Nov 20, 2020

Read Time 8 min

Q&A: How To Transform Reviews Into Recurring Revenue


Third-party software review sites aren’t only a sales and marketing tool to drive brand awareness and lead generation. Reviews hold a wealth of customer insights, and untapped recurring revenue opportunities.

In our webinar, “How to Transform Reviews into Recurring Revenue,” G2 Director of Customer Success Andrew Ledet and Bora Lee, customer success team lead at ChurnZero, share how modern Customer Success teams can maximize insights from customer reviews to drive recurring revenue.

The webinar’s Q&A session covered a range of topics including when to use CSAT versus NPS, what customer activity should you use to trigger a review, and more.  

Q: How do you track when potential customers view a competitor’s reviews?

[Andrew]: Through G2, we’re able to share identifiable companies that are researching your product or comparing your product. So, then when we start to see those companies, so ABC Corp looked at your product, they ran a comparison against your product and another, we can alert you of what that activity was, when it happened, as well as the rest of that journey.

From there, there are different ways where we’d want to understand what do you use? Where does your team live? Where would you want that alert to live?

It’s the easiest, not the most scalable, but fastest to implement, but we can set up an alert system, so every day you tell us which companies you’re most focused on – they can be your customers, it can be a segment of your customers, it can be prospects – and that’s how we help sales teams. Then we can push an alert to you whenever that company shows up on G2 and what they did. And so, from there, the Customer Success use case would be, let’s load it up with however many customers you have, and then set up a daily or weekly alert to you, or the Customer Success Manager. [For example,] here are my 30 accounts; did any of them show up this weekend on G2 to compare my product with a competitor? 

From there, there are different ways that we can integrate that data and alert – whether that’s your CRM or wherever your CSMs lives. There are different ways that we can connect those dots. The easiest and fastest way is just an email alert. Depending on the scale of how many companies your CSMs manage, that scales differently. If we’re looking to roll out to an entire team, then we look to more of those API pushes and how we connect one tool to another.

Q: When should you use Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) versus Net Promoter Score ® (NPS)?

[Bora]: What we most commonly see, or in my case, what we’ve most commonly experienced is that NPS tends to be the most standardized. The NPS is one question: how likely are you to refer your brand, product, or service to a friend or a colleague? That is on a 0 to 10 scale. That allows us to standardize that question across the board to all our customers. The question can’t be changed by its nature, so that’s a really good baseline when we’re comparing one customer’s response to another. CSAT is specifically around customer satisfaction. I see this used most with tickets. If you have support tickets, [you may ask] how satisfied were you with the interaction that you had with our team? That tends to be a little bit more open-ended. You can change up the ratings and what the rating text is and things like that. You may have seen this when you submitted a support ticket, and it has been closed: how satisfied were you with the resolution of this ticket? Good. Bad. I’m satisfied. I’m not satisfied. 

I prefer NPS, but again, it doesn’t matter what method you use to try to incite feedback; it matters if you take action on that insight. Depending on what you’re asking or what your objective is, CSAT may be more preferable than NPS or vice versa. But there are different ways that you can measure your customer feedback.

[Andrew]: I also think it’s consistency. Early on during my time at G2, when we were just starting out, we were figuring out our way, which was bulk send a bunch of emails. And maybe we forgot about it, and we didn’t do it again for a while. So now as Bora laid out, there’s a strategy, there’s a system in place. These things are triggered automatically based on certain events happening or not happening. That’s where I think there are some other questions as to like how do you figure that out?

And it really depends on your product. How long does it take to implement? How long does it take for a customer to see value? Do you have a customer journey in mind, or by this date, they should have done this? Where are those milestone markers along that year if it’s an annual contract? That is probably the most standard. Where do you want someone to be in 30 days,/ 60, 90? From there, there are different markers. We all tend to think of renewal season as that final quarter where we start [asking] did we achieve everything we wanted to do this year? That’s way too late in most cases.

You’ve got to start from day -30. You’re going to build that feedback culture before they even become a customer through that review strategy. You have reviews powering new prospects coming on board.

Q: What customer activity do you use to trigger a survey? Is it NPS, QBRs, or something else?

[Bora]: We automate based off of a lot of different things. ChurnZero is really lucky in that we’re able to pipe in CRM data, support ticket data, financial data, and usage data in our product. So, some of the major points in our ask are after a successful implementation. We really want to assess how well our implementation went.

We send an ask five months out from renewal. Because again, 90 days out, 60 days out, 30 days out from a renewal is not enough time to talk to the customer to understand where dissatisfaction has happened and where we might have missed a step to remedy that. 

Then we also have rolling follow-ups. We also have consistent automation across the board, not just in in reference to NPS and reviews, but actually based on how we expect our customers to behave in our product. So again, at the 30-day mark of our product, I might not expect the customer to actively be using our product, so I’m not going to trigger an automation based on usage at that point.

But once I have a customer that has been fully implemented, and they are expected to be live and adopting at a certain rate. For example, I might split this into my key accounts versus my corporate accounts. My corporate accounts, I might expect that volume at a specific rate that’s a little bit lower than my key accounts. But I’m tracking that, and I’m generating automated [messages] – not surveys – but I’m saying, “Hey, did you know this is the benchmark for customers in your industry and of your size? Here’s where you mark up against them. Let’s learn more about how we can assess these areas where you might be able to do better and these areas where you’re doing really well. 

That’s a different process than asking for review, but all that equals out to the ask that you would make. At the end of that project, you could do an NPS; I think personally that might be a biased NPS. We like to keep them as unbiased as possible. But you could ask “Hey, did you have a really good experience? Would you like to write a review for us?”

But again, back to what Andrew said, I also want to understand when customers are not doing well, when they’re running into things. And we don’t by any means, cherry-pick only good, positive reviews. That doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t provide any real feedback loop there. So I think those asks, depending on how well you know your product and your customer, should be at those milestone points in the journey.

Q: To offset customers’ distrust in sales and marketing, should CSMs be part of the entire customer lifecycle (sales, activation, handover, etc.)?

[Andrew]: This is one of those core questions as Customer Success grows: Is it a sales function? Is it a separate function? Is it a support function? And it varies by company. From my perspective, I’ve seen it shift over time at G2. Increasingly, we view it as a partnership. And I see Customer Success, increasingly now, their function is [determining] how to build that project, establish those milestones, make sure that we know what the objectives are for someone using our product.

Because I think we can all acknowledge that we all have different skills. Some of us are better at certain things than others. One of the biggest strengths that Customer Success Managers bring to the party is that ability to listen, to discover, to empathize, and to build a plan.

And so, the better we’re able to do that in partnership, that could be where we operate separately. Our sales reps are the people that are going and finding new business. They gather all that information. Then at some point, we need to come together and transfer that knowledge. Perhaps there’s overlap there. Maybe the Customer Success Manager is involved towards the very end of the sales cycle. This prospect is very close to pulling the trigger. We’d love for you to join to help build a project plan with them. That’s a great opportunity. Now it’s a warm introduction. We’re nurturing the customer before they’ve even signed with us through a good faith gesture. That’s how I think we’re looking at it as a company.

[Bora]: It’s an interesting topic. The division of how Customer Success works, not only in the sales handoff, but also in renewals: who owns that process? There are a lot of different ways. I don’t know if there’s any one single way that’s right.

Do you inject the Customer Success voice – that’s not the sales and marketing person – into some part of the sales process towards the end to answer specific questions or to talk about use cases and things they’ve seen be successful with other customers? Do you have that library of information that allows your sales and marketing teams to become more trusted? So, your sales teams is not just saying something, but they’re backing it up with actions and words from people who are not part of the company that’s trying to sell to them.

Q: When is the right time to use champions for customer referrals? Is it right after they leave a review or another time in the lifecycle?

[Bora]: We have two tracks here. We have the ability to provide a customer referral program, where they join, and they might be asked to speak with prospects or other customers about use cases. Then we have a different track that leads to reviews. From our perspective, the ask is all about what your objective is. Your objective might be growing reviews. Again, back to Andrew’s example, we need 100 reviews by the end of this quarter. Well, we’re going to focus that ask on using champions to write those reviews for us.

I think right after they leave a review is a is a fantastic time to ask. Then you have another ask: “Hey, thank you so much for that. We have a fantastic referral program here that I think would fit your needs. Feel free to join here.” That’s something that I think makes sense and something that we do as well depending on the original ask. I just like to think of it as building credit. There are conversations about building up emotional credit and building up well-being credit with your customers. So, they do something for you and that depletes our credit a little bit. You do something for them and that increases the credit a little bit. I think a customer referral program can be a fantastic way to give a little bit back to that customer.

[Andrew]: One of the elements of the G2 review form, at the very end, it asks if someone wants to be a reference. And so, in working with G2, you can then see, [for example,], 20% of our reviewers raised their hand and said yes, I want to be a reference. That helps guide you on what is their intent.

Some of the companies that I worked with in the past at G2, [when considering] that reference piece, depending how complicated your tool is, do you really need to potentially slow down a deal to connect someone 1:1? The very fascinating thing, and there are some case studies on this, companies used a reference page or a third-party site like G2 to direct someone when they said I want a reference.

One of the tools that we offer customers is a reference page, where you pick, maybe it’s by vertical or company size, here are 50 reviews from people in finance. You’re in finance; here are reviews from people like you. That supremely shrank the sales cycle timeline because you now didn’t have to coordinate schedules. That’s another way to think through, how do you automate, how do you scale? If buyers are going to do their research anyway, help guide them towards people like them through that library of customer voice.

To learn more about you can use third-party reviews and buyer intent data to increase your recurring revenue and detect when your customers are “shopping around,” watch the webinar.


Subscribe to the newsletter   

Empowering your customer success team through community

Has your customer community lost its spark? Teams are often eager to launch this new initiative, however, sustaining that same enthusiasm in the months ahead can be a challenge. “It's one thing to create excitement and another to keep people’s attention,” says Shauna...