David Greenberg of Act-On Software: “Customers are your spokespeople, and they will remember your CX”

Customers are your spokespeople, and they will remember your CX. Customers are your biggest advocates.Treat them right and they will tell their connections about you. At the same time, if they feel neglected, they will warn their networks about engaging with you. Word of mouth reviews from peers can be very damaging, or helpful, for […]

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Customers are your spokespeople, and they will remember your CX. Customers are your biggest advocates.Treat them right and they will tell their connections about you. At the same time, if they feel neglected, they will warn their networks about engaging with you. Word of mouth reviews from peers can be very damaging, or helpful, for your brand. Never forget that.

As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Greenberg.

David Greenberg is the senior vice president of marketing at Act-On. Greenberg is a self-proclaimed brand loyalty enthusiast and brings more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience in high-growth technology organizations to the table. An early adopter of MarTech, he uniquely understands the challenges modern marketers face and strives to be an advocate and resource for growth marketers everywhere. With a firm belief that customers are more than just sales leads, Greenberg ensures all aspects of Act-On’s marketing and growth strategies are rooted a memorable brand experience.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

When I was young, I had high hopes of being a rockstar. My first introduction into marketing was sending out kits to various music venues and passing out pamphlets on the corner promoting our shows. Once I realized I wasn’t going to make it big, I landed a couple of sales jobs, and from there I kicked off my 20-year career in the industry. Having worked in several different marketing roles, I’ve seen the importance of customer experience from numerous angles within a company. CX has only become more important with us all conducting business in a highly digitized world where it’s tough to cut through noise and make an impression. This is a real challenge, but I know martech has almost unlimited potential to positively improve CX. This belief is at the core of my role at Act-On Software — impressing upon our customers how important CX is in terms of business growth and cultivating brand devotion.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Just as social media was exploding, many marketing companies began rolling out their own social platforms for subscribers. The company I was working for at the time saw a competitor do this and we launched a counter-campaign with our own social software, positioning it as a platform that focused on effective content instead of a bunch of useless posts and conversations. While a great and effective campaign, we realized that it focused too much on downplaying our competition and not enough on our own customer experience. We got a reaction out of our competitor, but the campaign did nothing to support our growth. This served as a big lesson that CX is, and always will be, king.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Early on in my career, I had a manager who had a sign on his desk that read: “Results Do Not Equal No Results PLUS Excuses.” Not only did I really look up the guy, I knew that this mantra was something he truly lived by himself. It’s a powerful perspective on what it actually means to drive results. Simply “doing your job” is not enough and actually owning the results means stepping out of your traditional roles and moving the needle. Whenever I am feeling deflated or backed into a corner, I meditate on this sign and remember that I have the agency to push forward.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

In today’s market, customer experience is everything. Brands that don’t weave CX into every facet of their business are bound to fail. In order to deliver on this, marketers must keep their ears to the ground and do their research. This means paying attention to customer reviews, comments and discussion forums. It also means staying on top of industry trends and pain points. The more you get ahead of your customers and answer their burning questions before they have to ask you, the more you differentiate your brand and inspire your customers to tell their networks all about how great you are.

Once you gather the right intel about your audience, it’s time to act on it. Oftentimes the first impression of your company comes directly from your marketing department. Whether it’s an introductory email or a social media post, communications to your customers need to show consistent branding, industry know-how and readiness to serve. If you don’t put the customer first, you won’t stand a chance at retaining customers, building trust and making your solution the one with all the answers.

After an initial touch, the customer journey has begun and it is your company’s job to ensure that the experience is seamless, from marketing to sales to acquisition and beyond. Brands that can foster devotion create evangelists and make their offerings ones that customers realize they want and need. In increasingly crowded markets, customer experience is a crucial distinguishing factor. If customers don’t enjoy the experience you provide, or if it’s not relevant to them, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

Many companies think the best way to reach customers is to hit them with a barrage of promotions and messaging. But, customers don’t want to feel like they’re being aggressively sold to either in brick-and-mortar stories or online marketplaces. It’s uncomfortable and often leads to the customer feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood. Instead of jumping down your leads’ throat with offers, instead focus your attention on building a well-oiled, customer support system that your customers and leads can lean on when they have questions and need to talk to a real-life representative.

Despite the universal disdain for such pushy sales tactics, many companies refuse to slow down, assess their strategies and think about how their customers want to be engaged. In short, they simply see their customers as leads that they need to acquire. While at the end of the day, gaining customers is undoubtedly key in growing your business, the tactics you employ to keep customers happy need to be tactful and highly personalized to individual contacts. That being said, companies shouldn’t over invest in sales and forget about the relationship building that the marketing department delivers on.

At the end of the day, the modern customer wants to be educated, not pitched, on how great your solutions are. If you can’t earn customers’ trust and enthusiasm, they will simply turn to another competitor that can. It’s easier said than done, considering the old, push marketing tactics worked for nearly 100 years!

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

Of course competition drives innovation. However, it’s crucial that you not only compete with your peers, but that you also learn from their mistakes and wins. Keep your ear to the ground and monitor questions your competitors are answering and feedback they are receiving on their campaigns. If you compete for customers, you likely address some similar challenges and will benefit from paying attention to how customers react to them.

The biggest external source of pressure to improve CX comes from customers themselves. Customers are vocal online in social media comments, crowd-soucing websites like G2 Crowd, forum threads and beyond. Customers share praise and criticisms, so you can learn a lot about how to improve CX by paying attention to this feedback. And don’t just listen — be proactive about reacting to constructive (and not so constructive) criticism in a timely fashion.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

At Act-On we really pride ourselves on having a product that is accessible for marketers of all skill levels. Coming off an early June rebrand, we wanted to make sure that this ease-of-use was carried over and that our customers felt supported through this chaotic business landscape. While we were nervous to make such a bold change in the middle of the pandemic, we knew that our new outlook and product enhancements would make the lives of our customers much easier. Moving forward with the rebrand was a no-brainer for that reason.

One of our customers in particular, HST Pathways, gave us some unbelievable feedback regarding our decision. Our contact at HST Pathways insisted that our ability to adapt during hard times showed her that we aren’t afraid to make tough decisions that will benefit our customers. She also went on to say that this reactiveness is what keeps her loyal to our platform. This type of feedback is truly priceless.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

Recently, we had a media request come through to discuss the effectiveness of our rebrand. The reporter wanted to speak to one of our customers to get some perspective. Since we already got positive feedback from our contact at HST Pathways, we reached out to see if she would like to do the interview. She agreed and the situation was a win-win for us both. This is a prime example of how turning your customers into evangelists lays the groundwork for an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship down the line. We couldn’t be more grateful to receive this kind of support from our users.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Customers are your spokespeople, and they will remember your CX. Customers are your biggest advocates.Treat them right and they will tell their connections about you. At the same time, if they feel neglected, they will warn their networks about engaging with you. Word of mouth reviews from peers can be very damaging, or helpful, for your brand. Never forget that.
  2. Nurturing at every step of the life cycle, not just to acquire a lead. Nurturing customer relationships goes well beyond pushing leads through a sales funnel. It should extend through the entire lifecycle of the customer journey. In fact, since you have likely created relationships where your customers are already invested in your products and services, don’t forget to show them you appreciate them. A few ways to do this include personalized onboarding emails, celebrating customer milestones with special promotions, and keeping them in the loop of any new product or service announcements coming through the pipeline.
  3. Product education and adoption is key to increase the customer lifespan. Host regular training sessions for your customers. Never assume that your customers are using your products to their full potential. If you are, you are likely too close to see the value in educating on the fundamentals. This paves the way for customers to understand the breadth of your offerings and become even more engaged with your company.
  4. Listen to customer feedback. Manage your reputation on the ground level by paying close attention to the customer feedback loop. Where are people showing you love and where could you improve? Your customers are likely providing the answers to these questions right in your social media and website comments, as well as in external review forums.
  5. Ensure effective communication between sales and marketing teams. Simply punting a lead to sales is a bad move. This is because CX is contingent on your creating an engaging, seamless journey from start to finish. Make sure that your marketing and sales teams are aligned to fully drive the customer journey above and beyond expectations. Otherwise, all the work you did to get to truly know your lead through the stages of marketing was done in vain.

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

Customer referrals are a fantastic result of providing a holistic customer experience. While some companies do offer incentives for referrals, this strategy should never be used in place of a strong CX. Ideally, you want to foster that kind of brand passion organically.

A tried-and-true tactic to build up excitement around your brand is creating avenues for your customers to get involved with the future of your product. From meet-ups to webinars to certifications, you should always be aiming to create a culture and community around your service. This creates a priceless line of trust from you to your customers that makes them feel included, empowered and valued.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a big environmentalist at heart. If I could inspire a movement, I would love to inspire our best and brightest to use their collective brainpower and focus on clean energy. At the end of the day, many other issues at hand don’t matter if we don’t have a planet to house them.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on LinkedIn, under David Greenberg and you can also follow Act-On on all social channels.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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