“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” Steve Jobs – May 1997
There’s no doubt that customer experience has become a common priority that has been the topic of many a strategy meeting. Many businesses think they know all about who their customers are, what they need and how their solution addresses that need. But if they really know their customers that well, why do so many companies struggle to close new business, provide excellent customer service and increase retention?
As a sales and marketing company, many business owners or executives reach out to us as their last attempt to correct an ongoing problem that they either missed or ignored until it was far too late. Maybe retention was trending downward, sales targets were being missed or customer service costs were increasing.
So what are they missing? You might be surprised because it is so simple. Often we find that they just stopped thinking about the customer. Not on purpose, of course, sometimes these things just kind of happen. It’s a common problem to get wrapped up in a mountain of shifting priorities, meetings, new initiatives, budgets and forecasts. The one thing most of these have in common is that the focus is on your business and not necessarily on your customer. You just got so busy doing everything that maybe you forgot why you are doing it in the first place.
But how do you increase your customer focus and maintain its priority when there’s just so much to be done? Try building a filter for yourself and consciously pass every decision you make through the lens of your customer. You might be surprised to find that the areas you focus on suddenly change priority.
On a practical level – 3 key areas are especially important:
1) a well-designed ‘customer buying model’ – or, to use more traditional language – craft a well-defined ‘sales model’.
The way that your customers buy is not static. Make sure you keep up with their buying model and adapt your sales model accordingly. The buying model is customer oriented and it always comes first. Your sales model needs to be flexible, informed and strategic in response.
2) a very intentional ‘customer experience model’, or, to reference more traditional language – craft a well-designed post-sale ‘service model’
As a salesperson, it’s enticing to close a new deal, throw it over the fence and go hunting for more. But who from your team was on the other side of that fence? Are they well informed on the customer’s need? Are they properly supported with the tools, processes and supports they need to provide excellent customer service? Maybe the most important question is how does your customer experience this transition? Do they feel as important after they sent the PO as they did during the sales cycle? The reality is they need to feel more important. Human psychology is big on first impressions, and you only have one shot at making a good one with a new customer. Failure to do so might not be too painful right now, but customers have a long memory and retention rates will eventually tell the story of how well you performed at this crucial stage.
3) what internal issues are getting in the way of achieving this? Do the tools, workflows and structures you have in place help or hinder supporting your customers?
Taking a hard look at your organization and being honest about areas of improvement isn’t always easy – that’s also why it’s so important. If you don’t feel you have the internal resources required or you prefer an expert opinion, there are sales and marketing companies that can help you better understand how your existing structure impacts your customers.
SalesEvolve is a sales and marketing company that fosters success by ensuring that these three areas are well-structured to help you create more repeatable revenue that costs less to acquire and keeps the competitors out. If you’re ready to get in tune with what’s important to your customers, contact us today!