Not too long ago, we evaluated the success of sales and marketing processes in terms of the sale taking place. We said, the rubber hits the road when the cash registers keep ringing. In the last couple of years, as smartphones have become ubiquitous, marketers are discovering new dimensions in the buying behaviours of their customers.
A customer might respond to a marketing communication, visit a store – online or offline, talk to the sales representative, understand the benefits for him or her and finds the pricing acceptable; yet, there could be a score of other reasons due to which the sale might not happen. This new dimension is Customer Experience (CX) for us, marketers are trying to figure out how they can see this on a dashboard and influence that for their organizations.
Traditionally we measured the number of interactions, click-through rates on digital communications, conversion rate of visitors turning into leads or prospects who are interested in the offer and cost per lead. However, these prospects look at discussions in social media about the brand and their service offerings to decide if they can trust the brand. They look at their peer groups and decide if it makes sense for them to decide in favour of a brand. Sometimes, they are able to find an alternative which may be altogether a different product or service.
Customers develop a perception about the brand through the voices they pick up from their influencers. Further, they build on it by visiting the company’s website, app and various social profiles. If the company’s digital presence and image are positive, there lies a greater chance for the customer to consider the brand favourably. So, we need additional indicators to tell us if our brand enjoys a strong net promoter score.
Companies traditionally focus on various aspects of the product and its pricing, distribution, promotion etc. However, these are not enough. A potential customer might find the product or service right in front of him or her, has a need for it, sees it reasonably priced, feels attracted towards it, has the ability to buy it; yet might not end up buying because the salesperson couldn’t provide adequate confidence, the store didn’t offer the ambience one was looking for or the billing took a long time. These are just examples of situations where a customer experience wasn’t great and hence the sale didn’t take place.
Companies have to invest time, money and energy in charting out all moments of truth, defining desired experiences for the customers, training their staff on it and building their systems and processes accordingly. This is easier said than done; requires rigorous execution to deliver great experiences on a consistent basis.
Demonstrating customer-first attitude on a consistent basis is not easy for an employee, especially when we see customers are increasingly impatient and demanding. Competitive forces are always prying on a brand to chip off slices from its customer base. And at the same time, every not-so-great experience of a customer gets amplified way too much on social media bringing disrepute to the brand and thus, hampering its future.
The best way to deal with this situation is to hire the best one can afford. Employees with the right balance of emotional intelligence, presence of mind and service-orientation can do a world of difference. Secondly, the leadership team has to be vocal about the values and culture they want to build in their organization. They need to consistently demonstrate these through their actions while dealing with customer complaints, employee misconduct, rewards and recognition, customer interactions and so on.
Sam Walton had said, “Whenever you are confused, go to the store – the customer has the answers and all the money.” Top leaders have to live this behaviour!
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