How critical is customer experience to competing and winning business in the 21st century? Well consider this:
Gartner is calling customer experience (CX) “the new marketing battlefront.” In 2018, Gartner reported that more than two-thirds of marketers say their companies compete on the mastery of their customer experiences and that within two years, 81% of companies would be competing on CX.
Well, it’s 2020, and a recent Deloitte study confirms that your B2B customers are “shifting from buying products and solutions to buying experiences that generate value from the first interaction…” So if you’re striving to compete on this new business battleground, you need to be thinking about what occurs long before you make a sale.
As we walk the CX walk, we need to think about the experiences we’re giving our customers and prospects and whether or not it meets or exceeds their expectations. Here are some ways to integrate awesome customer experiences into your company’s sales process.
Deliver Consistent Omnichannel Marketing
Customers and prospects appreciate a consistent customer journey that reinforces and builds on a simple message that is integrated and seamless across all platforms—website, social media, advertising, etc. It makes it easier for them to understand what your company stands for and what your products and services do. That makes it simpler for them to explain your solution to other decision-makers within their companies.
Understand your prospects and customers—both collectively and individually. Use that knowledge to build customer personas. And as your sales reps build relationships, they need to gather more insight. Reps need to learn buyers’ pain points and needs as well as what other leaders within a prospect’s industry are saying and doing.
Ask and Listen
CX is about engagement, and one of the best ways to boost both the experience and your business performance is to communicate. Impress upon your reps that good CX is about learning to ask questions and listen to the answers. It’s about basing their suggestions and proposed solutions on a prospect’s comments. Reps must help customers solve their problems and envision the success they can achieve.
Remember, also, that asking questions and listening to responses does not always end with the sale. Encourage your reps to collect feedback from customers and, if possible, from the people who end up not buying from you. Use this insight to improve CX going forward.
Sell solutions based on real need, what you and your reps know about a prospect’s industry and company (from research and experiences with similar companies) and the information the individual discloses. In this way, reps can focus on the buyer’s concerns and issues rather than pushing a product. Like a good doctor, reps need to diagnose the problem before they can prescribe the solution.
Reps also need to set realistic expectations based on what your company, products and services can deliver. Don’t let them forget to follow up with buyers and ensure that everything is going well. Build a sales force of well-rounded professionals.
Build Credibility and Trust
Honesty and ethical behavior are essential elements in building credibility and trust with customers. To deliver superior CX, your reps need to:
- Put customers’ needs first
- Live up to promises
- Provide a consistent message
- Go the extra mile
Your company’s credibility and customer trust are also reliant on your reps’ ability to handle complaints and challenges professionally and develop expertise in their field. You need to provide reps with training so they can, in turn, help prospects make educated buying decisions. Be the vendor that buyers trust.
Provide 24/7 Service
The digital age has completely changed expectations for service and support. We live in an age of instant gratification, and that extends to getting information, answers and help 24/7/365. While technology has fueled this demand, it’s also providing the solutions. Thanks to the Internet, artificial intelligence, automated marketing, chatbots and e-commerce, you can be there whenever your customers and prospects need help—whether they have questions, want targeted information, or to complete a simple transaction online.
Train your reps to think beyond the immediate sale. You increase customer lifetime value by building long-term relationships with customers. As the studies show, existing customers are more profitable than new opportunities. That’s because they already appreciate the value your company provides. Plus, the cost of making the sale is less, and these customers spend more money.
Furthermore, while a positive experience may land the first sale, it’s ongoing CX that keeps customers coming back. According to PwC, 92% of customers will abandon a company after just two or three bad experiences.
Make CX not only a goal but also a journey. Keep learning new ways to raise the bar and improve buyers’ experiences. In addition to collecting and learning from customer feedback, you need to be tracking and analyzing the metrics that help you measure customer satisfaction. Some of the ways companies measure customer satisfaction include:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) — gauges loyalty based on the customers’ intent to recommend products or services.
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) — measures satisfaction with the business, purchase and interaction with employees.
- Churn Rate — tracks the percentage of customers that cancel or do not renew subscriptions or plans.
- Retention Rate — measures changes in customer retention. A 5% increase can boost profits as much as 95%.
- Customer Lifetime Value — quantifies the total revenue from an individual account over the lifespan of the customer relationship.
As the CX battleground continues to heat up, expectations will likely continue to rise, and competition will become even more intense. Your commitment to CX not only serves your customers but also delivers directly to your bottom line. According to a Walker report, 86% of buyers willingly pay more for a better customer experience.
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