Every day you can see examples of how big brands and small brands are blowing it when it comes to getting new customers and then retaining them. Just go in to a retailer in a mall or in a big box store somewhere and try to have a really great interaction with an employee.
Go to a restaurant for the first time in hopes of having a high value customer experience – it is rare.
I’ve been keeping track of my own personal experiences as a consumer, and in the last 10 retail, restaurant, and hospitality interactions, only 2 of them were stellar. Stellar to me means that my interaction – whether getting a meal or overnight accommodations was handled well, was easy and was flawless. My expectations were met. 2 businesses accomplished this in my sample. That means that the other 80% ranged from horrific to unmemorable. The bottom line is that they have work to do – from small things to massive changes. But how does this relate to midmarket sales teams?
In the new book, The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty
by Dixon, Toman and Delisi, the authors discuss their research on how customer loyalty is built on meeting rather than exceeding expectations.
They talked with senior leaders about delighting customers and 80 percent said that working to exceed customer expectations means higher operational costs – it may be delightful but also expensive.
Also, in their study, customer expectations were exceeded only 16% of the time. This means that 84% of the time, expectations were often not met, and were not exceeded.
Just Make it Simple for Me and Keep Me as a Customer!
I will come back as a repeat customer when a company or vendor makes it easy for me to do business with them – how about you? Does your sales team function in the same way?
Here are 4 areas to think about in ease of doing business:
- In things as simple as how you can be reached, do you give people options like phone, email, or LinkedIn?
- Are sales reps and account managers coached on effective listening skills so that prospects and customers really feel heard?
- Do customer-facing reps take actions that help ease a sales or up-sell opportunity? Do they go beyond the basics to make things easier for prospects and customers?
- When a customer has an issue or a problem, is the a process along with some individual discretion that can be applied to solve it?
Ask Your Customers
When was the last time you proactively asked your customers what activities are high effort for them and if they have ideas on how you could help them with those?
Pick up the phone and call them when you hear of a negative customer experience.
CEB has a great Blueprint for Building a Low-Effort Service Organization guide you can download - click here - (must give some basic information in exchange).
These are fundamentals that need to happen in order to build and grow customer relationships.
The customer needs to feel they are the priority.
It has to be easy for a buyer to buy and to continue to be a part of your world.
Are your customers valued and are you making it easy?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.