The Need for Customer-Driven Insight
Scott Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer for Pulse Secure, had a long history in the information security software market, earning his CISSP certification and leading Protego (Cisco), AccelOps (Fortinet) and ForeScout in executive roles prior to joining Pulse Secure. He knew that while product innovation and leadership are among the critical capabilities for success in this highly competitive market, the ability to deliver an outstanding customer experience and leverage customer sentiment was just as important in driving sustained business growth.
“Accelerating organic growth may not be the coolest topic of conversation in marketing circles, but it is the most cost-effective growth lever. Common sense tells us that happy if not ecstatic customers are easier to cross-sell to, stay longer and buy more. Putting the positive sentiment of satisfied customers to good use, on top of desired product functionality and innovation, gives us a longer-lasting sales and market differentiation vs. purely technology-only competitors. Delivering an outstanding customer experience delivers not only positive sentiment, but leverage-able references and accelerated organic growth – more cost effectively than any other approach.”
Scott chartered the customer relationship insight effort to accomplish four objectives:
Understand the entire customer relationship and what is important to customers overall, and differences across customer segments
Establish a baseline of the level of customer sentiment and loyalty to build upon
Identify customer reference opportunities that can generate marketing case studies, analyst briefings, media opportunity, event participation, and more
Assess the impact of customer sentiment and loyalty on business results in order to make the proper level of investment, build executive commitment, and change post-purchase customer engagement
Capturing the Voice of the Customer
While support satisfaction / feedback surveys had been collected in the past, they represented a transactional perspective of a single (but important) part of the entire customer journey. In order to evaluate the entire customer relationship, a broader
inquiry was required. A 17-question survey was developed, leveraging questions and terminology from existing support surveys, proven customer survey & NPS measurement approaches and research-focused inquiries from marketing and product
management. Three different departments contributed and edited their ideas over a 2-3-week development and input timeline. When complete, the survey was programmed and tested by internal staff, with edits and adjustments made immediately.
The survey was deployed to over 10,000 contacts from Pulse Secure’s CRM, many of which were support case contacts. During a 2-3 week fielding timeline, over 600 responses were received. The 5%-6% response rate represented a solid level
engagement given the broad range of contacts, the varying degrees of interaction recency and the lack of incentives offered.
Identifying What is Important to Customers and How Pulse Secure is Doing
Customers were asked to rate 20 different factors in terms of the importance on their decision to purchase and renew security software – and then assess how Pulse Secure performed against other competitors in their performance on those 20 factors.
Customers identified five critical competitive advantages for Pulse Secure as well as four improvement opportunities. Past support cases were accessed to better understand the types of service issues customers had faced. Detailed analysis of the improvement areas helped determine the root causes of the performance gaps, and customer verbatims were used to bring the issues to life.
Customers were also surprisingly willing to be a reference of some kind. Over 40% of customers in the “Promoter” category (Willing to Recommend at a 9-10 level on a scale of 0-10) were willing to provide a case study, be part of a webinar or provide a written reference.
Assessing the Impact of the Customer Experience on Business Results
While the insights from the customers were powerful and compelling, the Pulse Secure executive team wanted to know what the impact to the business would be. All too often, common sense programs ended up taking a back-seat to urgent, time- sensitive priorities because of a lack of business case, especially in the case of customer experience efforts.
With the strong leadership of Scott, the CFO and Finance organization was engaged to provide account-level product and revenue information. This was integrated with the Customer Relationship information from the customer surveys and segmented into “common customer types” based on product usage and organizational size. As a result, the analysis was able to determine that customers receiving a better customer experience and demonstrated stronger customer loyalty and sentiment had account revenues over 40% higher than those with poorer customer experiences.
These results were similar to cross-industry benchmarks that found that customers with better customer experiences and resulting loyalty/sentiment scores:
Have 50% + higher revenues per customer
Have 40% lower cost to serve vs. low loyalty customers
Have 30% lower customer attrition
Have 40% lower Customer-Acquisition cost
Executive Reaction & Action Planning
Just two months after kicking the project off, the research insights were delivered to the Executive Team to positive support and favorable reviews. The SVP of Support took the responsibility to start addressing customer-driven improvement recommendations. The CFO took notice of the revenue opportunity to be had from building more satisfied customers. And the CEO challenged the Marketing team to develop the operational plan to address the shortfalls in delivering an outstanding customer experience, working with sales and customer success to improve upon positive end-to-end experience.
Working with Tucker & Company
“Having worked with Greg Tucker before, I knew that he had the ability to work quickly with our various departments, to pull everyone together, and to gain executive endorsement to be able to not just measure but to effectuate change. He is adept at developing an effective survey that would not only capture the customer insights we wanted, but could deliver the insights to our executive team in a way that would build commitment and motivate action. In addition, he is unique in terms of his approach and ability to integrate customer revenue data to benchmark how customer loyalty drives business results – making the exercise and discussion financial and quantitative, not just qualitative. Finally, we identified many customers willing to be references for us – content that we can use to generate more and better-quality marketing content to drive sales opportunities. Greg is easy to work with, proactive, accountable, professional and affordable.” —Scott Gordon, Chief Marketing Officer at Pulse Secure