How Great Customer Experiences Can Help You Boost Sales
We’re selling in an age of experiential marketing, to customers with plenty of choices and high expectations about how they will be sold to. If we were talking real estate, we’d say it is (and will stay) a buyer’s market. That means we have to up our game, to optimize our sales processes in a way that meets the needs and expectations not of our sales reps or our sales management, but of the people who matter most: the customers.
Improving a customer’s experience with your company can be a tricky task to take on because, let’s face it, we’re subjective—not objective—when considering the inner workings of our companies, our teams, and ourselves. One source says that, according to a recent study by Forrester and the Harvard Business Review, only 8% of customers felt great about their experiences despite the fact that 80% of businesses claim they offer great customer experiences.
Can you say disconnect?
In part, that’s because customer experience is an intangible. It’s something that’s easy to talk about but hard to measure. And your sales team is likely focused on meeting sales quotas, not customer expectations, because there are hard and fast numbers involved with meeting quotas. But maybe it’s time to rethink that priority.
The long-lasting effects of good and bad customer experiences
We’ve all had them, the great experiences and the horrible ones. There’s the time the salesperson was so helpful at the hardware store that you raved about the service for a week. Then there’s the time the service was so bad at the restaurant that you walked out vowing never to return. Can you put a dollar figure on either one of those customer experiences? Not really, but you can safely assume one leads to more business while the other leads to less—a lot less. Jeff Shore says “…it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.” Twelve!
We’re not saying your sales team’s process might be so bad as to cause people to walk away never to return. But consider the difference between a mediocre customer experience and a great one. Which one leads to brand loyalty, referrals and repeat business? Probably the latter, right? And we can safely assume that there’s always room for improvement in the area of customer experience.
How improving customer experience boosts sales
What exactly then do brand loyalty, referrals and repeat business add up to? If this whole customer experience thing sounds a little touchy feely for you, and you’re not buying into the need for your sales team to improve the experiences they’re offering, check out the numbers in this infographic for proof that customer experiences impact bottom lines:
- 89% of customers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.
- Over 50% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.
- 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
- Almost one-third of consumers believe that companies now pay less attention to customer service than they used to.
Two easy ways to improve the customer experience
Improving the customer experience is not rocket science. It requires common sense and a willingness to make the shift in mindset, and that’s all. No special formulas to memorize, no expensive training program required. You don’t even have to have a dedicated customer experience management team at your company. If you only get your sales team to do these two things at your business, you will improve the customer experience:
1. Raise awareness
Simply being aware of the importance of customer experience can improve the interactions your sales people have with prospects and customers. It could simply be they hadn’t thought about it before. Have some dialog with them about their own experiences in their personal lives, with both good and bad experiences, and how they felt afterward. Get them thinking beyond the sale to the lifetime value of a customer too, and the role of customer experience in creating that lifetime value.
2. Put the customer first
Once your team is thinking more about what the customer is experiencing, tackle your sales materials and processes to ensure they meet with your target audience’s expectations. Is your team asking questions or doling out answers? Is your team focused more on finding out what prospects need or meeting their quotas? Taking the time to ask questions, and understand needs can go a long ways toward improving the customer experience because people will feel heart and like they matter…and it’s hard to put a dollar amount on the value of that.
This customer-centricity also includes using sales channels that customers like and even prefer. If your team is using phone calls but your prospects prefer email, make email the default. The same goes for other means of reaching out, such as direct mail or chat.
Customer experience is now a buzzword and big business, but everyone can practice it even if it’s not a science at your company. And, focusing on practices that make a prospect’s experience better, even before they buy, creates more opportunities for sales both now and later, through the kinds of customer loyalty and referrals that lead to more business and boost sales.