5 Customer success premonitions for 2016

What does the future have in store for customer success?

Glass balls get cloudy, but the vision for the future of customer success is steadily getting clearer. Customer success is still an emerging role, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it will undergo some changes in 2016. As of right now there are still a number of different ways business are addressing scope, reporting, and the activities that fall under customer success.  But in 2016, the activities that customer success plays a part in will become more solidified.

So what are the details of how customer success’s organizational alignment and activities will change in 2016? These four predictions will lay it out.

5 Changes customer success will undergo 

  1. Customer success will closely work with marketing to manage the customer journey – In 2016, customer success will redefine the scope of their functionality. Since customer success’s focus is on the continued customer journey after the sale, it makes sense that they start to align with marketing to strategically manage the customer journey during the buying process as well. As of now, customer success ensures a customer’s continued happiness to promote a greater LTV which means they have access to the information on what makes a customer happy and what a customer would like to see improved. That information can give marketing valuable insight when deciding how to provide a consistent, engaging customer journey.
  2. The department will be managed as a profit center – Customer success is responsible for retaining and growing the business. This makes it logical then to run the department like you would run a profit center. And in 2016, that’s what will likely happen. Like a profit center, customer success will be crucial to determining which clients are most and least profitable so as not to spend time on customers that have little to no chance of cross-sell and upsell with the worst case scenario being that you break even. Understanding which customers are in the business to cross-sell and upsell will reduce the allocation of resources to less profitable customers. This will make customer success seek out technology that can provide increase cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Advocacy methods and referral programs are one avenue that will be more sought out to accomplish this.
  3. Customer success will take more ownership of digital properties that customers touch – Customer success understands what customers want, like, and dislike. As a result, in 2016, customer success will take on more responsibility that aligns with the current customers they come in contact with. User communities will be managed by customer success to further nurture and interact with current customers. In addition, customer success will direct marketing on the best forms and styles of customer communication. This insight will lead to better and more successful communication between marketers and customers.
  4. Customer success will take an increased marketing role – Customer success has the know it all that marketing needs to market successfully. That’s why in 2016, customer success will take on more of a marketing role. If there are no customer marketers to start, customer success will hire marketers internally. Marketing and customer success are tightly tied together. This will cause customer success to seek out new technology that can help customer success and marketing better align.
  5. Adoption of technology to track the health of a customer relationship will increase – Two metrics that are extremely important to customer success are the rate of client retention and churn. Minimizing churn and maximizing client retention are key to the success of customer success. That’s why in 2016, the adoption of technology that can improve and monitor the health of the customer relationship will become a high priority. This will include the research and adoption of automated advocacy and referral program.

Care to further the discussion? Email me at JVanhaaften@amplifinity.com

Best referral program



Northern Michigan University selects Amplifinity to provide referral automation to improve enrollment

Many higher education institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to reach their target audience. Student and alumni referrals is the solution for enrollment challenges.

ANN ARBOR, MICH., November 19, 2015 — Amplifinity, the leaders in referral automation software, announced today that Northern Michigan University (NMU) has chosen the Amplifinity platform to automate and manage their new referral program designed to drive enrollment.

NMU, like other universities found it was receiving a record number of applications but a lower amount of the applicants were converting to enrolled students. According to Moody’s, 20% of higher education institutions admit less than 20% of their applicants. Simultaneously, the rate of high school graduates will be flat through 2020, according to Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. With enrollment being crucial to their ability to be a competitive and thriving institution, NMU decided to add the power of alumni and current student referrals to their marketing mix.

“Small and mid-tier universities can’t continue to use contingency and donor funds to make up for enrollment shortfalls,” stated Steve Neiheisel, VP Enrollment Management and Student Services at NMU. “Recruitment needs to regain control of the stealth application trend and find new ways to get the attention of the right future students. Referral programs are the answer.”

Amplifinity’s referral automation software paired with Salesforce allows NMU to accurately track referrals, reward advocates and ultimately increase enrollment. These programs allow alumni and students to help identify students who are likely to be a good fit at the university. With this program, called Share Northern, NMU hopes to increase the conversion of applicants with students who are more likely to enroll. In the initial test pilot, 34 student and alumni advocates drove 336 referrals in two weeks.

“NMU has a distinct learning and geographic environment and, it’s a challenge to find students who fit into our culture,” said Neiheisel. “By partnering with Amplifinity to reach the right students at the right time, through mass personalization by using the power of referrals, we will achieve our enrollment goals.”

“Amplifinity has the solution to help universities grow enrollment,” said Larry Angeli, CEO of Amplifinity. “Students and alumni of universities want to see their school thrive. With Amplifinity, these institutions can take advantage of that enthusiasm to drive full enrollment. NMU’s approach combining Amplifinity and Salesforce is a great way to make recruitment personal and effective in the digital age.”

About Amplifinity

Amplifinity’s referral amplification software turns customer, employee and partner advocacy into revenue. Our platform provides complete referral tracking and management with 100% accuracy so none are missed. Enterprises like ADP and DIRECTV trust Amplifinity to enable high-quality acquisition while providing an engaging, fully-branded experience for their advocates.

About Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University, located in Marquette, Michigan, is a dynamic public, comprehensive university that has grown its reputation based on its award-winning leadership programs, cutting-edge technology initiatives and nationally recognized academic programs.

3 growth hacks for the cost of a lunch

Sometimes growth can come from your own optimization efforts. Change your paid search terms and you might squeeze out a few hundred more leads. This is commendable and hopefully every marketer is looking hard at the performance of their various campaigns and programs and working to improve them.

However, in my experience, significant growth comes from a new idea, a new method or a new partnership within the organization. Honing in on the last comment, I just want to remind everyone of the power of cross-functional collaboration. I think most people get that sales and marketing need to work together. There is even a buzz term for this ­smarketing. But here are three internal partnerships that you may not have thought much about that can truly provide growth for your company.

 1. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Success

Customer Success organizations are starting to get pressure to manage P&L. What this means, is that they are starting to be measured on their ability to bring in revenue for the company. Why? Well, companies are realizing that Customer Success is in a much better position than Sales to get new or recurring revenue from existing customers. Customer Success is talking to the customers on a regular basis and can feel out when a cross or up sell opportunity pops up. Even more than that, studies have shown that customers are more willing to make a referral when they are happy. Customer Success is there when the customer completes implementation and when they just pulled a super hero move solving their problem. These are great times to ask for a referral into new business unit or a new company.

The partnership: Demand Gen and Customer Success can work together for a win-win here. Customer Success has the link to the customer. Demand Gen has the expertise on how to operationalize a referral program at scale. Working together, there is a big opportunity to grow revenue and satisfy objectives in both camps.

 2. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Customer Marketing

Like Customer Success, Customer Marketing has an inroad to existing customers. They might interact with them for references, at user events or by managing a user community. These are all great opportunities for Customer Marketing to facilitate some extra demand generation. You just need to give them the tools to capitalize on it. The story of this collaboration is illustrated beautifully in this SlideShare presentation: Digital Marketing and Customer Marketing just did something amazing.

The partnership: Demand Gen can work with Customer Marketing to create a customer referral program. Customer Marketing can integrate the promotion of the program into user events, reference calls and in any online communities. Customer Marketing will look good by generating revenue from customers and Demand Gen will be bringing the highest quality leads into the pipe.

 3. Lunch with Demand Gen Marketing + Channel Sales

In most companies, the channel group is so siloed from marketing that they’ve no idea what each other is doing. When you stop and think about the fact that both are doing Demand Gen, just using different channels, it seems there would be a lot to share. And that is exactly the benefit of these two groups getting together, to share best practices and see where there are mutual opportunities.

The partnership: The channel group controls partner relationships, including referral partners. If you ask how those referral partners are doing, the answer is usually, they should be producing more. Demand Gen can help with that. By taking expertise in running programs, a referral program can be created to harvest high quality leads from referral partners at scale. Channel Sales gets tracking to direct ROI and Demand Gen gets more high quality leads.

Reach out and schedule a few lunch dates with your colleagues in these departments today. Your growth hack is just an order of Pad Thai away!

SaaS referral automation

The secret desires of referral program advocates revealed: Part 1

Advocate’s user experience finally expressed

Everyone wants something. But understanding what that something is can be befuddling, as shown by the inexhaustible number of books dedicated to what one gender, job, or customer really wants. In almost every area, we yearn to understand what motivates a specific demographic that we don’t belong to, and your business is no exception.

When building your referral program, one group’s motivations and desires you’re yearning to understand is your potential advocates. What advocates desire from your referral program may not even be something they consciously acknowledge, but if you’re able to figure out what these secret desires are you can start to create and optimize your referral program to dramatically increase engagement.

Unfortunately, if you don’t understand what your advocates want from your referral program or don’t have features that coincide with what your advocates want, success may not be in your referral future.

But we can’t have that. That’s why we’re finally revealing the secret desires of referral program advocates and the features that you need in order to capitalize on those desires.

5 advocate’s referral desires and the features that fulfill them

One night over drinks, Andy the advocate spilled the beans on what advocates really want from their referral experience.
“We want to be able to easily refer people and claim our rewards,” said Andy.

With that information to lead us on, 5 advocate referral desires were pinpointed and 8 features were developed to fulfill Andy and other advocates’ desires.

1. Access made easy – While patience still may be a virtue, it’s a virtue that many people now decide they can live without. That’s why it’s increasingly important to ensure that your referral program has the lowest barrier to entry. The easier it is for advocates to register and sign in, the more participation you will see in your referral program.

Features that fulfill this desire: Single Sign On (SSO) Social Registration

2. Personalized and individualized referral methods – When advocates have the power to easily refer the way they find most appealing, whether through social media, email, or offline, they’re more likely to become repeat referrers.

Features that fulfill this desire: Empowerment Communication Tools
Post Referral Registration

3. Incentives that motivate the individual referrer – Rewarding is a key part of any referral program. But the right rewards for one advocate may not be the right rewards for another advocate. Deliver the rewards that motivate your advocates actions and are set up to continuously keeps them engaged.

A feature that fulfills this desire: Reward Choice

4. Full transparency in the referral process – What you advocates don’t know will hurt you. Advocates desire to know the status of their referral in order keep engaged in the referral program. If as far as they know their referral is floating out in the deep black depths of space, they won’t continue to refer. But if they can see how close they are to receiving a reward their engagement drastically increases.

Features that fulfill this desire: Advocate Monthly Statements Advocate My Account Page

5. Easy reward fulfillment – The easier reward fulfillment is, the faster your advocates can receive their reward. Easy reward fulfillment is a part of the referral process that your advocates sincerely desire and you need. If receiving a reward becomes a hassle, it’s more likely you’ll enrage your advocate instead of keeping them engaged. It is important to always make sure that your advocates referral experience is as easy as possible.

A feature that fulfills this desire: Automated Fulfillment

Now that you know your advocates secret referral desires and the features that will fulfill these desires you can apply them to your business when developing your own referral program. Keep in mind however, the advocate’s referral desires are only 1 user experience out of 4. To truly develop a successful referral program you need to optimize it to all 4 user experiences. Part 2 of this 4 part blog will turn toward the prospect side of the referral experience. Stay tuned to learn more! And in the meantime delve into A Blueprint for Investing in Referral Marketing, today to keep your referral momentum going strong.


Prompt your prospects’ referral passion: Part 2

how to use referral marketing

Share the wealth with referrals

Lately I have a new hobby

My spare downtime has been dedicated to reading a lot of blogs and checking out a lot of library books about investing because, well, I like money, and I want more of it! With a topic as important as financial future, I of course also looked for the advice of my network.

Crowdsourcing for advice

One of my favorite resources came to my attention after I posted on Facebook a general question about mutual funds. I asked if anyone who considered themselves informed cared to talk to me about them. Soon afterward a friend of mine messaged me and referred me to this awesome blog, called Mr. Money Mustache, that he was following. He told me it was written by a man who was able to retire in his 30s and live happily with his wife and child by living frugally and making wise investments. My friend loved the sound of this, and being 24, he was on the path to his own early retirement by following MMM’s advice on  “early retirement through badassity”

Well, I’m afraid early retirement is too late for me. Since I spent my 20s and half of my 30s as a stay-at-home mom, I have only begun to contribute to a 401K.  At this point I am hoping to be able to retire on time! But I was intrigued so I checked it out.  MMM pretty much verified everything I had been reading about in regards to investing your money, he endorsed putting your most of your money in an low-cost index fund like Vanguard and just let compounding work its magic. Albert Einstein, who is considered to be a kind of smart guy once said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

Real talk

As I cruised through his site I found a page where he listed all the organizations he uses and likes so well that he refers them to his readers. Some were affiliate sites where he received a kickback for bringing in referrals, and some were just businesses he felt were worthy of brand advocacy, we all have brands we love and tell our friends about.

And then it hit me, again, the power of referrals at scale, 1:1 and 1:???. First of all, my friend referred me through a Facebook post to this website, and then the website is chock full of great information and referrals to bring your retirement goals to the next level.

The world has grown smaller with social media and the ease to which you can receive quality referrals from people you trust. I can’t image this is a trend that will recede, but instead grow.

Best referral program

Want to further the discussion? Tweet me @krysiahepatica

Customers: A new sales and marketing channel

More and more companies are starting to implement strategies and systems to leverage customers, customers and 3rd party influencers to become sales and marketing channels.  And they are doing it with great success.

Why customers make a good sales and marketing channel

There are many reasons why customers have the potential to be a powerful sales and marketing channel for your brand.  First, in today’s connected world, customers can reach their social networks on the brands behalf, easily and often.  They have a strong voice.  In addition, customers are typically very knowledgeable about your products and services and a good percentage of them are passionate about the company.  Lastly, their friends listen to them and they can drive your brands message.  More than ever before, buyers look to a trusted source before making a purchase decision.  Customers can and will reach out to their social networks and spread a brand’s message, especially if they are encouraged and enabled to do so.

What customers can do to drive sales and marketing productivity

Customers do many things that are very important to the brand.  They can:

  • Introduce their friends to your product or services
  • Recruit new hires and great talent
  • Amplify marketing messages
  • Forward content about new products and promotions
  • Write testimonials

Even better? They can do these things at scale.

The benefits of recruiting customers to become brand advocates

The benefits are impressive.  Attracting new and retaining current customers is crucial for a successful business. Enabling and encouraging customers to refer their friends, brands can:

  • Build brand awareness and build a highly positive reputation
  • Generate the highest quality leads – leads that drive new customer acquisition
  • Create higher levels of customer enthusiasm and loyalty to your company
  • Save money and lower risk when compared to traditional advertising and marketing initiatives

Why now?

Although customer advocacy isn’t a new concept, in the past it has been an operational nightmare to create and manage these programs. But today’s technology has made it easy for administrators to set up, support and manage advocacy programs.  Technology makes it easy to:

  • Enroll customers into the program
  • Provide customers the tools to easily reach out to their networks
  • Track and manage all the workflows and controls so brands can measure results all the way through to a sale.
  • Automate the process of brands thanking and nurturing customers for their contributions so they continue to advocate on behalf of the brand

This is not a future pipedream.  We have seen some very compelling case studies.  I have seen accounts has over 1.2 M customers registered to take part in a program, and these customers made over 1.0 M referrals, which generated over 400,000 new acquisitions last year alone.

Mobilizing customers, employees and 3rd party influencers to leverage their trusted relationships is happening everywhere because it is smart business: they are the sales and marketing channels of the future.

Questions? Email me at RBeedon@amplifinity.com

What is brand advocacy?