If you have gone into business* there is a good chance you want to stay in business. You may want to sell your business to fund your retirement or to pass it on to your family. If you provide a poor customer experience, you probably won’t succeed. I say probably as we have all heard horror stories of business that treat their customers with disrespect, if not dishonesty, and somehow stay in business. I would argue that the internet gives such businesses nowhere to hide.
So, good customer experience is central to a sustainable, robust business model and a poor experience will, sooner or later, guarantee failure. Here are just 12 of the ways a poor customer experience could be impacting your business performance today.
Of course, we are human; we don’t focus on the long-term all that well, not when there are short-term benefits to be had. So, we need to appreciate the more immediate benefits of great customer experience. In the simplest of terms, they come in the form of improved sales and reduced costs.
Let’s start with a reminder. Your customer experience starts when a customer first becomes aware of you. And some customers will come to your brand and click ‘buy now’ on a whim. But many more are researching the market to make the right choice. That means your customer experience starts by giving each customer the information they need in the format (website, chat or phone call) they prefer. For example, I find too many businesses are using chat to sell. So, if I can’t find what I want on a website, I click away. If you want my business, put key information on your site.
And so on through your funnel. If you are in B2B, don’t assume that buyers are happy to pick up the phone to have a ‘sales’ conversation. All evidence suggests B2B buyers bring their personal shopping experience to work.
Say you have made the sale, can you relax? No, dissatisfied customers tell many more people than satisfied customers. If anything, you need to step up your experience. That is why you are seeing more providers checking in post-sale. They are making sure you are happy and revving you up to post a positive review. You need to be doing the same. And then you have to make sure your customer service team is providing service. And, as we see in Customer Experience Management, passing on the information needed to improve your customer experience.
In short, from sales to post-sales support, great customer experience will improve sales. And by that I mean both volume and margin.
I am a proponent of understanding how organisations generate value, because any business that spends money on activities that don’t add value will lose money. Furthermore, knowing how we add value lets us plan realistic cost reductions. Of course, value management is a key part of many quality methodologies, for more about the relationship between customer experience and quality management, please visit this post.
Actions that transform a product or service in a way for which the customer is willing to pay.
Actions that must take place, for example, for regulatory reasons.
Actions that are unnecessary and do not add value AND methods of performing value added and necessary actions that generate waste.
If your customer experience is poor, then you may have a lot of customer service staff just to address issues. This expenditure is a necessity, and you can argue that it boosts sales. But, if your customer experience is great, then those people can become part of your income-generating operations. The same people can be onboarding, delivering or developing new products and services. With the result that you can handle higher numbers of customers during the value-adding phases of your work.
You can also eliminate other costs. For example, if you sell products, you can minimise returns. That reduces the cost of logistics, distributor charges, handling and disposal. If you are developing a new product or service, then using the voice of the customer can help you both decrease the number of in-service modifications and lengthen lifecycles.
*I know I use the word business and that is limited to commercial organisations. But customer experience is not. Giving your customers a great experience in the public sector or a non-profit is just as important.