How to Develop Mutually Beneficial Relationships to Achieve Your Desired Outcomes
When I first started working in the advocacy space, most people didn’t even know what B2B customer advocacy was. Customer Success was also considered a relatively new practice at the time, so imagine how brutal it was explaining my role as a Customer Success Manager for a Customer Advocacy platform. However, in the past 7 years, both fields have grown dramatically, and it’s been great to find my tribe in these amazing fields.
While Customer Advocacy still typically resides in the Marketing department, collaboration with the Customer Success team is critical for a truly impactful customer advocacy practice. After all, customer advocacy is an impossible mountain to climb when your customers aren’t seeing success with your product or services. But your Customer Success team also holds unique insights into your customer base and some of the strongest client relationships.
Therefore, customer advocacy professionals should always attempt to be in the loop of what’s going on in Customer Success and create strong relationships and champions within that team.
As a former CSM as well as a customer advocacy professional, here's my pro tip:
Every good relationship starts with trust and value, so focus on developing your relationships with your Customer Success team early. Here are some practical ways for how you can do this.
Share wins with your CSMs 🥳
Advocacy practitioners have the privilege of learning about success stories and wins from customers all the time. When you hear about a big win with your product, or even a personal one, let their CSM know. I promise they’ll be excited to celebrate alongside you.
Provide visibility into new customer insights 👀
Did you receive an OOO about a customer being out on maternity leave or notice they announced a new role on LinkedIn? Did they share a new or unique use case for your solution? Loop in the CSM to provide them the opportunity to support or celebrate them.
Oprah Moment: You get a gift, and you get a gift, and you get a gift! 🎁
Share that gifting budget and swag! CS teams tend to have small or nonexistent budgets for customer gifting. By gifting from yourself and the CSM, you not only show that you’re aligned, but also help them to deepen their relationship. If you can allot some of your budget to CSMs to send gifts, you’ll gain a lot of trust. Additionally, you can create a gifting guide for CSMs to use. Identify gifts that make sense for different customer milestones.
Join CS Meetings 💻
If you don’t know what’s important to someone, you can’t provide value. Sitting in on CS team meetings allows you to learn about their priorities and objectives. It will also allow you to get to know the team members individually, the vibe, their struggles, etc. You’ll also become a familiar face and hopefully someone who shares equally valuable insights back to the CS team.
Treat customers with respect 💙
Don’t sour the strong relationships your CSMs have with their customers by going too big too soon. “Thanks for signing on, are you able to provide a referral?” is not the best start to a relationship. Ensure advocacy asks align to where the person is in their customer journey and advocacy journey.
Once you’ve started developing your relationships with CS, you can start to ask for their support in your customer advocacy efforts as well.
Share insights 🧠
CSMs typically have a ton of insight into their customers’ happiness, use cases, and goals. Utilize their knowledge by asking them to nominate customers to join your advocacy program. If they have a list of particularly happy customers, you can also ask them to request an online review or invite them to join your reference program.
Dive into the data 📈
If you don’t already have access to CS data, such as health scores, NPS or CSAT, you should connect with your CS or CS Ops team. Utilizing this data to provide advocacy opportunities at the right time will increase your rates of completion.
Hit the road ✈️
As the world starts to re-open, I’m sure CSMs will be getting back on the road to hold customer on-sites and user groups. Since your CSMs are now your besties, ask if you can tag along. Share the value you’ll provide, and work together to see which advocacy opportunities may be the best fit for certain customers.
At the end of the day, Customer Success can be Customer Advocacy’s biggest internal ally - take it from a former CSM and Customer Advocacy program manager. Putting in the effort to provide value to your internal stakeholders always pays off. And be sure to keep these 3 rules in mind:
Remember, treat your internal customers as nicely as you treat your external ones.