Brand advocacy is a powerful term, but most companies haven't quite grasped what it really means. Bill Macaitis on the other hand, Slack's new CMO, know's exactly what it means and by focusing on brand advocacy, he is helping to add $1 million dollars to Slack's revenue every 11 days.
He recently released an AMA and delves deep into what separates those brands that succeed and those that don't (Video AMA at the bottom of this post).
After listening to this brilliant AMA we couldn't help but write a post and share a few key takeaways.
1. Change your key metric.
Focusing on the right metrics plays a massive role in the future of your business. If you aren’t putting the customer experience front and center, you're going to hit the wall... pretty soon.
“When you have financially-based metrics, it creates incentives around maximizing short-term value,” says Bill. “For instance, if your organization has more sales people than your support team, that’s a good data point that you may be focusing too much on the short run.”
Building your brand around customer-centric metrics is vital, and this is one big reason Bill is a heavy advocate of Net Promoter Score (NPS). This forces your business to revolve around the customers needs and wants and keeps your customer front and center.
“A lot of companies may use something no one likes—like their expense reporting software—but employees still use it so they can get paid. It doesn’t mean they’re happy with it,” says Bill.
2. Find your brand advocates.
Bill recommends following up your NPS survey with one additional question - why. This helps you understand exactly what is going on in the customers mind and what you can do to improve massively your NPS score. “Ask your biggest evangelists for reviews, tweets or customer videos. It’s really easy to reach out and tap into that evangelism.” NPS can help you quickly identify your brand’s advocates, drive your product roadmap, alert you to customers in danger of churning, and which customers you should approach for stories.
This will supercharge your word-of-mouth marketing efforts as your brand advocates will quickly become even more involved, and share the story of your business even more. “It’s always going to beat out whatever sophisticated, targeted advertising program you have,” says Bill.
3. Share your brand values
Your brand is made up of every single experience your customers have with all of their touch points - not just your website, your logo and the font you use. This means every single touch point should be designed to make the customer happy. The average of these experiences is what the customer will remember so cutting out weak touch points and improving others will help improve your brand.
“Everyone in the company is helping to shape your brand,” says Bill. Making sure everyone in your company lives the brand is vital - from the CEO to the customer support staff, everyone must live and breathe your brand's values. “Companies that focus on every customer life-cycle stage, and the metrics that drive customer behavior, get rewarded with long-term growth, low customer acquisition costs, high word of mouth, and tremendous evangelism.”
If you're wondering how customer-centric your decisions are, Bill recommends asking yourself one question: “Will it really benefit the customers, or will it just boost sales because we need a jump at the end of the month?”
On top of this, there were also two Q&A's that really stood out the most for us as an NPS provider.
Q: How are you measuring referrals and stimulating word of mouth?
I think a lot of the tools out there have created siloed or biased views. They’ve pitted teams against each other, like sales vs. marketing. Holistically, they understate the importance of the entire company. If you believe the brand is a sum of every single experience, then every single person in the company is going to influence that experience. Our head legal guy writes all of our terms of service that everyone of our mid-market enterprise companies have to agree to. If he’s really wrangles them over the rocks, they’re gonna have a bad experience. When they switch to credit card from invoicing, they’re going to have an experience with financing. When they reach out to support, they’re going to have an experience. The first ads they see. The website. The sales team. The product…we recognize that everyone impacts growth, not just marketing. If we continue to harness word of mouth, we have to find the right metrics to track that.
I’m a huge believer in NPS…It provides a north star for everyone in the company to understand how well we’re doing and how many people are actively recommending us. It’s a great gold bar. We’re not satisfied if someone signs up and starts using Slack. We’re not satisfied if they become a customer. We’re not even satisfied if they renew. Our bar is “Are they going to recommend us?”
We also use transactional CSAT. After someone finishes with our sales team…we’ll email the person and ask “Hey, did you have a good experience with Matt? Thumbs up or thumbs down?” After someone has a support experience with us, we’ll reach out and ask if they had a good experience. We’re in the process of rolling that out and having it occur at more stages in the life-cycle, but I think holistically NPS and CSAT are long-term metrics. They’re very good leading indicators of your long-term growth. I think leads, visitors, pipeline and opps are short-term metrics.
Q: You have millions of users. How do you listen to your customers?
We’ve always invested on the customer support side. We’ve got about five times as many support people as sales people. For most SaaS companies, that’s going to be a complete opposite ratio…Support has always been one of the primary conduits for really listening to customers and having that dialogue.
NPS is a great conduit as well to find out from people what are the top features that they want, because that open feedback is incredibly powerful. And it really helps you identify the top five most requested features.
It's absolutely amazing to see someone with such knowledge be an advocate for customer-centric business and NPS as a solution for this.
Watch the video version of the AMA below.
Bill's go-to metric? Your NPS score. “It’s a really simple metric that best sums up your company’s health. It’s an indicator of your long term growth.”