The Overlooked Beginning of the Customer Experience
Customer experience is a hot topic in a lot of companies. It’s not a new concept. But as an area of focus for improvement, it’s picking up huge momentum and generating new terms like the “customer journey” and “customer lifecycle.” Yet most of what I hear on this topic is about influencing the experience after someone has already become a customer. That ignores the critical first mile of the journey, which is the experience of becoming a customer. And if you don’t do an exceptional job with that initial segment, there are probably many prospects missing out on the terrific customer experience you could provide.
The experience of becoming a customer is frequently overlooked, and it is rarely discussed within the sales function. As a leader, if you are serious about providing an excellent customer experience to match the quality of the products and services you offer, you must make sure it begins within your sales organization.
Imagine what potential new customers considering your business encounter:
- Do they feel that your sellers understand their needs and goals, or do they feel unduly pressured by a seller trying to close because leaders are pushing for more revenue?
- Do they gain insights about issues they face, opportunities they can capitalize on, or unintended consequences they can avoid from your sales professionals? Or must they sit through a capabilities pitch because that’s what your marketing team is providing?
- Does your sales team provide the opportunity to discuss their concerns productively and resolve them collaboratively? Or are your sellers trained to address customer concerns with cheesy objection handling tactics?
- Does the initial sales contact reflect your brand and accelerate your value? Or is it a hurdle that potential clients need to endure to get to the good stuff?
If you are serious about improving your customer experience, you need to think critically and carefully about the journey from prospect to customer. For better or worse, your potential clients will project their experience forward. “If it is this good/bad now, imagine how good/bad it will be when they have my money?” The answer to this question will likely determine your success.
If you are interested in exploring this topic further, you may enjoy my HBR article from last month: Sales Reps Stop Asking Leading Questions.
I’ve worked with a cartoonist to capture some of the humorous things I see in organizations. I’ll share them every other month and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did create them!
A Slice of Life Balance
I used to do triathlons and the transition time between the swim, bike, and run is so important that it’s often referred to as the “fourth event”. We’d even practice the elements of the transition, from the well-organized set up of gear, a coasting dismount from the bike, even the most efficient way to change into running shoes. All to make sure that you were able to effectively wrap up the prior event and move on to the next as quickly and smoothly as possible, without forgetting anything or making a careless mistake because of haste.
I notice a lot of rushing from back to back-to-back meetings and conference calls. And at times I’ve been guilty of stacking too many commitments on top of one another. The result is a breathless hurry that reduces focus and effectiveness. Just like the transitions between events in a triathlon, you need to take a moment to prepare for the next thing if you want to achieve peak performance.
Try giving yourself a few minutes between commitments to process any follow-up actions needed from your last meeting. Then take a moment to think about what you are doing next, what you will need, and what mindset will serve you best. Effective transitions can make the entire race much smoother and more enjoyable.
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