Wikipedia defines “Customer experience” as “the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer’s attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service.” Companies increasingly leverage products such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to help “deliver the customer experience”.

Many of us have experienced that “computer says no” moment. Sometimes it appears that the technology being employed by the organisation that we’re reaching out to is actively trying to discourage us from buying the product or service. Yet other organisations seem to be able to remove all barriers and help us through the process of buying.

There is a surprisingly simple technique to ensure that technology is helping rather than hindering the sales process. Place the customer at the centre of your process, procedures and technology.

First of all, a quick disclaimer – I sell CRM technology for a living. And when I visit a prospect the conversation often starts with me saying, “so, run me through your high level marketing, sales and customer service process.” All too often, the prospect will walk me through a process like this:

  1. Target
  2. Sell
  3. Deliver
  4. Support

 

After all, this is what businesses do, right? It targets its market, sells to the prospects that respond to the targeting, delivers the product or service and then tries to support the customer if and when it goes wrong.

The problem with this view is that it is completely different to the journey that the customer is trying to undertake. To illustrate this, I often then ask the prospect to walk me through how they go about procuring a technology solution. They will often walk me through a cycle such as this:

  1. Identify Need
  2. Research Market
  3. Determine Shortlist
  4. Approach Providers
  5. Trial the Product
  6. Purchase Product/Service
  7. Use Product/Service

 

By doing this, I can establish a simple way to help educate the prospect that their own customers are likely to be going through a similar journey with them – yet the marketing, sales and customer service processes they have just outlined do nothing to help the customer along the way.

A full understanding of the customer will reveal not only the high level steps that define the customer’s journey but will also drive out the milestones that define where on the journey the customer considers they are, the tasks that must be completed to help the customer reach the next milestone, the channels and touch points the customer prefers to use at each stage and the metrics to measure this all by.

When the content management, marketing automation and customer relationship management solutions are employed with this journey in mind, it helps positively reinforce the customer’s experience rather than acting as a barrier which may stall it. The results can often span:

  • More “top of the funnel” leads
  • Better conversion of marketing campaigns
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Higher conversion rates with higher margins
  • Reduced customer churn
  • Increased Net Promoter Scores
  • Higher levels of cross and up-sell


Written by Nick Holt

 

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