When you think of Customer Experience, you may think of how you can provide an excellent experience to your customers and buyers.
The most significant influence on customer and buyers’ experiences are easy to use and emotional engagement. Customers rate effort and feeling higher than product or price.
74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult. Salesforce confirms not only do you miss out on short-term sales with a problematic buying experience; you will miss out on long-term loyalty and higher LTVs.
Ease is not an easy thing to control. Any interaction, no matter how well planned, is dependent on several variables between internal supplier and the external customer. Ease is also subjective and personal.
My view is that the experience stands like a barrier between your customer or buyer getting what they want. Your job in sales along with everyone in the supplier organisation is to identify and remove those barriers. And when you do, the benefits of improved experiences along the customer journey are increased loyalty, lower cost to serve, higher recommendation and the ability to charge premium prices.
Even in these times of COVID19, we see patients coming out of the hospital. They are full of gratitude for Nurses for being there to hold their hand when they felt alone and fearful away from their families. The patients were grateful for the words of encouragement and the care these Nurses gave. Even our Prime minister was humbled by the Nurses that sat by his side watching over him getting him through the night. Patients rate how the experience made them feel at over 50% while the outcome of treatment was only 20%.
Like smokers who despite the warning on the box that ‘Smoking KILLS’, some experience severe illness like pneumonia through damage to the lungs, however, they then go back to smoking as soon as they can take a full breath. It is the young son or daughter pleading with the parent smoker to stop because they will die; this message has a more significant emotional impact and eventually stop the parent from smoking. The feeling of pain that the smoker causes others, is worse than the result of ill health and possible death.
Moving a customer from 7 out of 10 to 8 out of 10 in satisfaction score has a massive impact on repeat purchases and customer lifetime value. However, the cost to eliminate errors for customers to score 9 or 10 in satisfaction, will increase costs but have little effect on increasing purchases. Customers do not expect or value perfection.
Why many companies are not achieving the minimum standard of customer satisfaction?
Sellers put the needs of the supply company first, not in a malicious way, but because it is familiar; what they know, like, and trust. It is not easy to see things from the buyer or customer perspective. You must put customers first and centre of every decision if you are to
- anticipate the customer needs,
- make it easy for buyers to purchase
- co-design solutions they want
- and create emotional engagement
- understand how they want to feel.
The closer you are to your buyer having customer improvement conversations, the easier it is for the buyer to purchase the easier relationship the quicker the sales cycle the higher the value and sales revenues.
Selling is no longer just a function of the sales function it is more about how you achieve the mission of the business in partnership with your customers.
The starting point is to map your customer’s journey in 6 easy steps:
- Map the customer journey, all their interactions from awareness to consideration purchase and post-purchase.
- Do this across platforms to capture all the entry and exit touchpoints.
- Investigate each touchpoint for all the interlinking resources and responsibilities of the interaction.
- Access the level of ease and satisfaction such as the number of complaints, conversion and failures and cost of interaction at this point and then score the touchpoint.
- Interview the stakeholders, users, buyers, and customers to assess the value they place on the touchpoint.
- Prioritise the areas that you can gain the most significant return for investment. i.e. is it moving the customer from 6 to 8 rather than to 9 or 10?
Listen to your communication with customers through your marketing material, frontline customer service and sales pitches:
- Are you relaying a process that suits you or your customer?
- Does it make sense to you but is illogical to your customer?
- How much flexibility is there to service each unique customers and buyers need?
It is not easy to create organisational cross-functional alignment and to put customer needs above internal priorities. You may or may not have a customer experience team in place. Realistically, it is not one person or a team that can change the perspective of an organisation. It is the whole company culture, the organisational vision, and values ‘of how we do things around here,’ this is what creates consistent customer-focused interactions.
I learnt when working with a customer experience consultancy that your customers are the best sellers of your service to others and they are your most innovative product creators or service improvement agents. All you need to do is emotionally engage your key customer, treat them well and satisfy their needs and they will return the investment. According to McKinsey, brands that improve the experience of the customer’s journey see revenues increase by 10% to 15% and cost to serve, reduce by 15% to 20%.
At every meeting, you must pull out a chair labelled CUSTOMER, and have the customer sitting at the table, either physically, remotely, or imaginary. Research from the Temkin Group found companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to gain an average additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.
The sales internal message has moved forward from “buyers, buy what you sell” to ‘Buyers do not buy products and services they buy solutions’. Now it is moving from ‘customers buy experience’ towards the personalisation of relationships and the value placed on ease and emotion which moves the revenue needle ‘customers buy ideas and experience from you that create an impact that they value in feeling and ease.’