Scale Your SaaS ROI with Customer-Powered Efficiency
Scalability is the holy grail of every Software as a Service (SaaS) company. Start-ups across the world are challenged to understand how their ideas, team, and business will grow rapidly—and flawlessly enough—to rise to the top of their industry.
But there’s one aspect of a growth organization that I’ve personally seen to be uniquely challenging, and that is aligning resources to efficiently scale revenue. There’s only so much you can accomplish by adding headcount to your team.
As companies grow, they create ecosystems that help sustain and grow their business further through strategic partnerships and acquisitions. But the most strategic partnership they often neglect is their customer.
Advocate marketing harnesses the expertise of the people who buy your products and services. There are no better promoters of your brand than your customer advocates. They can help your company not only scale marketing, but also scale support, sales, and customer success (CS). And this can translate into more efficient ways to scale revenue.
The simplest form of advocate marketing is word of mouth. When people buy a product or a service they really love, they tell their friends and colleagues. Reviews on Amazon or G2 Crowd take advocacy marketing to the next level. People love to share their experiences about their purchases, and you can reap great benefits from your biggest fans. But to do so, you have to invite your customers to partner with you.
Streamlining Human Capital Management
Scale and advocacy are things we think a lot about at Ceridian. Ceridian began providing cloud-based services back in 2012 when it acquired Dayforce. This global human capital management (HCM) platform consolidates employee data into a centralized database, allowing our customers to handle HR, payroll, benefits, and workforce and talent management within a single application.
Dayforce is a game changer because it offers our customers a single database HCM solution. Instead of passing information back and forth between a half-dozen integrated modules that each have a separate dataset, everything is fed into a centralized location. This simplifies workflows, increases accuracy, and can make compliance an easier task. This setup also makes Dayforce very scalable. Our single, flexible rules engine makes it easy to scale your cloud-based Dayforce deployment as your company and your workforce grow.
Create a Rewarding Customer Journey
As Ceridian’s Customer Engagement Operations Manager, one of my duties is to keep our customers talking to us and to one another. These ongoing conversations are the focus of our advocate marketing efforts. Succeeding at this initiative requires a shift in mindset. Companies need to think of customers as partners, not just consumers of products. This change in mindset echoes an ongoing shift in human capital management in which businesses have begun embracing employees as investments, rather than costs.
Ceridian’s Customer Success program, playfully called XOXO, engages customers personally to advance them professionally. It contains an online community that connects Dayforce users to each other, and to a world of valuable resources. With its XOXO administrators and customer relationship executives (CREs), Ceridian helps its customers navigate the XOXO community and facilitate networking between members by offering proactive coaching and timely assistance.
With the XOXO Customer Success program, Ceridian has created a community space designed to engage with and listen to members throughout the entire customer journey. By connecting with the customer on a human level about their business needs, Ceridian can help elevate and advance its customers’ employees’ careers within their organizations and the HCM industry. By doing this, we help enable the connections that transform customers into advocates.
One of the easiest ways to help new XOXO members elevate their personal thought leadership is to provide them with opportunities to share quality HCM-industry content across their own social networks. Customers often add their own commentary to personalize the posts. This not only lends authenticity to the content being shared, but also positions these Dayforce users as thought leaders outside the XOXO community. The activity further cements the customer relationship and can increase the chance of creating active advocates.
One might think some users are likely to put a negative spin on their experiences with Ceridian products, but in my experience, people who have a low satisfaction level with our products won’t want to share our content, so they don't. This is one of the lessons we gleaned by opening up XOXO to all our users.
When we launched our community in 2013, we limited XOXO membership to our biggest advocates. But in 2017, we opened it up to all our Dayforce customers. By inviting all Dayforce users into our community—no matter their satisfaction level or organizational size—our team can now impact each customers' journey, every step of the way.
Scaling Our Advocacy Efforts
When Ceridian initially looked at building out its XOXO Customer Success program, we knew that the company shouldn’t do it on its own. As a SaaS provider itself, Ceridian understood the need to work with a dedicated platform and partner who understood the advocate marketing space.
Influitive provided the scalability and ease-of-use we needed for the XOXO Customer Success program portal with its AdvocateHub software. Building the XOXO Customer Success program portal from scratch ourselves would have eaten up a significant amount of time and resources. Building, launching, and maintaining the portal from code-to-community ourselves would not have allowed us to rapidly jump start this customer-powered opportunity the way we did.
Efficiency aside, one of the first things I noticed when using Influitive’s AdvocateHub software for the first time was how much fun it is to use. Never underestimate the power of fun. HCM may be serious business, and our customers may have important questions they need answered, but converting the resulting conversations into advocacy shouldn’t be a dull process. Influitive successfully gamifies the advocate marketing process, and this has allowed us to add a lighthearted touch to the activities we offer to our members.
Return on a Customer-Powered Enterprise
More than just creating fun, XOXO helps us scale support and customer success through what we’ve called XOXOMatch. We’ve combined peer-based support and professional networking in a single gamified forum. Members log into XOXOMatch and ask fellow HCM professionals for assistance and best practices around problems they're facing. These questions are posted in the form of an XOXO activity and fellow members can respond to them for XOXO points, which can be redeemed for great rewards like INSIGHTS conference registration.
That’s not all! When someone answers a question, our personal agents work behind the scenes to introduce the users to one another, expanding each other's professional network. Once connected, our members can work through their questions with a peer who has the actual Dayforce experience required for an accurate response. These same members can also offer each other practical tips about how to apply the given advice to their respective organizations.
XOXOMatch provides victories on several fronts. Not only are we helping customers get answers to their questions quickly, but XOXOMatch helps them grow their personal professional network when introduced to fellow customers. Additionally, the effort helps Ceridian reduce its own costs. On average, each match helps alleviate three support tickets because customers work out various issues between themselves while they communicate with one another. For Ceridian, each support ticket has a real dollar value attached to it. When you consider that we’ve alleviated over 1,500 potential support tickets, that’s a serious ROI. Or should I say, ROA—return on advocacy.
XOXOMatch is just the tip of the iceberg. We also have a Reference Network that allows Ceridian to partner with existing Dayforce customer advocates willing to share their story to help us close new prospective business. We position it as a benefit to members, as a way of expanding their personal and professional networks among HCM colleagues. Plus, many of our advocates are very willing to pay forward their positive experience with those nearing a decision to purchase Dayforce. Many of our advocates can recall when they were shopping for the right HCM solution. They want to be the trusted resource to help an industry colleague make the right decision for their organization.
Our reference customers are in charge of who they connect with. Through the XOXO community, our customers share their interest in becoming a reference. We capture some information about their knowledge and industry. Then when there is a need for a reference that matches their preferences, the customer can accept or decline the opportunity. That information flows through Influitive, Salesforce, and Gainsight (a customer success management application that sits in Salesforce). From that information flow, the proper Customer Relationship Executives and reference coordinators on our team are notified to get the advocate in touch with the prospective customer contact.
The beauty is that our tech stack automates several steps in this process and easily allows us to track its results. We had 511 people sign up to become reference customers in 2018, and the gains were spectacular. These advocates impacted hundreds of new sales opportunities.
The icing on the cake is our annual INSIGHTS user conference. This is where we have the most fun. We use XOXO to create buzz leading up to the event. We also use it after the event to collect user feedback. During the conference itself, we encourage our users to download the AdvocateHub mobile app and invite them to take part in live Hub opportunities. This heightens participation, adds to the excitement, and generates even more customer engagement.
This is the scale I was referring to earlier. Sure, you can hire more and more people to try to manually drive all of this—but until what point? Businesses often grow faster than you can hire, so you need a way to expand those efforts in sales, marketing, and support. That’s the power of advocacy: You’re scaling your efforts without always scaling your team.
Our Common Humanity
Advocacy helps Ceridian build a thriving user community and an impassioned customer base that grows our brand by troubleshooting and advocating for us. In turn, we provide our customers with opportunities to advance their careers with tools to increase their thought leadership within their organizations and their industries. The business relationships that emerge are reciprocal, not transactional. We no longer deal with just buyers and sellers, but with individuals who want to help each other succeed.
I enjoy showcasing our success numbers, but it isn’t all about the bottom line. Boosting earnings doesn’t have to come at the cost of a person’s humanity. We at Ceridian have shown that we can succeed by treating our customers as people first. It’s time to advocate for change!