The more engaged your customers, the better the predictability of your sales pipeline and growth prospects. Crucially, engaged customers are linked to the evolution of customer experience strategy in a customer-centred business model.
I have always found the user experience to be best when you start with the people; first, technology second, whether the experience is for the internal or external customers, it is a people first mindset. A golden rule that has stood the test of time learnt from my time working with a customer experience consultancy, your customers whether internal or external are your best innovator and creators. It is puzzling why corporate decisions that affect the customer and the company bottom line is made without real customer representation. Customers whether internal or external, want to be involved and part of the development and growth of the brand they value.
McKinsey insights found that, on average, brands that improve customer experience increase revenue by 10-15% and lower costs by 15-20%. Although we have seen an improvement in the application of customer experience through product innovation and digital technology. However, many organisations still focus on sales first rather than the customer first. Also, it is easy to understand why:
- The traditional industrial age business structures and model does not sit well with customers driving profitability rather than investors driving profits.
- Investors demand a return on investment that drives short-term cyclical thinking with a need to cash-in profit rather than invest for the long-term.
Hence, larger organisations continue to lose market share and relevance as smaller agile, customer-focused businesses whose purpose is to understand their specific customer needs and meeting their expectations.
Since the global economic crash in 2008, there has been an erosion of trust in larger companies, and the companies have not done a great job on restoring trust ten years on.
3 Reasons for Corporate Inertia to Customer-Centric Sales Transformation:
- Companies value making money over serving customer: For example, Ryanair terms and condition of low cost but poor service come with mass flight cancellations and a take it or leave it attitude. CEO Michael O’Leary, said, “One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future,” Which? accused Ryanair of putting profit before the comfort of its passengers and being “prepared to plumb any depth to make a fast buck”. Ryanair reported record annual results in 2018, despite it having to cancel thousands of flights in September 2017 due to problems with pilots’ rotas. The Irish airline said profits after tax rose 10% to €1.45bn(£1.27bn), despite the wave of bad publicity.
- Companies resist honesty and transparency: customers do not expect perfection, but they do what company to confess when things go wrong and then put is right quickly, for too long companies have hidden digital breaches to customer data and do not openly admit to the full extent of the issues and breach. Breaking its own record for being the largest ever potential data breach, Yahoo only disclosed last year, that all its 3 billion email users were compromised in a 2013 breach. The initial breach was disclosed in mid-2016 when Yahoo thought it had affected as many as 500 million accounts. This figure climbed to 1 billion by the end of the year, and as many as 3 billion today.
- The industrial age of hierarchical business structures arguably creates more problems than it solves, rewarding top-down activity whether good or bad. There is a need for new structures that organise the business resources to focus diverse skills in experience teams to deliver the complete customer-centric life cycle success. Contrary to Ryanair, Amazon has always had low profits, CEO Jeff Bezos believes that the best way to grow the company was to invest back into it. Amazon, originally a book company, has become one of the largest online retailers, offering millions of different products and various business and consumer services. Amazon’s vision is to be the “Earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online” report Bezos.
Laurence Fink, co-founder and Chief Executive of BlackRock with 4.6 trillion in assets, said, “Today’s culture of quarterly earnings hysteria is totally contrary to the long-term approach we need.”
Every company wants to attract its most valued customers and maximise the lifetime value, developments in the digital age make it increasingly difficult. The digital age has allowed customers’ and buyer limitless options and transparency beyond product and price.
The company that differentiates themselves from the competition must provide a well-researched, personalised and compelling experience that attracts buyers and customers and wins their loyalty.
However, many companies that have invested in customer-centric strategies, have not seen the expected or promised transformation.
The Promise of Customer Experience Sales Transformation Fails for 6 Reasons:
- The experience is not aligned with the vision and the values of the organisation
- Only customer-facing employees are expected to deliver the experience.
- The experience is technology led, forgetting that unpredictable people are blocking the whole process.
- Having created the perfect experience, it is not communicated to the customers or the sales teams.
- Customer-centricity is not an overnight roll-out but a holistic transformation of mindset and vision, people and business model and only then technology and processes sustained over many years.
- It is not an off the shelf change but a negotiation, answering: Whom do we want to be? What impact do we want to have? What culture do we need to create? What value do we want to create for your internal and external customers? Every company will have a different answer to this question.
Once you have understood the depth of the customer-centric model, you can start translating your vision and values into a customer-centric growth model.
The 4 Strategies of Customer-Centric Business Grow Model.
- Cross-functional teams work to identify the system gaps and have the authority to close them quickly
It would be best if you incorporated new mechanisms into your sales processes that help enhance the experience from the inside out! Too often I see great salespeople let down by the internal silos and bureaucracy. With the help of digital tools, integrated quotation management software, instant quotes based on their profile and automated systems can improve your responsiveness to customers.
- A personalised understanding of what your most valued customer values
What your company values have no relevance and each customer preferences and values will differ, some may be speed and others for ease. It is essential to engage, educate and elevate the relationship to build a partnership giving your most valued customer what they most value. Creating the value proposition around what is import to the buyer and customer, equipping your sales team with transparent, detailed arguments and reliable evidence to communicate the value and impact and how much the partnership is worth.
- Continually add value and incentivise the relationship
Use algorithms to predict what buyer and their customers are most likely to buy next based on their past behaviour, preferences, and values. Best-in-class sales tools can have a significant impact on sales performance. Create strategies to develop a trusted relationship further. Build the breath of relationship within the buying organisation. Incentivise all employees with sales professional to nurture the relationship and deliver best in class customer experience.
- Elevate the relationship into a long-term partnership
The best customer experiences offer much more than a product, they offer an emotional feeling. Help customers uncover unrealised needs through probing questions. If you can draw out what the customer actually needs instead of just a stated want, you can better serve and tailor your offer to solve the real problem and not just the symptom. ideally providing a comprehensive and proven solution that includes ongoing support and service. Elevate the relationship may mean the seller becomes the process management on the customer’s side or develops license arrangements for accompanying software or offer additional services such as regular analysis reports as part of a unique subscription. A partnership allows you to innovate specific product and services and develop new revenue streams moving from a product to relationship to partnership business.
To attractive your most valued customers and maximise the lifetime value, understand a sale is no longer just a sale. It a relationship that starts with an unmet need. Your buyers and customers are searching for a solution to their problem. What keeps them as long-term lifetime buyers are the customer experience and not the product you sell. What enabled you to serve your buyers and customers long-term wants and needs is the customer-centric mindset, model, people and a customer experience process.
Scale Your Sales will help you to think bigger, build deeper relationships and create lasting impact. What are you willing to do to keep your customer coming back for more?