Are you always playing the catchup game with your sales target?
Pop this question to a few others and I am sure you will find many more in the same boat!
In this race of spiralling profits and skyrocketing sales figures, the more important figurine of customer experience is missed out. No denial, sales is indeed the backbone of ANY business; but customer experience? It is the reason why your business exists! Without customers, who will you sell your products to?
Caveat emptor is the unspoken doctrine that rules every organisation in today’s world of fierce competition. This calls for a radical change in the definition of profits. Till now, profits were merely financial in nature; but now they have a new dimension- that of enhanced customer experience.
As customers throng to outlets by the thousands, the management of any organisation is faced with the daunting task of delivering an exceptional experience so that they become loyal customers and make repeat purchases, refer the organisation and ultimately become their raving fans.
Forget about the sales you hope to make and concentrate on the service you want to render.
Providing better service inevitably leads to higher revenue and thus, higher profits. Aggressive sales tactics may boost your profits in the short run, but customer focused strategy will tease your customers to return again and again, thus fuelling growth and increasing long term prospects of the organisation.
A common myth is that the customers who make more purchases at your store are loyal. However, the story is a little foggy; because there are various factors that combine to make a customer purchase goods or avail services from a particular organisation. Owing its allegiance to this myth, the senior management often focuses on persuading customers to purchase more.
The thin line here MUST be clearly drawn between inducing customers to purchase more and making customers yearn to purchase more from your organisation. Due to the lack of a clear demarcation between these 2, a lot of organisations often mix them and concoct a potion which is uncomfortable for both- the organisation and the customers. The metric for measuring success is the number of sales units and not the level of customer experience offered. Consequently, losing a few customers for the “greater good” is merely considered as collateral damage and not much thought is poured into the potential damage that may be caused due to the bad mouthing of the erstwhile customers.
With all the hype that surrounds bringing in new customers, here is a statistic to shatter that thought into oblivion.
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more, when compared to new customers (invespcro.com).
Increasing sales targets with a short preparation time is more likely to rake in bad profits, while investing time and money in customer experience will rake in good profits.
Aren’t profits always good?
Turns out, the answer is a resounding NO.
Yes, both are financial surpluses over expenses; yet they both leave behind a completely distinct footprint
To understand this better, let us imagine a bucket. As you pump harder, the bucket fills initially, but as the bucket wears down and you notice gaping holes at the bottom; you must pump harder to keep the level of water constant and even harder to fill it. But what if, instead of pumping harder; you plugged the holes? To put this into context, the bucket is your organisation; the holes are your detractive customer practices, pumping is the action of your sales team, while your customer experience team empowers the stakeholders in your organisation to ensure these holes do not appear.
In essence, you are losing customers faster than you are gaining new ones. Remember,
It costs an appalling 5 times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an old one.
Looking at the returns of building an engaged customer base the responsibility should be shared by everyone in the organisation and not just be the focus of a team or department. As a customer centric organisation here are 7 strategies for you to engage your customers and unite your team in this vision as well!
Regular monitoring and internal communication on the net customer growth or loss
Net customer growth or loss is an important factor that often shows if the compass is pointing north or south. You do not have to rely just on what the customers are saying in their feedback but also see how does it reflect in action. It helps the organisation get a quantified view on how effective have their projects and initiatives been and the tangible results of the same. Internal communication on the net growth or loss is equally vital to engage your team to come up with new plans, policies or strategies to enhance the customer experience and earn the right to their loyalty and retention.
Sensitize your team to deliver an exceptional experience
Your team should always focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience and realise the impact it can have on your business. Draw a leaf from Ritz Carlton’s book. When a young customer once left his soft toy at the hotel, the management not only returned it back by post, but also sent along freebies and some photographs of the soft toy enjoying a massage at the spa, a ride in a golf cart by the beach and lounging by the swimming pool. All these create memories which the young customer will probably not only cherish forever, but also spread the news which in turn will attract new customer, thereby increasing revenues and subsequently; profits.
Eliminate the friction between teams if any, so they work as a team in delivering a one company experience
Remember the principle you probably studied, known as “unity of direction”? The organisation should gel together like a well oiled machine and move forward with coordination towards the same direction- customer loyalty. If there is any conflict between departments, say finances and marketing; they must immediately be resolved as this conflict will seep through to the front line and ultimately to the customers. Your customers should relish your one company experience, and not run between different departments to get their desires fulfilled.
Deliver personalised experience to your customers
Everyone likes some personal attention, so remember to feed the customer’s ego. This can be achieved by using emails to send promotions to customers based on their persona. A worthy example is Proflowers (www.proflowers.com). They do this by sending special promotions to customers on specific dates that they know are important. This makes the customer feel individual and important to the organisation. Another tactic that can be used is calling customers to check with them or to follow through with sales. Dell Computers does this very well. Roughly two to three weeks after expected delivery of a Dell product, a customer service representative gives the customer a call. This is done as a courtesy to the customer and definitely gives a boost to customer loyalty.
Build the competency of your team to deliver the experience you promise to your customer
Never over promise. This will only lose you customers in the short run and long run. Imagine your local pizza store’s receptionist saying that they will deliver a pizza at your residence in an hour only to later call back and say that it won’t be possible as there is a shortage of ingredients. That, dear readers; is what disaster is spelt like.
Innovate in product and business model
Innovative products go a long way in encouraging your customers to make purchases. Several instances can provide substantial evidence to corroborate that. Let’s take the example of iPhones. When the first few iPhones released, there wasn’t much hype or paparazzi around it. However, once new ones were developed and released with new, interesting and unique features; customers flocked to purchase the new devices. This helped Apple gather an unprecedented 15.3% of the global smart phone market. New innovations often set the base on which a company’s expansion into a new market is built. Forbes noted that organisations often miss on new product designs by not taking the customer experience into account.
Identify the lessons learnt that will advice you to do or never do activities
As is obvious, there is no point of feedback if you do not intend to act upon it. Break down every customer feedback into bite sized chunks and devour them with the appetite of a starving wolf. Analyse every piece and see if the asked for change is practically applicable or not. If not, do inform the customer and thank them for their valuable inputs.
NPS® as a system helps you not only quantify your customer loyalty; but it also helps you find out the root cause of your customer delight or unhappiness. Addressing these negative feedbacks, and communicating these changes to your customers is just as vital as retaining the positive feedbacks, maintaining them and maybe improve the experience in order to keep the promoters in their throne and maybe convert detractors or passives into promoters.
All in all, remember to nurture your sapling till it grows into a tree. Selling fruits will get you more returns in the long run than merely selling the sapling to a nursery. Nurture your orchard and reap the harvests. Philips and Charles Schwab have used as their strategy for business growth.