Is Your Customer Experience Core Or Ancillary To Your Operation?
There is little doubt that some companies simply do not understand the value of retaining the loyalty of customers. I can personally attest to the phenomena that pervades many large (even global) organisations that places a priority on making new sales, and signing big contracts.
In the worst cases I have seen, IT solutions worth millions of pound where in actual fact, undeliverable, and if they did manage to get the customer over the line, as soon as they did, they left them with woefully poor customer service and products which quickly became out of date.Why is customer retention so important?
According to Small Business Trends, the chance of selling to an existing client is 60-70%; compare this with a new prospect, and the probability drops to 5-20%. In addition, their research shows 80% of future profits tend to come from just 20% of existing customers, and 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers. Add to that, the fact that a brassed off customer will tell everyone who will listen about the bad experience they have endured, means you need to treasure your existing customers like the proverbial gold dust.
Why is the customer experience not prioritised?
In the context of business to business (B2B), it was common to see large organisations focusing on getting the deal over the line, doing whatever it took. If that meant trips to Premier League matches, wining and dining in the finest restaurants, so be it; it was probably factored into the deal anyway. But once the deal was signed, suddenly cost becomes a priority. The reason for this dichotomy is in part a traditional cultural one within companies – one whereby the focus of the business is driving up the share price and meeting internal performance metrics for sales. And ultimately customer service has been seen as a cost to the business.
What do customers expect?
KPMG’s ‘B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter’ report makes a number of crucial points in relation to how by not prioritising customer service, organisations are making a critical error. The report states, “The moments that matter in a B2B relationship are those that give the client cause to reflect on the nature of the relationship and consider whether the brand promise has been kept.” It should be added that the B2C relationship is no different in this regard; ultimately the person/s on the other end of the relationship, whether business or consumer, are still living breathing human beings. Their key finding is that a relationships based on common values, culture, and behaviour is extremely difficult to break. Indeed, KMPG state that companies need to focus on the six aspects of the customer experience:
• Personalisation: receiving service which is not generic, thereby creating an emotional connection
• Integrity: being trustworthy
• Expectations: management and meeting of expectations
• Resolution: having the ability to transform negative experiences into positive outcomes
• Time and effort: reducing demands on the customer
• Empathy: taking the time to understand the customers position and driving rapport
Notice that much of what needs to be done to engender a positive customer experience is emotionally driven. As such, it is essential to stop viewing businesses and end consumers as a means to an end (i.e purely transactional), and genuinely creating a community of likeminded and passionate individuals, working to a common aim.
Delivering when it counts
Customers, regardless of sector, whether B2B or B2C, will expect your firm to deliver when it really matters. According to KPMG’s report, there are a number of ‘moments that matter’, where companies can build trust and engagement with customers (increasing their chances of renewing their contract, buying more products, and recommending you to colleagues and friend). Such moments post sale including:
• How the company demonstrates its knowledge of their own products and your industry/needs (i.e. in retail context, or during training or customer service interactions).
• The implementation phase – for example if implementing a new computerised solution, does the reality match the dream promised? It cannot be overestimated how crucial this is to trust building. Likewise, imagine a double glazing salesperson promises the very best service, only to leave the client to the mercy of rude installers and poor finish – how likely are they to come back for their other home improvement needs?
• The ‘storming phase’ – after the honeymoon ends and there are problems, how well does your company respond? People are realists; they expect things not to be perfect all the time, and will forgive issues, as long as the matter is handled professionally and promptly.
• Adding value – companies which ‘have the back’ of the their clients will be deeply appreciated. If you can save them money, recommend solutions to their problems, you will be appreciated. For example, we regularly think of our clients and send ‘thought you’d find this interesting’ emails.
• Being proactive – if you can pre-empt product issues and resolve them without needing to be contacted, you will score considerably ‘brownie points’.
• Every interaction – if your staff, regardless of level, time of day (even if it midnight on Christmas day), consistently attentive, polite, professional and knowledgeable interactions with your clients will make all the difference.
Our customers are our biggest champions, and likewise we are theirs. If you think of customer retention as a back account; every time you meet a customer’s needs – in the many moments that matter – you are adding credit to the account. Likewise, everytime you damage the relationship, you reduce the balance. There will be a natural level at which customers are more lilkely to remain loyal and spend more; below which they bail on you. And remember, you don’t need to wait for an interaction to happen. If your product is working so well they don’t need to engage with you, great, but you can still add value; finding ways to do this in a non-cynical and genuine way will allow the customer experience bank balance to rise.
Reach Revenue works with business owners, leaders and investors to develop high performing sales and marketing teams aligned to the strategic objectives of their business. To find out how we can help you, please call 0203 858 8030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.