Cross-functional work relationships: The key to customer marketing success

Customer marketers and product marketers often make reference to the cross-functional nature of their role. It’s something that’s critical to ensure that the customer is at the beating heart of an organization.

Navigating the various and shifting priorities of customer success, support, product marketing and management, customer onboarding, and sales all on the same page is no easy task.

In this article we look at:

Communication Skills and Management

While there have been many developments in terms of collaboration tools, for example Asana, Loom or Slack, there’s still a lot of ground to be covered in terms of soft skills and management.

For instance, research by Salesforce suggests that 86% of employees and executives cite lack of communication or collaboration for workplace failures.

Let’s take a look at some ways that you can de-silo your ways of working and bring people closer together, without the need to rely on any tool in particular.

Align objectives

Firstly, aligning objectives is a biggie; within a team, working together towards a common goal fosters a collaborative spirit. Whether it’s dropping a message to colleagues in the mornings with priorities, or getting together a few times a week to check in, this process is critical

Aligning objectives with the broader mission of your company is crucial so that all teams are looking in the same direction, and are seeking opportunities and objectives that’re complementary, rather than focusing on the differences.

Indicators for success: Why the difference between OKRs and KPIs are important.
Both Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objective and Key Results (OKRs) are thrown around during conversation a lot, and knowing the difference between the two can be a little mystifying. In this article, we’ll help you understand the differences between the two and why they’re important.

Establish expectations and boundaries

Depending on your organization, it might be necessary to establish expectations and boundaries for collaboration. Striking the balance between ownership of particular areas and collective responsibilities.

This goes for internal communication, too. Share your wins with the various teams you work with and ensure that you’re updating stakeholders. You can’t expect a collaborative environment if people and teams aren’t talking to each other.

Make clear lines of communication

Make it a priority to establish clear lines of communication on a regular basis. Interestingly, according to a study by Queens University, 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as very important, yet only 18% of employees get communication evaluations at their performance reviews.

Applying these tips to an example

To put this in perspective, let’s take a product launch as an example. In terms of internal teams and stakeholders involved, the numbers are pretty sizable.

Product marketing is close to the buyer, whereas customer marketing is close to the existing customer. That gap needs to be bridged so that customer marketers and sales are aware of the features product marketing is advertising, and that product marketing is aware of any customer and market feedback.

You can also work in partnership on any adoption metrics or processes, broad communications that might be needed from a demand generation perspective, and align when it comes to broader business objectives and KPIs.

The same goes with knowledge. Giving teams the opportunity to discuss wins, losses and best practices will also help to add another dimension of cohesion. Customer marketing can contribute in numerous ways across an organization. Share your areas of expertise. You’ll find that, more often than not, these areas will overlap.

Next, and possibly one of the most important, is to create an atmosphere that encourages trust and open communication.

By nature, we all have different communication styles and personal preferences when it comes to ways of working, so providing various outlets for people to express themselves is important, especially if you line manage colleagues.

Some people may have no problem expressing themselves on a forum in front of a large group, while for others this might be anxiety-inducing.  Ensuring that you include a mixture of dynamics will encourage everybody to share their thoughts, knowledge, and ideas.

Lastly, setting the tone of interactions is important, too. Dismissing contributions, rather than welcoming and exploring them, can leave those who made them feel discouraged.

From B2B/C to B2H, or H2H

B2H (business to human), or H2H (human to human). Prepare to see these terms a lot more in the coming months and years, as the concept suggests that the terms B2B and B2C will become less relevant, as all types of businesses shift towards hyper-personalized, emotion-laden content and hooks.

As the boundaries between home and work and offline and online fade, we use digital channels often interchangeably for personal and also professional reasons, and the one thing brands are vying for is customers' attention.

This idea also applies to the relationship between companies and their employees; employees need to be engaged and satisfied so that they remain loyal, have ample opportunities for growth, and then in turn do the same for that business’ customers.

Bryan Kramer, CEO of H2H Companies, describes this human-to-human connection beautifully in one of his blogs:

“Businesses do not have emotion. People do. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. People want to feel something. People want to be included. People want to understand…

...Human beings are innately complex yet strive for simplicity. Our challenge as humans is to find, understand and explain the complex in its most simplistic form. This means you, marketers. Find the commonality in our humanity, and speak the language we’ve all been waiting for.”

Some cite the demand generation, and marketing email automation culture that has developed over the past decade as fuelling this shift. Anthony Kennada, CMO at Gainsight commented in a blog post that:

‘If you're like me, you spend the first hour or so of every day deleting emails that are obviously sent via some type of marketing automation platform. Consumers—and I use that word deliberately—are tired of being automated.’

Not only that, as we’ve alluded to previously, consumers are also tired of being sold to. Regardless of whether you work in a B2B or B2C setting, the potential antidote to this is a razor-sharp focus on helping your customers or users succeed and equipping them with the tools they need to do just that.

Community is a dominant theme throughout customer marketing and harnessing the power of social connections and conversations is not simply a marketing tool but a human need.

Customer marketers are incredibly well placed to drive this shift throughout an organization, and we predict this’ll be at the top of many agendas in the coming year.

5 ways to build a strong relationship with your customers

Customers are the lifeblood of any business and there are several strategies for retaining customers that can help transform your bottom line.

With so many options at their fingertips, customers are consistently evaluating the relationships they have with the services they use on a regular basis, and if you’re not taking care of them, the likelihood is they’re taking off.

This article will go through:

👀  Important metrics to keep an eye on when considering your customer-business relationship,

🤝  Five tips on building up this relationship, and

💻  Some examples of putting these tips into practice.