It’s no secret that customer experience can make or break any business. With customer referrals and word-of-mouth marketing the two biggest growth drives for any business today, it's proof of happy customers that's influencing buyers' purchasing decisions.
To keep customers loyal to your brand you've got to consistently delight them with a flawless customer experience. Yet according to research by B2B international, “only 14% of large B2B companies are truly customer centric: That is to say, where the customer experience is deeply ingrained in the company culture.”
This presents significant opportunities for B2B tech companies to get ahead of the competition in a market where customer experience trumps even price or product quality.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (CX) is the perception a customer has of your brand based on every interaction that they have with your company during the relationship. It starts at the first point of engagement during the attract stage and continues right the way beyond the point of purchase. In other words, you never stop shaping the customer experience.
While a positive customer experience can earn you a loyal customer and could potentially lead to a referral, one bad experience can be all it takes to destroy your brand reputation. The importance of good customer service therefore mustn't be underestimated.
Let's review 5 key steps to delivering superior customer service.
1) Map out your customer journey
Before you can start delighting customers you need to get a solid grasp of what your customer’s motivations are. Think about their needs and pain points, as well as any potential objections they might have for buying your product/service. To do this you need to understand the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company.
Social media engagements, online advertising, and customer service cases all provide rich insights about how your customers engage with your brand at different stages of their customer life cycle. Consider a range of perspectives from team members across the organisation to achieve clarity over where certain friction points lie in the customer’s journey.
Remember, it’s not just about acquiring new customers. Equally important is retaining existing customers and nurturing them into loyal brand advocates. After all, it’s proof of happy customers that’s going to help you acquire referrals and testimonials, which subsequently will help you win new business. Therefore, it's important to focus on both pre and post-sale aspects of the customer experience. Consider each touchpoint that the customer interacts with and how those experiences impact the customer's perspective.
Once these interactions are mapped out, your team will have a clear vision of the process a customer goes through to achieve a goal with your organisation. Each department in your organisation should leverage these insights to pinpoint precisely where friction points can be removed in the customer journey.
2) Audit the customer experience from multiple internal perspectives
The customer experience is affected by every facet of your business and each will have their own agenda when it comes to improving the overall customer experience. Marketing, sales and customer service will all offer unique insights into shaping the customer experience and you should give them all equal attention.
With customer acquisition at the top of your marketing teams agenda, they will be the go-to team when it comes to insights on brand awareness and user expectations. Survey your marketing team to find out what types of content your audience are consuming most and which types of content generate the most qualified leads. Once you know which channels people find your business through and the way in which they react to touch points across various channels, you will know what needs to be done to improve reputation leading up to the sale.
Sales teams are on the frontline when it comes to early stage interactions of the customer relationship. They have deep insight into motivations, challenges, roadblocks, and potential objections your customers are facing everyday. Use their knowledge to discover how the positioning of your offer is leading to missed opportunities. This information will help you tweak your product/service offering so it meets the needs of your buyers (which are forever changing).
It’s important that what you’re communicating in your sales and marketing processes reflects the experience your customers are having when they interact with your business. If these are out of alignment, it will lead to frustration. Since your customer service team are the first point of call, they will be able to articulate honest feedback into any underlying issues that customers are experiencing. You can think of your customer service team as a forum for attitudes towards your brand. These insights will help you tweak what's not working in your sales and marketing efforts.
3) Dedicate a clear focus on customer success
Research shows that “companies who prioritise customer experience more often demonstrate higher revenue growth.” Therefore, it’s important to dedicate someone in a senior position to the execution of your customer service plans. The quality of your customer experience will be reflected by how each team member works towards implementing customer success initiatives. By having a VP of customer success in place who can communicate changes, facilitate operations and perform any necessary actions, you can ensure that your new approach to customer experience is consistent across all departments of your company.
4) Distribute customer experience data to your entire team
After you’ve researched how you're going to implement your customer experience plan, you need to ensure all of your team have access to the findings. Armed with this data, each department can begin optimising their daily processes such as customer routing, workflow automation and client tagging. Not only will this help to establish alignment across the organisation, it will also help:
Address customer needs faster:
Data is empowering and with these insights comes the ability to identify where customers are facing obstacles in their journey. Leveraging this data enables teams to remove friction from the customer journey and alleviate any confusing pain points they face.
Improve product/service quality:
Customer service teams have a plethora of insights at their fingertips regarding usability issues with your product or service. These insights should be shared with leaders and contributors from your success team so that a plan can be put in place to prevent commonly cited issues from reoccurring.
Increase up-sell opportunities:
Data aids understanding of optimal reach out times. Sales teams can use this information to ensure reach outs are timely when re-engaging with customers to up-sell a product or service add on.
5) Learn from churn rate when it happens
Customer churn refers to the percentage of customers that ended the use of your company's product or service during a set period of time. You can calculate churn rate by using the following formula:
Number of customers you lost in a quarter ÷ number of customers you started the quarter with.
It’s important to provide multiple channels for customers to leave feedback and devise actionable solutions to alleviate those concerns. Even if you can’t stop a customer from churning, you can still leverage your customer success team to unearth the reasons behind a customer's decision to cancel.
No matter the quality of your product or service, customer experience is what you'll be remembered by. Knowledge really is power when it comes to improving the customer experience. A proactive approach balanced with a genuine desire to refine the experience for your customer will set you up for future success.
To learn more about empowering your sales reps with content and context check out our free guide below!