MQL or an SQL, or whatever that could be.
Meg: What are some of the actions your team would take with that data?
Martin: Could be basically anything. The obvious or easy thing in a marketing automation software is actually sending out a specific email that has content adapted to a specific persona, or target group, a specific situation with a specific message. So dynamically pushing the right content to the right person, at the right time, in the right channel.
But of course that could be a call, that could be an SMS...an instruction pushed to someone in a meeting, so the sky is the limit with how you actually use the data to communicate in the best possible way with your client. Martin: Could be basically anything. The obvious or easy thing in a marketing automation software is actually sending out a specific email that has content adapted to a specific persona, or target group, a specific situation with a specific message. So dynamically pushing the right content to the right person, at the right time, in the right channel.
But of course that could be a call, that could be an SMS...an instruction pushed to someone in a meeting, so the sky is the limit with how you actually use the data to communicate in the best possible way with your client.
Meg: Have you at Infunnel developed an outreach methodology to determine when you make the call versus when it’s more automated?
Martin: Yes, of course. That’s really what we do. So we have a lot of different schemes and schedules that, depending on the client and their maturity when we do what.
Meg: So it’s that maturity chart that’s telling you?
Meg: Ok very cool. When is a good time to start a customer marketing program? What are some of the things Infunnel is doing?
Martin: Now is the short answer. If you haven’t done it before then you should start thinking about it. So now is always a good time.
And looking at how we do things, and I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times already, we are working very closely with our clients, we’re having a full day meeting to evaluate progress monthly. So we have an agile approach, run sprints and then we go through all the KPIs, make recommendations and plan changes and improvements for the next sprint.
Meg: Do you have any recommendations for those trying to get starting with customer marketing?
Martin: I think the main advice that we give to basically all clients is to start small. And start somewhere, do something. Don’t plan for six months or twelve months what you should do - just pick something small that you can do and do it, and measure to see what you did well and see what you can improve. And then add something else to it and run it just a little bit bigger next time, and then you learn as you go along.
Meg: Do you have a definition of customer success?
Martin: Yes. The very marketing automation, lead generation-ish answer to it is that we bring the customers minimum marketing qualified likes, after some time we bring them deals. So they do better business based on what we can do, and we are actually able to measure how we did it and that we were able to actually affect that process.
The other answer is that so far we haven’t lost one client. So if they’re happy they’re staying with us. I think that also proves that it works.
Meg: What can we expect to see from infunnel in the coming year?
Martin: Hopefully we will see even more happy clients, and I think you will because the interest for what we do and for our services...is really booming….