The growth of a small or midsize business (SMB) often depends on the success of its customer engagement strategy.
A recent study Vistage conducted in partnership with Salesforce, confirmed this to be true. In our study, more than 1,000 SMB CEOs shared insights about their approach to customer engagement--specifically their marketing, sales and customer service initiatives.
Our analysis found that high-growth SMBs are different from no-growth SMBs in three key ways: They are involved in more customer engagement initiatives; they are better at executing those initiatives; and they have dedicated leadership to drive those initiatives.
Last fall, I shared this research as part of moderating a panel on Customer Engagement at Dreamforce. One of the panelists featured was Summer Crenshaw, co-founder and COO of tilr, who provided an interesting perspective on how her fast-growing company approaches marketing, sales and customer service.
Below are the most successful initiatives tilr uses in marketing, sales and customer service; consider how you might apply these strategies to your approach to customer engagement strategy.
Case study: tilr
About the company: tilr, a technology company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, provides a hiring solution -- via a mobile application -- that automates the recruitment process. Its algorithm-powered technology matches qualified, pre-vetted workers with companies that need them. By emphasizing skills over job titles, tilr makes it easier for companies to access qualified candidates and helps workers find new job opportunities.
Winning marketing initiative: To better support and engage nonprofit organizations -- one of tilr's key stakeholders -- tilr develops initiatives that mutually benefit both parties. For example, it teaches digital literacy to nonprofits and partners with education organizations to provide tilr members with other training and development opportunities. Ultimately, this has a positive impact on those served by the nonprofits.
"Tapping into who has a passion for what we have a passion for has allowed us to exponentially grow," explains Crenshaw. "Of course, we enhance this with great digital technology and putting people into [Salesforce] Marketing Cloud and going through journey mapping. But at first, you really need to think about filling that top of the funnel."
Winning sales initiative: Along with developing an omnichannel presence, tilr has invested in automation tools to make its sales people more efficient. Some of these tools provide insights on prospective customers who have, for example, spent a lot of time on tilr's website, requested information about the company or mentioned tilr on social media. This makes it easier for tilr's sales team to know who to target and when to actually pick up the phone."
We aren't using this technology to replace our sales people; we're using it to enable them," says Crenshaw. "I think that's very key in growing and scaling an SMB organization. You have to put in tools that will help your people to do a better job when they're trying to find the best buyers for your products."
Winning customer service initiative: To deliver exceptional customer service, tilr starts by conducting "empathy mapping"--an exercise aimed at understanding customers' needs on a granular level and developing a 360-degree view of their daily work habits and preferences.
Armed with these insights, the company matches its communication models and platforms to individual customers. For example, it ensures that communication with a customer happens in precisely the way they want it to (e.g., via text, email, or phone), even if that creates complications for tilr itself. "It shouldn't be about us and how we want to talk to our customers; it should be about giving our customer what they need," says Crenshaw. "If we know that this type of individual likes to be communicated with using a certain methodology, we will empower our customer success team to be able to do that."
Our research shows that focused customer engagement strategies drive growth; this case study highlights one company's approach. What will your approach be?