Using Intent Data In Customer Success To Reduce Churn And Upsell

Posted on 24 Apr

Customer Success is proactive support for customers. It is done by humans who are hands-on with their customers, ensuring they get the best experience, value and use from any service or system. Customer Support on the flip side, can be human-less at times. It is that feeling when you crawl through endless FAQs on a company website before you can eventually submit your email address so they can get back to you some time soon. Of course it’s not always like this, Customer Support is about solving problems or helping the client get to grips with the tool if they are struggling to use it.

Customer Success is a crucial part of any business. Keep customers, you keep money in the business. Lose customers, your sales team better be firing. Even better, if you can keep happy customers and assist them in having success, you can expand your relationship with existing customers and increase your own revenues.

There is data that can help you do that. But not enough Customer Success teams understand it’s power, or are even aware of it.

Introducing Intent Data

Intent Data is becoming a white-hot trend in Sales and Marketing. These teams are using it to get in on deals they did not know were happening. It’s fuel for their advertising and prospecting, focusing on decision makers and key champions in businesses who are showing intent to buy from you or your competitors. But Customer Success teams are starting to get in on the action.

That is because the same data can be used to track if your customers are looking at your competitors. It can be used to find out if and when new decision makers are hired in your customers’ business, or if they have won funding and may be looking to make some changes to how they work. There are many, many uses for Intent Data when it comes to Customer Success. Here’s the 3 key ones you need to implement now:

Proactive Churn Prevention

Customers will leave you if it makes sense for their business. Customers cannot always control what happens to their budget, there are contributing factors that will take decisions out of their hands and force them to cut out vendors and bring things in-house. There will be new tools and competitors or changes in industries that will mean you win a lot more, or lose a few customers. These things happen, but usually we can keep a customer happy by giving them good service, making sure they are getting what they need and are constantly exploring best practices to make the best of their investment.

But by using Intent Data, you will be able to get ahead of the curve on the customers who are thinking about leaving you – for their own reasons. It cannot be done for the customers who experience sudden changes and are forced to cut ties with their vendors, but if your customer is researching a competitor it can be done.

You just need to tell your Intent Data provider to track your current customers. If there is activity from your customer’s showing intent towards other vendors, you will be able to see which person or which people are looking as well as which competitor they are looking at.

So what do you do with this data?

You cannot simply pick up the phone and call them out on looking at a competitor. You cannot simply email them with an offer of a discount, you need to be more tactful and considered in your approach.

If your customer is coming up for renewal with you, it is natural they will be doing their research on competitors to check they have the best deal. But you can use this intelligence to reach out in a timely manner. You can review the data you have received and use it to inform how your outreach will work. Think of the following when looking at which competitor your customer looks at:

  • Does the competitor they looked at have a specialism that makes them unique
  • Do they have a better price or more flexible offering
  • Do they generally own the market as a dominant vendor (IE, would it not be natural for them to look at this vendor for content and learning purposes)

If you can reach out using any of this intelligence and context, you can proactively stop a customer from making a decision without stopping to hear your ideas first. You are in the box-seat with a customer, you can offer them deals, help them with issues and do a lot more for them currently than any prospective new vendor can as yet. If you have a chance to put your foot in the door before they walk out of it, it should be done.

This data is a great way to understand the signs this may be happening. Because we all know that customers are far less loyal now, they do not call you and talk about how they are considering moving. They move if they want to, so you have to add a layer to your Customer Success process in order to compensate for this.

Landing and Expanding

It’s not all doom and gloom, some customers are extremely happy with you. When you land a new account, you’re going to teach them how to walk and do the basics in the beginning. Once they get going, you cannot leave them alone to see out their contract. This is when you continuously should strive to help them maximize their use of your service, squeeze more out of it, try new ideas with it. When you do this, you get the upsale. Expanding current accounts is far, far easier than landing new ones. You already have the relationship in place, they have already made a decision to buy, they already use you.

But everyone tries to upsell their client. How can you do it differently? Intent Data is a super smart way to understand when a new customer might be ready to expand their relationship with you.

Think of it similarly to how you can use Intent Data to tell if a customer might be leaving you. This is just one side of things in terms of expanding your current accounts. You’ll be able to tell when customers are looking at competitors and use this intelligence to tailor your communications with them. But you can also use your Intent Data provider to find when your customers are looking at key industry events, or engaging with specific thought leaders in your industry.

Here’s an example:

  • You sign a new customer and your Intent Data provider catches them engaging with a competitor
  • This does not mean they will leave you immediately, so you wait until you get your next batch of data to track if there is more activity from your client
  • The next time, they have engaged with a huge industry event which focuses its content around a specific part of your offering (For example, it’s an SEO conference, or is about social media rather than just broadly about marketing in general)
  • The next time, they have interacted with a thought leader who specializes in the same niche of your industry that the event they looked at focuses on (They looked at the SEO conference and an SEO thought leader)
  • You can begin to build a picture of what is happening now. They have a clear focus on SEO (for example) right now, so you should aim to talk to them about new projects or goals knowing this will be part of their plans.

Like always with Intent Data, you cannot pick up the phone and ask them why they looked at a competitor or why they engaged with an influencer. Your approach must be way more considered than this, which is why we suggest waiting to see the full picture like in the example above. The first bullet point would lead you to think they may leave you, but the whole story would suggest otherwise.

The other way you can land and expand is to think about events. If your new customer is attending an event in your space, (found out via your Intent Data provider) you can go along and meet their other team members. There will be other departments, other offices who may need you. Don’t sit on one part of the business and serve them, become the trusted partner of the entire business.

Relationship Building

Lastly, relationship building is easier when you have intelligence and context around what to talk about. Way too often, customers are bombarded by referral requests, or a sales person wanting a case study. This is too self-serving. It does not reflect what a 2 way relationship should be like. After-all, if you want more referrals if it’s a key way you earn business, a good way to get more is to look after your customers with exemplary standards.

So when you land your customer and enter them into your Intent Data provider’s system, think about the following.

  • Do you congratulate people when they get promoted
  • Do you wish people a Happy Birthday
  • Do you wish people good luck if they move to a new location

If you thought Yes to any of the above, think about how congratulating your customer when they win an industry award feels.

How does it feel when a customer is congratulated on the funding they just won. If they open a new office, if the point of contact in the account is promoted or hires a new member of their team. If a new decision maker is hired, maybe even a new product launch or a partnership with a large brand is announced.

All of these nuggets of context are not simple to find every day, because we all have things to do and cannot check if every customer is hiring every day. We would never get anything done if we looked for that manually. But finding this data if and when it happens via Intent Data is super powerful. It gives you extra leverage to be that positive voices in the customer’s crowded inbox, full of other vendors asking for a referral.

 

Not sure if it will work for you? Give it a try with 100 free leads. Let’s see how many of your customers are snooping on competitors…

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