December 16, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Companies of all sizes commit errors when it comes to dealing with customers; they’re simply different errors. Large companies often automate too much of their customer support, hoping to fend off customers with self-service, since running multiple contact centers full of live agents is such an expensive process. This is usually a mistake. Smaller companies often skimp on customer support, believing that they will be forgiven since they are a small company, or that the quality of their product or service will speak for itself and render customer support unnecessary. This is also a grievous error.
Where both types of companies are going wrong is in failing to imagine, track, measure (and empathize with) the customer’s experience, or the journey he or she follows on the road to answering questions or resolving issues. According to a recent article by Christopher Faust writing for Business2Community, as far as the customer is concerned, his or her experience is all that matters in a sales environment.
“That is, to the buyer it is all about the experience,” he wrote. “You might very well have the best product, even a well-defined methodology, but if anywhere in the selling process it breaks down and delivers anything other than a positive experience to your buyer – You’ve lost that customer for sure.”
This means companies must examine the customer experience from start to finish and consider it all a single entity. Many companies engage in quality control for their customer support by setting performance goals for individual touch points or processes, never imagining how all these touch points coalesce into a single journey for the customer. Faust asks readers to imagine two restaurant experiences: the first in which each touch point (the waiter’s first greeting, the presentation of the food, the customer’s first impression of the décor) is perfect, and the other in which every opportunity the diner has to interact is dismal. While a single point of failure might be forgiven by the customer, too few companies are in control of the full customer experience to ensure that each touch point is working in harmony.
“Now apply any of those moments to your selling experience,” wrote Faust. “Are your marketing communications, content, and interactions with buyers flawless? How positive and helpful to buyers are your business development or inside sales teams, and how well are they setting the stage for your customer experience? How well aligned is your sales team to where buyers are in their buying process? How well does your sales team actually communicate value to buyers? How sure are you? This is just the tip of the iceberg of the end-to-end customer experience.”
The conventional wisdom here is that when it comes to quality, the process needs to start and end with the full customer experience. Putting a different individual or department in charge of each quality point is asking for trouble. The efforts may not work together, and they may actually counteract one another. Building a customer experience from the customer’s first impression to his or her after-sales care is vital for twenty-first century selling.