Providing an exceptional customer experience is a genuine differentiator. While it doesnât come with the sorts of budgets aligned to R & D, that doesnât make it any less important and it is something thatâs too often overlookedâ¦
Anyone in sales will tell you that doing business in Sydney has had its share of challenges recently -Â low economic growth, tentative business sentiment, and the commoditisation of services which were previously considered high value, coupled with increasing instances of offshoring, are all making it harder for Companies to succeed and Sales professionals to earn commission. So with this in mind, as a profession what are we doing to ensure our existing customers are having the best possible experience?
What makes a great corporate customer experience? This is a subjective topic that occupies my mind on a daily basis. Iâve been sold to, Iâve sold, Iâve been managed by great Sales Managers and Iâve managed Sales people. Iâd like to share my take on what I like to see from sales people when Iâm buying and the mindset I take when working with my customers.Â Iâm hoping youâll share some of your ideas too.
A great customer experience is:
âI hope youâre wellâ has become overused in my opinion. Do you hope Iâm well? Do you really? There are so many corporate clichÃ©s cheapening our emails and sitting in our deleted voicemails, and it makes me wonder whether it is possible to have a conversation without any genuine words being said. âHi Steve, I hope youâre well. Just touching base so that we can synergise on the matter discussed at the back end of our last connection. Letâs connect on this one to move forward to a Win - Win solution. Kind Regards, Davidâ. More than a few sales people clump together these clichÃ©âs in the mistaken belief that their ability to regurgitate bullsh*t bingo (Google it!) is impressing their customers. Saying less with more doesnât impress anyone.
Acknowledge the human side of how we spend the daily grind. Step out from behind your role and your company, give a bit of your personality and have a genuine interest in the person youâre working with. Thereâs no harm in making a joke, talking footy, fishing or rollerblading. Work is such a serious affair for so many people that if you can make someone laugh youâve done them a huge favour. If someone makes me laugh theyâre a lot closer to winning my business! We generally deal with people for who they are, not who they work for, so give your customers a chance to see the real you.
Ask your customers about their goals, the problems they face in their role, what keeps them up at night - and then shut the hell up motor mouth!
Taking the blame.
If youâre wrong, admit your mistakes - donât look for an excuse to prove youâre not wrong, it wonât be believed. Sh*t happens, always has and always will. If nothing went wrong the title âAccount Managerâ probably wouldnât exist. Guess what, your customers know this, you wonât lose a customer for making a small mistake, but you might for not admitting it. Admit when you or your company has made a mistake, say youâre sorry and do absolutely everything you can to rectify the problem with minimal inconvenience to your customer.
Doing the 1%erâs. Â
An expression often used in professional sport, doing the 1%erâs is performing every little aspect of your role well, doing each and every small thing you can think of that will make your customerâs job easier. Â These 1%erâs are not in your job description, theyâre not an industry standard, theyâre personal to each customer. The more you can think of for each customer, the better the experience theyâll have dealing with you and your company.
Putting yourself in your customers shoes/eyes/seat/position.
Why do they work with you over your competitors? Have they told you? Have you asked? Give your customers more of what they want from you.Â Putting yourself in your customerâs shoes is a mindset rather than an action, I believe the more we do it, the better the experience we provide. Not sure if what youâre considering doing is ethical? Ask yourself if youâd be comfortable explaining your actions to your customer. Trying to think of 1%erâs to improve your customerâs experience? Put yourself in their shoes. By putting yourself in your customerâs position you will be able to think of ways to enhance your contacts reputation within their own company, such as providing sales leads or industry intelligence they can then share/take credit for â which is closer to a 2%er than a 1%er in my opinion! Warning: This requires a level of emotional intelligence us sales people arenât renowned for.
Your manager might expect you to pitch everything on the shelf, but if itâs not relevant to your customer, donât bore them.Â Refer to point 3 if youâre not sure which of your products or services are relevant.
Being easy to deal with.
A great customer experience happens when we understand that we are solving a problem for a customer. Â If youâre causing them an administrative nightmare youâre forgetting that your job is to help them perform their role and they wonât remain your customer for much longer.
Finding a balance.
Keep front of mind but donât be a pest. As sales person you want to develop the relationship with your customer and maximise sales opportunities within the account as fast as possible. As a customer you expect a vendor to understand your business, although their desire to meet with you within a week of your first conversation isnât a priority given your looming project deadlines. As sales people we need to recognise this and keep ourselves front of mind by providing something valuable during each interaction. I believe that the creativity and awareness to consistently produce these valuable nuggets during each interaction with customers goes a long way towards providing a great customer experience.
Seeing potential issues and solving problems before they arise. You can take responsibility for doing nothing more than your job and turn a blind eye to upcoming problems your customer may have after they sign a Purchase Order form, or you can take responsibility for doing everything in your power to make your customers job easier by solving problem before they arise, sharing the experiences of other customers in similar situations and giving them honest advice (which doesnât always include buying from your company).
Consistent across your business.
Our customers should have a great experience no matter who they deal with at your company. Whether itâs your receptionist, your accounts department, your teammates or your Managing Director. I remember waiting in the unattended reception of an IT Integrator in North Ryde for about 5 minutes, in that time 4 different people asked me if I had been looked after, with genuine concern. Wow, that to me is a sign of good company and it was a great experience.
This is not an exhaustive list, just a couple of starting points for providing our customers with a great experience.
Iâd love to hear your thoughts, are there other important things to you as a customer? What else do you do to provide great customer experience?