On their Terms: Evolving Customer Success for Millennial B2B Tech Buyers

Author: Rebecca Lucash
9 / 18 / 2019

We’ve talked in past posts about how Millennials are stepping into B2B buying roles and overturning traditional ideas about how buyers want to interact with technology companies. But what about after the sale has closed? With customers – and particularly Millennials – assessing products and services on their overall experience with the company, the post-purchase experience has become as important as the product itself.

So what are tech companies to do? The answer: invest in customer success. A well-run customer success team uses data to measure and monitor satisfaction and usage metrics, and is empowered to use that information to connect with customers to help them achieve positive outcomes. Done right, this drives adoption and active use, retention and growth, and the holy grail of Millennial marketing – advocacy.

In this post, we highlight HubSpot as an example of a B2B tech company that uses Millennial-minded tactics within customer success to drive customer retention, satisfaction, and advocacy. HubSpot is a marketing, sales, and service software provider. Their platform is built on the premise of “inbound” marketing, where companies create valuable content that will draw potential and current customers in (rather than sales having to reach out). And they apply the same mindset to their own marketing. But what makes HubSpot particularly Millennial-friendly? Keep reading to find out!

 

ADOPTION & ACTIVE USE
When it comes to promoting the adoption and active use of technology products, customer success’ job is to educate customers and help them realize value quickly. The best way to do that is to reach customers via the right channel and with the right level of information.

One of the best ways to communicate with Millennials is via video content. 71% of Millennial buyers are “likely” or “very likely” to engage with short videos, compared with just 54% of Baby Boomers. Short videos can be an incredibly effective means of communication not only to convey onboarding information, but also to promote features that will result in deeper and more active use. Check out our recent eBook to learn more about driving such engagement.

But remember – Millennials are not a monolithic group. Make sure that you have content and information available for varying levels of technological know-how, and don’t make the mistake of assuming every younger user is going to breeze through onboarding roadblock-free.

HubSpot uses video to engage with customers at every stage in the customer journey. They aggregate these videos conveniently into one educational resource, HubSpot Academy. HubSpot Academy offers everything from tutorials on basic product use to detailed feature guides and even courses in marketing, sales, and service. Videos are as short as 3 minutes and as long as 9 hours. It’s a choose-your-own adventure for customers to use how they will, and well-aligned with best-practices for reaching Millennials.

 

RETENTION & GROWTH
Millennials pose a unique challenge when it comes to retention and growth because they’re “digital natives” – they’ve grown up with technology and are used to figuring things out on their own. This do-it-yourself mentality can be a strength when it comes to experimenting with new technology, but it also means that without proactively reaching out to customers, you may not know how well (or poorly) things are going.

One critically important way to keep an ear to the ground is via social media. 85% of Millennials are part of a social networking site. But Millennials are not just using these sites for socializing. They also expect social channels to be a two-way door for communication with vendor partners. Customer success teams can streamline these interactions with a cohesive strategy across every touchpoint.

It’s equally important to make sure that when you do reach out to Millennials, you do it with purpose. Millennials want authentic relationships with companies. This authenticity can come in the form of personalized interactions – tailoring outreach and surfacing personalized resources to the particular customer. Authenticity can also be achieved by making sure that interactions are contextualized based on that customer’s history and relationship with the vendor. Millennials are not going to respond well to canned content, and your customer success team can make sure that never jeopardizes the relationship.

HubSpot uses social media to their advantage as well, and has tailored their strategy to reach a younger audience. They have developed a recognizable, informal brand voice, and weave content and fun together in their posts. Their social media draws customers in with content that is more than just one long, repetitive advertisement. Case in point, one of their recent Facebook posts was a short video on what businesses can learn from a box of ugly produce. Fun, authentic, and informative. They even engage with followers directly in the comments section of their posts. And their strategy is working – they have almost 2 million likes.

 

ADVOCACY BRINGS IT ALL TOGETHER
One of the best outcomes and measures of a successful customer success team is advocacy. Millennials actively seek out peer reviews – so having customers who are happy to advocate for your business will bolster your credibility. After free trials and demos – and it’s no surprise that firsthand experience rises to the top for a sales-avoidant cohort – peer referrals are one of Millennial tech buyers’ top three most trustworthy information sources.

There are two ways that advocacy from current customers can help your business. Satisfied users can become internal advocates within their company, helping to increase adoption rates. If you’ve provided the right content through the right channels for them to learn about and engage with your product, they will be able to take that knowledge and teach others within their company. Increased adoption and deeper usage means higher retention and opens the door for additional sales to that same customer.

Satisfied users can also become external advocates for your company, spreading the word to new customers and generating new leads. On average, referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value than non-referred customers. Encourage dialogue between current and potential customers by engaging them on social media and sharing testimonials on your website.

So what have we learned? If your customer success team is reaching Millennials via the right channels and with the right information, you should see faster and broader adoption, deeper and more active use of features, and higher retention. And if your team has truly succeeded in delivering customer satisfaction, you’ll find your customers have become advocates – driving purchases of additional high value products and services, and bringing in new high-value customers.

HubSpot encourages advocacy as part of their customer success strategy. But they also go about it in a very targeted way. HubSpot recommends keeping tabs on what review sites are most popular within your industry, and aiming to improve advocacy on that site. For example, a restaurant might cultivate reviews on Yelp, while HubSpot focuses on G2crowd. This has helped HubSpot direct advocates to share their opinions in a way that maximizes the impact of their voices.

HubSpot has even taken things a step further with a customer advocacy program, HubStars. HubStars encourages advocacy by giving customers points (redeemable for rewards) for actions like engaging with a Facebook video. HubSpot has recognized the power of advocacy and mobilized their most loyal users to make the biggest possible impact.

 

About the Author

Rebecca Lucash is a Consultant at Lenati specializing in research and insights-driven strategy. She is passionate about customer-centric marketing – learning what drives customer behavior, and leveraging those insights to create value and more meaningful experiences. Prior to joining Lenati, Rebecca worked in the consumer packaged goods and publishing industries.

Antje Helfrich is a Senior Manager at Lenati and brings over 20 years of experience developing B2B and B2C customer-centric marketing strategies. She has led successful initiatives with well-known brands including Starbucks, Microsoft, T-Mobile, SAP, AT&T and more. Antje is passionate about the intersection across business, customer, and marketing technologies. As a leader in Lenati’s Customer Experience Practice, she helps clients create meaningful customer experience programs that drive loyalty and generate business growth.

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